I am writing this article sitting on my bunk bed in our cabin aboard the MS Norrona, the ferry bringing me, Laurent and Tommy from Hirtshals in northern Denmark, to Seydisfjordur on the eastern coast of Iceland. The sun is shining and the sailing is smooth. Life is good!
It was hard digesting the early return from South America, more than one year ago. Waking up the day after arriving home with an incredible feeling of emptiness…….a desperate sensation of moving from complete freedom to strict confinement within four walls. Who would have thought that so much time would go by before it would be possible to travel to far away places again? So much suffering and devastation before a pseudo return to normal? Can we now say that we have returned to normal? What is normal anyways? So many new words and phrases that either didn’t exist before the end of 2019, or were only used by scientists and academics, are now pronounced each and every day by average people, including children: “Covid-19, PCR results, antigenic testing, messenger RNA technology, FFP2, social distancing, collective immunity.” Is this the new normal?
Whatever the new normal is, Laurent and I have been waiting for the right opportunity to get back on the road and to finish what we started in November 2019. The opportunity has presented itself with the widespread vaccination programs in Europe. While we technically will not be finishing what we started, since travelling through South America is currently only still a dream, we will be completing our year of travel and discovery. South America will always be there and we are convinced that one day in the future, we will head back to continue where our itinerary was interrupted next to Volcan Osorno, on the doorstep of the vast and beautiful Chilean Patagonia region.
Our first idea was to ship Tommy to Canada for a cross-Canada road-trip from Halifax in the east all the way up to Alaska in the extreme north-west. The plan was to visit with family and friends along the way and to travel part of the route with our friends Todd and Isabella in their home-made truck camper. However, it was too early for such a trip and the shipping logistics were too demanding, given the uncertainty of the still-evolving sanitary crisis. So we switched to plan B….Scandinavia! Far from being a consolation prize, Iceland, Norway, and Finland have been on our radar for many years now and we are thrilled to be soon setting foot in such majestic places. Iceland is currently the only one of these countries to open its doors to tourists….but these days border restrictions change from one week to the next and we are hopeful that later in the summer the others will follow. Canada has just announced the suspension of its quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors and we plan to end our travels there in November.
We spent the weeks preceding our departure getting Tommy ready for Nordic outdoor summer conditions……this mainly meant making him as bug-proof as possible! We already had mosquito screens in the camper but not up front next to the driver’s and passenger’s seats. So I dusted off the seldom used sewing machine again and whipped up a pair of home-made magnetic bug screens for the windows. Easier said then done…..especially for someone like me and given the oddly shaped windows and delicate mosquito netting which call out for patience (not one of my strong points). Not very pretty but they should get the job done! Same thing regarding the mosquito netting for around the bed and for the door to the camper. New batteries were installed for the solar panels….and a few other “nice to have cosmetic changes” followed (“nice to have” and ”cosmetic” for me, “essential” for Laurent).
We also had to get ourselves ready for Nordic outdoor summer conditions. On top of the double covid vaccinations, we had to time everything perfectly in order to be able to get vaccinated for tick-borne encephalitis (viral disease transmitted by ticks….and lots of ticks in Scandinavia). This vaccine is not available locally in France and we had to cross the border into Switzerland twice to get the shots. Needless to say, our immune systems were working overtime over the past couple of months!
Laurent and I are very conscious of being among the fortunate ones. Fortunate for having been able to weather out the covid storm under good conditions, and for having this new opportunity to discover more of our great planet. We are thankful for all the great people around us that are making this adventure possible. Thank you Francine, Jean-Louis, Sebastien E, Olivia, Georges Ferrer 😉 and the clazo team.