Well, here we are in late August, closing in on our intended launch date for our first year of travel, and Covid is back, like so many horror movie monsters before it. And like so many frightened but plucky teens in those movies, we are trying to stay alert and adjust to whatever comes our way. We are vaccinated, of course, and keeping a close eye on travel restrictions and virus hot spots. And we hope that the curves will abate in a month or two—not just for our plans, but for everyone who is suffering during this pandemic.
But since this blog is about our plans, I’ll stick to that for now! Since the spring, I have been engaged in discussions with the Minderoo Foundation, based in Perth, Australia, about coming to Australia as the Foundation’s first “Thinker in Residence.” How cool is that! One of Minderoo’s focal areas is early childhood, so I would serve as a part-time consultant, advisor, and presenter on the communication and policy implications of the science of early childhood development—an extension of my previous role at Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. Built into our time there would be plenty of time to travel and get to know Australia, which was already on our top ten list when this opportunity came up. And Perth itself seems so intriguing and beautiful that we are excited about the possibility of living there.
Unfortunately, Australia is going through their first big Covid surge, after having closed their borders last year and mostly keeping the virus out. City- and state-wide lockdowns have ensued in many parts of the country, and even Australian citizens who were abroad are having a tough time getting back into the country. In light of that, we are still applying for visas (a complicated procedure in Australia!) but trying to stay flexible. The good folks at Minderoo have been very supportive throughout and we all still want to see it happen, but it may be some time before we know when it will be possible.
That brings us to our next option (which was originally our first option!): Costa Rica. We’ve read such amazing things about the biodiversity, sandy beaches, ecological preservation, and “la pura vida” lifestyle that Costa Rica has long been high on our list. Plus it’s only a few hours from Miami if we need to get back for some reason. And Rachel’s been taking Spanish lessons enthusiastically for a few years now in preparation (I’ll be riding her coattails and looking for an immersion course). We’ve booked a scouting trip there in October to look at places where we might want to live for a year while we wait to make a decision on Australia.
Which brings me to the next “unfortunately”—even in a good year, October seems to be the worst month to visit Costa Rica (rain, roads washed out, a lot of places closed) so I’m not sure how much we’ll really learn by visiting then! And to make things worse, as of this summer, Costa Rica has been rated “Level 4–Very High Level of Covid-19” by the CDC and the US State Department is recommending against traveling there. It is not prohibited, and Costa Rica allows vaccinated travelers to come, but it’s still worrisome.
So, what’s Plan C? In truth, we’re still working on it. Probably a mixed bag of smaller adventures, hoping to start the whole “full year travel” thing once this damn pandemic calms down. Could be we move up our “North America in a camper van” year. Or spend some time scouting locations that are more open to travel.
Whatever it is, we promise not to go down into any dark basement to take on the monster. Not without a booster shot, at least.