Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

February 16, 2020

A Change of Plans

When this year started, I had big plans for the first half of this year. Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal. Kyoto. Kenya.

And then Covid-19, the latest coronavirus hit.

I've been watching it closely over the past few weeks, talking with friends in the region, hearing stories from colleagues stuck in their apartments.

And I've decided to cancel my travels for the Spring.

I have the enormous privilege to be able to travel and live all over the world, experiencing places and cultures and sharing those stories with you. But with that privilege comes with real responsibility - socially, culturally, and epidemiologically.

The sort of travel I do makes me a huge carrier risk for disease. I'm relatively young, healthy, and traveling from one side of the planet to another, passing people from all over along the way. I live in regular neighborhoods and shop at regular markets far off the normal tourist, backpacker, or business traveler paths.

There are of course always risks to travel - but doing so while we have a significant disease in the wild basically because "I want to go there" seems foolhardy and reckless.

So for now, and the foreseeable months ahead, I'll be staying put in New Zealand.

This means that instead of getting letters about the cultures and stories from those amazing places, you'll get ones about getting a business off the ground or everyday life in New Zealand in the months ahead. Thanks for understanding and sticking with me. :)

Watching this virus move has also hit home for me how quickly and dramatically we've shifted to a world where a person going anywhere on the the planet in a day is not only possible, but normal - and how we've never had to manage anything like a pandemic under those circumstances.

It makes me feel lucky to get to live in a time like this, and also so grateful for the scientists and doctors who are out there, leading and figuring out how we do manage diseases in such a connected world.

Once Covid-19 has been contained and my traveling doesn't add to the risk of spreading disease to people who don't have amazing health care systems to help them out, I'll be back on the road.

But for now, we can both settle in, and remember what the world was like just a few decades ago, when international travel was largely out of reach. :)

After all - we're all in this together.

Have a healthy week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this story of a marathoner under quarantine - who ran 50 km around his living room. People are amazing. :)

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