Ed: Feb/March 2011

It’s been a disastrous few months around the globe when it comes to the weather.

The heavy snows and icy temperatures in the UK and Europe saw airports closed completely to traffic. Travellers were stranded for days on end and the roll-on effect was disastrous with airlines losing millions of dollars. Retailers suffered, too, with many running low on stocks when deliveries couldn’t get through.

Those who did have stock found there were no shoppers around, as so many stayed home to avoid the treachery of black ice on the roads and footpaths!

The freezing northern hemisphere weather prompted much banter on channels such as Facebook. Barmy Army supporters following the Ashes cricket tour around Australia were quick to post smart asides to friends and family bearing the brunt of the cold, bragging about soaring temperatures, clear blue skies and how they were sweltering and sucking down copious quantities of icy cold beer.

The tables turned rather suddenly, though, as years of drought broke, firstly in the Queensland region, followed soon after by NSW and parts of Victoria. When the rains came, the heavens literally opened. It seemed that Mother Nature was making up for lost time. The first reports were of fairly minor flash floods and road closures, then levees were being breached and, before we knew it, whole towns were vanishing and people were dying. It all happened so quickly that many were caught completely off guard.

The US didn’t escape either, with a major snow storm hurtling itself up the East Coast in a torrent of fury. Severe weather warnings were issued and, yet again, flights were cancelled. Folk missed Christmas dinners with their family, sleeping on airport chairs or floors.

Hardly any States missed a sweep of the cold fairy…in early January there were even reports of snow dustings in Las Vegas and I’m told snow was reported on top of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i!

Brazil was struck with flash floods and mud slides. Before that, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Columbia, West and Central Africa and others all felt the brunt of Mother Nature’s force. Our Pacific Island neighbours have been dealt earthquakes and cyclones.

The loss of lives is hard enough to comprehend. However, there’s also the loss of infrastructure and revenue that we’ve seen on such a monumental scale, at a time when many were just recovering from the global financial crisis.

Then there’s the loss of tourism dollars. My heartfelt plea to those of you who cancelled or postponed your travel plans is to please make that trip, so long as the infrastructure at your destination is in working order. All the countries and regions affected need your support now more than ever. Yes, you may get there to find your favourite cinema or restaurant hasn’t yet re-opened, but those businesses who have survived will no doubt go out of their way to make sure your visit is memorable and pleasurable.

And, if you really can’t get there, perhaps consider making a donation towards the rebuilding and massive clean-up that lies ahead. Speak to your bank or the affected country’s local embassy if that’s your intention.

Our team won’t be cancelling any of our travel plans. If we get somewhere and things aren’t great, we’ll help out where we can … either with some hard labour cleaning up, by volunteering at a shelter for a few hours, or writing positive commentary to entice YOU there on our return. In fact, I’ll be in Christchurch as this issue hits the presses, checking out how things are going post their big earthquake last year, so make sure you tune in to the next few issues for updates from the South.

Safe travels.

“A wise traveller never depreciates their own country” – Carlo Goldoni (25 February 1707 – 6 February 1793)

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