Friday, March 13

Kauai/Princeville, day 13

While the past week has really been one to remember, today brought us to pull the plug on lots of our travel plans and reconfigure the next weeks.  We’ll go to Oahu tomorrow, as originally planned, looking forward to some activities there, including a few days of diving.  But rather than return east via SF—was looking forward to a visit with Glenn in El Cerrito, as it’s been so long since we’ve seen him—we’ll take the quick trip to Kona, and stay there until mid-April.

The most significant part of our planned travels during this period was a three month stay in Dublin.  We’d planned to begin the trip by touring Ireland, then enjoy short hops around many different spots in Europe where we’ve dreamed of visiting.  The generous offer to stay at Ciaran’s family home was to make that grand tour possible for us, of course, and we were so excited to spend time with his family, and in the UK and further afield.

But the day’s news just seemed to make very clear that getting on more planes, spending time in busy airports travelling to Europe…just not very smart these days.  So, much of the earlier part of today was spent on making the necessary arrangements to cancel our original plans, and find a place to stay in Kona.  All of our original April 14-July 14 plan is postponed, and our original flights home through SF all needed changing/cancelling.  We do look forward to a truncated trip to Ireland here in the near future, i.e., a tour of Ireland, but it’s just too early to make a specific plan for that.

I’m just amazed at the scope of what the travel industry, among many others, is trying to deal with and execute right now.  Airlines are eliminating change fees, offering credits for future travel.  They can’t handle the volume of calls, and are simply encouraging people to cancel plans online, and call back another day to reschedule.  Many hotels are offering refunds, though there are certainly businesses that are eating so much right now that they’re not doing so for pre-paid bookings; same with rental cars.  It seems everyone wants to be helpful, but I imagine that after a day of dealing with cancellations, watching all of their business go away for the coming weeks and months, it gets more than difficult to hold on to one’s grace and generosity.

That’s just the travel industry; let alone all connected to that industry (restaurants, entertainment).  I’ve seen news pieces about people taking advantage of drastically reduced travel costs to get in some usually-expensive travel while they’re told to telecommute, and I wish them safe travels.

And then there’s schools, at all levels.  Colleges and universities are doing a quick pivot to online teaching which, as has been clear for many years now, is neither easy nor terrifically effective mode of delivery, for teachers or students.  The idea of re-writing a half-semester’s syllabus, get that content online in a week, work out the technical issues of some sort of synchronous or asynchronous teaching, develop means of evaluating students’ work, etc., is all so daunting.

And in the arts, where performance of one sort or another is an essential elements of one’s education and requirements, the ban on gatherings >100 ppl, and/or telling students not to return to campus, means the peak experience of many students’ educational programs will be denied.  I just don’t know how requirements/opportunities will be reconfigured for our students in the arts who are in their final semester, the semester that brings the capstone experience of their years of work to a singular evening’s presentation.

The closing of public schools, and the pressure that puts on parents to find daytime childcare, the pressures on medical clinics, hospitals, and on and on, is making this moment in time at best  frightening, anxiety-producing, and stressful; at worst absolutely devastating to families health and financial stability.

And here we are, able to prolong our time in a kind of paradise, hopefully somewhat isolated from this virus.  Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe our situation right now.