A Traveler’s Nightmare, An Introvert’s Dream

Dearest Rachel –

Morning in Basel, and as it would happen, my window is faced to receive the sun. And the sun, for once, is more than happy to come in. it’s a bright and cheery morning.

Were I in worse straits, I might think it was mocking me. As it is, I am willing to welcome its brightness and warmth, at least for the time being.

You can probably tell that I’m feeling a little bit better this morning, despite not having medicated myself last night. I’m still congested, still a little feverish (I think – I woke up rather sweaty in the middle of the night), and I still have that croupy cough that Mohinder used to accuse me of shaking down the entire office with back in the day. but I know that I have felt worse over the course of the past few days, and as long as I stay in the room, I don’t have to wear that mask, because I’m not dealing with anybody.

Indeed, that’s the crazy thing about the whole confinement procedure; in being quarantined, I don’t actually have to wrap my face up at all times, like I would were I to venture outside. Although that’s being a little uncharitable to the Swiss; it’s a tossup once they are outside as to whether they wear the mask properly, or just have it slung under their chin.

I’ve been hearing a few things about the country, and its relationship with the coronavirus in comparison to its various neighbors. It seems that the Swiss are a bit more independent minded than much of Europe as to how to deal with it, to the point where there was a referendum literally yesterday as to whether to loosen restrictions further, in contrast to places like Austria (which all but closed down – my guess is that the Kara came from the Danube run that’s no longer available) and the Netherlands (which even as I landed in Amsterdam in order to make my connection to Basel, had imposed a new restriction on outdoor public spaces – essentially a curfew – after five p.m. So by the time the Kara got there, I wouldn’t have been able to hang out in those kind of places in Amsterdam even if I wanted to. Even restaurants were off-limits, so us guests who extended their tour to see the city would’ve been stuck with room service for those two days in any event. I just got to that part a lot sooner than everyone else). Looked at another way, if Sweden is essentially the Florida of Europe, Switzerland is probably Texas. If nothing else, I’m of the understanding that they also have a similar ratio of guns to people here.

If being cooped up in a hotel in the middle of a country that speaks all kinds of languages except English is a traveler’s nightmare, I would probably say that would be an absolute dream for an introvert. Or perhaps, it could be considered a test as to whether one truly is one. I’m pretty sure that it would drive you crazy, but some other people that are reading this might just think, “hm, that sounds like the life for me.” Well, if that’s what you think, here’s what to expect from it:

You will see no one. Period. Oh, you can look out the window, and if it’s during business hours, you’ll see a few office drones doing their thing. But you won’t be able to get their attention, or communicate with them, even if you wanted to.

You’ll get occasional knocks on the door, but by the time you put your mask on and open the door, there will be no one there. Just the food you ordered (which I will admit is very nice, as it saves me from having to determine whether and how much to tip the delivery person when they’re not there. So many socially awkward interactions avoided this way), which you can bring in and enjoy; I promise, I’ll tell you about the last few meals later on today. Sometimes, however, the deliveries are even more surprising:

I received this bag at about noon today, totally unsolicited.
Yeah, this looks nice. I don’t think there’s anything here I would particularly have asked for, but I can’t find anything objectionable, either. Certainly, Dad’s going to get an extra Christmas present from this (sorry to spoil that for you, sir).
Turns out, it’s from the Viking representative here in Basel; the card includes her email address, so we can keep in touch and hopefully resolve this confinement situation… eventually.

It’s a month early, but it feels like everything is being delivered by elves. It sounds like fun thus far.

Now, you’re probably expecting me to elaborate on the dark side of this situation. Brace yourself for disappointment; I haven’t gotten to that yet, unless you count the fact that, you know, I’m not on the ship, and as a result, I’m not seeing the Black Forest at the moment (yes, I’m still aware of where I should be at this point; that will probably fade as the days go by).

Much of this probably has to do with the fact that this was an impulse flight, not a long-dreamed-for vacation of a lifetime. So I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m not as disappointed (yet) as you might expect. I imagine this will change as time goes on, and I begin to actually feel like myself (because I’ll be honest, this cold – and I still think it’s a cold, I’ve had these before, as you of all people remember – is still beating me down, and I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the trip as well as I might otherwise have at this point).

There’s also the fact that, since I broke the news to you, obviously, other people have read about it, and the word has gone out. I have gotten a lot of emails, and responding to them has kept me so busy that all the things I kind of expected to be doing in order to occupy my time, I haven’t even gotten to. It’s a weird twist on the “Time Enough At Last” scenario, insofar that, while I haven’t broken my glasses, I can’t seem to get to my books – or rather, my games – yet, either.

I’ve just discovered another thing about the hotel in which I’ve been confined, which may be part of the whole ‘dark side’ thing, if you want to look at it that way:

I’ve just been able to make out the sign on the office building across the street: Kantonspolizei Basel-Stadt.

Yes, that’s right: I am across the street from the police headquarters for the entire canton of Basel-Stadt. If I were to go out the door, the authorities (who have been notified about my condition; Viking is required to, I understand) would be on me like white on rice. Again, for now, I don’t feel so great, so it’s not like I’m going to make the effort to try. How this is going to shake out in a week or so, when I’m feeling that much better (I hope), well, we’ll have to see how that turns out.

Anyway, as always, wish me luck, honey. It seems that I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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