Sherpa: a member of a Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal and known for providing support for foreign trekkers and mountain climbers.
This is the Miriam Webster definition, but, to most mountain trekkers, the word “sherpa,” which, by the way, is pronounced “shar-wa,” provides much more than support; he is the backbone of every climb. In addition to being a porter and carrying the gear, a good sherpa knows the mountain better than anyone. He interacts with the climbers, keeps a watchful eye on their stamina and ability, and, basically, takes all the risks since he is the one who runs ahead of the climbers, sets up everything from the ropes and the ladders to the campsite that magically appears –complete with a hot cup of tea– when the team arrives.
At Mount Everest and In the higher altitudes of our world, a sherpa is definitely a mountain climber’s best friend. Thousands of years of living in the world’s highest mountain regions have made this Tibetan tribe genetically adapted to mountain climbing. Scientists have found their hearts and lungs to be uniquely efficient in handling low oxygen conditions. Whereas, most climbers with summit fever are able to master the higher altitudes without supplemental oxygen, a Sherpa descendant can. No smart trekker should ever leave base camp without one!
In so many ways, I see my job as a travel agent to be very much like these guardian angels of mountain climbing. Just as Sherpas can neither guarantee you will not fall into a crevice or be left on the mountain to die because of an avalanche, we also cannot promise the world is going to be perfect, which is why we run ahead, reach out to all our travel contacts, and do everything possible to make sure your travels are the very best experience ever. We clear the path, and, especially in these covid times when the world is a little bit crazy, you should not leave home without us.
Our advice may be free, but it could prove to be priceless. So, if you are thinking about climbing out of your covid cocoon and heading out, here are a few sherpa words of wisdom from the staff of Monroe Travel Service that we would like to share:
*Please be aware that Walt Disney World is now officially letting vaccinated guests take off their face masks in most places on site! This is big news and just in time to make your summer vacation trip even more magical. Of course, there are still covid-era rules against hugging characters and face masks are still required on Disney transportation, including its buses, boats, monorails, and Skyline, but it does seem the face mask requirement is slowly being wound down at Disney–except for non-vaccinated guests.
The latest rule for the non-vaccinated, including children under 12 years old, is that masks are required in most indoor places and on all rides and attractions. We are hoping by the time Disneyworld kicks off its 50th anniversary celebration in October, these rules will disappear, too. Our fingers are also crossed that advance park reservations will no longer be required, plus we would not mind the return of more indoor dining and the fastpass option. I think Mickey should give those programs back to us as his birthday gift!
*We should talk about the elephant in the room. Yes, we all know by now that two passengers on Celebrity Cruise Line’s first fully vaccinated passenger and crew sailing from St. Maarten did test positive for the virus. Yet, here is what we should glean from this seemingly cruise start up disaster: it should be noted how effective the health and safety protocols for cruise ships have become. It was the cruise line’s expeditious and efficient handling of their end-of-cruise testing before porting back in St. Maartin which possibly prevented a covid threat to the unvaccinated on the island, at the airport, and on the plane. Obviously, covid is still among us. Being able to successfully identify unsuspecting carriers might help save someone else’s suffering. The cruise industry should be applauded for their bold effort in showing us the way to handling a problem remaining in our midst.
*For travelers holding out hope of a post-pandemic European vacation, the big news is we have finally made the “white list.” This means all 27 members of the European Union will be welcoming us back again this summer, but, of course, there is an asterisk. It is up to each nation to grant reciprocity entry on a case-by-case basis. In short, this amounts to possibly different rules for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
I do agree this is a baby step, but at least we are going in the right direction! So, if Europe is on your radar for this summer, here is some free Sherpa advice: go to the app store on your phone and download “RE-OPEN EU.” This helpful app has the latest information about the measures in place, including testing for travelers and quarantine rules for safe and healthy travels in Europe. With countries opening to U.S. travelers at breakneck pace and with different requirements, it is so important to know the HOW of it all. “RE-OPEN EU” is one of the best ways to do just that!
*Canadian and U.S. officials are to meet on June 21st to talk about lifting COVID-19-related border restrictions between our two countries. Prime minister Trudeau of Canada has said their government is looking at how it can “ease the rules, based on science,” which is especially encouraging news for the fully vaccinated. Yet, because he wants to wait until at least 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, this could be challenging. The country is said to be 70% vaccinated now, so, by the time this article is printed, maybe you will be start planning your summer getaway to Canada really soon with Monroe Travel Service.
My final sherpa advice is not to worry if the summer vacation season seems to be running behind schedule. Everything is totally different this year. If you have not made plans to go, do not panic and rule anything out. Tour companies and cruise lines, both river and ocean, are adding additional destinations and space every day. Like most travel agencies, at Monroe Travel Service, we have more bookings reserved for 2022 and 2023 than we have for this year.
Think about where you want to be this summer, and let me be the Sherpa that gets you there. Stop wasting time. It’s like poet Robert Frost says, “there are miles to go before I sleep.”
Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service. For help with your next vacation, please call us at 318 323 3465 or email INFO@MONROETRAVEL.com. We would love to send you away.
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