Locked-down

2020, Mar 25    

Luang Prabang, day 22.

Homesick is a pain that I am used to.
It hits me every single time my dad drives me to the airport.
It is a grief and everybody deals with it in a different way. Me, for example, I fight it by booking a return flight immediately after landing. My antidote is a very well defined date to hold on to, another flight to wait for.
It is unfortunate, in this sense, that all flights are being cancelled. All borders are officially shutting down for at least a month, but it’ll be longer, much longer. Home has never been so far away, and all the certainties we had just crashed on a wall and fell apart.

Outside of this comfortable little luxurious corner a speaker is repeatedly announcing road by road (in Lao) what we believe to be the imminent lockdown.
The wind blows violently through the palm trees, the air feels heavier and darker as another storm approaches.

We are the only customers left in this hotel, most tourists escaped when they had the chance.
The staff has been reduced to the bare minimum, and the few ones left look worried, despite their smiles and kindness. They live in poor villages where nothing is for granted. Healthcare, water, electricity… If and when we will go, they will lose their job too.

Everything has changed since we arrived here, those long walks through the beautiful and colourful night market are gone.
Luang Prabang has suddenly turned into an unwelcoming place where locals often appear afraid of us, dismissive.
Only now we recognise the pattern, those stories that we read about other backpackers in Cambodia, Peru, or episodes of racism against Chinese people in Italy, in England and pretty much everywhere on the globe.

If we even thought we could live in Luang Prabang, the truth is that we’re not ready for it.