It’s in my blood, this travel bug. I was born with it, into it, and it has only grown stronger with every passport stamp, every border crossing, every coastline I’ve walked on that signals the end of a continental mass that still hasn’t been swallowed up by the Ocean. Every year, as I stubbornly become more myself, I embrace my need to be in semi-permanent motion and I’m learning to balance it with my desire to have a place I can call home.
My first stop on this new nomadic journey was a place I know well. I’ve been visiting St Petersburg, Florida, since I was a child and have seen it evolve into a vibrant town. It’s a good place to start: not only does it almost feel like home but it’s the perfect mandatory detour since travel to Europe directly from Colombia has been inconsistent at best due to Covid regulations. So I figured I’d stay for a few weeks, hit the beach, and hang out with family until my flight to Europe. But like I said before, nothing is going according to plan, and that’s okay.
I’d been in St. Pete for about a week when I was presented with the chance to go to New York for a few weeks and cat-sit. If you know me, you might be surprised— me? Cats? What!? I know. I’m allergic and haven’t been their biggest fan, I’ll admit, but everywhere I go, I seem to be surrounded by these lazy felines, so I figured this was as good a time as any to embrace these fur balls and enjoy New York in the summer. I can always pop an antihistamine, right?
Below are some of the cats who have come into my life over the years: I didn’t choose the cat life, the cat life chose me.
With everything going to shit again thanks to the Delta variant, brought to us directly by anti-vaxxers and vaccine hoarding, anything can happen in the next few weeks. Will there be new border closures? New quarantine measures? Will flights be cancelled? It seems unlikely but then again, so has most of the apocalyptic scenario that has developed over the past eighteen months, and there are still a million “what ifs” rolling around my brain. But what can I do about it, besides getting vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask? Well, I could go to New York. So I bought a train ticket from Tampa and spent twenty-five hours aboard Amtrack’s Silver Star travelling north.
As I watched Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey fly past my window, I could only hope my first COVID vaccine dose, double-mask, and hyper-vigilance would be enough to protect me from the virus. Finally, New York City came into view and I forgot about everything else: I made it!
In all, the train journey would have been infinitely more enjoyable without a raging global pandemic as there was no shortage of quirky characters I would’ve loved to talk to. For now, experiencing America’s railroads during the 2021 Delta variant surge was an adventure in itself.
Follow along on my blog and social media @LauraRepoOrtega and keep me company on this new journey, wherever you might be and wherever I may end up.
All photos shot on iPhone (except some of the cats 😽)