By this time, late June, Ruth & I usually know where we are going for the rest of the year because one has to make arrangements so as to spend time in a destination seeing the sights instead of wondering where we will sleep. But this year is definitely different. We got in 2 brief trips early in 2020 before the pandemic hit but have not traveled since. Things seemed to be opening up earlier this month, so we began thinking we might hit the road soon. We began reading articles about how housebound Americans were planning summer trips in record numbers and the recovering hotel industry. But then the virus and restriction returned, face masks went back on, and I nostalgically began finding notes to myself about destinations we were considering. Now they all seem, maybe, impossible. Below are 5 of them.
La Paz, Mexico. I loved John Steinbeck’s old book called The Pearl. It was set in La Paz, which he vividly described. When The New York Times (NYT) picked La Paz as one of its 2020 destinations last January 12, I saw it as an omen and added it to my wish list. It was #18 of 52 bests for this year. Freda Moon called it one Mexico’s oldest and most dynamic towns. She raved about the Sea of Cortez and nearby Cabo San Lucas, which we visited briefly in 2018. She called this area of the Gulf of California the “Aquarium of the World”. I was sold.
We went to Grand Isle, LA in 2018. It’s #19 on the same list as La Paz. Chris Hall called it “hauntingly beautiful”. This was not the phrase I would use to describe Grand Isle, which was at the very end of a fantastic highway, State Highway 1, that we had spent the day exploring. What did I miss? I put it one the list of places to return to and vowed to find out more about Grand Isle because we had done little more than drive through it.
Richmond, VA. This was another 2020 selection by The New York Times and a city we have not been to for many, many years. Ruth had been talking about returning to Williamsburg, VA for Christmas. Was it time to return to both? In retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t make it there. Its author, John Dorman, called it a “…a sleepy capital steeped in Confederate history” and I wonder how many of its memorial statues have been damaged or pulled down.
Salvador, Brazil. This city was Brazil’s first capital, and a 5-year historical preservation was completed in 2019 when The (NYT) chose Salvador as its #14 destination for the year. One traveler, Sebastian Modak, spent his entire year trying to go to all 52 of them. Ruth and I have never been to Salvador, and I try to take her to some exotic destination for her December birthday every year. Was Salvador the best choice? I wrote “Birthday” above the entry and added it to our wish list. Sebastian made it there, but we did not.
Another 2019 NYT choice was Dakar, Senegal. Dionne Searcey called it “an oasis of freedom in a region of unrest.” Africa is 1 of only 2 continents we have not been to, and Dionne raved about Senegal’s positive energy and Malibu-like coastline. I wrote “Birthday” above this entry too, but we didn’t make it to Africa that year.