Reflections to 2020 – the coronavirus and the changes in the world


Funchal Christmas lights 2020 on Madeira Island
Funchal Christmas lights 2020 on Madeira Island


2020, the year in which we started to write a new chapter for the future history books. The coronavirus, who would have expected this when we celebrated New Year’s Eve last year? As with everyone else, the coronavirus has also brought a lot of changes in my life. And although the virus has limited travelling in general, it has indirectly sparked new journeys in my life. In this blog post, I share my reflections about 2020, the year of the coronavirus and the changes associated with it.

Sao Miguel Island on the Azores
The Azores, the island of São Miguel: the coronavirus resulted indirect for new travels in my life


My reflections to the New Years Eve into 2020: even before the changes and the coronavirus 

After working as a receptionist at the Radisson Blu Resort for almost ten months, I decided to change hotels shortly before 2020. I returned to my job at the timeshare resort where I also worked in 2007 and 2008. A little disappointed that I had to work the night shift (being the newest colleague in the reception), I started working exactly at midnight on the New Years Night of 2020. That night I worked a quiet night from 0.00 to 08.00 am, with questions that came to my mind about what the coming year would bring.


Funchal Christmas Lights 2020 on Madeira Island
Funchal, Madeira


A short trip to Madeira Island in the beginning of March 2020: time for changes!

At the beginning of March, I had a short vacation and travelled to Madeira, or rather Porto Santo Island, for a few days. Porto Santo is a small island which is located next to Madeira. I mainly went to do some scuba diving and the whole trip was too short to see anything of Madeira. I was faced with a decision to take on a new job as a scuba diving instructor that summer, and as anyone who follows me knows by now: I’m a decision disaster. I knew I wanted to change some things because I was missing something by working in the reception of a luxury resort. I also thought it was such a shame that I had to leave after five days, I had a strong desire to see more of Madeira!


Nun´s valley on Madeira Island
My desire came true, just not exactly how I expected it! Nun´s valley on Madeira Island


The changes of 2020 that did not happen, due to the coronavirus

In the weeks that followed, everything changed very quickly. I was more or less deciding to take the job as a diving instructor. But before I knew it, we were already in a huge lockdown in Spain. And even though my contract at work had already been extended, this was suddenly reversed in some weird way. Not much later, the resort just closed. Who expected this? All air traffic and tourism came to a standstill and I ended up in the ‘paro’: a kind of Spanish unemployment benefit that you build up yourself when you work in Spain


Santana On Madeira Island: known for the triangle houses
Santana, Madeira Island


The isolation was reinforced by the coronavirus in 2020

So, out of a sudden, I was home alone for almost two months. But it wasn’t even such a drastic change for me. I had been pretty isolated for months. I was missing something in my job and was having a lot of questions about what I really want with my life. I hardly ever went out and sporadically saw a friend or met my uncle and aunty. But now this was forced, I couldn’t see anyone at all. I only spoke to the girl from the supermarket and made a few video calls with friends and family in the Netherlands, but beyond that I was completely on my own.


Gituirshark Painting
Painting, something I picked up during the lockdown on the Canary Islands

Thinking & Reflections: The time of self-isolation in 2020 

At first, I thought a lot about the coronavirus. I was convinced that nature wanted to teach us something and that this virus did not come without reasons. That it might bring about a change that would be necessary for all of us. At one point I got tired of thinking and I started reading, meditating, writing, painting, cooking a lot, doing yoga at home or other exercises via YouTube. I even read the entire Old Testament! I have always loved spiritual books and often look for some truths in ancient traditions and texts. But unlike the New Testament, I had never read the Old Testament completely!


Little bird at the hotsprings on the Azores
And a lot of truth and wisdom can also be obtained from nature: birdie at the natural thermal baths in the Azores


What else the coronavirus is trying to teach us, reflections towards the end of 2020 

And even now, at the end of 2020, I still think we have something to learn. Nevertheless, I don´t ignore all the suffering, it is all very serious: people are losing loved ones, the whole world is turned upside down, people have become trapped and the economy is in disrepair. Yet I believe that one world view is making way for another. And a drastic change usually involves some kind of destruction initially, both in personal lives as well as globally. And although I was already convinced in the spring of 2020 that something had to happen to bring about change among humanity, in terms of how we treat the earth and where we put our priorities, after two months of sitting at home alone I was getting so sick of the whole coronavirus and the stories in the news.


Botanical Gardens in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores
So happy when I could hit the road again! Botanical Gardens in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island in the Azores

After the lockdown in May 2020: starting to find a way with the coronavirus 

How happy were we, here on the Canary Islands, that we were allowed to leave the house without having a reason! I will never forget how I could enjoy a walk or to go to the beach with a friend on the first day it was allowed again. And how clean was the seawater! An activity that I sometimes not even undertook for half a year or so, because things become ‘normal’ when you live somewhere, I suddenly appreciated all the more. As well as simply seeing a friend who only lives a short distance away. We were also allowed to meet again on a terrace as long as we kept our distance and left our mask on until we are seated at a table. Of course, I was also very happy to see my uncle and aunty again.


Arguineguin Beach, Gran Canaria, Spain
So happy to be able to go out again after the lockdown: Arguineguín beach, Gran Canaria, Spain


The summer of 2020: changes, restriction and changing notifications about the coronavirus

In the summer there were many changing stories and no one knew how the virus would affect everything from then on. Fortunately, we were still allowed to go outside and I had some birthday parties (including my own :-)) on the beach, barbecues and other events. And suddenly I was a little bit less isolated than in the months even before the coronavirus. I also started to have some hope that travelling would be possible again and slowly started picking up my blog again. I renewed everything and rebuilt it myself in WordPress, and I started a YouTube channel with some old videos that I made in my previous trips.


(the start of my You Tube Channel)

Here is a video about the Christmas lights in Funchal:


My wishes for 2020 came true after all: travelling to Madeira & the Azores

And even though there were no diving instructor jobs to be found, I could travel! Because things were still very uncertain around the world, I decided to travel to Madeira and the Azores. And one of my wishes from the beginning of March was to see more of Madeira, so my wish came true after all. The Azores have also been on my list for a long time. And the Portuguese islands offer free tests for all tourists, so you feel safe this way too. I have been tested five times in the last few months! If I had still worked in the hotel, I would never have been able to make this long journey. Although I no longer had any income, I had saved quite a bit in the previous year and a half because I only worked and actually did nothing, bought little, never went out and therefore saved a lot.


Sete Cidades: the famous volcano lake on Sao Miguel Island on the Azores
Sete Cidades, the island of Sao Miguel Island on the Azores
Sete Cidades twin lakes on the Azores
In my element: travelling around, discovering and enjoying nature!,


The whole coronavirus faded a bit to the background on the Portuguese islands

I really enjoyed the beautiful nature in both the Azores and Madeira, the friendly and relaxed Portuguese people and almost daily with a ‘pastel de nata’ with my coffee. Apart from wearing the mask, the whole corona stuff faded a bit into the background. And I walked so much that I had to put on different shoes because my feet started to contradict a bit. For the past three months, I’ve walked between five and ten kilometres every day, usually rather ten than five and more than that on certain days. And I also did a few scuba dives on both Madeira and the Azores! But this trip also came to an end and after almost three months I decided to return to the Canary Islands.


Hiking around Sao Miguel Island on the Azores
Walking, or hiking: one of my new favourite hobbies (the Azores)
Levada walk on Madeira Island
On Madeira, there is more than 2000 km of Levada´s: so enough to hike around!


Natural hotspring lake or thermal pool, in Furnas on the Azores
And in the Azores, you can always chill in a natural hot spring afterwards (volcanic thermal pool)


And now: where are the coronavirus and the changes of 2020 heading?

Once again I was alone quite a lot, this was good for the writing (I have almost two books finished now, more information will follow), but I didn’t feel like being alone for Christmas and New Years. Since 1999, I’ve almost always worked during these holidays, except for 2018, 2017 and 2015, so I wanted to enjoy it again this year. And since, for almost all my life, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry, in hotels, in tourism, or for diving centres, and these industries are currently all down, I have no idea what 2021 will bring me.


Furnas, Sao Miguel Island, the Azores
Beautiful nature in the area of Furnas on the Azores
Volcanic activity and steam at Furnas, Sao Miguel Island, Azores
Volcanic activity at Furnas on Sao Miguel Island


The changes of 2020 are not over yet, but I have stopped thinking for a while

The changes are not over yet, but I have decided not to worry too much this last week of the year and above all to enjoy it. I spent Christmas with one of my best friends here on Gran Canaria, with her parents and daughter. I had a birthday party of another good friend, a party on the boat where my friend works and will also celebrate New Year’s Eve. Even though these things have to be done at home, we can still enjoy them. Spain has already had its worst lockdown of 2020 in the spring and luckily parties like the one on the boat are allowed. And as my friend says, life is too short to be sad about things. So I myself have decided to just enjoy everything this last week, we can’t change things anyway!


Madeira Island, Portugal
See you again, Madeira! On my way back to Canarias
Boat party on Gran Canaria
Hola Canarias: immediately a party on the boat where my friend works. Obviously with a mask, but I took it off for the photo!


In the last week of 2020 I´m taking stock for the whole year!

And in this last week of 2020, in terms of socializing, I am making my balance (compared to being isolated at home) for the rest of the year. I enjoy every day. I am grateful that I was allowed to travel in 2020, because, even though there were no restrictions with regards to the coronavirus in 2019, I did not travel more than a short visit to the Netherlands in that year. And since travelling is what I love most, yes even more than diving, 2020 was not such a bad year for me. I am grateful and I enjoy these last days of the year, I enjoy life with what we can do despite the restrictions. And for sure I find a job again in 2021, I always do! 

Beautiful Azores
The Azores are absolutely beautiful!
Beautiful lakes on the Azores
More blog posts about the Azores will follow
Fogo lake, the fire lake, on Sao Miguel Island on the Azores
Fogo lake on the Azores


After all the reflections: on our way to the new changes of 2021

I assume that 2021 will be a better year and that we can see the results of the changes that 2020 has brought about. It won’t get better all at once in terms of coronavirus, but we can choose to think positively that things are changing for the better. And things that were taken for granted before 2020 will definitely be appreciated more. Yesterday, I watched a very interesting teaching from Marianne Williamson about letting go of 2020. And what she can say so beautifully: God cannot do for us what we don´t allow to happen through us. Or something in that sense. Ultimately, we all have to make something of it, so let’s be strong together in 2021! I wish you a very happy New Year. And with my wishes of love, happiness, health and strength for 2021 to all of you, I am writing my last blog post of 2020. To more positive changes..  And more blog posts in 2021 :-)

The best wishes for 2021 from Splashpacker
All my best for 2021! From the Splashpacker :-)
Christmas lightning on Funchal on Madeira 2020
Funchal, Christmas lights
Jurassic Park nature on the Azores!
On the Azores, you sometimes feel like you´re in Jurassic Park!
Madeira Island, Atlantic Ocean
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