So it’s the second day since the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has ordered everyone to stay at home. Except if you need to go to work and cannot work from home, except if you are taking kids to a care centre because you need to work, except if you need to take your dog on a walk or need to exercise…huh? All shops that are not selling “necessary products” like food or tabacco or newspapers are now shut. Wait…tabacco? Nevermind, I can get wine at the supermarkets and I guess that is just as bad so, voila, thank God I am stuck in France not…somewhere else. This almost makes me want to take up smoking again.
Look, I shouldn’t complain. We have amazing weather here at the moment in the South of France, the sun is shining, it’s no longer cold outside, the cobalt-blue skies are therapeutic and there is lots to do around the house. My kids are doing their school work on their computers upstairs (online classrooms) and hubby is out chopping wood as a form of exercise because he doesnt need to go to his office and can work from home. We have a garden so I can walk around it to get my daily steps onto my fitbit. I have stocked the freezers and the kitchen cupboards full of food for the next week at least even though it meant waiting in line for half an hour after scrambling through half-empty food shelves at the supermarket on Monday.
It’s my younger kid’s birthday today. She turned 12. She was disappointed not to be able to celebrate with her friends. I had promised that we would go bowling and eat Asian buffet at a restaurant in Saint Maximin-la-Sainte Baume but of course that is not possible. We are not allowed outside our property unless you carry a special permission slip downloadable from the government site, dated and signed. You need this even if you are going out to take a walk, and if you go out you need to go alone, not with anyone else. If you get stopped by a policeman in your car or on foot and you do not have one of these slips then you are fined on the spot anywhere from 38 to 135 euros. Yesterday there were policemen everywhere in our village of Cotignac, said my hubby, and lots of people were stopped.
So, okay, this is odd but I know we will get through it. After all I have a basement full of wine and some champagne in the fridge, some Netflix movies and series I have not yet watched, and lots of time to spend with family, something I always complained about not having enough of before! Just this time, it doesnt feel like quality time; even with all the card games and Scrabble we play after dinner, all the cupcakes and cookies we can bake in the afternoons, I can’t help checking my phone for updates on the Coronavirus situation locally and around the world. I check it so much that I now have a back ache, on my left shoulderblade, and a stomach in knots from the stress and worry. Today’s France numbers from the worldometers info are: 7,730 cases, 175 deaths. Shit, that’s more than 1,000 cases since yesterday. So at this rate every day there will be more than that. When, I wonder, will we hit the peak contagion? No one knows here but if Italy has now reached it, that will be after hitting around 30K cases. I have to stop looking at these numbers.
It’s not like it’s a real war and we need to shelter ourselves from bombs. It’s not like we are being asked to go and fight as soldiers and carry weapons. It’s not like dealing with forest fires everwhere around us. And it’s not like we have no way of communicating with each other. Imagine if this were happening during a time when there were no phones, internet, electricity, safe drinking water… How lucky are we that we live in this day of high tech gadgets and social media? I don’t know…I miss the days of phones ringing in the house and my running to go and pick it up.
SFR, the French phone company has just sent a message saying they won’t cut anyone off if they miss a payment. Of course that doesnt mean much as their payments are direct debits from everyone’s bank accounts. I suppose what they are trying to say is that we will have access to the internet no matter what. Of course I live in an area of France that has not been connected by fibre optic cables so our internet speed is slow. Oh and our banks and insurance companies have sent out messages saying they will do everything they can to help in our current exceptional situation. How nice.
The messages of even cancellations keep coming in. Every event in the next couple of months here has been postponed or cancelled. I was meant to travel to Japan and Macau to see my parents with my kids in April and of course that was cancelled. How funny that I thought I would avoid the craziness of this virus by staying in Europe over going to Asia. My American mother is thankful to be in Macau where they have had a total of 13 cases and almost all of them are now cured. My Japanese father believes the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled but of course it’s in Prime Minister Abe’s political interest to continue saying they will be go on, for now. I guess at this rate the Cannes Film Festival will also be cancelled but they have not announced that yet.
I hope you are well, wherever you are. Thanks for reading. I’ll update this blog every couple of days as it helps my nerves. I also hope to inform you of the situation in France. Have a good week!