Trump’s Europe Travel Ban Shatters My Heart

Corona Who?

January 2020

It is the first time I hear about coronavirus—now officially referred to as COVID-19. It is all over the news. However, I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Why is everyone panicking about COVID-19? I believe there is an even more deadlier virus out there, that many people are forgetting about: the flu.

Seasonal influenza (also called the flu) is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses, which circulate in all regions of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that seasonal flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people worldwide each year. Most people aren’t familiar with these numbers.

February 2020

Weeks go by and everyone is still talking about coronavirus. It is a hot topic all over the world. Oddly enough I am not worried, even when the following happens: COVID-19 hits Italy. In less than one month Italy has gone from only three cases of coronavirus to having the largest number of cases and deaths outside of China. Am I naive for not worrying?

Feeling Concerned

March 2020

On Monday, March 9, the mass hysteria finally hits me. I read in the Dutch newspaper that Italy has placed its 60 million residents under lockdown, as the number of cases throughout the country continues to rise. All of a sudden my mind is all over the place. What does this entail for The Netherlands and my upcoming thru-hike?

As the days go by, the amount of coronavirus cases are increasing here as well.

“I am sure it isn’t a big deal, it will be alright, and there is no way I won’t be able to travel to the United States of America,” I try to reassure myself.

On Wednesday the 11th I read the subsequent headline:

US travel restriction on Europe “is under discussion,” official says. 

The article explains that there is an unique problem in Europe due to the Schengen zone—the European countries that don’t have internal borders and allow people to move freely between them. It is questionable whether it even makes any sense to treat Italy as a unitary entity.

This is bad news. “They are going to treat Europe as a whole,” I mumble.

Nightmare Becomes Reality

The next day I wake up with tons of messages and a few missed calls. I don’t open the messages and don’t even care who called me. I immediately grab my laptop and open my browser. Thereby I find what I dreaded to find.

President Trump announces that travel from parts of Europe to the United States will be suspended for the next 30 days.

I feel like I can’t breathe. My eyes are watering and as I walk down stairs tears are streaming rapidly down my face—and it does not stop. I wake my parents up to tell them the news. Now I start to sob. Once I’ve said the words out loud, it has become a reality. My reality and the reality of many others.

Shattered Glass

This feels similar to a broken heart, perhaps even worse. My heart is shattered into pieces. Then I remember something: when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter.

I must let the light in. Now I can hear the mountains whispering my name again. Even though my heart hurts and my head is overloaded with questions and uncertainties. There is one thing I will always be sure off:

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

Click the link below to find out why I am hiking the PCT.

The Mountains Are Calling My Name





Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 7

  • Kaitlin musser : Mar 12th

    I am so sorry friend. This is a insane panic. I hope you get mountains near to heal in and come to the pct soon. I send all the light to fit in your shattered heart ?

    • Marijn : Mar 13th

      This means the world to me, thank you infinitely!

  • Hopeful_wanderer_k : Mar 13th

    Same situation, same feelings here…I can totally relate to every word you’ve said. You’re not alone in this (but it’s not like that knowledge could help ease the pain….I know). PCT has been my dream for over 5 years, for the last year I have been planning, training, dreaming and I think I was prepared…physically and mentally (as much as I could be :)) But apparently Universe got a different plan and I guess I just have to deal with it.
    Stay strong and hold on…one day we will get there! 🙂


    • Marijn : Mar 14th

      I am so sorry for you as well Kristýna! The odds are against us right now, but the tide might turn… Who knows?
      Just like you, I strongly believe in the universe as well. We will make the best out of a horrible situation!
      I hope we can still be part of the Class of 2020, happy trails!

  • Trash Panda : Mar 14th

    I get it. I am postponing my CDT thru til next year. I know that you planned and researched and fixated on this and it is hard to deal with reality changing. I’m sad too.

    One thing I learned on my first thru was that so many things are out of my control. The forces of nature deal the cards. Right now there’s a lot of time for grief, but I think it would be wise to have some perspective. People are losing their loved ones. They’re cancelling weddings, schools, long-awaited vacations. People are losing their jobs.
    Everybody’s lives and plans are in turmoil, not just ours.

    The trail will still be there and we’ll get out there eventually. Stay healthy and be kind to the people around you.

    • Marijn : Mar 15th

      Thank you for showing some perspective. I am definitely aware that we are not the only ones affected by this… It is a world wide tradegy. When I heard the news I was feeling overwhelmed with emotions, so I just started writing. I feel a lot more calm now. Thank you for your encouraging words!


What Do You Think?