First Trip After the Pandemic

Hamis Hegazy - Feb 12th - 3 min read

Welcome everyone! This will mark the beginning of our blog series in this new category, focusing entirely on travel!

I enjoy traveling so much! It is safe to say that it is one of my hobbies, albeit an expensive hobby for sure! To me, traveling involves staying overnight away from home, regardless of the distance. Traveling serves as a means of distressing; it provides a break from the realities of everyday life and the monotonous routine. However, when the COVID pandemic soared globally, engaging in the activities I always enjoyed became difficult. The experience with the pandemic made me realize the significance of appreciating the small joys in life, and not to take anything for granted. The pandemic heightened the monotony of my routine, making it feel even more repetitive.

I love experiencing new cultures, exploring new places, and best of all, trying the local cuisine! The first trip after the pandemic filled me with nostalgia. It reminded me of all the trips I took before the pandemic and how different they were. From seeing the moving walkways to reach the other side of the airport, to the expensive water and food, and the huge windows by the gates where I get to see the planes take off to a new country. And, of course, the thrill of looking through the Duty Free store! It truly got me excited! It is the little things that always made my trip more memorable.

One day, my father was browsing a travel website that offers deals on 7-week trips that include round-trip flights and all-inclusive hotels. He stumbled upon the perfect deal for a trip to Los Cabos in Mexico, but my family found themselves in a state of panic! The deal began within two days, and my entire family was caught in a dilemma asking, “Should we go???” We had the deal in our online cart on the website, yet the decision remained inconclusive.

The following morning, as I was stretching and getting out of bed, my dad exclaimed, “Yalla! Get up and pack your bags!” I woke up, and immediately began packing for the trip. The anticipation to finally travel abroad filled me with joy. Since 2018, I have not traveled outside of Canada! We had an entire trip planned out for 2020, but lo and behold COVID emerged. The whole world changed in an instant! Although the trip was refunded, my heart was still eager to go. Fast forward to 2022, those 2020 hopes came rushing back to me, and I was very grateful.

The airport felt very different. We needed to take extra steps, such as printing the vaccination QR codes as well as filling the forms to confirm I have no COVID symptoms. And also, I had to ensure I had enough masks for the duration of the trip. Despite all those extra steps, I wanted that window seat on the flight. I wanted that plane wing picture with the beautiful clouds. I wanted those uncomfortable naps that hurt my neck after I reached the destination. It is nostalgia! Although the pandemic put many of my dreams on hold, I never ceased manifesting and working towards them. I worked more shifts at work to earn more money, so that I can buy more souvenirs in Mexico. Additionally, I began to plan a smaller trip after Mexico that I can go on such as to Banff.

Upon reaching Los Cabos in the afternoon and taking my first step outside the airport, the humidity hit my face like a fast ball. It was hard to breathe, and the sweat began to drip from my forehead. The airplane was freezing, so I needed to take off my jacket immediately. I missed the sun, the tanning, and just anything away from Canadian winter. My family and I chose a relaxing and easy going day for the first day of the trip. We sat in front of the massive blue swimming pool. I had to wear one of those huge sun hats and slap on layers of sunscreen to avoid sunburns because I tan like a peach! Mask mandates were not regulated; I wore it when I was in a big crowd for my safety. My sister was splashing in the pool so much that she eventually got my dry swimsuit wet. I cannon balled into the pool, and we played ultimate frisbee! It felt so good floating in the pool and having the sun in my eye. I felt very free and refreshed!

Perhaps the best part of my trip is trying the local cuisine. I have dietary restrictions because of my religion, so I can only consume halal food; however, any fish is permissible. For the whole trip, I always ate fish. I had this juicy salmon fish with lots of lemon juice and rice on the first day. Describing the sensation of the fish is hard, but the fish tasted so fresh that it felt like I was savoring the essence of the ocean! To immerse myself more into Mexican culture, I also tried cheese enchiladas and tacos with fish filling for the first time and it was so delicious. The fresh seafood I enjoyed in Mexico triggered memories of a trip I took back in 2018 when I returned to my home country, Egypt. Alexandria, a city alongside the Mediterranean sea in Egypt, has the finest seafood restaurants along the coast. The association between the fish I savored earlier that day and a cherished memory from my home country made me deeply appreciate that I visited Egypt before the pandemic hit two years later. I told my father my strong desire to return back home and see my extended family. He assured me that we would plan a future trip to Egypt, which filled me with happiness and gratitude. The simple memory from the food I had in Mexico reminded me of a different chapter in my life.

In the evening, my family and I went on a stroll by the beach and it was pitch black. The soothing sound of the waves felt so calming to the soul. Surprisingly, it was very cold and windy by the waves at night. A group of tourists gathered in a small area with a bright lantern and lots of music. Of course, I told my family that we should join them, which we did!

For the rest of the week, we continued enjoying all the amenities offered by the hotel. Readjusting to my regular routine after coming back from Los Cabos felt a bit strange! It was genuinely a fun experience to travel after a very long time due to the pandemic. I hope to keep exploring more countries around the world and collect numerous souvenirs. The pandemic revealed how life can suddenly change in an instant and emphasized the value of resilience during difficult moments in life. It also reminded me of the importance of always being grateful for the experiences I am fortunate to have.