Updates From People Around The World
We have been checking in with our travelers as well as our staff and tour leaders. We checked in with one of our newest tour leaders – Dinah from Argentina. She joined our dream team last January in Chile and Argentina on one of the very few trips we were able to run in 2020 – an Expedition across Patagonia!
Dinah Thaw, northern Patagonia
Where do you live? I live in a fertile, agricultural valley at the foothills of the Pirque Mountain. In an area called the Comarca Andina which is a geographic zone of the Pre-Cordillera of the Andes Mountains. It is in the north of Patagonia in a region of many lakes, rivers and of course mountains. I am 175kms south of Bariloche, where many of our tours in Patagonia begin.
Now that we are nearly a year into this pandemic, what are the current regulations for where you live about going outside, how have they changed during this time? Argentina has had some of the most strict measures in place regarding Covid safety and social organization. We began ‘lockdown’ in the second week of March. My son had just started kindergarten! He went just two days before all of the schools closed and the first quarantine mandate came out to stay home. For the first few months we stayed strictly at home – and avoided all unnecessary public contact- it was the phase of Home-Quarantine. Fortunately, we live in a place of expansive nature – our backyard is all forest and mountains.
In August the government declared that each province and municipality could begin to determine what level of restrictions and security measures were necessary depending on the spread of the virus. For us, August was when a more normal flow of activity resumed on a societal level – we entered into the phase of Social Distance; 6 months had passed and everyone had adapted to the necessary norms in order to live safely and considerately with one another. Today most social and physical activities (sport groups, classes, excursions, etc.) have resumed in our province. The majority of workplaces are functional. Schools remain closed.
What ‘normal’ activities have you been able to maintain or resume? Fortunately, most of our ‘normal’ activities are quite nature-based; biking, hiking, riding horses, planting in the garden; so none of those activities were limited due to the Covid-situation. We began soccer as a family activity – in some sense as a replacement for kindergarten because it was the only group sport activity that has been able to function seamlessly throughout the ebbs and flows of restrictions! Spending time with neighbors has become an important social outlet, as we live in such a remote area, we consider the neighborhood itself to be a bubble!
Where is the first place you hope to visit once travel restrictions are lifted? In the beginning I dreamt of long distance travel – I wanted to travel to the ocean and go surfing, immerse with a different kind of natural surroundings and climate than the one I live in. As the quarantine situation continued over an extended period, I began to pay attention to the immensity of wilderness to explore around us in our closest environment. Currently I am preparing to venture deep into the Cordillera each time more wild and uncensored.
What are you most grateful for during this time? I am most grateful for living where I do, surrounded by both the community of people, and the wild expansive surroundings. This combination has made it possible for us to feel protected, safe, accompanied, as well as free throughout such an unstable and uncertain period of time on a global level.
What have you been doing to pass the time? I have been home-schooling my son, continuing the construction of my home, developing the property, making the annual garden, teaching English to adolescents in the neighborhood, learning to do remote work from the computer, hiking, biking, and riding horses in the mountains, and, generally speaking, continuing to create ways to stay healthy and happy and grounded, whatever direction the world turns.
Are there any habits or past times from lockdown that you will keep as restrictions ease? We began to speak on FaceTime daily with my mother when the first lockdown occurred; she is in Canada. She began the habit of taking out library books for my son and reading him 2 each evening as I prepared dinner. This was an awesome development in their long distance relationship. I hope that as restrictions ease, we continue creating that special time for bonding!
How many house projects did you complete while you were on lock down? Many! I would consider myself an amateur ‘Jill of some Trades’. In this time I have mastered the use of the chainsaw, jig saw, sanding machines and so many more. It has been a year of becoming practical and developing skills to resolve situations a la DIY.
Any specific food or drink you have come to appreciate? What a great question, yes, definitely. The local production. Amazing organic cheeses, artisan sourdough breads, fermented/ conserved vegetables, craft beer, and all of the abundance of fruit from our valley! It is moving into summer here, and the parade of fresh produce began first with cherries and strawberries.
If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be. If I had one piece of advice to give, it would be something that I can share from my own personal experience. I am not an expert in anything, but I am a survivor of my own experiences and it is from this place that I write. Do not wait for the outside world to create the optimal conditions for you to re-activate. Do not stop your trajectory as a person in development, in relationship with the people in your life, or your society. This Pandemic experience is an opportunity for personal responsibility and freedom. Within the conditions of your own situation, your own life, continue to experience, to learn, to share, to dream, to grow, and to live. While the world readjusts around us, stay focused on the world you have created for yourself in your own life – replete with goals, hopes, and missions to be accomplished.