Frequent travellers: covid19 blues, post-covid19 hopes

Paige Andrew in Amsterdam during one of her solo travels. Andrew has visited over 23 countries and looks forward to exploring more of the world post-covid19.  - Photo Courtesy Paige Andrew
Paige Andrew in Amsterdam during one of her solo travels. Andrew has visited over 23 countries and looks forward to exploring more of the world post-covid19. - Photo Courtesy Paige Andrew

Paige Andrew, 28, remembers being excited, at the age of six, in the days before her first plane ride. Young and eager, she looked forward to visiting Grenada.

But when it was time to board…everything changed.

“I remember being super-nervous about boarding and my mom having to almost drag me on the plane,” said Andrew.

Now, it is more difficult to get the “hot foot” Andrew off a plane than on one, as she has visited 23 countries on five continents. But her favourite will always be Grenada, where it all started.

“My parents are from Grenada, so most of my family still live there.

Spending one day Vinales is a must do if you ever visit Cuba according to Paige Andrew. Here she is photographed enjoying Vinales’ landscape. - Photo Courtesy Paige Andrew

“My most memorable travel experience was driving around Grenada in one day and eating way too much breadfruit,” said Andrew.

Like those of many avid travellers, Andrew’s globe-trotting adventures have been grounded by worldwide covid19 travel restrictions.

Newsday spoke to Andrew and four other frequent flyers who shared how they are adjusting to a world with no travel and how their travels will be shaped post-covid19.

Born and raised in Diego Martin, Andrew recently completed her master’s in communications and development as a Fulbright Scholar at Ohio University in the US, where she is waiting out the pandemic.

“I am itching to travel. If I am not travelling, I am planning a trip, so not being able to do either for the foreseeable future is quite difficult.

“But at the same time, no one can get me on a plane right now with covid19 in the air,” said Andrew, who has cancelled trips to Morocco, New York, and Washington DC.

While her travels have halted, she is keeping occupied with a new job. She recently started working online as a monitoring and evaluation specialist with Equality for all Foundation, a human rights organisation based in Jamaica.

For now, she relives and shares her travels on a blog she created called Lah Hay Travels. The blog’s name is inspired by the phrase lah hay, which in Grenada means to “knock about.”

And while eager to “knock about” again, she remains hesitant on frequently flying again until a vaccine is created but vows her appetite for curiosity will not stop

“Once it is safe to travel, I will be back to my lah hays, maybe even more curious to try new food, experiences and cultures around the world.

“I would like my first trip to be to Morocco, because I was so looking forward to that trip. This experience has certainly solidified my feelings about not putting off travel,” said Andrew.

Sterling Sankar, 28, Morvant

While Andrew’s curiosity has been emboldened, fellow frequent flyer Sterling Sankar said travelling in a post-covid19 world will change for him.

Currently an admin officer in a manufacturing company, Sankar, 28, has travelled to nine countries with a close race at the top, between Alaska and Dubai, for his favourite destination, so far.

“Unfortunately, covid19 has definitely changed how I will travel from now on. I will be more careful using anything shared with the public.

“Also, I’ve always been excited to try new food but now I'll be more sceptical of the establishment that prepares it, as opposed to visiting food markets like I used to,” said Sankar.

Sterling Sankar at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. - Photo Courtesy Sterling Sankar

Sankar’s first trip was at 20 when he went to England, where he did initial officer training with the Royal Air Force. But travelling is not the only thing that covid19 stopped for Sankar.

“My wedding and honeymoon had to be cancelled because of covid19.

“Right about now I would have been sipping on a drink in a pineapple, on a beach, with my now wife, in St Lucia,” he said.

Post-covid19, he looks forward to starting a new chapter in his life by marrying his fiancee and turning the St Lucia honeymoon dream into a reality.

While making him a more cautious traveler, covid19 has not stopped his desire to see every corner of the world. To tide him over, he reminisces about the wildlife of Alaska, which captured his attention, and Dubai’s skyscrapers, artistic architecture, and unending desert.

Dr Gideon Ramtahal, 36, St Joseph

For Gideon Ramtahal, travelling may never be the same, at least until an effective vaccine is created. But while Ramtahal intends to be more cautious in his post-covid19 travels, he is ready to savour new travel experiences.

“I think I would do regional travel before I brave more international locations, just to be on the safe side. So, Dominica, here I come.

“It's such a beautiful nature island with amazing lush forests, mountains and rivers. Regardless of the pandemic, I am always ready and willing to discover new places,” said Ramtahal.

An analytical chemist, he has travelled to over 40 countries and while he found it difficult to choose just one country as his favourite, he said Ecuador has carved a special place in his heart because nature there was breathtaking. In Ecuador, Ramtahal explored the Andess, volcanoes, aquamarine blue lakes in volcanic craters, hot springs, waterfalls, and quaint towns.

Dr Gideon Ramtahal takes a selfie with a camel named Jameela during a trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. Ramtahal has travelled to over 40 countries which takes him from the deserts of Morocco to the rainforests of Ecuador where he zip-lines, paraglides, and rafts. - Photo Courtesy Gideon Ramtahal

With trips to Ghana and the Ivory Coast cancelled over covid19, Ramtahal is keeping the travel joy burning though photos and videos from previous trips. Still, with covid19, he feels stifled.

“There are so many places that are on my bucket list and I had built up such a great momentum.

“I was so looking forward to visiting the Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Nevertheless, safety first.”

Kezra Lashley, 30, East-West Corridor

Post-covid19, Kezra Lashley is not sure where he will visit first but the list has been narrowed down to Jamaica, Costa Rica and Canada.

With a background in international relations, international affairs, and French studies, Lashley’s first foray was to Venezuela.

“My first trip was an immersion programme in Venezuela with my form five Spanish class.

“Having the opportunity to meet and live with Venezuelan families was most memorable,” said Lashley.

Kezra Lashley cools down in the shade under some trees while exploring the canals in Amsterdam, Netherlands. - Photo Courtesy Kezra Lashley

Since then he has travelled to 28 countries with France being his most memorable: he lived there for a while and travelled throughout Europe.

While anxious at first as the covid19 pandemic unfolded, he is ready for the world to heal and see more of what it has to offer.

“I really love to travel to experience new cultures, but I understand that it’s not possible at this time. So I had to cancel a couple trips planned for this year.

I think for sure I will be hesitant to travel again but I do not think it will stop me. I am excited to discover new foods and visit tourist sites once more,” said Lashley.

Amy Ramkissoon, 23, Waterloo

In 2018, Amy Ramkissoon got her first taste of travel when she visited Grenada. The trip had an extra special significance as Ramkissoon’s maternal grandmother lived there before moving to TT.

Since then Ramkissoon has witnessed a live mariachi band in Cancun, Mexico, and held a 1.4-kilogram ostrich egg at an ostrich farm in Curacao.

“Once you start travelling you cannot stop, you literally have a yearning to go every and anywhere.

“Covid19 has made me even more grateful for my travel experiences as I got to see some places.

“The pandemic has also opened my eyes that we must not take things for granted thinking we have time on our hands to do things later,” said Ramkissoon.

A communications intern at the Red Cross Society and a recent graduate from the UWI St Augustine campus with an undergraduate degree in communication studies, Ramkissoon followed the covid19 outbreak since January.

Recognising its rapid spread, Ramkissoon decided against a trip to Cuba this year, which she was looking forward to.

Post-covid19 she looks forward to visiting either Cuba or Canada but says covid19 has taught her to be a more careful traveller.

Ramkissoon plans to be more aware of hygiene in public spaces such as airports when travelling post-covid19 and to start looking into things like travel insurance.

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