Over the weekend I moved into my new apartment:
In the photo above you can see the kitchen, dining room / living room area, mini patio (with a door to my “in unit” washer & dryer), and upstairs loft (which I plan to use as an office).
Not pictured: bathroom, bedroom, and window looking out to the apartment building’s complex.
I’m super thrilled to have this apartment. Next up for me: furnish it!
I’ve made it back to California. The journey was eerie. I only came across a handful of people while I took two buses and a train to get to the airport.
I thought I had read something about Air New Zealand reducing the number of passengers on flights in order to spread people out more. That certainly wasn’t the case with my flight; it was full as far as I could tell.
I took a Lyft from the airport to my Airbnb. Again, it was eerie to see everything so empty.
Driving on the freeway was a different story. I was shocked to see so many people still out and about. I think that’s subsided a little bit over the past couple weeks, though I haven’t been on a freeway since then.
I started apartment hunting earlier this week. I had really good luck with my last two apartments: I basically found them within a day or two of my initial search.
My new one was no different. Over the weekend I made a ranked list of ~30 apartments I was interested in, then I started contacting them for “tours.”
Touring apartments in this era is… weird but fun? I’ve had FaceTime and Skype tours to “see” the apartments: the agents would walk through the apartment to show its features, then we’d chat about any other questions I had. I don’t quite know how to describe using FaceTime with someone you don’t know.
The last apartment I “toured” on Tuesday was in-person… where “in-person” means they disinfected the apartment and left the door unlocked, then I was able to go in and look around while on the phone with them. I showed up to the leasing office to get a map of the complex; to maintain distance, they kept their doors locked and slid the map through the crack of the door while we talked on the phone.
I knew I liked the apartment from what I saw online, and seeing it in person made me fall in love. I applied on Tuesday night and got approved the next day (yesterday). I’m picking up the keys and moving in tomorrow. 😃
New Zealand started lockdown a couple nights ago. The lockdown here includes shutting down all non-essential businesses (including takeaway service from restaurants). Grocery stores are still open. The one I’ve been going to was relatively calm when I went on Tuesday to get a few things.
As of yesterday, there were 283 cases in New Zealand. It’s escalating quickly: 78 yesterday, 50 on Wednesday, and 40 on Tuesday. The Ministry of Health’s current cases page has been helpful in keeping up to date.
Domestic air service will be severely limited after tonight (Friday). International service is still running—as far as I can tell, there haven’t been any AKL to LAX cancelations this past week.
I’m scheduled to leave Auckland at 10:55 PM tonight, landing in LA at 3:00 PM (Friday). That gives me 44 hours of Friday, March 27th. My longest day.
I reserved an Airbnb in Long Beach to stay in for the next couple weeks. My plan is to self-isolate as much as possible in case I get infected on my trip back.
After that, who knows. I suppose I’ll start apartment hunting? I think it’ll be a while before we get through this, so I can’t imagine traveling internationally for a while.
A few days ago, I posted that:
The last one could still be true, but the others aren’t. NZ has 39 cases as of today. The US State Department has advised all citizens to return back to the states. They’ve advised that citizens “may face unpredictable circumstances, travel restrictions, and challenges in returning home or accessing health care while abroad.”
I debated for a few hours on what I should do.
On one hand, I feel like my chances in NZ are greater than that in the US, and traveling right now would only increase my risk of contracting the virus (and potentially spreading it to others).
On the other hand, I am of little use to my family in the US if the airlines choose to stop flights and I’m stuck in a foreign country and depending on their health care system if I get sick. Additionally, if the airlines stop flights, I have no idea when I would be able to return to the states.
I’ve decided to come back home.
“Home” is a good question though. I don’t have a place of my own to stay. I’m going to travel with the assumption that I will get infected, and thus I do not want to stay with any family or friends. I’ll hopefully find a place to stay which will require minimal human interaction.
I’ve had a lot of friends ask me how I’m doing, so here’s my update:
I’m doing great!
I’m currently in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m scheduled to leave for Wellington this weekend, where I plan on being for at least a few weeks. I currently have a flight back California set for May 21st.
As of yesterday, New Zealand has only had eight confirmed cases of COVID-19. Most of them have been from overseas, and a couple have been from family members getting the virus from loved ones who’ve traveled from overseas. As far as I know, there hasn’t been any “wild” community spreading here. The Ministry of Health has been publishing media releases each day with updates on the number of cases and from where they’ve come.
I’m cautiously optimistic about my chances here. I think New Zealand has done a great job of keeping the virus at bay. It feels, though, that this virus will inevitably infect every part of the world.
Regarding health insurance… I intend to write about this soon, but until then: I get travel health insurance for each trip I take. This comes in two forms: reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses (like going to a doctor) and coverage for a medical evacuation in case of emergency. Between these two, I think I have my bases covered if I get sick.
So overall, I’m great, and I’m hoping everyone self-isolates and stays healthy too.
These are my goals* for 2020:
I love making plans to break plans. But these past five months, I’ve been doing less planning and more procrastinating.
For me, planning my time helps me create a structure that I can follow. I abhor strict plans because they make me feel caged, but given the chance, I will procrastinate in figuring out what I want to do to the point that I accomplish a lot less than if I had just done something.
This year, I want to combat this by planning my trips before I get there. I think this will help me enjoy the places I visit more.
I have over a dozen draft posts right now that I need to finish and publish. I think I can publish at least one a week.
Same thing with photos; lots of photos taken, but I haven’t shared them with my core group of family & friends since October. I need to prioritize sharing these photos because they help me stay better connected to my family & friends back home.
Speaking of them, some of my favorite trips have been with my friends. This year, I want to prioritize opportunities to travel with friends when I can. And as part of that, I want to encourage my family & friends to travel more, and provide them the resources to do that.
I’ve tried time tracking in the past but I haven’t made it work for me. I want to explore this more and see if it can be a useful tool for me to procrastinate less.
I worked out with a personal trainer from February to August last year (thanks Jake!) and I was really proud of the results: I mostly maintained my weight but exchanged a significant portion of body fat for muscle mass.
Since starting my travels, I’ve not maintained a regular workout routine. I don’t think I can reasonably keep a weight-lifting schedule, but I can run more regularly, so this year I want to run / work out a few times a week.
Recently I’ve added a couple things to my travel checklist:
This weekend I took a little trip to Lanzarote, another one of the Canary Islands. It’s amazing: beautiful coast, fantastic national park, friendly people, tasty wine, and more. I was very excited to explore another island for my last weekend here in the Canaries.
I did not, however, plan this trip very well.
When I arrived on Friday, I didn’t realize it was a holiday, so I didn’t realize the buses wouldn’t be running. Total amateur move on my part. Me and a small group of travelers held stedfast against the wind until I realized our situation.
When I figured it out, I headed back to the airport terminal and got a taxi… but really, I should’ve known to check for holidays and not put myself in that position.
The Lanzarote bus website recommends an app called Moovit for bus schedules, routing, and more. Their website has big ads for this app, so I thought it was safe to trust for info.
Well, clearly I wouldn’t be writing this if that were the case.
The app guided me to the closest stop near me (awesome) but as I waited, my bus blew right by me (not awesome) as another bus stopped. I asked the driver what the deal was and he was nice enough to 1) tell me I needed to go to the next stop and 2) give me a ride.
Thanks awesome driver! No thanks to you app…
I double checked the app afterwards and sure enough, it showed that “my” bus should’ve stopped where I was originally.
I checked the main website and lo and behold, I should never have expected “my” bus to stop where the app had told me.
I had given myself plenty of time to travel, but next time, I’ll be sure to cross-check info with the real website vs. trust a third-party service, even if it’s recommended by the bus company.
I was not expecting to cover politics when I started this blog.
But here I am, living in the EU just after Britain’s just received another extension to potentially leave the EU.
I want to share a little bit about Brexit and how the people I’ve met feel that Britain’s exit will (negatively) affect them.
Brexit is Britain’s exit from the EU.
The TLDR is that:
The fact that the UK has kinda/sorta been leaving the EU for over three years now made me think that Europeans outside of the UK would be done with this mess and ready for the UK to leave.
“Good riddance” I was expecting them to say. “If the people of the ‘United’ Kingdom don’t want to be a part of the EU, then get them out of the EU”
Well, I was wrong.
I try not to bring up Brexit with every person I meet… but when I do, every one of them has told me that they don’t want the UK to leave the EU.
A couple reasons that have come up in multiple conversations:
The UK is a great place to study and learn English. Naturally, this would be much more difficult if the UK was not part of the EU.
People have family who have gone to live in the UK. Will they still be allowed to live there? Who knows what their immigration status will be… maybe they’ll be deported and forced to leave any family they may have in the UK.
Brexit is a huge change that will not only affect UK citizens, but every foreign national who lives in the UK and their family/friends abroad.
Brexit may be voted on by the UK, but Brexit affects everyone in the EU.
Thanks to Brandon Kerr for reading a draft of this.
I’ve been asked where I’m going to be when, and I already try to keep track of that in my calendar, so I’m sharing my travel calendar: adventure.chasenlehara.com/calendar/
I’m going to start by saying that this happened over a month ago. Spoiler alert: I’m ok.
It was a Wednesday when I started feeling ill. High fever, sweating, and barely able to sleep.
On Thursday I had the same symptoms… but during the day, my legs started to hurt and I developed small red dots on my arms. I knew it was time for me to seek professional help.
I first stumbled into a private hospital… the security guard was nice enough to point me in the direction of a public one.
I’ve never felt more like a foreigner than I did when I walked into Centro de Salud del Puerto. Don’t get me wrong: the people were super friendly, I was just very aware that I was in a foreign country, speaking a different language, and asking for help in a time of need.
I showed them my arms and explained in (broken) Spanish that I was an American looking to see a doctor. Everything from there on out was a mix of English, Spanish, and Google Translate going in-between the two.
[Which, by the way, worked out very well for me. I wrote up the timeline of my conditions in Google Translate and had that ready to go in Spanish whenever I talked to someone new. Additionally, Google Translate has an awesome feature where it can listen to someone and translate what they’re saying. Super, super helpful.]
After a little while, I saw a doctor. They tested me for strep. Nothing. They asked about my vaccinations. All good, including chicken pox (but that’s a story for another time).
Working under the assumption that it was something viral, they sent me home with a Paracetamol prescription for my fever and told me to come back in three days if I was still sick or if my symptoms changed.
On my way out, I asked how much I needed to pay. Nada. They told me that if I needed to pay then they would send a bill in the mail, but otherwise their services were free. They were surprised that I asked this. I was surprised that I didn’t have to pay.
Fast forward through Friday to Saturday… my symptoms definitely started to change. The small red dots started to disappear and in their stead appeared larger red spots on my arms and legs. It was like all the red dots decided to get together and have a party in the form of larger spots.
I started getting other symptoms too. A cough, chest pain, and sores around my mouth. [I looked these up later, and I think these were a side effect of the Paracetamol. I stopped taking it when my fever started to decline.]
On Saturday, I was in so much pain that I genuinely wasn’t sure if I would be able to get myself to the hospital if my symptoms got worse and I waited another day. It was time to head back to the Centro de Salud.
One of the doctors from Thursday was there, so we had a little exchange and he had another doctor check me out. After some questions and conversation, they told me… well, I think they told me… that their blood testing facilities weren’t as extensive as a larger hospital’s, so I should go to a different hospital to get a blood test.
Off I go again, this time to Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Doctor Negrín.
I took the bus and… woah. The university hospital was huge. I walked into the first door I saw, found an information desk, and asked for directions to the emergency room. The woman started giving me directions… and saw the confused look on my face, and asked me “you don’t understand, do you?” I sheepishly said that my Spanish wasn’t that great and she sent a nurse with me to the emergency room.
A little while later, I spoke to a nurse, then was put in line to see a doctor. The doctor had no idea what was wrong with me. He even talked to another doctor and busted out a medical book, which is always confidence inspiring.
Finally, he decided that the best thing for me to do was to get a blood test… but not at the university hospital. I think he said that it would take longer for him to get the results back from a blood test there than it would be for me to go back to the Centro de Salud a couple days later. I told him that they had sent me to him, to which he said that I should not go into the emergency room and instead I should ask for a personal doctor because I was going to be in Gran Canaria for a while. He gave me a note to give to the doctor and sent me on my way.
At this point, I was feeling a little defeated. I was proud of myself for going to multiple hospitals to get help, but disappointed that the only thing that resulted from it was a note to see a primary care physician a couple days later.
The next day, I started to feel a little bit better. Everything was starting to subside. Not by a lot, but a little bit.
Same thing the following day. I decided not to go back to the Centro de Salud because things were headed in the right direction.
And soon enough, I was fine.
So what happened?
I don’t know. The doctor at the university hospital didn’t tell me this, but in the note that he sent with me, he threw out the idea that I could have erythema nodosum. I know you’re going to look that up… just don’t. It’s a little bit similar to what I had, but it doesn’t look the same, at least from what I can tell.
I’m grateful that I’m feeling better now, and I’m especially grateful that I was able to get medical attention, for apparently free, here in Spain.
If you’re a friend reading this, welcome! You can follow along here to get the latest on my adventures abroad.
For those of you who don’t know me… hi, my name’s Chasen. 👋
I’m from beautiful Long Beach, California. I absolutely love my hometown. The food, the culture, the people, the weather… I could happily spend the rest of my life there.
And that’s exactly why I had to leave.
I’ve been traveling since I was a kid, but I’ve never lived outside of Southern California. I think traveling broadens your horizons in a way that changes you as a person. I believe that experiencing different cultures, being in uncomfortable situations, and learning more about the world around you helps you grow in unimaginable ways.
And so, after 30 years of living in SoCal, it was time for me to pack my bags and leave.
I’m currently writing this one month into my adventures. Right now I’m living in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain). I have plans to go to Germany and Cuba. After that, I want to head towards Southeast Asia and New Zealand… and from there, who knows.
I’m trying to be honest with myself: I might only make it six months on the road before I head back home. Or I might happily travel for years. I guess we’ll find out together.
This blog is going to be a mix of personal posts and travel tips. Sometimes just photos of food and sunsets; sometimes longer posts about my experiences.
I hope you’ll follow along as I’m chasin’ adventure.