FOR LONG I THOUGHT 2020 WAS A VERY BAD YEAR BUT NOT UNTIL THE LAST DAY DID I KNOW JUST HOW BAD IT WAS TO END
Looking back as well as looking ahead …
(Posted 01st January 2021)
As we celebrated New Year’s Eve 2019 and eagerly awaited 2020, little did we know what tsunami of stormy events if not catastrophes was heading in our direction.
2020, a round figure, a hundred years ago the start of what was to become known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’, it was to be a year of round birthdays in the family and a year when I could finally make good of a long standing promise to take my sister and her husband on the East African safari of their life.
When my year started with a broken tooth, followed soon after by a root canal procedure, the warning bells should have tolled in my head but it was not until mid February, when the writing became visible on the wall of life.
A virus, first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, began its relentless march around the world in what was to become the pandemic of a century, and probably only less deadly than the Spanish Flu of 1918/20 because of the great advances medicine has made since then.
First did ITB2020 cancel, then event after event for which I was signed up as a speaker, panelist or moderator, got axed too. Against my advice back then did some organizers try to postpone their events into later 2020 but what I saw unfold on a global scale made me certain that mid 2021 was a more likely timeline and today, even that assessment cries out for another major adjustment.
By the time my folks were to come to Kenya were Uganda’s and Kenya’s borders and airports already closed and we were locked down, both in Germany as well as here in East Africa.
When I look at the case numbers then and compare them with today, it was almost a laughable decision and the galloping upswing of infection numbers today shows that our governments have simply folded, abandoned all efforts of real containment and let the disease run its course.
Then, as the year advanced, did news begin to reach me that relatives and many friends had passed away, most falling foul of the virus.
I wanted to travel to Europe and see my family, masked and physically distanced of course, but with our airport in Uganda closed until the 01st of October, that was not to be, at least not the way I had hoped for.
Yes, the year got worse still … a stroke in September had left me speech impaired, another root canal procedure was required and when I finally managed to travel, on the second day with my parents, now 98 and 93 respectively, did my mother take a bad fall, was hospitalized and eventually admitted into what is now permanent care.
Meanwhile was my sister also in hospital, only coming home two weeks after I had arrived, and together did we give each other comfort that, as she ably put it ‘Life has to go one because it must go on’ …
We had a tearful parting in late November, assuring each other that the next visit would see us both in better shape as after all we had already laid out plans for 2021 where we would visit, just the two of us as we did over the past few years … Lake Constance again and the postponed State Garden Show in Ueberlingen, Berchtesgaden, our winter vacation stomping ground every year when we were kids, a cruise on the Neckar river, a visit to the beaches of Sylt, our summer stomping ground for 3 weeks every year when we were kids and then some.
In touch almost every day since my departure from Germany we shared our daily events with each other but the hope that the year would let go peacefully was in vain.
Another broken tooth and then, on the last day of the year as I was driven back from the dentist, the final shell shock when I learned of my sister’s unexpected passing.
I go on now, bereft of the rock in my life which she was, trying to make sense of a year which became the worst of my life. I go on now, determined to do as she would and did urge me after my stroke, to struggle every day for further improvements, to struggle every day to keep ATCNews going, to struggle every day to honour her memory as best as I can.
On the one upside this year, it gives me pleasure today to introduce ATCNews’ new ‘Contributing Editor‘ Achola Rosario, who came on board earlier in the year when we agreed I would feature her ‘F.O.M.O. Travel Show‘.
Only Lilian Gaitho, who also passed at a very young age a few years ago, turned out to be of similar zeal and commitment and I am happy to welcome Achola to the inner team, hoping her ongoing contributions will give readers interesting tidbits and insights how she experiences and sees East Africa’s tourism locations, be it hotels, resorts, safari lodges and tented camps, restaurants, attractions, markets and more through the lense of her camera.
I wish everyone of my, of better our many readers a healthier, happier and generally better New Year 2021.