One of the perks of living in Europe is the proximity to parts of the world that would be very difficult to get to from our home base in Colorado. And, since my kids went along with the crazy plan of public school for the second half of this year (who sends their kids to two new schools in one calendar year? Apparently, we do.), we said that they could pick somewhere to travel that is easily accessible. A trip is way less expensive than a semester of private school, so it’s a win-win for all of us.
As we prepare to get on the plane today, the usual fears of flying and traveling have a new twist, and here are just a few of the reasons we all have to be afraid:
- Ebola. We are traveling through three international airports, and this nasty virus is everywhere in the news right now, even if they hype is scarier than the virus itself.
- Typhoid. While it is not absolutely required, all websites and the CDC recommend that travelers get a typhoid vaccine, which is currently unavailable anywhere in Greece. In the infinite wisdom of Greek politicians, they have said no to a third round of payments on the bailout (Greece declines a third payment) which, for practical purposes, means that Greece can’t afford to pay bills for little things, like vaccines needed for public health. We will be very careful: no tap water, no ice cubes (argh!), and everyone says avoid fresh foods and street foods, which will be very difficult — why travel if you can’t eat the street food?! Yannis was able to get the vaccine in the States, and he brought some water purifying tablets, so we will be prepared, and hope that all works out.
- ISIS. We are traveling in Morocco, which is next door to Algeria, where some really awful things are happening. I can’t even bear to link to articles of the horrors happening, but let’s just say that we made sure to thoroughly fill out our next-of-kin paperwork. And, when I say I hope we come back in one piece, I pause before laughing.
- Scorpions. My 9 year old is terrified of them, and will be checking her shoes. She has asked about 6,000 questions about the likelihood of scorpion bites and what to do to treat them. They are in Morocco, yet the risk is minimal. But her fears are real.
As I told my brother about my fears, particularly the Isis beheading issue, he laughed and said that he couldn’t believe that I would succumb to media-frenzied unrealistic hysteria. However, my primate brain is really having a hard time being ruled by the frontal lobe, particularly when I lay awake at night. The frontal lobe is really not in charge at 3am when thinking through all the possible scenarios.
But, when my frontal lobe, with all its executive function and risk calculation abilities, takes over in the clear light of day, I realize that driving every day, particularly in Athens, carries far more risk than any airplane or fancy riad-style hotel in Marrakech. (I am no statistician, but I am pretty confident that this is an accurate statement. If it isn’t, please refrain from telling me until two weeks from now.)
So, we will go. We will have fun. But, yes, I will be afraid. I will, in fact be very afraid. And not in the Lululemon “do something every day that scares you,” style that implies that taking hot yoga is scary, but in the “dear God, I hope I am not risking my family’s health and safety” style that inspires a full on panic attack.
But, we will not let fear rule us. We are going to choose love. Love of travel. Love of meeting new people, seeing new places, celebrating the birthday of my favorite 11 year old, eating new (hopefully typhoid-free) food, and experiencing a new culture. I’m sure I will (over)document the experience, and our joys, on Facebook.
And, when I say I hope we come back in one piece, I mean it. I really, really mean it.