It’s been two weeks since I posted an update on The Travel Hack and, wow, what a difference two weeks made!
It feels like we’re all holding our breath as our world has been turned upside down by Coronavirus. We’re living in a semi-frozen state of panic, scared to leave our homes, scared to talk to our neighbours, scared to run out of toilet roll.
I’ve spent the last week in Tenerife where I’ve been on holiday with my family to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. There was a moment when we thought we’d cancel the holiday due to Coronavirus but we went and had a fabulous time.
For the first six days of our holiday you wouldn’t have known there was a global pandemic going on, but the country went into lockdown on our final day and things changed drastically.
The weather changed on our final day too, with angry storm clouds gathering around the volcanic mountains, swirling around the peaks and hovering ominously, watching and waiting. I know this isn’t unusual for Tenerife but it felt so strange after a week of perfect blue skies.
It was the boys who were the first to notice how still the island became. There was no wind and no noise and, even from our villa, there was something eerie about the atmosphere.
I went out for a walk and found the streets busy with people milling around, but it was so quiet. People were whispering, talking quietly into their phones and keeping close to their partners. The shops were all shut and the bars and restaurants were taking in their tables and chairs, packing them away with somber faces and without a word spoken. The beaches were closed and a security man stood guard, ushering people past so they weren’t tempted to stray off the footpaths.
^On Sunday morning the streets were still busy but it was weirdly quiet
A police car was slowly driving around the streets with a tannoy announcement echoing off the shutters that protected the empty shops. The announcement was in Spanish so I looked to a friendly looking couple who stood nearby, listening intently with stoney faces. I smiled and walked towards them, hoping they’d be able to translate the message for me, but they looked at me in panic and quickly walked away.
It was at that moment that I suddenly longed for the familiarity of home. I wanted to understand the messages from the authorities and the media and know what I was meant to be doing.
^ Empty beaches in Playa del Duque
I quickly scurried back to our villa where my mum and dad, Sam, George, Joseph and Alba were restlessly waiting to go home. Luckily, we were already booked on a flight home that evening so we didn’t need to change our travel plans to come home early. We’d initially liked the idea of a late flight home, thinking we’d get an extra day in Tenerife to enjoy the sunshine before travelling back. But with everything closed we found ourselves pacing around the villa with nowhere to go as we constantly refreshed our phones to check for the latest Coronavirus updates and making sure our flight wasn’t delayed or cancelled.
Anxiety was building up inside of me and I was an irritable mess by the time we reached the airport. It was the complete unknown that was making me stressed and I imagined the airport would be in a state of panic as people desperately tried to get home.
Thankfully, the airport was actually quite calm. We were flying with Jet2 and their staff are always so friendly and helpful. We whizzed through checkin and security and found the airport to be busy but calm.
The only shop that was open was WHSmith which had the shutters half closed and only allowed 10 people to enter at a time. A queue for the shop snaked through the airport but there was none of the manic desperation I’d imagined. People waited quietly, accepting they had to wait their turn and would probably just have to go hungry.
Our flight home was easy with all three kids falling asleep and my travel anxiety slipped away as we neared the UK. Everyone on the flight was ravenous and the staff did a great job of getting food and drink to everyone and once we were fed you could feel everyone relax. A lovely man sat near me began to make a fuss of Alba, who was sat in my lap and beaming a huge smile at him. He instantly leant over to hold her hand as he chatted to her in the silly baby language we all use. And then he froze, remembering what’s going on and apologising profusely for touching her and getting too close.
‘Don’t worry,’ I assured him with a smile, but then I remembered too and realised I shouldn’t be letting these strangers get too close to my kids.
It sounds like we left just in time because by Sunday afternoon people weren’t allowed to leave their accommodation at all. This BBC journalist is stuck in his hotel room and not allowed into the public areas so I’m glad we managed to enjoy our holiday before lockdown began.
Today has been a strange old day. We didn’t send the kids to school or nursery, partly because we didn’t get home until 2am but also because I wanted to assess how things really are in the UK.
I went to the supermarket and everything felt normal – with the exception of a few empty shelves where the toilet roll and nappies should be.
It’s a strange and uncertain time.
It’s a time of #ViralKindness and realising we’re just one big community and we’re all in this together. But it’s also a time of wanting to protect our loved ones and keep them away from any dangers.
Who knows what the next few months will bring but I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.
I’m going to continue posting online and I feel very lucky to have a business that allows me to work from home. I’ll keep creating content but it’s going to be a little different. Writing blog posts, making videos, taking photos and thinking about mini creative projects keeps me sane so I’ll continue to create purely for the love of creating. I hope you’ll stick with me until this crazy time has passed and we’ll be back to travelling and exploring.