Why I Stopped Traveling?

As if I really had a choice.

It has been a stressful, exhausting few months to say the least. Rewind to the blissful ignorance the world was in in January. *Insert sarcasm* The good old days right?

COVID-19 was being discussed often on the news in Australia back in January, but it seemed like a far off problem and I hate to say it, but it was framed as a China problem on the media outlets their. The country closed off their borders to China and every country in the pacific was screening travelers if they had been to China in the last 14 days. Seems like it could have been enough? In hindsight definitely not. Two main issues besides the now well known facts that many carrier of COVID-19 were asymptomatic: 1. “screening everyone” isn’t actually screening everyone, and 2. people lie. People will lie on those immigration forms (if they are even collected) or travel with a different passport. If someone who was in an infected area wanted to get out there was about two months of a gap where they could do so almost seamlessly. Unfortunately, a lot of that happened and that’s how a lot of people were infected.

Australia pretty much thought they solved the problem in early February when they closed their borders to China. The result was that many people went on with their lives like normal (and perhaps even beyond what they normally would be doing because travel prices had dropped) for 2-3 more month when precautions should have already been made. This led to people being blissfully unaware until all of the sudden Australia decided to immediately shut down their borders to non-citizens on a Friday and to all citizens that following Tuesday.

This caused a panic and price escalation, which was also seen all over the world. People couldn’t get home or didn’t know how to. Within Australia the economy was facing many of the same issues as the the rest of the world – toilet paper shortages, food/pasta shortages, lack of job security, etc. As great of a country Australia is it wasn’t immune to the pitfalls of the global pandemic.

So where did that leave me?

Well I was living it up on an island in Fiji without any service or wifi the Thursday Australia announced they would be closing their borders the following evening at 9pm. When I woke up to the news on Friday morning, it was virtually impossible to make it back by that evening deadline. Well shoot….now what?

The choice became stay in Fiji or go home to the United States. It was a tough one and I really was leaning towards staying in Fiji, and of course the mindset was, “I could stay in this tropical paradise for another month….maybe two, but what if it was longer?” I couldn’t work in Fiji as I was there as tourist, and technically my visa was only valid for another two months. Then the practical reality of the what ifs hit, i.e. what if I did get sick and needed a doctor, the health care options would be an issue.

I made the practical, realistic, adult (blah blah blah) choice of going home for the time being (again hoping and thinking that time would be two months max) and getting back to Australia ASAP. Truth be told I was excited to go home for a bit and spend time with my family, sleep in one place for an extended amount of time, be in the same time zone as a majority of my friends, etc.

How bad could quarantining be?

Off the Beaten Track – Malabar

If you find yourself in Sydney, but want to get a unique experience head east to do the Malabar Coastal Walk. Accessible from Maroubra Beach this was was unlike any other coastal walk that I have done so far in Australia. You walk through Malabar Headland National Park along cliffs and through bush. Make sure you check online before venturing out to ensure the park is open. Parts of the park are near a rifle range and every so often the eastern section is closed off (every Saturday and 1st and 3rd Sunday). If you see red flags don’t go into the park.

I did the walk on a Thursday afternoon and really didn’t think much of it. Most of the time whenever you do a costal walk there is a steady stream of people coming in both directions. That was not the case going through Malabar. I think I saw a total of 5 people on the 2.5 mile walk. I know it’s a national park and it’s not that I felt unsafe, but the worst kept going through my head because I was completely alone. Thankfully, I had cell service throughout the entire walk. I also read the signs before going into the park so I knew how long the walk was suppose to approximately take, but while walking there really wasn’t much signage beyond some obscure arrows on the ground.

The views of the ocean were spectacular and so many areas of dramatic cliffs. The end of the walk leads you to Malabar beach, which again only had 3 people enjoying the open water. They were paddle boarding and I wanted to join in. Across the street from the beach is the Malabar Beach Cafe (note it closes at 3pm). I grabbed a coffee and a museli cookie before grabbing the bus back to Maroubra. Rather doing the return walk alone I did the return Maroubra to Coogee walk after the bus dropped me off. I just felt a bit safer.

I really loved this walk and would recommend grabbing your favorite walking buddy or doing this for a date.