Chile: whether to travel during a travel alert.
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As mentioned in a post quickly written on Sunday, I have a flight booked for Santiago, Chile on Friday. At that point, I wasn’t sure whether I should go and I put my dilemma to all readers. I received many thoughtful comments and good advice. You can read them here: Solo Travel to Chile: Torn between two values.
Now, I have made my decision. Here’s what has gone into it.
The Canadian government’s travel alert:
OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel …
My personal network’s travel alerts:
Here’s how my friends and family weighed in on the decision which, I should point out, is not about whether to go at all but whether to go now. Their comments ranged from things to consider to direct advice to personal preferences. The result is this list of reasons to go and reasons to stay.
Reasons to go now:
- The condo that I was going to borrow in Santiago was spared so I still have safe accommodation.
- My flight has changed but is not canceled. I can still go on Friday though it would not be a direct flight.
- The tourism office is not discouraging people from going to Santiago, the deserts of the north or Patagonia in the south.
- By going, my need for travel is fulfilled – at least, I don’t have to come up with another trip.
Reasons to stay for now:
- It feels grossly inappropriate to me to go to a country for pleasure when it is reeling from a disaster. Logical or not, that’s how I feel.
- Reports I’m receiving second hand from people in Santiago say that the people of Chile are dealing with a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome since the quake. I certainly would not see the people and culture at its best.
- I work with tourist offices not tour companies. The final details of my trip were to be confirmed Monday. Due to the quake, this didn’t happen so I am not sure how much of what I hoped to do is now possible.
- Tourism dollars are always welcome but I think that my going and writing about Chile under normal conditions would be more beneficial to the country than writing about its present state.
- My family prefers that I don’t go.
That’s my list. I’d like to add two other comments that hold weight:
- “I think your answer is found in your question.”
- “Take the time to really evaluate & then trust what your heart tells you. The pause in your decision may be your answer.”
I will wait and go at a later date.
For those considering going to Chile, or any area during a travel alert.
For anyone considering going into a disaster area to help, I’d like to offer the core of a comment left by Gwen McCauley in my last post. Gwen is a personal coach and poses some excellent questions for those considering travel during an alert.
- Have you ever experienced a major natural disaster or environmental trauma scenario before? If so, what was the long-term impact of that experience on you? If not, how do you tend to react to dirt, putrid smells, lots of noise and being in the presence many, many people in deep emotional distress? Can you even imagine how you might respond?
- What’s your capacity for being around people and animals who are in distress but whom you can’t help? (some people don’t get hooked, others torment themselves by their impotency -pay attention to cues from day-to-day living: do you have a history of rescuing injured cats, dogs, squirrels; if you see a crying child how difficult is it for you to pass by? Your responses to those kinds of situations reveal a lot)
- Have you considered the language dynamics. I don’t think you speak a lot of Spanish so what do you think it’ll be like for you to try to process your emotional responses to awful situations in a context where you might not have access to fluent English speakers? I’m sure you’d do just fine in making yourself useful, it’s the deep emotional ‘aftershocks’ within yourself to what you’d have to deal with that interests me.
- How long after you return home are you prepared to have your life disrupted? I know and work with a lot of folks in the International Development field and each of them has had to develop their own way of dealing with the culture shock that is the norm for their work. Those who end up in disaster situations often have many of their assumptions about themselves and the world shaken up and it can take a prolonged time upon returning home for them to find stability and equanimity again.