Saturday, May 9, 2020

2020 life with Covid: bah bah black sheep

I have been meaning to blog about life in this time so I can read it one day and remember this time.  I am very aware of being part of history, that kids in the future will study this pandemic in their history classes, in their economics and sociology and biology and over all spheres of study as this virus has side effects far greater than it’s physiological pathology.

On the 20th of March I went camping with Sofia and her friend and met my friend Nadine there.  Frances and her family camped a few sites away and we had this magical weekend at Beaverlac, my fave place.   We were cut off from the world and had no idea what was happening.  We joked and speculated what was happening down in civilization while we sat around the fire under a million bright sparkly stars.

On the last morning, March 24th I went for a run in the mountains.  I climbed on a high rock and gazed at this massive valley and spoke to my dad and just inhaled it all in.  I imagined pulling imaginary strong twine of all that beauty and freedom and visualized myself wrapping this twine around my fragile soul.  Binding it, containing it and strengthening it.  Like I knew it needed to be protected somehow.  (No I wasn’t stoned!)

On the way back I was millimeters away from stepping on a black cape cobra on my run who was catching some sun on the path I was running on.  Had my stride being slightly different I would have stood on him and been morsdood!   The venom of these snakes is neurotoxic and causes paralysis, resulting in respiratory, and heart failure. Death can occur within 1 – 10 hours of being bitten.  I would have been well and truly gone.

So we pack up after the best time so chuffed that us girls camped like absolute bosses.  We did our tent and fire and braai’ed and everything no issue.  We even fixed our tent with a cable tie and sucker stick McGyver style.

And then we get cell phone reception on the way home and hear about lockdown.  Initially it was a novelty and kind of fun.  Almost a healing family time-out from all the busyness.  But then we realized how many products were now deemed non essential and the impact on daily living.  We can’t buy any clothing or a mop to clean the house.  I can’t buy a dog or lead for my new puppy. The lack of freedom in being allowed to take your dog for a walk or go for a run.  Not being able to work yet having to pay your staff because they are your responsibility and you need to know they have food.  The heavy financial burden we all face.   I can’t see my mother at all and the elderly are isolated when many were already lonely to start off with.  I can’t even see my adult son or my sisters or my friends.  We are all stuck inside our homes trying to stay healthy.

Children no longer attend school and have to work on-line.  No soccer games on chilly Saturday mornings.  No matric traditions for my grade 12 daughter who looked so forward to this year.  Total uncertainty re when they write and how this affects their uni applications and if they will have their matric dance they have been waiting for their entire school career.  My grade 8 niece was thriving in hostel loving high school and her water polo and bam, it’s all over and she is back at home.   
 For many many kids in the townships Wi-Fi issues mean online learning is impossible and the education gap just decreases.  Children who used feeding schemes at school now stuck at home with those 2 crucial meals a day no longer available.  Soup kitchens are popping up all over and we all draw from the same source of resources.  We appeal to people already cash strapped to help us feed the hungry all over our country.
We cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes effectively crippling 2 massive industries and taking away citizens constitutional rights.  Shebeens flourish and sale of illegal cigarettes. 
Every week the country anxiously awaits the speech from our president to inform us what is happening.   Initially the praise and admiration was high and we saluted this man, our leader.  We needed to get ready for the pandemic and equip our medical staff and hospitals.  So we did.  But then it felt more and more like we were sheep in pens and having to obey orders that don’t always make sense.
The messages from officials are often confusing and contradictory.  Fake news is rife.
The restrictions are lifted slightly and some people may return to work.  And miraculously the sheep are allowed outside for 3 hours a day.  Unfortunately one of the hours is pitch dark.  This is South Africa, we know not to go out in the dark.  How vulnerable we are running or cycling even in broad daylight.
So in those 2 hours we all emerge in the cold fresh morning and it’s wonderful.  We all wear our masks and smile at each other.  We don’t touch and even our friends are not hugged or greeted too closely. 

Huge criticism follows the mass ‘gatherings’ of people out on May 1st.  The sheep have been in pens for 5 weeks and have 2 hours to all go out.  What did they think would happen?  Where is the planning and common sense.  The people who were told they could finally by cigarettes, well sorry, change of mind.  You can’t.   You can buy a few more products as the sheep have to be appeased slightly.   

This no longer feels like a democratic country with the greatest constitution in the world.  This feels like we are micromanaged and we have no choices.  We can’t even leave if we wanted to.  No one comes in and no one goes out.   We have a daily curfew and if we get caught out of our areas or time allocations we will pay a hefty fine we can’t afford.

We can’t go to the beach or the park or the mountains or the rivers.  We can go to the store with our masks and the people at the door controlling how many people are allowed in the store as they spray our hands and our trollies.  I agree with this.  It has to be done but it’s shit and feels super weird and sci-fi.  We watch countries like Italy and Spain drown with dead economies, dead cities, dead people.  We listen to idiots like Trump who thought he was above all this and New York bleeds as they lose thousands.  The US has over 1.2 million infected and 70 000 deaths.   I use this site to check stats but take breaks some days as it gets too scary.

WTAF is happening to the world right now?   This new normal that feels anything but.   Weddings and funerals and parties and faith based meetings and extended family gatherings all cease.  We live in microbubbles with just our immediate family.   We worry about homes where abuse and neglect are rife.   No neighbours to keep a watch.  Rotten bubbles out there.  

I know this is only my perspective.  That many people are loving this time.  I know there are positives like the healing of our planet and animals and our carbon footprint is reduced.  I know many people have it so much worse and I have a lovely home and garden.  Yet still I feel like I am incarcerated in my own home with no place to go.  I am a sheep forced to blindly follow the herd which does not sit well with me.  I feel the rumblings of a nation frustrated and fed up.   The uncertainty is crippling.  Will things ever return to normal?  Ever?

So I typed this a few days ago and never got around to posting it.  I see another 8000 Americans have since died.  I see my own country’s infection numbers have risen.  I feel SO frustrated with the way lockdown has been handled.  I am anxious and cross and just stuck.  This has become a political issue in South Africa and I feel undercurrents of stench, of old issues resurfacing.  And I have no say, no voice.  I have lost so much faith and trust in Cyril and his mates and fear for our country both present and future.  I would go for a walk and breath, or have a glass of wine, or hang out with Frances and talk shit over a savanna but all that is strictly verboten.   Everything feels f*cked.