By George Stone, TRAVEL Executive Editor
The coronavirus lockdown is keeping travelers—and tourism revenue—away from the world’s most beloved destinations. In Barcelona, a city that in recent years has absorbed some 30 million tourists annually, the shift from overtourism to no tourism is just one of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. And yet from the depths of COVID-19, the Catalan spirit is fueling a surprising surge of optimism, as we report.
“This situation has created a sense of community like nothing I’ve seen before,” says Inés Miró-Sans, co-founder of Casa Bonay boutique hotel. “People are helping each other in any way they can. Hotels that would normally be competitors are working together as one.”
As our reporter notes, people in Barcelona place a high value on seny, a Catalan word that translates as common sense and levelheadedness; in some ways, the crisis is a chance for locals to reassess the costs and benefits of the tourism economy. “This is a rare opportunity to slow down, take stock, and think whether we could be doing things differently or better,” says Miró-San. “I believe we’ll come out of this stronger, together.”
At National Geographic Travel we have focused on how communities are coping with the shutdown. In the coming weeks we will visit Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Istanbul to check in on how locals are navigating the challenges. As we eagerly await the return of actual travel we are digging into armchair explorations (savor these breads around the world!) and inspirational adventures for everyone (what’s life like in Patagonia, anyway?). Our goals are to sustain the spirit of exploration that brings us together and to support the destinations that rely on travelers. Travel can be a force for good—for supporting culture and conserving places—and we are as motivated as ever to stay involved, stay hopeful and stay inspired.
Do you get this daily? If not, sign up here or forward this to a friend.
Your Instagram photo of the day
Tomorrow, tomorrow: Wednesday is the first anniversary of the fire at Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral, where work has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, before the fire, is a 13th-century stained-glass window, statue and mural. The cathedral survived wars and desecration during the French Revolution in the 1790s but suffered significant damage last April.
Read: Coronavirus updated Notre Dame’s future. WWII may have some answers.
Travel on Instagram: Are you one of our 37 million followers? (If not, follow us now.)
Today in a minute
Coronavirus in the Amazon: Reports are emerging of at least seven deaths among a highly vulnerable indigenous population along the world’s second biggest river. There are concerns that scores of Yanomani have been inflected by a youth who died of the disease. The youth had moved back and forth through an area rife with wildcat gold miners, and it’s unknown where or from whom he contracted the sickness, Scott Wallace reports for Nat Geo.
Trespassing, vandalism rise in U.S. national parks: Most of the parks are supposed to be closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but people are entering some areas anyway, and leaving local officials and businesses to cope with the fallout. That’s according to a report by Kurt Repansek for Nat Geo.
You can’t get there from here: Are the roads in a state open only limited hours? Are hotels shuttered? Are there any dine-in restaurants serving? Will you be quarantined for 14 days if you travel to a certain state? Here’s a guide to current travel restrictions in the 48 contiguous United States, via the New York Times.
You want adventure? Siberia by train? Nigeria by motorbike? We recommend these 10 turbo-fueled adventure books if you, well, happen to be stuck at home these days. Our readers have come up with a few gems as well. Mary Winston Nicklin recommends this whitewater rafting white-knuckle of a book: Elizabeth Austin’s Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch. Catherine McClenahan endorses Graham Mackintosh’s Into a Dessert Place, an epic journey around the coast of Baja. And reader Tom Breslin goes meta, choosing Paul Theroux’s The Tao of Travel as a literary trailhead to other travel books. “I keep [it] by my bed,” Breslin writes. Keep the recommendations coming!
The big takeaway
The gathering storm: In one of the world’s most unequal societies, a fashion designer's sewing machine purrs. David Avido (above, on right) has given out 6,000 colorful masks so far to fellow Kenyans crammed into Nairobi’s biggest informal settlement, Kibera. “All of us, even those who can’t afford to buy a mask, or sanitizer, deserve the same chance to protect themselves,” he tells Nichole Sobecki in her vivid, chilling foreshadowing of COVID-19’s full-fledged entry to the unprepared region.
Read: In Nairobi, quarantine is a luxury few can afford
Resource: Dispatches of life amid COVID-19 from our photographers around the world
Overheard at Nat Geo
A message from Jane: The coronavirus pandemic has stopped world-renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall, for the first time in decades, from her globe-trotting work to save species and the environment. In a note to our CEO, Gary Knell, Goodall wrote that we are living in a ”dark time now, but perhaps the silver lining is that many people are rethinking their relationship with nature and the future.” She added: ”Some people will never have known a world without pollution, but now they are experiencing clean air. I just hope enough people, having discovered what life COULD be like, will get together and be strong enough a force to insist that their governments introduce legislation to keep the air clean. That enough people realize the danger of the way we abuse the natural world and the cruelty we inflict on animals. Because now, with COVID-19, the result of our sometimes thoughtless, sometimes greedy behavior is hurting US.”
Related: See a virtual tour of our museum exhibition "Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall”
Watch: This trailer for Jane Goodall: The Hope, on the next chapter in Goodall's life. It will be airing on demand and premiering on Earth Day, April 22, at 9 p.m. eastern/8 p.m. central on Nat Geo, Nat Geo WILD, and Nat Geo Mundo.
In a few words
Did a friend forward this to you?
On Wednesday, Victoria Jaggard covers the latest in science. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here to also get Rachael Bale on animals, Whitney Johnson on photography, and Debra Adams Simmons on history.
The last glimpse
Attention home bakers: Bread-baking while stuck at home has boomed, and yeast and flour are often hard to find. Here’s a look at eight breads from around the world, including this roti (above). For at least 14,400 years, bread has had a permanent place on our plates and in our hearts.
Beyond homemade sourdough: Explore the world through French baguettes, South Asian chapati, German pumpernickel, and six other loaves