A New Reality
Friday, March 20, 2020
Last week, we were cruising the Lesser Antilles and exploring the islands visited by Christopher Columbus in 1493. These islands were the first of the New World to be settled and colonized by Europeans. Consisting of the Leeward Islands (so named because they are less exposed to the Trade Winds) and the Windward Islands (more exposed), the islands are a barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Our adventure began March 4th as we sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to Sint Maarten aboard Holland America’s MS Koningsdam.
We learned that all the islands share a similar history. Early Native inhabitants would battle with other island inhabitants; then the explorers come; trade ensues; economic prosperity brings more strife; forts are built–many, many forts. The sugar, salt and spice plantations bring slavery; the desire for freedom and equality prevails; treaties are signed, some succeed, some fail. And the modern-day tourist arrives; there we were!!!
We visited Philipsburg, Sint Maarten and Fort-de-France, Martinique before learning that islands were closing their ports to cruise ships due to fears of the Coronavirus. We by-passed St. Kitts to the substituted port-of-call, St. John’s, Antigua. That port decided to close; we never docked. We went to Barbados, St. Lucia and the US Virgin Islands. At this point, the cruise line informed us that we would complete the itinerary, stopping in Half Moon Cay for our final port, and disembark in Fort Lauderdale as all cruise lines ceased operations for a 30-day hiatus!!! We got home March 15th.
And this week, well…., we’re exploring a New World of our own as we learn to adjust to social distancing and self-imposed isolation. We came home to supermarkets with empty shelves; restaurants with 50% of their tables unseated; stores and shops without customers. We watched as all this devolved to closed stores, restaurants serving take-away only; services halted; roads empty as people stayed home and worked via internet. Cruise ships docked in port and going out to sea periodically for, I’m not sure what—exercise; making room for more ships? All this in only a week!!!
Just don’t know where this will lead or how long it will last. But do know that the human spirit is strong and amazing. We will get through this. We will recover and grow stronger. We will continue to love our families; hold our friends close; and pray for all.
Eventually, we’ll travel again. We’ll walk in the explorer’s footsteps and learn, experience, and exalt in the wonders of the world. Someday, I’ll finally get to Grenada and buy an amazing designer knock-off!!!
Meanwhile, we’ll tell you about whatever strikes our fancy; whatever oddities we come across; interesting observations. Oh,wait. That’s what we do!!! More later.