So . . . we’ve been back in the U.S. for over a year now. And, boy, have our lives changed.
When we first fled Ecuador on an evacuation flight in March 2020 (we still aren’t sure that was the right decision . . . ), we never dreamed our passports would sit idle for an entire year. But, idle they have been.
And, we never dreamed that nearly everything we enjoy doing would be off-limits for over a year. But, everything has been off-limits. No dinners out at restaurants, no live concerts packed in with hundreds of sweaty people, no dinner parties, no hanging at the bars, no visits to museums, no going to the movies, no watching our beloved footie teams at Irish pubs. Nada. The only “entertaining” thing we have done in the past year is take walks outside.
And, we never dreamed that we could still be happy after a year of doing nothing. But, we are still happy. Part of that is because we are lucky nobody we know has died and we are lucky we didn’t have jobs to lose and we are lucky we had safe places to live. And, part of it because, apparently, we genuinely like each other and like spending time together. Who knew?
And, we never dreamed just how lazy I can be. But, boy, can I be lazy. The same girl who can manage to plan how to see 10-15 tourist sites in one day while traveling is incredibly lazy while stuck at home. I had one goal for this lock-down. I was going to study French most days. Notice I said most — I didn’t even try to convince myself it would be every day because I knew that would never work. Well, “most” didn’t work either. There were plenty of days where all I did was surf the internet (obsessing over covid news and the idiocy of our leaders) and binge watch Netflix. Not the healthiest way to spend a day….or a month…or a year…
And, we never dreamed we would lose so much respect for some of our friends and acquaintances. But, we did. The ones that posted photos of themselves at parties in the middle of a pandemic. The ones that refused to wear a mask and said their rights were violated by mask mandates. The ones who bragged about sending their kids to school even though they were sick. The ones that had homes to go to but continued to travel without a care in the world. The ones who — to this day — are still claiming racism doesn’t exist and that all lives matter. (Thankfully, so far nobody we know is refusing to get the vaccine — or, if they are, they aren’t talking about it.)
And, we never dreamed that we would become junk food junkies again. But, we have. When we are traveling, we literally eat anything and everything we want to eat. But you know what we almost never choose? Processed crap. And, then we end up in the US and eat things like sugar cereal and Doritos and Cheetos and frozen pizza. Don’t get me wrong. Robert has been cooking fantastic and (usually) healthy meals. But put a bag of Fritos in front of us and watch out. Ugh.
And, we never dreamed just how much olive oil the two of us could eat. But, we consumed gallons of it over the course of this year. And, don’t even get me started on the fact that garlic was on nearly every grocery shopping list.
And, we never dreamed that tipping would become something you do BEFORE service. But, it totally has. During the pandemic, it became even more clear that tipping in the U.S. doesn’t have anything at all to do with a job well done and is just a way for certain industries to underpay their employees. The people who should have been getting tips — nurses and doctors and grocery store workers — certainly weren’t getting tipped. And, people who were getting tipped weren’t getting tipped based on the level of their service. Order your groceries from Instacart? Well, you better agree to tip in advance if you want anyone decent to fulfill your order. And, don’t even think about reducing the tip for poor performance or you will be accused of tip baiting. Order take out food? Again, you need to tip in advance because all the delivery services are trying to do contactless delivery. So, if your pizza arrives cold and late, too bad so sad. I so wish the pandemic would be the impetus we need to raise prices and pay people fairly, but I’m sure it won’t be.
And, we never dreamed that my constantly sun-burned nose would go a whole year without being burned. But, it has. Those annoying masks are good for something.
And, we never dreamed we would have nine different food delivery apps downloaded on our phones. But, we do. The amazing thing is we don’t even use them that often. Between the delivery fee and the service fee and the tip, it just isn’t worth ordering in that often. But, why on earth do that many delivery services even exist?
And, we never dreamed we would become homeowners and car owners again. But, we did. Wait? What? Yep, you read that correctly. We bought a house. Just a couple of weeks ago. Yep, a house. Not a condo that we can easily lock and leave when the world is vaccinated. A house. A 100+ year old house that needs a ton of work. In New Orleans — land of hurricanes, bugs, potholes, crumbling infrastructure, some of the highest car insurance rates in the country, and floods. But it is also the land of live music, festivals, Mardi Gras, second lines, po’ boys, and crawfish. And, there are multiple flights to Houston every day and, from there, we can get anywhere in the world. And, the house is walking distance to a footie bar, so there is that.
So, what does that mean for this blog and our life of travel? Well, we doubt travel will pick up (for us) anytime soon. Will we travel in the U.S. once we (and most of the country) are fully vaccinated? Sure, especially to places where most of what we want to do is outside. But, we doubt we will do much international travel in the short term. It just feels wrong (to us) to travel to countries where the average citizen isn’t vaccinated. But, once the world gets those jabs, watch out! Our travel will continue, it will just be a month here and a month there (hopefully, for about six months out of the year), instead of 12 months at a time. Fingers crossed that day comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, laissez les bons temps rouler!