The me in 2019 would never believe that I’ve been living in Swakopmund for six months.
Like some smirking ghost of Christmas past, the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile dated 13 August 2019 reads: “This year my travel writing actually paid my bills…”
The images attached to the humble brag are a highlight reel of the best year of my professional life. A Travel Africa Magazine feature about exploring a witchy market in Accra, a Flamingo advertorial on Strand Hotel, a multiple-page spread on Vietnam in The Weekender and a solo woman traveller story featuring me in Paris in The New York Times.
Fast forward to late February 2020, the last time I caught a flight to Cape Town International Airport, and men in military fatigues are demanding a full list of my previous destinations.
Somewhat fresh from a three-month writing residency in the USA, I had heard of the advancing Coronavirus in snippets of airport chatter during a layover in Atlanta but, until that moment, it still had the vague shape of an exotic boogie man one could avoid by giving hotspots a wide berth.