A vaccine is here for some and coming for other and will free us all…I hope. Until then, it feels like we’ve been grounded. The world is closed and we’re missing out on the walks from Shakespeare & Co. to the Musee du Louvre to pretend we have enough money to go inside, but won’t “because it’s too nice out.” We’re not able to enjoy the walks up hills in Lisbon or across canals in Amsterdam and we’re not happy about it, but we’re dealing with it for the same reason we deal with everything we have no control over: because that’s life.
If I told you I wasn’t sad when I had to cancel three trips because of COVID-19, would you believe me? Yeah, I wouldn’t believe it either. I did everything in my power to keep them alive, but the borders fought against me.
We must not stop exploring, or learning, or engaging in cultural exchange when we literally have the whole world in our hands — our cell phones; our computers. With these incredible under-appreciated devices we are still able to delve into the world from the comfort of our quarantine headquarters. Whether we’re downloading Audible Books like:
“My Soul Looks Back” by Jessica B. Harris
“The Road to Oxiana” by Robert Byron
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin
“The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner
“The Great Railway Bazaar” by Paul Theroux
or sliding in the DM’s of Instagram strangers from around the world, asking about recipes for the homemade Pho or Guyanese Pepperpot or Locro or Panang Beef they cooked and put in their stories, the world is still there for us to touch, feel, taste, see, and smell if we’re lucky.
Today, I wanted to be in Nairobi or Berlin or Stockholm or Ga-Maila in Limpopo where I was given a goat, drank Amarula, and ate prickly pears under umbrella trees. But I’m in North Georgia, staring at trees I hope blossom soon, wondering if I’m the only one sad that it’ll be naked again in not-so-many months. Then I thought about and found ways to stay connected to the world and the beauty in it from our phone and our computers while we STAY HOME. Google Arts & Culture brings over 2000 of the worlds leading archives to us, wherever we are. I can sit under that cherry blossom tree or that umbrella tree and journey through museums, ogle at street art, fall more in love with nature, and laugh at the playful gorillas all around this blue planet. Go on…click around and get lost:
AirPano: A Virtual Tour Around The World.
Musee du Louvre: Online Tours.
Robben Island Museum. Cape Town, South Africa.
African Heritage House. Nairobi, Kenya.
New York City Street Art. NYC.
Grace Center Live Gorilla Cam. Kasugho, Eastern DRC.
The British Museum. London.
Incredible Views From The Top. Around the World.
Virginia Woolf’s Life In London. London, England.
Museo Frida Kahlo. Mexico City, Mexico.
GoDown Arts Centre. Nairobi, Kenya.
South African History Archive. Johannesburg, South Africa.
Fun Activity For Kids: If you have kids, let them create their own passport book and after each virtual tour or country exploration, give them a stamp! Hell, you can even make one for yourself! How fun! Also, don’t forget to use the Funtopia — kids entertainment near me browsing option to find the best places to visit with your kids!
My absolute favorite thing about traveling was meeting new people and practicing speaking their language to share stories. After a few minutes, we’d laugh at my giving up and resorting to English. Keeping in touch with the friends I’ve made during my travels has never been an issue. But making new friends could be. Luckily, I can still hop on Couchsurfing and connect with others also on house arrest. And then there are great language and cultural exchange apps like:
As you explore these pages and apps, more and more of the world will open to you. We hope this is a great place to start. We hope you find folks just as amazing as you are.
A quick shout out to DeRay who somehow, after over a decade away from gaming systems, played a major role in convincing me to count my pennies and treat myself to an Oculus Quest. It’s my first virtual reality game and they’ve done an insanely fantastic job creating such visual magic. If you count your pennies like I did, be sure to download some of their dope games centered around exploration, culture, and travel::
Add Me As A Friend On Oculus: CleverBastard.
I’m staying home and staying safe and staying as healthy as possible. I’ve shared my COVID-19 story on my personal blog. I’m hoping you are staying as healthy as possible and staying home as much as you can. I allow myself to get lost for a few hours each week in a different country. It makes the quarantine easier, I promise. The world is shutting down, but we certainly don’t have to and shouldn’t. We can still connect and vibe and build and explore and grow. So now, let’s remain optimistic and know that while we’re finding new corners in our homes to settle into, earth is becoming a little more green, blue, and beautiful. And when the world opens up again, we’ll be ready.
Stay safe, friends! Be kind. Let’s love.