I just wanted to let you know that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I have decided to return home for the foreseeable future. Even as the pandemic began spreading beyond China, I was loath to come home. Not because I hate home; in fact I was missing it greatly. Cutting the year short just felt like such a deep loss.
I had actually arrived in Barcelona, Spain less than a week ago. Last Friday, I sat down with new friends for a delicious brunch and began scheming all that the next months would hold: hikes up Montserrat, interviews with the editor of La Nueva Carne magazine, and endless Jamón Ibérico. By Saturday evening, all of us had booked flights home.
In the course of 48 hours, Spain closed schools, museums, bars, restaurants, and even public transit, each announcement hitting like a lead brick. If I hadn't acted quickly, I might have even missed the last flight–though for the time being there are still a few operating.
Surprisingly, The Watson Foundation did not actually require that I come back the United States, but they did request that I leave Spain, which was updated to a State Department Level 3 travel warning. As the remainder of my itinerary was in Europe, all of which were quickly shuttering as well, I decided it best to come back and plan the next adventures from home.
The journey home was relatively seamless. Trump's "enhanced screening" is a complete farce. There was no testing, no temperature check–they didn't even collect my contact information. All that I received was a sheet of paper reminding me to wash my hands and a hearty "Welcome home!" What a homecoming, indeed.
I am self-quarantining for the coming weeks. Hopefully, with the most idle time I've had in half a year, I can finally clear the backlog of writing, audio, and photographs that has not yet made it onto this blog.
I don't know what the next months will hold, but I wish everyone health and happiness during this stressful time. Definitely follow all best practices of social distancing, but keep your loved ones close, if only virtually. High spirits will be almost as crucial as good hygiene to weather this pandemic. Stay sanitized!