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October 21, 2021

Window on the World Column | No Need to Quarantine Here

It seemed as if it should be simple enough. Used to be that way. I wanted to go to my hometown of my home country and sprinkle the ashes of my oldest friend’s mother on the sea wall, where we used to hang out when our two families were together by the sea moons ago.

With all the Covid restrictions still in place (no benefit yet to being fully vaccinated), I researched how difficult that might be. The USA is still in amber status — though perhaps California should be already green — and that means certain rules and regulations must be followed for international travel.

Firstly, there are airplanes in the sky — not many routes, but still, they are flying. The rules are that you must have a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to your flight. Can do. Then you must designate your chosen quarantine place for 10 days. No problem. (I need to finish writing my book anyway.) You would also need to pre-pay, book and show proof of negative Covid tests on days 0-2, 8 and 10. If you would like to pay an extra fee on day 5, and that is a clear result; you will be free to go, but still required to get tested on day 10.

My head was buzzing as I tried to absorb all this information. Oh, and the lines are several hours long to get through British customs. In this instance, there is no benefit to having my British passport and global travel status. Well, heck. I guess we won’t be giving Jean a sea wall send-off anytime soon.

I haven’t seen my people in over 18 months and that is a very long time for a gypsy like me. Thirty years plus, I have been traversing the pond and it’s currently very difficult for me to live as I please. I’m going to sit on that travel idea a while longer; at least until we are in green status and the passage home won’t be, hopefully, quite so painful.

Endeavoring to look on the bright side, I remembered that we are not on lockdown anymore and I could go somewhere, do something different, even though it wouldn’t be abroad. My daughter works part-time over on the Peninsula, and I thought it might be a bit marvelous for her not to have to leave the house so early on those particular days. We could just stay right there! You can forget how blissy that coast is when it’s only a skip away.

Ordinarily, I will only visit if we have people to stay; but that has been a super long time in Covid land, and why not just go over there as a tourist? We all know how tough the hospitality industry has had it these past several months; do something helpful for those in your backyard! Eat some of that yummy fresh fish and chowder, enjoy those amazing views and listen to the legendary bark of the sea lions! Additionally, it’s a great tonic to be able to relax in a motel room after a day’s walking around and not to have to worry about driving home. I love to wake up to the sounds of sea birds and a salty waft.

We stayed a little off the beaten track near Cannery Row (check out any number of travel sites; there are lots of deals to be had), but close to everything. I found a new favorite spot on the Coastguard Pier, where you can be up close and personal with the seals, sea lions and their cubs. The occasional otter will drift by chewing on a shell filled with something delicious. Cormorants whoosh overhead with fish-stuffed beaks. I was completely entranced by these views of a magical marine mammal theater right on my doorstep.

I prefer not to be a tourist when everyone else is, so I met my girl over there on the day after Memorial Day and after she had finished work for the day. What a delight that was with light traffic, plenty of parking. fairly empty paths, lots of nice restaurant seating (in and out), and a fabulous opportunity to look at this lovely seaside town with a new sense of wonder.

We had ourselves a staycation, as it were, dining at local eateries and spending a little money toward our remodel in the local shops. I was saddened, but not surprised, to see several commercial vacancies and I’m sure the fall-out from Covid will continue to be fairly extensive in the coming months; but regardless, there was an air of optimism and friendliness out there that I had not witnessed for a while. It seemed as if folks were royally glad to be back at work again and getting shifts under their belts.

The traveling public was out too. We noticed number plates from all over the country. We have all got tired of sitting around at home — this will be a summer of cautious, but persistent adventure; I just have a feeling. Everyone was masked up and sitting where they were told (lots of spaciously placed tables) and I was glad that outdoor “parklets” will still be allowed for restaurants going forward. I think this adds a nice touch of color to say the Fisherman’s Wharf, and who doesn’t like people-watching?

We enjoyed tasty local dishes at Abalonetti’s, Schooners, the Chart House and La La Lounge and went home with a long list of other restaurants we wanted to try next time. It was a splendid, restful staycation and I even worked on my book while we were away!

Though the current world situation is a little disappointing in terms of actually being able to successfully fly somewhere that requires a passport, open your eyes to all the places you are able to travel to closer to home and make a plan there for the time being. There’s no point in raging against the machine. In time we will be free to move around the universe again and that will be a wonderful thing.

For right now, take a staycation, just like we did and plan to again. As Granny once said, “A change is as good as a rest.” For us, that was a true story.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist
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