Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Texan Stuck in Texas - Not Looking Good, Folks

My, what interesting times these are!  It seems selfish for me to even be concerned about taking this trip in a time when so many are sweating their next paycheck and even their jobs.  But I am concerned.  I have pretty much written off any chance of going anywhere in May, much less Nepal. U.S. and international governments have (wisely) shut down international travel at least for the foreseeable future and even domestic travel has almost ground to a halt.

The government of Nepal has issued a multifaceted decree that all but shuts down immigration there.  The Visa on Arrival program has been stopped, meaning entry visas can no longer be obtained at the airport.  Visas are available through the usual process from Nepali Consulates in the States, but the application must include a Wuhan flu test with negative results and then upon arrival, travelers must provide another test with negative results that is less than seven days old.  As important as this trip is to me, I'm not so selfish that I would take up two tests that others with more imminent needs could use.  As of this typing, such a test isn't even available.  And even if all those obstacles were negotiated, the Nepali government has instituted a 14-day quarantine on all immigrants upon entry.  That, my friends, is the final nail in my trip coffin.

Also as of this typing, I have 44 days before my scheduled departure.  The optimist in me says that anything could happen and that travel restrictions could be relaxed.  The realist in me is siding with the pessimist in me who is expecting to be home throughout the month of May.

I have been in regular communication with my fixer in Nepal and have been advised that August and September might be months in which I might make the trip.  There are many variables to consider including air travel, lodging, and weather over there that time of year.  Indeed, some of the Nepali and Tibetan businesses on which I would be relying may not even exist in six months.  The Unites States' robust economy prior to the outbreak will see us through to an economic recovery.  Other countries are not so fortunate.  I also have doubts that China will open up the Everest region or if Nepal will open their Tibetan border crossings.

The largest obstacle I face is where the world will be in terms of dealing with the Wuhan flu.  The entire planet is singularly focused on beating this virus.  With such an unprecedented response, I am confident a treatment will be found.  The question is how long it will take to distribute and for its effects to become effective on a global scale.