Parallel Travelogue

I’ve posted several photos of the guest house in Port Isaac where we were planning to stay for a few days — it’s the shooting location for the doctor’s home and surgery on the BBC’s “Doc Martin.” But I never posted any of this lovely little inn we would have been checking into today, in Penzance. This was to be the first stop on our two-week trip.

Some quantum physicists theorize that every decision we make splits off a parallel universe in which we chose a different course. If that is true, then somewhere in a parallel universe, I will arrive today in Great Britain.

Last May, when covid-19 vaccinations were spreading far and wide, and the virus’s Delta variant was barely in the news, I booked a trip for my husband and me, which would have been centered on Cornwall and other counties in the southwest of England, with a side trip into Wales.

Mindful of the virus, we planned to stay in rented cottages and small inns, to avoid interior spaces frequented by hundreds. We would focus on villages and the countryside, not large cities where it’s harder to stay distanced from people. We would be fully vaccinated, we would follow the testing rules, and we would wear masks. At the time, the U.K. was requiring a quarantine for U.S. visitors, but we felt it would most likely be lifted before our trip. And it was. And everything I booked was fully refundable in case we had to cancel. But we were optimistic.

Then came summer. Americans who wanted the vaccine got it, and the other third of eligible adults outright refused, leading to a resurgence of the virus. Mask mandates lifted, just before Delta took hold here in the U.S.; Delta was already spreading rapidly through the U.K. And covid numbers rose.

We gave ourselves a September 1 deadline for making a decision. And by the time it arrived, we both knew what we had to do. Many friends were jetting off to Italy, Greece, Spain, and yes, the U.K., but we just did not feel that overseas travel was safe. A British friend asked why I thought it was so much more dangerous in her country than in ours, but that wasn’t it at all. If anything, it’s probably less safe here, on the whole. But travel itself seems unsafe and unwise. Airports, in particular, are hubs for transmission of the virus. I did not want to get covid, but maybe even more importantly, I did not want to feel that I was part of the problem. So we canceled.

Last night, in that parallel universe, we must have boarded a plane to set out on our British adventure. And right about now, our parallel selves are touching down in Amsterdam to board a connecting flight to Bristol, England, where we will pick up our parallel rental car and drive — on the right side of the road — to Cornwall. I hope our parallel selves have a wonderful time there.

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