World on Standby: Updates from Portugal
Classic Journeys guide Susana lives in Lisbon and leads our Portugal tours. As the coronavirus situation unfolds worldwide, Susana is our woman on the street, letting us know how Portugal has been affected by COVID-19.
Hello from Lisbon!
Just like most countries in Europe, we are also in quarantine. Did you ever imagine that almost the whole world would one day be on standby?! Neither did I! It certainly is a unique time! Though the levels of fear and anxiety have raised, some of us have realized that fear is actually not helping—on the contrary it is making us more fragile and virus susceptive.
So, after a forced interruption from my vacation, I had to return to Portugal, where family and friends are. After all, despite loving to travel myself (Yes, it’s not only you, I love to travel too!) I obviously preferred to come back to stay close to my loved ones. However, still in the rose-tinted land of a traveler where everything is perfect, I dreamed of hugs and smiles on my return and instead, I returned to my house not being able to see my family. Having passed through airplanes and airports it was safer to be away from everyone. It was difficult to overcome this. Not having a hug nor seeing my family was very tough and it took me 3 days to overcome it. And I am not talking about jetlag. This led me to realize that I was getting weaker health wise and that it was not very wise to get sick in a time like this. So I decided to change it.
This was before our President declared the State of Emergency (on the 19th). We were already advised to stay at home, but could go outside as long as we avoided being close to other people. So I went to the beach for a walk. It’s an extremely long beach south of Lisbon and I saw maybe 3 people as far as my eyes could reach. It felt good touching the sand after a few days being stuck inside my 6th floor apartment. I sat watching the sun set and took a handful of sand. I let it fall, just like a sand clock, pondering how time represents change. Everything is always in some sort of movement, and this virus situation will pass too. I felt the stress getting out and calm getting in.
I got up walked along the seashore. There was a slight wind blowing from the north and I could see the Espichel Cape in the distance where I take Classic Journeys guests for a walk along the coast to see the dinosaur footprints. Having the chance of walking almost alone on such a beautiful beach, with such beautiful colors and sights reminded me how important it is to have regular contact with nature, because it is there where I come back to myself.
On my return, I saw a seagull landing right in front of me. I stopped. We looked at each other. I started walking and the seagull walked alongside me. I started running and she flew to catch me up. We walked side by side. And there I was, walking a seagull. Some people walk their dogs, I was walking a seagull. Or was the seagull walking me?! We walked together for a couple minutes, then she stayed slightly behind. I kept walking and she flew over my head and touched my head, almost landing on me! I laughed at the thought of seeing myself with a huge bird with open wings standing on my head. Then she landed in front of me. It was so surreal. She repeated it twice after that and by the end, I was laughing out loud. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Since then, my mood has changed and I can feel the difference inside me: feeling lighter and happier made me feel healthier. It was good to be able to walk along the beach as there were rumors that most likely we were going to be forced to stay at home the following day. And that same night, our President spoke confirming it.
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