So I just arrived back in Toronto. And I’m in a different world. A few days ago I was walking around in Tokyo amongst the crowds enjoying the beginning of the cherry blossom season and warmer weather. The enticement of the cherry blossoms was too much for the locals myself and to resist. In hindsight, I should have avoided it all together. Nothing was out of the norm. The handful of tourists attractions that were closed, way before social distancing became a thing, were the only indicator that something was happening.
When I arrived home, I stepped into the apocalypse. The airport was empty (although Narita airport was also empty), Toronto arrival’s board mostly marked with cancelled flights. I waited for the bus to arrive and saw something I never seen before. The front door did not open, only the back. Two people exited and I entered into an empty bus. I look towards the front of the bus and noticed rope was being used as a blockade separating riders from the bus driver. And thus no way to pay for the trip.
When I stepped out of the bus I nearly saw tumble weed cross by. A ghost town as the cliché goes. And this is a central bus station, always packed with people going on about their daily lives. I headed to a local subway to grab a sandwich (out of desperation, I never eat fast food). I walk in to find the chairs flipped up onto the tables and a notice saying no dine in, take out only. Fine by me, I thought to myself. I grab my sandwich and head over home so start my 14 day quarantine. Only to get home and realize I have no groceries! Back out into the apocalypse but cautiously distancing myself and wearing a mask.
A lot has happened in the world since my last post. The overall mood is quiet with majority of people being concerned while not freaking out.
Here in Japan, majority of people are still wearing masks, the ones that not wearing have probably ran out. I still can’t find masks to buy. I still can’t find hand sanitizer. But at least toilet paper has been stocked up onto store’s shelves, not completely full but a better sign of the times.
Closures around country All the things that closed down later February and early March are still closed. But now hanami – flower viewing – has been added to the list.
Very little tourists Streets in high tourist areas seem very empty at times. It seems that all but a few tourists have disappeared. Tourists are easily spotted including myself.
Hanami – Flower Viewing Cherry blossoms season is here. The first buds have opened this week as temperatures have begun to rise. We have been seeing temperatures rise to 15°C /59°F in the afternoons. The sakura – cherry blossoms, or lesser known, ume – plum tree, viewings celebrated in parks with food and drinks during the day or night. But this year looks like there wont be celebrations happening. But the locals will enjoy the flowers blooming as I see many coming to parks and shrines by themselves.
I believe a travel curse has been placed on me. I don’t travel as often as I would like, but my last three trips I have witnessed an accident on each trip. No major injuries or death we’re involved, probably only bruised egos. Like an ironic twist of fate, where my joy of traveling causes pain and discomfort for others.
First was Amsterdam, a city with a large number of cyclists. The city is meticulously planned out so roads, sidewalks and bicycle lanes all equally have their purpose. All the organization in the world can’t prevent someone who isn’t focused from being punished for their moment of stupidity. I witnessed such a moment walking along the lanes under the Rijksmuseum which is open to foot and bike traffic. Locals and tourists were flooding the museum. A tourist couple stepped into the lanes, the man blindly walking ahead of his wife unknowingly dodging bikes. His wife chased after him and nearly collided with a rider who was quick enough to break and avoid bulldozing her over. The husband turned back to comfort his wife and walked right into the path of new bike rider, this rider had no time to stop! He ran into the husband, who dived towards the ground into a roll, feet up in the air like a gunslinger shooting 2 revolvers aimlessly at the heavens. No injuries, but pride definitely hit a new low that day.
Following trip, Portugal, the colorful Palacio De Pena. I’m recording a video attempting to capture the beautiful castle when I spot 4 resident cleaners coming down the steps. One the cleaners slipped and lands hard on her butt slipping down a few steps. The curse strikes again! No injuries or bruised egos this time, but bruised buttocks and a smile to shrug it off.
My last trip, in Lima, I witnessed a potentially serious accident, but again thankfully no serious injuries. Sitting street level enjoying lunch, I was watching the traffic go by. In the center of the street was a median with row of motorcycles parked in the center. A few of the motorcycle owners were hanging out chatting with each other. Some bikes had a food storage box attached for food deliveries. The busy city traffic was buzzing by when one rider pulled out backwards without looking. Suddenly he was rammed in the side by another motorbike, causing him to fall off his bike T.J. Hooker style onto the road with oncoming traffic approaching. He managed to avoid being run over by a vehicle. That not only would have been tragic, but definitely would have ruined my appetite too.
On our way back home from Cusco, we had an undesirable nine hour layover in Lima. We had no idea how we were going to kill the time. Upon arrival we dropped our bags at the storage locker for the day and booked a taxi. Doing a quick search on Trover I noticed that a part of a city was very popular.
Miraflores is a suburb of Lima on the oceans coast, with parts of the city’s edge rising at some points to 79 meters above sea level.
A good starting is Parque del Amor, featuring ocean views and romanticized art, sculpted walls with murals, and mosaics with romantic poetry.
Working our way down the sets of stairs we were greeted with the ocean and enjoyed a lovely sunset.
With the hours quickly winding down, we made our way to Parque John. F. Kennedy. Located at the center of the Miraflores. Popular for the public exhibitions, performances, artisan markets and surprisingly, a large population of cats. They make the park home and are fed and cared for by volunteers. The cats are generally friendly, especially if you catch them during feeding time.
After frolicking with the felines, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport for our flight back home.
Points of Interest mentioned in this post with links to Google Maps
When arriving at Lima Airport, make you sure you book a taxi located just before the arrivals exit to avoid scammers.
Uber (at the time this writing) is not allowed to pick up people at the airport, but drop offs are ok.
The airport is located in the Callao district, apparently not so friendly area to tourists. Any of the airport crew will tell not to go outside unless in a car or bus. Even to cross the street to reach the hotel located outside the airport.
I don’t have a picture of it so you will have to take my word for it.
They say you should have your camera with you at all times to catch the moment as it happens. Even if I had my camera with me, it would have been humanly impossible to catch it in time. I was in the back seat of a car riding through the small streets Zagora. The small street vendors were blurring by on a hot October afternoon, as we made our way back to Marrakech. My head was leaning against the car window bobbing side to side as we weaved through the small chaotic streets of the city. Among all the street vendors, I noticed one in particular, a meat vendor, in what appeared to be the smallest butcher shop in the world. Basically a 10×12 foot shack that was the lone shop for many of the locals.
Two men stood in the shack under a few pieces of hanging meat swatting flies in what appeared to be a futile attempt of pest control. Not wanting to give up, one shopkeeper came up with a better idea. Reaching under the counter, he grabbed a can of Raid and started to shake the can getting ready to fire… that was the last thing I saw as the car drove away…