Modern day dystopia or voluntary isolation? My thoughts on the current Covid-19 pandemic.

It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy. Hillary Clinton


It has been a while since I wrote an opinion piece for my Travel & Things Blog. Seeing that I currently myself in a somewhat thoughtful and introverted space as a result of the virus, I thought I would share my thoughts and feelings. The beginning of a new week and Week 2 of my self imposed isolation and working from home has given me time to cogitate on the spread of this virus and what it means for each and every one of us. NO ONE WILL BE IMMUNE TO THE TENTACLES OF THIS VIRUS THAT REACHES INTO EVERY CORNER OF EVERY SOCIETY WORLDWIDE. If you think that you are immune, think again. It is that sort of attitude that we need to dispense with during these torrid times. Treat yourself like you have been infected and you will save yourself and others from this scourge.

Important: Please note that the comments in this posting are my thoughts and feelings based on my current situation. I have chosen NOT to quote stats, as there are so many and they change often. I have focussed on how this self-imposed exile has made me feel. Never has the adage “May you live in interesting times” been more appropriate.


I was sad to have had to postpone what would have been my first Photographic Weekend, but I needed to place the safety of the participants, both local and international first. We will all work together to find a suitable weekend after the worst has passed.


If you look and feel like this, then you probably need to go into quarantine…

FYI: Before readers say that you can get the virus from animals, the short answer is “YOU CAN’T”…I was merely using this image for illustrative purposes.


Quite a “pretty” virus I hear you say… And it is when looked at under a microscope. But, under the right conditions, this seemingly innocent protein coating, encapsulating either DNA or RNA, can be deadly.


The World Health Organization classifies Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as follows and recommends ‘social distancing’: “An infectious disease caused by a new virus. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) from people”. 

Human nature is amazing. Put up a sign like this and people WILL touch to see if the paint is ACTUALLY still wet. With this current virus, it is exactly the same. “It cannot happen to me…” seems to be what the majority of perceived healthy people are saying. It was pointed out to me recently that if you behave like you ARE contagious, then you will be more mindful of how to treat the people that you come into contact with.

I have read comments on FaceBook asking how we here in South Africa can classify this as a pandemic when there are less than 220 cases reported. It has been declared as a worldwide pandemic and the actual numbers in each country combine towards that classification. A Pandemic is described by The WHO as well as the CDC as an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents and affects a large percentage of the population.


So it might be some time before I, as a travel writer, actually get to pack a suitcase and travel again. That won’t stop me from writing, it merely limits my postings to archival experiences that I enjoyed prior to March 2020.


For now, I have packed away my camera gear…and especially this 560mm Pentax lens. However, given that I live in an urban setting that attracts several species of birds, I might start writing extensively about the view from my home-office window.


Seeing that we are being asked to keep at least 1m between each other, this camp fire-side circle will, for the foreseeable future anyway, be placed on hold.


This might seem self-explanatory, but humans, being what they are, tend to use the NIMBY principle when it comes to self-isolation…Not In My Back Yard…meaning if it does not directly affect me then I need not worry. It will and it does!


Fortunately for me, I have a great home office/study/man cave to work from. It has windows that can open and they look out over the garden filled with a mixture of indigenous and exotic plants and trees. I can hear birds calling from the Common Ash Tree and the water trickling over the rocks in the fish pond. I have been inconvenienced, but that will hopefully be for a short time only and I together with friends and family, will come out the other side stronger and with new skill sets. But we need to be mindful of our fellow South Africans who might not be able to afford either the treatment should they require it or buy food in bulk to stockpile in case of shortages. The best advice I have to offer in this respect is; Be mindful and be kind.


Luckily for me, I have an Executive assistant to keep me company during working hours…if he feels like it. This rescue is usually close by for part of the day before he heads off into the garden or into the lounge to snuggle down in the beanbag and sleep the day away.


Important: Did you know that Coronavirus disease spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Carry wipes with you and clean surfaces as well as your hands. Be mindful of what you touch when in public spaces and if in doubt at all, wash. sanitize your hands.


It is important that we ALL become more mindful of what we can and cannot control. The news media will often inflate, or at the very least, massage the news in order for the spread of the virus to seem more toxic than it actually is. That is not to say that they should be ignored. It merely means that when it comes to stats, we should not take an ostrich attitude, but remain proactive when it comes to our own mental wellbeing.


It seems that we are all searching for positive messages anywhere we can find them. A white feather is a symbol that angles are close at hand. It is also recognised as a symbol of faith and protection. Coming from birds, feathers are also a symbol of flight and freedom, both of which are in short supply lately. During the war there was a saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes” and it is the same during a pandemic like this. We humans will take solace from whatever source we can find it.  Be strong and be safe is a message that should be observed during these uncertain times.


Look for beauty in unlikely places…


Much like when playing hide and seek, the combined world population cry should be”Here I come, ready or not”. To each of my readers, please stay safe. If you fall into one of the at-risk categories, then please take ALL the precautions recommended by the recognised QUALIFIED organizations. (Suddenly there are 1000’s of unqualified people who believe that they are suddenly experts in this field. Choose your information sources with care and double-check the information before posting on social media. In this digital age, it seems that misinformation spreads faster than the actual virus.

“If in doubt, don’t post” should be your mantra. I know that it has become mine. Remember that there is still a LOT of ignorance around the cause and spread of this illness, don’t buy into the whole frenzy around the dissemination of information.


These words from Dr Jernigan, a licensed clinical psychologist practising in South Burlington, Vermont, USA seem to sum up the situation.


“An imagination is a powerful tool. It can tint memories of the past. Shade perceptions of the present, or paint a future so vivid that it can entice…or terrify. All depending upon how we conduct ourselves today”.

This quote from Garfield Classics, Volume 7 by Jim Davis seemed to sum up what effect this current situation has on us. It can bring us done by only seeing the negatives. Or we can build ourselves up by accentuating the positive. The choice is up to each and every one of us.


This too shall pass and hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can be back on the road again, visiting and writing about all the wonderful towns, cities and game reserves South Africa offers. For those of us who are old enough to remember the TV series Hill Street Blues, remember what the desk sergeant used to say to the duty team as they left to go on patrol… HEY. LET’S BE CAREFUL OUT THERE.


Much of the information used in this posting was taken from the World Health Organization website. To find out more about the WHO and the work that they are doing to curtail this virus, click on their logo above.


Despite being office-bound, Travel & Things will continue to provide copy so that when all this has passed, and it will, readers will be able to use this platform to plan holidays and time away to recover from the effects, either mental or physical.