I recently discovered (late to the party) Below Deck, specifically Below Deck's 8 seasons featuring Captain Lee. It's reality TV at its best. Apparently unscripted but a fabulously spicy mix of sea, sand, sex and obscenely rich people frequently acting like entitled toddlers. It's addictive.
I've urged my friends to watch it and now we exchange texts about the latest shocking development on board whichever mega yacht features in the series we are watching.
I've just finished series 8 of the OG series (don't worry, I still have Below Deck Mediterranean to binge on) and as it was filmed last year (2020) coronavirus starts creeping into the conversations from crew to family in other countries pretty early on.
No spoilers here but predictably the global pandemic has a huge impact on the charter crew and guests and watching it unfold unexpectedly brought on an almost PTSD response in me. I went to bed feeling anxious and on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.
It reminded me how long it's been since I saw my mum in person and how long it's likely to be before I see my dear friends Claudia and Bernhard (in Germany) and Sue and Geoff (in South Africa) again. It made me even more grateful for my son's amazing gift - he took me to Cape Town in 2017 to stay with Sue and Geoff and their children. I'm desperate to return with my husband but that seems like a very distant dream right now.
It made me recall our own covid timeline and our reaction to it so clearly. I remember flying out to Cyprus early in the year when coronavirus was first creeping into the news and asking friends if they thought I should wear a mask through the airport. I decided against it and remember seeing only one woman wearing one in Departures and kinda laughing in my head at her paranoia.
Now? Even if they remove the mask rule I think I would still opt to wear one through any airport, possibly for years to come even though I have had both vaccinations.
The Below Deck crew were really in a kind of Caribbean bubble where I am sure the news from overseas about shortages of food, hand sanitiser and toilet roll was bemusing. Here we were facing the reality of queues and early school shutdowns and an ever changing scenario as governments across the world struggled to know how best to tackle this insidious evolving disease.
It feels now like we are on a slow climb up the hill where the goal is to live as safely as possibly with the disease with the fewest restrictions possible. I do think some things have changed for good, sadly including affordable foreign travel for many.
For instance we are booked to go to Cyprus in September. Flights are paid for already but realistically the cost of tests required by both countries currently will probably prove prohibitively expensive. Add to that my autistic son's issues with the testing process and all the additional queuing in airports which will be required to check vaccine passports, test results etc which will also prove incredibly difficult for him and I start to wonder whether it would actually be cruel to put him through it.
For now I am putting my concerns aside. In these strange times three months is a lifetime and so many things could change. In the meantime I will get my fix of sun, sea and sand from Below Deck.