We knew taking our “big trip” during Covid would complicate things. But we also knew it would have some perks — fewer crowds, cheaper prices, supporting struggling economies. And we believed that the constraint of having much of the world closed would keep us from trying to do everything, and be everywhere.

The risk — getting Covid — was clear, and a fear that was realized on the back half of our Kyrgyzstan trip. But after two weeks isolated in a Bishkek apartment, we tested negative and believed our troubles were behind us. We continued on to Turkey, then to Uganda, where we planned to see the mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The story of how we arrived at the hotel — just a stone’s throw away from the national park entrance — only to be told we couldn’t see the gorillas, is one I’ll tell you over a beer someday, but the short of it is this: after recovering from Covid, you can still test positive for up to 3 months, even though you’re not contagious. That’s what happened to us, and no proof of recovery, peer-reviewed study or doctor’s note would convince the powers that be that we weren’t a risk. We were in their country and had to play by their rules.

So there we were, on my birthday, unable to realize the gorilla dream we’d spent thousands of miles and dollars pursuing. And honestly, we had the best time. We drank coffee. Did crossword puzzles. Played cards. Drank wine. We even had a “porch safari,” trying to see how many species we could see from our deck. (27). What’s that poem say, “to see the world in a grain of sand...”? Dealt the constraint of movement, we looked deeper at our narrow surroundings and a whole universe that we’d otherwise ignore presented itself.

We left Bwindi the next day, another 12 hour drive back to Kampala, to continue the comedy of errors and isolation, until we were finally permitted to leave for Zanzibar, Tanzania.

I won’t pretend it didn’t sting to miss the gorillas, but it’s amazing how quickly a swim in the Indian Ocean can act as a reset button. Hakuna matata.