Anyone who has read the book about my travels to the Himalayas( Big Red: How I Learned Simplicity from a Suitcase) will remember it was a 30-year dream, one year of planning, and having to deal with a plethora of obstacles. The other day, after four weeks of fits and starts, I finally got the nerve to made the big decision and take my first adventure to the grocery store. The comparisons are below:

  • In case I encountered anyone with the following, I still had protection for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and polio from my trip to Asia, except for COVID-19.
  • I traveled extra light-my keys, credit care and coverings for my nose, mouth, and hands. No 90 pound suitcase, duffel bag, carry on, or laptop to lug and drag through 22 airports.
  • I had no fears about missing crucial flights. A car was a straight shot to get me to and from safely.
  • No one held up any signs saying Welcome Ellie. Instead I was greeted with a  sanitized cart from a hard-working attendant.
  • Even though my face was sweating, I was happy to have a mask. Unlike my travels through three kingdoms and too many airports, I was among the tourists who had no protection from the 2009 swine flu pandemic or the all the passengers I sat next to less than six feet apart.
  • Because getting lost is an integral part of my DNA, when I entered the store terminal, I was ecstatic to see blue lines marking my route. 
  •  Half the people there were directionally challenge. They didn’t know which way the arrow pointed. If was pointless to muffle a few unkind words under my mask because I discovered it left some individuals temporarily deaf. Proof of this was when the guy behind the seafood counter kept yelling to the person behind me, “I can’t hear you. I can’t hear. Stop coming closer. Talk louder.”
  • Although I didn’t need to use it, it was a comfort to know there was a toilet within walking distance instead of …well you know…the infamous hole in the ground and the great outdoor.
  • My Buddhist chant was quite different this time. Underneath my mask I kept muttering, “Shit, you better not come near me or else.”
  • This temple was not filled with monks clothed in maroon and yellow robes. But I felt like I was among my people. Dressed in sweats, roots showing and wearing the same disguise.
  • When I  returned from my Asian adventure I was ten pounds lighter (the same 90 pound weight of Big Red)  There’s no more fear of that. My grocery bill has grown exponentially. 
  • It was understandable when I experienced physical and emotional exhaustion after being in a strange land for almost of month. I was surprised to feel this way again. I needed a nap after a two hour shopping excursion and another changing gloves, disinfecting every damn thing, including counter tops and myself, all performed with a litany of the worse profanities known to man.

In closing:

Stay safe and be well everyone!