For me, the pandemic ended last week. Two things happened: 1) I spent a week with a family member who was testing positive and I didn’t get sick; and 2) Japan opened to tourists.
The first event came with a day’s warning before my husband and I took our first flight since 2019. Louise, his oldest sister, who lives in Oregon, said she had tested positive after being exposed to her husband, who lives in nursing care and had just gotten Covid. But Louise had no symptoms except a cough. We and another sister and her husband, who had planned to meet us in Oregon, decided to go ahead with the trip.
We were careful—everybody was triply vaccinated and wore N95 masks most of the time. We spent most of our time outside, walking and talking and eating. The weather was wonderful. The company was wonderful. Everybody felt fine and nobody got sick. End of story. I felt free of pandemic worry and more secure about handling Covid if I did contract it. This seemed like a real bottom line.
Maybe in the same way, Japan decided to ease out of its pandemic worry. It was shut tight to tourists for most of the last two-and-a-half years, then opened to very restricted, small, fully guided tours over the summer. But while it was still all but shut down, Japan experienced a sharp wave of the latest Omicron variety, which may have suggested that foreigners weren’t to blame. So in late August, under pressure from economic leaders, the government announced that on September 7 the country would open to most kinds of non-guided tourism, although requiring bookings to be made through travel agencies.
I’ve been tracking this closely because for the past year I have been planning a trip to Japan—planning, scheduling, and actually booking, with money down. It’s not just me—this will be a Myers Girls trip, with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters, ages 3 and 12. We scheduled it for November 2022, with many assurances that Japan would probably be open by then as well as contingencies for refunds or rescheduling if it wasn’t.
But we’ve been biting our nails because Japan has been the last major holdout, besides China.
Now my travel consultant assures me that our trip is 100% good to go, time to pay the rest of that considerable chunk of cash. And I am going back to renewing my Japanese fluency in preparation for a super, fully planned, self-guided, once-in-a-lifetime blast of a trip with my girls.
The end of my pandemic apparently inspires me to take up writing again.
Is your pandemic over? If so, how did it end? What did it inspire you to do?