After waking up in our Airbnb recreation home – or trailer if you wish – I planned to spend my Sunday morning and early afternoon visiting a small reptile expo. The main reason for this was that a breeder I know would be there, and I had to pick up some stuff. The expo itself was interesting in many ways. Small enough to spend less than 30 minutes inside, and it was somehow combined with some spiritual wacko event, where people sold crystal balls, magnetic rocks and fake advice on how to live a better life. I don’t know how the two audiences combine, but it seems to me that it’s a bit of a mismatch. Perhaps I’m not the average reptile fair visitor either, although I fulfill the long hair and tattoo requirements. And the reptiles. Those too.

One thing that struck me right away when I entered was that even though QR codes were scanned at the entrance (this is clearly a smoother situation than in Germany), and apparently the audience was tested or vaccinated, I was the only one wearing a mask. The only person. Inside. With hundreds of other people. After having lived in Germany for almost two pandemic years, I couldn’t get used to this sight. I can’t help but feel uncomfortable around crowds of unmasked people – vaccinated, tested, or otherwise. It is becoming clearer and clearer that vaccines, although they protect you from severe disease, don’t prevent spread of the virus. I’d rather be elsewhere, so I picked up my package, quickly glanced over the few other stand holders’ tables and left within less than half an hour. The shortest I’ve ever been to any reptile expo.

This evening I played tourist in my own country, and we did something we never did when we lived here. We went to a pancake restaurant. Mostly because it was down the road of our Airbnb’s trailer park, and because we didn’t have much else to eat. I took a foolish decision to go for a Tex Mex pancake. I should’ve known better. Stick with the classics. All these specials only give you stomach aches, and they’re not that special either. In the restaurant I felt similar to the expo. I get that we have to be maskless to eat, but I felt wildly uncomfortable. It was the first time eating inside a restaurant since the pandemic began. I’m so traumatized by this whole thing, it makes me wonder if I’ll ever get over it. Maybe I should’ve bought a magnetic rock to protect my soul.

Regardless of the conflicted feelings around how people behave, I was happy to be home. I was cruising down the A1 highway, and just felt a sense of belonging. I need to go back. Now, if someone has a permanent job for a mediocre ecologist, should me an email. I’ll try to give a better sales pitch then!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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