Our plane tickets were purchased in late November for an April 21st departure to Paris. A tentative cruising route had been chosen. We bought our annual French cruising permit in February to take advantage of an "early bird" discount. Train tickets had been purchased and hotel reservations made for our arrival day as well as for a late April excursion to Provence and the Cote d'Azur, i.e., the French Riviera. Our French long-stay visa was approved and in hand by the first week of March. And then the world changed as coronavirus made its presence known.
It quickly became obvious that we weren't going to be spending 5 months in Europe this year. Thus began the process of unwinding what we could of the travel arrangements already made. Aside from one rail segment, cancelling our French train reservations was an easy process. Ditto for the hotel reservations. The French visa was money "down the drain", but we have chosen to consider it as part of the expense of our Everglades explorations during this year's visa application visit to Miami. Because of a shortened pleasure cruising season (the French canals have not yet opened for pleasure boating) the French may end up refunding part of the price of our cruising permit. Our Paris flight itinerary was cancelled without penalty and we have until September 30 to book new flights.
The flight rebooking issue presents our biggest dilemma. It would be lovely to think that we could get back to C.A.R.I.B. III this year, even if just for 2 weeks or a month. Maybe as we go through the 5-month rebooking window we now have we will gain greater clarity for making a decision, but everything depends upon the "ifs": if/when the European Union re-opens their borders to non-EU citizens. . . if we can be sure of having health coverage for COVID-19 while overseas . . . if, assuming we leave, we can get back to the U.S. without too much difficulty . . . if we feel as though we can travel without undue risk to our health.
Yes, we're disappointed and saddened to not be in France at the moment, and unsure of what the future brings, but we also realize that our concerns are pretty minor in the scheme of things. Unlike so many people at this time, we don't have worries about jobs or income or housing or health or feeding ourselves.
As we wait to see what the summer brings for our nation and the world, we are trying to make the best of the situation. There are definitely worse places to be than St. Petersburg, Florida. The lovely weather allows us to get out for walks and bike rides. Lon is able to take his trumpet lessons on-line. Our Tuesday movie "date night" at the local AMC theater has been replaced by Netflix. We are mostly cooking at home, but do support our local restaurants a few times a week by ordering take-out. Although most of our volunteer activities in St. Petersburg are on hiatus because of COVID-19, Pat has found a way to give back and keep busy by sewing face masks for the local children's hospital.
|I am happy to be doing this for the hospital's families|
and other visitors, but it is not a natural fit for me.
This experience has given me great empathy
for those who work in garment sweatshops.
|Wish we were there: C.A.R.I.B. III awaits our return at|
the Port Royal marina in Auxonne, France.