With travel plans going awry, this traveler was forced to stay in place and take in some lessons from Ireland, its locals, and nature.

Who travels in the middle of a pandemic?  When I made my long-awaited plans I felt I had done my due diligence in all areas of my well thought out plan.  I was going to Ireland to look at property.

I had tried this past summer but the pandemic was so unknown and new.  At least now, from all accounts I had read on the news and the government website, Ireland had gotten a handle on the COVID spread. They were the second-lowest infection rate in the EU. I was slated to leave on January 6, 2021.

Before I left, the new variant had just entered the UK and had not yet hit Ireland.  I continued with my persistence of whether I should leave or not. All systems pointed to go.  So off I went.  I tested before I left to be sure I wasn’t bringing anything into the country and had a negative test to prove it.  I rented an apartment to quarantine.

I was ready to face this responsibly and then get on with my plans...

Then January 11 hit-the highest number of COVID infections in all of the WORLD!  The new variant had taken hold of Ireland and I was smack dab in the middle of it!

Never in all of my planning did I have a "Plan B" for the new variant.  After days of “What have I done?”, I finally settled into my apartment and finished my quarantine, filling my time with writing, reading, and lots of video chats explaining myself.  I did get outside to exercise a bit along the gorgeous Cappagh Coast, in West Clare.  I double-masked, sanitized, and sanitized again.  

Ireland is a country of walkers.  I have been here enough to be confident enough to say this.

Where I come from, I am told I am a “fast walker” and to slow down.  In fact, I was in Croatia a few summers ago with a native Croatian and she told me I had to learn to “stroll”, that people don’t walk fast there.  They stroll to enjoy the sights, people, and weather.   

However, in Ireland, strolling is less seen in the midst of winter and I can honestly say that I am a slow walker comparatively. It is not rare for an elderly elder to quickly pass by me at a brisk pace, one more at level with a teenager.  Impressive!  I told my friend that Ireland is a country of fast walkers because they are trying to walk out of the weather as quickly as they can.

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The most beautiful part of walking in Ireland is the people.  I never have heard anything negative about the weather even when I am walking in sideways rain.  There is always, “It’s grand out, isn’t it.”, “ A bit fresh (windy) isn’t it, but lovely, thanks be to God.”, the list of comments goes on.  People of all ages are genuinely happy walking in any kind of weather.  They really are.  

Despite the hideous pandemic going on, people here are still enjoying life, enjoying the outdoors.  And for good reason... the landscape is absolutely stunning and breathtaking. Literally! There has not been a day that I haven’t heard people talking about how wonderful it is outside, and to be outside.  It keeps me getting out to join them.  

Ireland is a country of people deeply connected to the land.  This is no secret and one of the reasons people are so charmed by the people and its landscape.  It’s rugged, beautiful, and honest.  

The pandemic has taught me a lot, but the people of Ireland have taught me even more while in lockdown.  They have taught me hope is available in the worst of times and looking at the positive will always make one feel better.  But more importantly, connecting with your environment, your surroundings allows a deeper connection with humanity.

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