“Lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over”
Tony said that when during his first session with Dr.Melfi on the Pilot episode of The Sopranos.
We’ve been rewatching the series and that quote has stuck with me. More now than during any of the 5 or so previous times I’ve rewatched The Sopranos. One the one hand it’s with thankfulness, on another it’s with a lot of nostalgia and sadness.
I always wanted to travel full-time but earlier in life the circumstances were never right. I had a young son, I had a job, I didn’t have the financial resources. But it was always a dream I worked towards.
When I met Lissette in 2005 it was one of the first things I told her. She was fine with the idea. She hadn’t travelled much outside the US but she had done something that was an even larger feat of bravery: she had left New York for Montreal for a new career opportunity. Doing so she had turned down an offer to work in Las Vegas, opting instead to settle in a new country and a city where the dominant language was French. So she wasn’t afraid of just picking up and going somewhere unknown.
When I was fired/quit in 2011 (10 years ago. I was 44) we started planning our exit in earnest. I guess we could have done it right then and there but we wanted to get it right. And you always think “well, there’s always tomorrow…”
Well, what if there isn’t always a tomorrow?
It was 2014 when we finally left Montreal to travel full-time. For 6 years we travelled the world, interrupted only by the year we decided to live in Croatia. Travelling we had lows but mostly highs – and even during the lows there was never a lack of excitement and drama. We saw a lot of things, had a lot of experiences and met a lot of people. We both agree we “lived” more over those 6 years than we did over the last 20. Not to take away from career or family but travelling was exciting and fulfilling for both of us.
We didn’t really want to stop travelling full-time. In 2019 we decided that 2020 was the year we had to get serious about getting a base and permanent residency somewhere. We just felt that we had to do it before we got too old and before insurance coverage became an issue. We were just taking a “break” to make ourselves a home in Spain. We hoped to get back to travelling as soon and as often as we could.
Then came Covid.
As I said up top, we’re incredibly thankful. First for getting our Visa last year (after seemingly dodging a million bullets) and now having a safe, beautiful home. Secondly, we’re thankful for the last 6 years of travelling. I always said that travelling full-time was my ultimate goal – if I die tomorrow I can at least say that I did what I set out to do.
If I sound a bit disheartened it’s because over the last couple of months we’ve come to the realization that Covid is not going away. It’s become obvious that “herd immunity” won’t happen. And without herd immunity the virus will continue to circulate and mutate. Just last week came news of the Mu variant which potentially evades current vaccines. Even if it doesn’t, it’s just a matter of time before a variant comes along that changes the game.
We can look forward to more lockdowns, more restrictions on where you can and can’t go, and more paperwork, time, and expense associated with travel. Some countries, particularly more “exotic” countries, will be no-go zones as more developed countries impose quarantine requirements and airlines cut routes. Countries will be more inward-looking and locals more wary of foreigners.
Gone are the days where you could just get on a plane and go somewhere on a whim.
The world has become a different place.
That’s why Tony’s statement resonates with me. I feel we did come in at the end and that the best days of travel are over *. And I know hindsight is 20/20 – but we wish we had started our travels earlier and not waited for the “perfect time”.
* Note: the best days of travel weren’t the years preceding Covid. I think any traveller will agree that those years were marked by over-tourism. In fact, when I previously wrote about how Covid would change the way we travel (and that was written in April of 2020) many people agreed that a silver lining of Covid would be less people visiting popular places. What were the best days of travel? Maybe the late 80’s and early 90’s where you could still go anywhere but when you didn’t have the mass tourism of the last 10 years…
As I say up top, we’re thankful for the last 6 years. I know other people with dreams similar to ours who’ve had to rethink everything. But we also frequently have bouts of nostalgia and sadness.
The realization that Covid is here to stay has changed our outlook. We’ve been careful throughout the pandemic, choosing to wait out Covid. But now, fully vaccinated (as of the end of June), with our Visas renewed for 2 years (as of last week), and with cooler temperatures coming up, we’re going to start travelling again in the near future.
This week I booked a 3 week trip to Mexico for the end of the year. It’ll be the first time I see my mom since late 2019. As far as Lissette and I go, we’ll start travelling regionally over the next few months and plan to visit other parts of Europe in 2022.
We just feel that Covid or no Covid, we have to start living again. Because it’s not going anywhere.