Countries, Culture, Europe

Alpha to Omega of variants and travel

Ever wondered why the latest viral threat is called Omicron… well here’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel.

We have the World Health Organisation to thank for improving our Greek… and Zeus knows I’ve forgotten almost all my Classical Greek from school.

And anything that shines a light on Heroic Hellas and its culture has my vote.

The WHO plumped for the naming system so as to remove stigma from countries after the media jumped on the first Covid variant.

And our news gatherers lazily called it the South African variant.

Now we here at TravelTravelTravel being internationalists fully support their motives, particularly because jingoism and racism can run as wild as pandemics.

And it is to the Greeks that we have turned for wisdom and philosophy.

Lay off the Spanish

With queen of Spain Teresa, Eoghan Corry and Sharon Jordan in Dublin

Back in 1918 when the last global pandemic broke out it was tagged the Spanish Flu, the name by which it is still referred.

And this wasn’t because it broke out in the Iberian Peninsula (we still don’t know its origins).

Rather it was because that was where the information first started emanating about the virus.

On account of Spain being neutral in the First World War and its media generously sharing the information.

While, of course, the virus was taking its toll across the world.

Going for a walk: In Tenerife

And war-concerned countries were killing information at home just as freely as they were needlessly destroying each other.

As it is the first reported death was in the USA but let’s not quibble.

I only say this to set the record straight and correct a historical wrong in favour of my Spanish friends.

And we well know that they have had their own troubles to seek either natural or political as is all too real in one of our favourite Spanish destinations, the Canaries.

And my last port of call in Spain, Tenerife.

Alphabetti spaghetti

Next year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

Now, Omicron as it’s coming back to me now is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet which means that w’ve had 13 variants.

Delta we all know, and this pesky letter put paid to my trip to Oregon at the last minute…

And led me to pull out of the earlier working assignment to Las Vegas.

But beta, gamma and epsilon thankfully passed us by.

As did their friends zeta, eta and theta… who sound like the intake of a modern-day creche.

The next one barely registered an iota (and yes Greek letters have entered our lexicon before all this pandemic nonsense).

Kappa (no, not an American college sorority), lam(b)da (not a Tex-Mex dance), mu, nu (the other discarded Teletubbies) and Xi (a Chinese dynasty) soon followed unheralded.

Until we got to our Omicron.

Omicron, not Armageddon

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

And although our leaders are scaring the bejaysus out of his by interchanging Omicron with Armageddon it’s not.

The narrative is that it’s more infectious but haven’t we been told that the vaccines and the boosters are there to protect us.

And is it just me who is cynical.

That at a time when our politicians want to distract us from restricting our liberties the seriousness of Omicron gets ramped up.

And so we in the UK are told that we must now get a PCR test on arrival back in the UK and self-isolate until we get the result.

Which again sounds scary until you realise that we’re all Working From Home now anyway.

Isn’t it about time that we challenged these assumptions.

Particularly as everything our politicians have told us since the pandemic was called has blown up in their faces?

Democracies on trial

Now we might not go as far as Socrates who attacked Greek democracy (roughly translated as power of the people) in favour of meritocracy or elite rule.

But it is well seen that democracies are on trial.

And while it was the legacy of the First World War which all begun with the assassination of a royal in Sarajevo in the Balkans which heralded in the Fascists of the Twenties.

And of course the Wall Street Crash.

But it was also the failure of democracies in a crisis. We have been warned.

The good news

The good news is that there are only another nine Greek letters to go so we should be through all of this soon.

That’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel then.

See you on a plane or ship soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Europe

Canaries song of the black beach

Now that we can, let’s sing a song again, a Canaries song of the black beach.

Now Canarian beaches strike up the image for many package holidaymakers of the south of Tenerife.

But the west and the north are more dramatic and less busy.

Life’s a beach

By hook or by crook in Tenerife

Now you may have thoughts on other indoors sporting matters this weekend.

But if you are like me and live by the beach your mind may drift off to foreign sand.

All of which is why we’re sharing here great Canarian beaches.

And a shout out here to experts on all things Tinerfenos, Michael and Niamh.

Sing for Canaries

Saltire In Tenerife

I’ll place a particular emphasis, of course, on specifically Canarian beaches which you don’t really get elsewhere.

Tenerife is renowned for its black beaches on account of its volcanic terrain.

And yes, golden sand between your toes is the idyll.

But they don’t tell you that the sand sticks to your toes and gets everywhere.

Which you don’t get with black sand…

And kids (and the big kids among us) love to make a black sandcastle.

Black is back

Lanzarote rocks!

Playa de las Arenas, on the West coast, and Playa Jardin, on the north coast are to be recommended.

Black beaches too are a staple in Lanzarote, La Gomera and El Hierro.

El Golfo (so they’ll have sand traps) in Lanzarote…

Santa Catalina in La Gomera (and get someone to whistle to you).

And Playa Del Verodal in El Hierro (and remember to search for El Hierro inside of you).

Tbe Way to go

And the prize at the end

A water-swept black beach at the end of a walk around the cliffs and volcanic hills of the Canaries is a realisable oasis.

Just as well then that our friends at Canariaways include a stop there in their itinerary.

It truly is a walk through the ages.

And we’re happy to sing s song, a Canaries song of the black beach.

 

Countries

Flagging up Jimmyaica

As Scotland strikes out again to try seize its freedom following the vote for independence parties in the Scottish election, your global traveller is flagging up one Scots-infused country of Empire which did… Jimmyaica.

No, Jimmyaica isn’t my lame efforts at Jamaican patois.

It’s more a recognition of the Scottish imprint on Jamaica (Scots are playfully known as Jimmys) and particularly its flag.

Jamaican flags will be flying even more proudly next year as the Caribbean Island celebrates 60 years of independence and some of you might wonder why it has that St Andrew’s Cross at its centre.

Flags are us

If some of you are tentatively wondering that it might have something to do with Scotland then go to the top of the class.

You may very well be a vexillologist, or somebody who loves flags and have found a link too between the Scottish flag and the Tenerife flag too.

I did when I went out to the Canary Island with CanariaWays and found that they have the exact same flag.

No, that one is in Tenerife

The initial suggestion for the flag was a Tricolour of green (agriculture and hope), black (the struggles of its people) and gold (sunlight).

But that was thought too similar to Tanganyika’s (now Tanzania).

But then you knew that already.

Scotland the Wave

Besides, a missionary from Glasgow, Rev. William McGhie (he’d obviously considered his ain Glaswegians well past saving!) had the ear of the Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.

The Man of the Cloth persuaded him to embed Christian imagery into the flag.

And so the X of the St Andrew’s Cross found its way onto the flag to mark how the Apostle had lost his life.

Glasgow belongs to I and I

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

The Jamaican Glasgow on the west of the island is, of course, just one of a number of place names we both share.

Among the others are Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Greenock and ouch… Culloden!

So we’re off… with our official countdown to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

And I’m bringing you this in association with Flag Up Scotland Jamaica which helpfully also seems to want to promote Caledonian preserves – flagupscotjam.

Jammin’ in Jamaica: Bob Marley

So where do we start in the story of Jamaica?

Well, how about at Scotland’s lowest point, no not the aforementioned Culloden but Scotland’s failed attempt at an empire of its own, the Darien Expedition in Panama.

Darien’s loss

It could have been Scottish: The Darien

The Darien Expedition was the breaking point for the old independent Scotland.

The whole nation from king to pauper had put money into the project only to lose more than just their shirt.

Cap in hand a section of the Scottish Parliament approached England to bail them out in 1703…

And the price was union, all of which you can read the whole story of in historian Douglas Watt’s excellent The Price of Scotland.

So where does this take us in the Jimmyaica story?

The Campbells are coming

Rev it up: Rev. William McGhie

Well to Colonel John Campbell who refused to allow Darien to put him off making his fortune and who decamped to Jamaica in 1700 and set up a sugar plantation at Black River.

He was by no means the first Scot on the island though.

Oliver Cromwell banished 1,2000 Scots prisoners of war out here in the previous century where they worked as indentured servants.

Others to be exiled included those failed colonialists from Darien, Jacobite rebels, criminals and Covenanters.

All ‘Scots’ look like this: Naomi Campbell. http://www.naomicampbell.com

Campbell’s kingdom has a rich lineage.

And it is said that there are more Campbells here per square acre than in the whole of Scotland.

While his descendants may very include supermodel Naomi Campbell and Costa Rica footballer Joel Campbell.

And the Irish too

I’ve found my own native land’s DNA elsewhere in the Caribbean in Scotland in Barbados and in Glasgow’s bar in Tobago.

My own roots are in the old sod of Ireland and Armagh from where Patrick Murty hailed.

But I dare say that the rambling Murtys managed to get out to Ja as the locals affectionately call their island.

I’ll return to Jamaica’s many Scottish connections and I’ll be happy flagging up Jimmyaica.

As we journey on the road to the independence anniversary.

And I’ll scatter some Irish magic dust on the island too with the links which bind Jamaica and Ireland.

MEET JA ON THE ROAD