A COVID-19 Travel Day – Homeward

While most of my friends, and the entire world it seems, are hunkered down in self-imposed quarantine and hoping the toilet paper doesn’t run out, I am on a “long way round” trip from the Estancia Laguna Verde fishing lodge in the Patagonia steppes to my home in London. And I do mean “long way round”. The only flights I could get before the shut down of air travel in Argentina were the following: El Calafate to Buenos Aires, then to Sao Paulo, Bazil, then an overnight flight to Madrid, and a late afternoon flight to Heathrow. Ugh! But the fishing was definitely worth the travel aggravation. But then that’s what all crazy fishermen say. I hope to tell my body that as I am a little stiff and somewhat bruised from my fishing adventures and sedentary travel.

This could easily be a winging blog about bad travel karma and the state of the world, but let’s not go there. Instead, let’s find the good news. Every competent flyfisher knows that if you focus on the problem, you get more problems. Like tangled lines in gale force winds, flies caught in trees or on rocks on the bottom of the lake, or fish throwing the hook and getting away. It happens! But it happens more with a bad attitude.

And the trajectory of leadership follows a similar path. Clarity of Vision and a deep belief in a Positive Purpose are what makes a business deliver for its customers, communities, the environment, employees and shareholders.

Someone once said the sadness of growing old is hardening of the attitudes, not the arteries! So true. An unencumbered stream flows the truest.

So some thoughts on this trip home. First, it’s amazing to see how people can rise to the occasion in a crisis. Some even surprise themselves. And I am surprised to see how nice people have been at every point along this journey.

The lodge manager, Nico, got up at 2am to get all the guests out on the road at 3am for the 5 hour drive to the El Calafate airport. In fact, all along Nico and his staff have been working behind the scenes to reorganize our travel plans, some of which got cancelled by the airlines only minutes after they were made. And all the while the guests were shielded from all this chaos. After all, we were here to fish and it was their job to make certain we had an excellent fishing adventure.

At the El Calafate airport there were stranded tourists in sleeping bags all over the floor, yet no hysterics. The normal chaotic South American check-in lines were quiet, reflective and respectful of each other. I think it’s beginning to dawn on all humanity that we are all in the same lifeboat on uncharted seas.

Before we were allowed to go to our gate at El Calafate, all passengers had to line up for a health check; our travel details plus a temperature check. A little crude, a digital thermometer under the armpit, but adequate to make certain an obviously infected person didn’t travel. Again, no grumbling or bitching, just facing the facts and getting on with things.

My flight from Sao Paolo to Madrid was nearly full. On this flight nearly 70 % of the passengers had masks on. The crew wore really fancy masks the entire flight; high quality with carbon filters. The passengers had a variety of different masks, some are tie on masks while others had the kind where the elastic bands slip over the ears. All shapes, sizes, qualities and even colours. A few fashionable women had pink masks.

A quick shot on the plane:

One thing most people don’t realise about these masks. Bad breath is really magnified inside this closed mouth-nose system. Ugh! Not sure which is worse, rebreathing the after effects of an airplane meal or COVID-19. Good thing I brought an amply supply of chewing gum and breath mints on this trip (after all fish don’t bite well for fishermen with foul breath – little known fact that only experienced fishermen know.)

Am now at the Madrid airport waiting for the last leg of this marathon – might be my last flight for several months if this epidemic keeps growing. Here is a photo of the departures board near my gate. Five flight panels usually full and flashing with gate updates, etc. Today, March 20, 2020 only one board with the last flights before Madrid airport goes into lock down.

Almost home. And I am really looking forward to a few things, in this order: Kiss my wife, hug my daughter, cuddle my monster cat, soak in a hot bath with epsom salts to soothe my aching joints, and a “John Childress” G&T – for those who don’t know, that’s a 50:50 G&T – industrial strength!

News flash: the unthinkable in Great Britain. They have ordered all Pubs closed! In case you don’t understand UK culture, the Pub, affectionately known as “my local” is the place where the village, or neighborhood, gathers every evening to meet and socialise, and especially on the weekends for a Sunday roast lunch. This may well be the end of the UK.

And an positive news flash. I am home safe in London. Christiane picked me up at around 8 pm last evening. Fond fishing memories but a very weird journey. The best part was the wonderful people I met along the way.

Stay safe and positive, everyone. And stay turned for more blogs.

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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1 Response to A COVID-19 Travel Day – Homeward

  1. Frank says:

    Safe flying.



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