COVID-19 Journal Entry #35

I had some more things to discuss about travel last night, but I got sleepy.

I’ve been doing a bit of virtual travelling during the pandemic. Or it might also be called pre-planning for future trips. But in a bit of a round-about way. I was reading an old article at the Vanity Fair website about the (alleged) origin of AIDS in Africa. I have a subscription to Vanity Fair and they have their whole archive up – it’s really interesting reading old articles that are 100% based in their own time. I have to re-contextualize my brain to understand how people were thinking at the time of writing. If I read stories about female celebrities from the eighties and nineties they describe their looks and weight a way that’s pretty gross and like it’s out business to know. I notice it now, but I wouldn’t have then. Also I read an article about an actor (I can’t remember who) from 1992 or 1993 who was dating little-known actor Lisa Kudrow.

The AIDS article was from 1987, so there have been some developments in the treatment of AIDS both medically and in the media, and I certainly kept that in mind as I read. It was a bit of an adventure for the writer to visit some of the locations in remote Africa. That didn’t get me thinking about travelling there, however. First I realized that I don’t know African geography at all, and so had put the article aside to study Google maps for a bit to see where Uganda and Guinea-Bissau are located. That led me to their Wikipedia articles for a brief skim of their histories and economies. And then while I was at it, I had to find out what’s up with The Gambia.

I tried getting back to the article again, and the writer trekking through the jungle, and that’s when it occurred to me that people can visit Africa – not necessarily as journalists, but just as tourists. So I had to stop reading again to look up travel tours in Africa, and indeed one could go to Uganda, at least, along with several other neighboring countries. One would have to camp most of the time, and there’s hiking and nature, but one could definitely go – and at not too expensively, either (what with the camping). Further research on visa showed I could actually go to these countries as a Canadian. I didn’t look at airfare, but I’m guessing it’s pricy and consists of many hours of travel time.

I’ve done a similar thing lately after reading an article about Mozambique, where residents are working at adapting to weather and climate change. Again, I didn’t know where Mozambique was, and again I studied the map for a while before starting my travel plans.

This weekend I was reading about Belarus. I didn’t get the the travel plans part of my routine because while I was looking at eastern Europe I noticed that there’s a wee chunk of Russia stuck in between Poland and Lithuania. It’s called the Kaliningrad Oblast, and I didn’t know it existed until Saturday. If you want to travel there you need a Russian visa, no problem. But if you want to visit Russia proper on the same trip, be sure to get a double entry visa. You can travel there by train from the Lithuania in the east, but train lines no longer run into Poland. You can also get a ferry from St. Petersburg.

To conclude my very bad geography report, there are lots of places I still want to see in the world. It really helps knowing where they are located.

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