Photo © Augusto Gomes

Lessons From the Coronavirus Quarantine

Trapped inside a city apartment, a traveler and nature photographer discovers what he values most.

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By Augusto Gomes

Writer and Photographer

7 Jul 2020 - 5 Minute Read

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I’m writing this confined between four walls. Stuck at home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I’m able to see no more than a few plants in the garden and a piece of blue winter sky squeezed between the buildings through my window. But this window has been like a breath to me in the last months – my only connection to nature and to the external world. I go there every half hour just to watch the time go by and the magic of changing light.

Contemplating the changing light in late afternoon is one of my favorite pastimes in these difficult days.
Augusto Gomes
Contemplating the changing light in late afternoon is one of my favorite pastimes in these difficult days.

As a nature-addicted biologist, traveler, mountaineer, and photographer, I must confess this situation has been kind of tricky for me. The COVID-19 pandemic and the seemingly endless quarantine are new to all of us. And it’s not an overstatement to say that it’s new for humankind too, at least in the last century.

In just three months, I was forced to cancel two dream trips: one to Monte Roraima, in the Tepuis of Venezuela, and another to Península Valdés, in Argentine Patagonia. I’ve had to reinvent my life, and find ways to survive and stay healthy – physically and mentally – during the quarantine. I wonder how many of us have had to completely change plans due to the pandemic?

Every activity now must be at home, including gym. Meggie, my little dog, seems interested in joining.
Augusto Gomes
Every activity now must be at home, including gym. Meggie, my little dog, seems interested in joining.
Social isolation hasn’t spared anyone. Through walls, glass, and fences, all we can do now is watch.
Augusto Gomes
Social isolation hasn’t spared anyone. Through walls, glass, and fences, all we can do now is watch.
What was once just the dining room is now a meeting point for the whole family.
Augusto Gomes
What was once just the dining room is now a meeting point for the whole family.

Things have changed, and it’s a bit scary to imagine how the world we’ll now face will be different from the world we knew so far. But the pandemic and the social isolation have also taught me a lot of things. They disclosed the deep problems regarding uncontrolled consumerism, and also our mistakes in our relationships with nature, with other people, and even with ourselves. This unexpected enemy arose as a result of wildlife trade and consumption, but that was just the tip of iceberg. Our forests are vanishing at a desperately high rate and our oceans are full of plastic. We have amazing technology, our economies are growing, but even so, poverty and social injustice are increasing. What have we done with our only home? Why is the digital world splitting us apart, instead of joining us?

Like it or not, screens are ubiquitous during the pandemic. But they don’t need to be after all this ends.
Augusto Gomes
Like it or not, screens are ubiquitous during the pandemic. But they don’t need to be after all this ends.
The left-side view from my window. Spending so much time jailed at home has forced me to pay attention to things I haven’t noticed before.
Augusto Gomes
The left-side view from my window. Spending so much time jailed at home has forced me to pay attention to things I haven’t noticed before.

Among all these musings, one of the most important for me was thinking about how I spend my time. It goes by fast and doesn’t come back. Every second we spend angry, bored in front of a digital screen, or lost in something we don’t really want to be doing, is a second less to follow our dreams, to have new experiences, to stay with whom we wish to stay. 

Sorting through my old files is a good way to reconnect to what really matters in my life. This picture is the one that best represents my last year, just before the beginning of the pandemic.
Augusto Gomes
Sorting through my old files is a good way to reconnect to what really matters in my life. This picture is the one that best represents my last year, just before the beginning of the pandemic.
My journeys have turned me into who I am. Mountains have a special place in these memories. They’re where I want to be when the quarantine ends.
Augusto Gomes
My journeys have turned me into who I am. Mountains have a special place in these memories. They’re where I want to be when the quarantine ends.

Sitting like a trapped bird in my room, I’m remembering all the amazing experiences I’ve had traveling the world in the last few years. But I also remember the countless days or months I’ve lost on social media, or with superficial concerns and unfounded worries. Or, worst of all, how many great experiences I’ve missed just out of fear or laziness.

This is a hell of a life lesson. The quarantine is teaching me the value of freedom and the outdoor life. It’s throwing it my face.

Exploring Patagonia groves with my friends in 2017. This is the kind of photo that reminds me where to find my happiness.
Augusto Gomes
Exploring Patagonia groves with my friends in 2017. This is the kind of photo that reminds me where to find my happiness.
The joy that nature brings. I can’t wait to have it back.
Augusto Gomes
The joy that nature brings. I can’t wait to have it back.

Hopefully we will be able to see friends, rebuild our plans, and travel again soon. May this hard moment lead us to a more conscious state, more connected to the ones we love and to our outer and inner nature. May we build a more respectful relationship with our planet, our only home, and may we spend our lives doing what we love.

Friends. Social contact. Good conversations around a bonfire. Daydreams on an overnight camp. What I most miss these quarantine days.
Augusto Gomes
Friends. Social contact. Good conversations around a bonfire. Daydreams on an overnight camp. What I most miss these quarantine days.
May this hard moment lead us to a more conscious state, more connected to the ones we love and to our outer and inner nature.
Augusto Gomes
May this hard moment lead us to a more conscious state, more connected to the ones we love and to our outer and inner nature.

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Writer and Photographer

Augusto is a Brazilian biologist, nature photographer, and environmental storyteller.

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4 Comments

  • Solange Gomes Farias said

    Só temos a agradecer por nos mostrar com leveza e arte a beleza através das lentes. É preciso pureza de alma p revelar um mundo tão belo em meio a crise atual e vc o fez c muita poesia. Parabéns👏👏👏

  • Valeska Buchemi de OliveiRa said

    Muito legal, real, e só fotão!!!

  • Gabriela said

    Resumiu tudo o que tenho sentido! E que fotos lindas! Viajar pelas minhas recordações de viagem tem sido meu acalanto e minha inspiração futura tmb!
    Belo texto! :-)

  • Travalerie said

    "Every second we spend angry, bored in front of a digital screen, or lost in something we don’t really want to be doing, is a second less to follow our dreams, to have new experiences, to stay with whom we wish to stay."
    And it hurts to be reminded of this feeling of being stunted, not moving forward. But it is a time for reflection as you so well pointed out.

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