Well, as the Parisians run away to the Côte d’Azur, the Milanese take off to Tuscany, Norwegians scramble to their lake-side cottages (and then home again), and even the Queen of England has decamped to Windsor, all the rest of us are staying put.
In Switzerland, federal reasonableness prevails, and the lock-down against COVID-19 is filled with contradictions and complications – much like a Swiss watch. It is neither simple nor straightforward. Holding our breath, and not touching anything, we can go for a quick shop, visit a doctor (if we can find one), buy gas, go for a drive, or take a walk in the woods.
We are encouraged to wash our hands with soap while singing “Happy Birthday” in our heads (it takes 20 seconds.) The trains and buses are running, and hotels are open. I think we are discouraged from using both facilities. The postman delivers the papers and bills as usual.
However, we must not congregate or socialise. Restaurants are closed. The occasional halloo over the bamboo thicket that separates us from the neighbours is about as gregarious as we can get.
Deprived of our chalets and shacks in the French Alps, we survive from meal to meal, wash our hands and clothes more often than usual, and eagerly answer the telephone as it seems that all the annoying call-centres have been abandoned. This means that the people at the other end of the line are medical secretaries cheerily announcing that they are closed and are eager to postpone the arranged colonoscopy or dental interventions.
We graciously agree.
The younger family members keep in touch, pleasantly offering shocking stories of friends stuck in Nepal or in quarantine in Ecuador. We hear from Canadian snow-birds in Mexico drinking “quarantinis” by the ocean and waiting for the last flight out. There are relatives who swear by watching non-stop TV, and friends who bemoan the pitfalls of distance teaching.
I, myself, have put on my new Sri Lanka lucky earrings, and taken up foraging in the safety of my own home. I have barely scratched the surface, and already see that it is offering a bounteous harvest of useful items.
Hand sanitizer has been bought before most trips over the decades, not used, and brought back–Naples during a garbage strike, or Namibia where there is no water. All over the house I have come across little blue bottles, most of which are satisfactorily full.
Then there is the bar of super soap from Rhodes. It was bought a few years back at a sad roadside market at the top of a scraggy piney-forest mountain. The soap is brown and totally unappealing. Made of pine tar, it has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Perfect.
The jackpot so far is a jumbo box of surgical face masks bought some years back for a cold-riddled trip to Japan.
So stay at home and take a look in the kitchen drawer—you know THAT one—and find a domestic diamond or two of your own.