As governments around the globe impose lockdowns and people self-isolate, coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the travel industry hard. The World Nomads Travel Podcast has suspended its regular destination episodes and, in their place, offering a daily round-up of the major coronavirus-related travel headlines.
00:40 Fountains of Wayne singer dies from complications from COVID-19
01:24 Good news from Eastern India
02:47 This video went viral
03:42 Introducing Lola
07:31 Lola's health concern
09:50 High risk
10:40 Next episode
"Basically everyone in my household is high risk. It's really terrifying. My mom has been going out to get groceries. My mom is 63 so she shouldn't necessarily be going out either, but she, compared to myself and my father, is I guess the least at risk. You know that makes me feel really guilty as their daughter, you know, I want to be providing for them. I want to make sure they're safe. But unfortunately with asthma, it's a risk we've decided as a family that I shouldn't take." - Lola
Lola Méndez is a travel writer and full-time globetrotter who shares her adventures on Miss Filatelista. She travels to develop her own worldview and has explored more than 50 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Resources & links
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Kim: In this episode, an asthmatic travel writer and her concerns for not only her health but the travel industry, the death of a singer from coronavirus, and the sea turtles claiming back their habitat.
Speaker 2: Welcome to the new daily World Nomads Podcast. We'll be keeping you up to date with travel alerts, information about coronavirus, and sharing some uplifting news and views to inspire you and keep you smiling.
Kim: Hi, it's Kim and Phil with our daily COVID-19 episode, and I can't wait for Phil to share those details about the seas turtles. But we're kicking off our headlines at the time of recording with some sad news.
Phil: Yeah. The songwriter you mentioned, Adam Schlesinger, he's the co-founder of Fountains of Wayne and an Oscar-nominated songwriter. He's died from complications related to coronavirus. Very sad.
Phil: At the time of recording, there were over 900,000 cases of the virus globally, but there are some countries and places with no recorded cases of COVID-19. That's Palau, in the Pacific, Corfu, one of the Greek islands, and there's a recurring theme here, Santorini and Mykonos, also virus free. Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands. Lesotho, in Southern Africa, and Malawi. So, I don't know.
Kim: What are they doing right?
Phil: Not reporting? I don't know.
Kim: Well if that's true...
Phil: And some good news in Eastern India along the coast of Odisha, sea turtles have taken advantage of the quarantine to claim back the beach. Go turtles. And they've reportedly laid something like 60 million eggs.
Phil: Normally there'd be heaps of crowds on the beach disturbing them, which means they don't lay their eggs, or poachers, they're stealing the eggs. So, that's a really good [inaudible] story.
Phil: Virgin Australia, one of the airlines here, they, of course, ran back their services, but they're doing a favor to everybody. They're donating all the toilet rolls to charities around the country. Unbelievable. How much toilet paper do you think is on board all of the airlines in a year, Kim?
Kim: Just Virgin Australia?
Phil: Enough to go from Sydney to Los Angeles.
Kim: What a stat. A big hi, too, to travel writer, Cassie Wilkins. She's been like, look, you and I do the podcast, but because she's been in isolation, she's been finding a lot of these great stories, so I need to credit her for that.
Kim: But she's out of isolation now, so she won't be helping me anymore.
Phil: You're on your own.
Kim: Yeah, I'm on my own, now. And she's got such a connected... You know, that whole travel writing and travel blogger world, they're just intertwined. So why wouldn't you call on someone like her?
Kim: Now she's having a glass of wine with someone, which leads me to the Italian flight attendant who went viral toasting himself in the mirror with, a vino, while in isolation.
Speaker 4: Thank you for coming. Ching ching. Ching ching. Ching ching. Thank you. Ching ching, guys, ching.
Kim: That's the way to do it.
Phil: [foreign language 00:03:02]. And a huge shout out to all the single people in isolation or lockdown, or can't physically visit anyone or catch up for drinks, dinner or coffee, cheers to you too.
Kim: That must be hard. And I have so many people that I've worked with that have given birth, and they're parents to new babies, what do you want to do with a new baby? Show them off, but they can't take them out there into the big, bad, wide world.
Kim: But Phil, it's all for a reason to reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect the vulnerable like Lola, who is asthmatic and in isolation. And not only is she worried about her health, but she's a travel writer in tough times.
Lola: Yes, I focus mostly on travel. I've written for World Nomads a few times, but I also write for CNN Travel, [inaudible] Lonely Planet, Culture Trip, and I also cover a lot of other beats as well. I write about sustainability, I write about wellness. I really love to write profiles of women of color who are doing amazing things in their communities. So right now I'm focusing a lot less on travel.
Kim: Well, how has this pandemic affected your livelihood, really?
Lola: It's really been shocking. You know, I feel like my whole life I've been told not to put all my eggs in one basket, but all of my eggs were in one basket. I've been traveling full time for five years and writing about the experiences I have while I'm on the road, and working with tourism boards and hotels and tour companies to help tell their stories. Mostly focusing on projects that are community-based or sustainably led. I'm worried about myself and my own livelihood, but I'm also worried about all those small tour operators and little vegan restaurants I've been to, or places that are creating a safe haven for elephants that have been in the tourist industry because they're all really going to suffer. You know, there's no one knows who's going to bail them out. But personally I've seen a major loss of income. I've lost thousands of dollars in confirmed stories that have been killed.
Lola: And then looking forward, almost none of my publications are accepting travel pitches right now. That leaves me pretty much out of work. And I was meant to be on a press trip right now in Ecuador, going to the Galapagos and the Amazon rainforest. So that they would have generated more work for me because I would have been writing about that. And in April, I was meant to go to Puerto Rico, I was working with the tourism board there to learn more about sustainability on the Island.
Lola: I'm really passionate about telling stories of rebuilding and how the community there has come back after Hurricane Maria. The impact is deep in the tourism industry. You know, they say that one in 10 people is employed by tourism. But I do believe that tourism will make a comeback, right? And that it's going to help the global economy when it does, and all of these people who are cooped up inside their homes around the world, whether they're travelers or not, we're really having a rude awakening that life is short and precious, and whatever we're dreaming of, we should make it a reality.
Lola: So I think we're going to see people traveling who maybe wouldn't even identify as travelers before, but maybe they've always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. I think they're going to go do that trip once they can, now.
Kim: Well, before the world hit pause, we were suffering in a lot of destinations from over-tourism. Do you think that's going to be the case once the world opens up again?
Lola: I haven't given that too much thought. But I do think it's interesting that, when we talk about over-tourism, a lot of the conversation goes to destinations in Italy, right? Like Cinque Terre can only handle so many people climbing through the towns to go see all those colorful buildings. Venice is literally underwater more and more every year. So it's going to be interesting how those local governments decide to handle tourism moving forward because there's been a lot of pressure on them from the local community for a long time. But now they really have a chance to revamp the way that they're going to accept tourism.
Kim: So where are you at the moment?
Lola: I am in Uruguay. I'm an Uruguayan American citizen, so I have double citizenship. My father is from here, and my parents retired here in June. And I decided to make it my home base for six months. I was meant to leave in March, this month, and I've been traveling back and forth a lot the last six months going on trips to the Caribbean and to the US for work. And now it looks like I'm here kind of for the indefinite future, which would be all right, but it's about to be winter and I haven't lived their winter in five years because I have asthma and it's really difficult for me when it's cold out, which is obviously another big concern of mine right now with coronavirus.
Kim: Absolutely. And you mentioned, when you emailed me and you just touched on family, that you have a sister in Washington who is also asthmatic.
Lola: So my sister's actually on a flight on her way here right now. We finally were able to convince her that she's better off being with us, and Uruguay has shut down the airport, so she's flying to Brazil and will arrive tomorrow morning. And then we're kind of figuring out how to get her here using buses because she is really at risk. And in D.C. she's by herself, so we want her to be here with us. She's in law school, so she was really hesitant to leave, but it looks like things in the US aren't going to be improving anytime soon, so we feel more secure having her here with us where we do have really good access to health care. And it seems like most people are taking it very seriously. We don't have the mandatory quarantine or shelter-at-home yet, but from my window, I can see all of Punta del Este, the city where I live, and every store is closed and I only see people walking with bags, so it looks like they'd been to the market.
Lola: So I do think people here are really taking it seriously. As of right now, most nonessential appointments are being encouraged to postpone. We've canceled all of my dad's upcoming appointments. In our building also, we can have doctors make house calls for free as a part of our rent, I guess. So when there's like a minor issue, we can have them kind of come here and assess us. And they came here two weeks ago for a non-related issue, and we asked them, you know, what was happening at the hospital. And even two weeks ago when we only had four cases in the country, and not even in the city where I live, they were already preparing the hospital and making a separate division that was just going to be for people who could potentially have coronavirus, to try to separate that part of the population from people who are currently healthy, who are coming in for other issues.
Lola: I haven't left my house for two weeks, so I have no idea what's happening out there. But every night at nine o'clock, like many places in the world, we're going to our windows to applaud the healthcare workers and thank them for everything they're doing. Basically everyone in my household is high risk. It's really terrifying. My mom has been going out to get groceries. My mom is 63 so she shouldn't necessarily be going out either, but she, compared to myself and my father, is I guess the least at risk. You know that makes me feel really guilty as their daughter, you know, I want to be providing for them. I want to make sure they're safe. But unfortunately with asthma, it's a risk we've decided as a family that I shouldn't take.
Kim: Sounds bloody scary, Lola.
Lola: It is. It's kind of reality, though, when you have a chronic illness, you're very used to avoiding people who are sick. It kind of comes with the turf. You know, my sister and I had been diagnosed with asthma since we were young, so the kind of lifestyle changes we made back then, they've stuck with us our whole lives. So it's just kind of the norm.
Kim: Thank you so much, Lola. Stay healthy.
Kim: And, well more than a dozen cruise ships remain stranded at sea. Tomorrow, Phil, we speak to a man stranded on his boat in The Bahamas with his wife and baby as ports around the world deny entry.
Kim: That'll be-
Phil: Yeah, that's a tough one, isn't it? Look, if you've got a story you want to share with us, then email email@example.com. Bye.
Speaker 2: The World Nomads Podcast. Explore your boundaries.