I Wanted to Write about Travel

March 17, 2020

Last night I gathered some photos from my last wanderings in Italy. Beautiful photos like this one:

The view from my balcony in Ortigia. Or this one.

One of the many balcony photos I took in Ortigia. I was completely fascinated by them.

I could show you many photos, but the words are not coming. Perhaps it is writer’s block. Or perhaps it is the lockdown. Right now, I am in Week 2 of the lockdown of all of Italy. I am in my little appartamento in Chiavari, just as all my neighbors are. Compared to some areas of Italy, my province of Liguria only has about 600 infected people as of printing and 40 deaths. We were late to the coronavirus party in some ways. When we were locked down, we had very few cases. Two activities changed that:

  1. The Virus is contagious prior to showing signs of illness---UP TO 14 DAYS PRIOR. We could not truly believe it would affect us. And, with very few cases, how could it be? We continued to go to the sea, to the store, to Nonna’s house. Most could not comprehend that something this bad was happening here.
  2. When Prime Minister Conte quarantined Milano, only minutes before it went into effect, THOUSANDS of people fled by car and by train. Many had second homes in Liguria and on the coast of Maremma in Tuscany. Others went home to Mamma in Rome, Naples, and everywhere. Since Lombardia (which includes Milan) had the highest outbreak level in Italy (I believe), many of these people carried the disease along with their suitcase as they fled all over Italy.

We were angry when summer homes began to open. We were upset because we wanted to blame someone for the upcoming changes to our lives here along the sea. We wanted to blame others. Yet, we were also to blame.

Learn from us. We just could not contemplate a world with this horrendous virus. We wanted to believe it was just a flu, something almost everyone gets each winter and almost everyone recovers. So on the 1st sunny day after several rainy ones, we all headed to the Lungomare, the Promenade along the sea, where we could chat with others, enjoy the sea sounds and breezes in the sunshine, share an aperitivo or a meal with others. I was there. I was tired of being cooped up, tired of being fearful.

I was there celebrating life and sharing an aperitivo with a friend.

The place was so packed we needed to sit indoors for the first time ever. I think most of Chiavari had been aching to enjoy the outdoors , to see friends and to just live a normal life.

That was 10 days ago. How many have fallen ill since then? I don’t know exactly. It could had been the lady with the dog to my left, or the older couple eating lunch to my right. 

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. And, for me, the last fun day outdoors.  I went outdoors one more day just after sunset. I live within a 5-minute walk to the sea. I walked there, sat on a bench and enjoyed the colors of the sunset.

Almost no one was there.

Even on rainy nights there are usually more people here.

On the far left, lower side is the point of Portofino and the lights from the right side are from Santa Margherita Ligure. We are so close and yet so far. 

The police were not out that night. Since then, they have been stopping people, checking to see if they belong in our town, having them fill out paperwork and justify why they are present in Chiavari. Since then, people have been staying home, with maybe one person going to the grocery store or Farmacia (Pharmacy). Only one family member can go out at a time. Nothing is open except those two locales. 

If you visit a grocery store, you must put on gloves, and keep your distance from others—at least one meter—39 inches.  Some stores limit the number who can be inside at one time—so queues are occurring outside—again they must stay a meter apart. We manage. And we hope that person next to us, albeit a meter from us, is not contagious. We hope. 

For me, at night, I think about others more than about myself. Yes, I am in the target group who have a lower survival rate. However, I am in Italy where they love their elders and do their best to save them. I think more about my family in the USA. I think more about my daughter and granddaughter who I treasure more than life itself. I think about my father, my 95-year-old father, who is physically quite healthy but has dementia. Will he remember to follow the rules at his Senior home? Will he avoid congregating? Will he NOT hug people? Will he stand back from others? And my siblings—how serious are they taking this PANDEMIC? Will they take care of themselves? Will they stop gathering?  I think of what’s happening in the States and wonder how there cannot be tests at this point free for anyone. I wonder if individual states take action to slow the contagion but others do not, what happens? I wonder what will happen. Will they see what has happened in China, in S. Korea and Italy, where we have been HONEST about the contagion and taken action? Will they Learn by our example and STAY HOME, work from home, school from home?????

Since Americans seem to be storing up on TOILET PAPER, I wonder if they know what’s coming? It’s not a need for toilet paper. 

Stay home. Be resilient as we Italians are. We have been singing from our balconies for a few days now. We have set a time to applaud our saviors, the Medical people who are working around the clock to save our neighbors and family members. We flashed our flashlights at 9pm on Sunday night to show the world we are here, and we are not going down quietly. We also honored our Medical people, our government and ourselves with those lights, with that music.  Museums all over Europe are now on-line since we cannot visit them. Now we can virtually take in Art at home. The Berlin Philharmonic has posted its concerts on-line for all of us to enjoy. Even Amazon Prime has given Italy a one-month free subscription for us to watch while we are in Lockdown. 

We are not going to go down screaming, choking into the night. We will be entertained and educated while locked in our nests. And we will eat well, drink well, and drink a ton of water too. We are washing our hands and sanitizing our STREETS, our SIDEWALKS and our HOMES. 

Recently, I read about two different approaches to a contagion like this. In one approach, the country takes care of its elders, family is sacrosanct and more important than money. This country is like Italy and takes steps to slow the tide of the contagion, protect the most vulnerable, and to hell with the economy. They will deal with that later.

The second approach is more financially oriented. In this country, the leaders choose to let the contagion run its course, take out whoever it chooses until there is no more room at the hospital, or not enough ventilators. But this slows the decrease of financial decline. This is logical in this country. Some say the Germans and the UK are taking this approach. Germany has already stated that it believes 2/3s of its people will be infected. My fear is that the USA may follow this approach too. (NOTE: Germany has now closed its borders. Spain is in Lockdown. Things change daily.)

No matter what your country chooses to do, you have some control. 

  1. Wash your hands often and DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE.
  3. Sanitize your home, your doorknobs and light switches often.
  4. Tell all your friends how much they mean to you. Tell your family you love them every single day. It can affect anyone, not just the elders. A baby was born with it last weekend. Younger people are ending up in hospitals now.
  5. Be brave. It helps your immune system.
  6. Be creative—what do you like to do? I love to sing, to dance to write. And that’s what I am doing.
  7. SLEEP. Get up later, go to bed earlier. Be Lazy. You’ve earned it. Have good dreams. Listen to the sound of the waves or meditation music to assist you.
  8. Find out what vitamins, teas, herbs help you stay healthy, or boost your immune system. Take them. 
  9. Remember us who will be locked in our homes for weeks and weeks. Don’t be like us. Start NOW to change your behavior and accept that this is a serious thing. 
  10. Love yourself too. 
  11. DREAM OF TRAVELING TO ITALY as a reward for your due diligence. As a travel planner, this is all I will say about traveling. Right now, stay home. Watch travel shows. Write a list of what you would like to see and experience when you are able to travel later. Travel vicariously with posts like I usually post. 
  12. LAUGH as often as you can. Life is too serious right now. Find the humor in it. What ARE people doing with all those rolls of toilet paper anyway???heheh.

I’ll be here, god-willing. Cooking, cleaning, watching tons of bad TV, watching the Louvre and other museums via the internet, and singing from my balcony. Visit my Facebook page to see my first attempt at entertaining the Italians from my balcony, and more music from across Italy. It really has been amazing to see, to witness.


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Look at beautiful things. Enjoy getting to know your own self. Stay healthy. Keep following. 

A dopo!

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