Good cop, bad cop, in the time of Corona

Day 4 of South Africa’s lockdown in which people are already struggling with the isolation and the President had to comfort us whilst explaining what lockdown means and also issuing a stern warning to the police and military who are behaving badly.

Stats: 1326 infected people, 3 deaths – an increase of 2. One of them was a man who insisted on travelling from the city to his rural home village after testing positive. He subsequently got sicker and died. How many people he infected along the way, we will never know. And that’s why we need to stay the fuck at home, people!!

I had another crappy day because of various and very specific reasons. Sometimes I can’t quite decide if I want to get through this to face whatever economic hell comes after or just roll over now and let it take me and save me and others a lot of trouble.

One day I’m on a high and the next day I’m as low as can be – my days are good cop bad cop. Evenings are generally better, though, probably because I look forward to Netflix and hot chocolate in bed.

Pics show where I’d rather be right now – elephant watching through Addo or eating an ice cream on a beach.

Another day in the time of Corona

Day 3 of National Covid-19 Lockdown in South Africa, wherein the country is globally praised for setting strict regulations. Also day eleventy of mass racism on the part of middle class twats who can’t understand that ‘stay at home’ isn’t easy for people who live 6 to a one-room shack.

People in nice homes should go and spend a few hours locked in one room with all the windows closed and the heat turned up to full. While you’re in there, you can spend the time formulating a convincing argument for the poor to do the same for 21 days, or more.

Stats: – I had it wrong the last time, there was ONE death, not two, and that hasn’t changed yet. (The second death presented exactly the same conditions as Covid-19 but did not test positive. She was only 28).  Infected cases : 1187 (this reflects only corroborated test results).  I get my verified information from the Facebook page of the Dept. of Health. or the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.  Their stats are updated every evening around 21:00.

At this stage the stats don’t mean much but at some point they will be very meaningful. Either they will shoot up drastically in which case we get very scared or they don’t which will mean we have done the right thing by locking down.

While everyone complains of frustration and boredom after only three days of lockdown it’s hit me that I’ve been self-isolating for much longer than that. It’s getting to me big time and I wish I had taken the trouble to go for long solo walks or drives or something during those two weeks, while I could have done so in safety.

Yesterday I woke up with a variety of symptoms. While my friend was googling them to reassure me that they fitted my sinus problems and not Covid-19, I broke down and realised that, despite massive suicidal fantasies, I’m not sure I want to die alone in an ICU ward. Thelma and Louise style over a cliff, maybe. A final peaceful sleep somewhere meaningful after a good bottle of wine, definitely. But alone in a hospital bed with not even a busy nurse to hold my hand? Not very appealing.

So those feelings formed my entire day which I spent mostly in bed watching the last few episodes of my current series – Gold Digger, BBC, very good – and I made no attempt to blog. By the end of the day my symptoms had cleared up but I felt shell-shocked, almost as if I was drugged. I managed to cook supper, though – seems to be the most productive thing I do these days.

Speaking of drugs, I would not get through this if not for my supply of sleeping pills because, even with that, I am not sleeping well. The end of the month is looming with its debit orders and wolfish creditors. Oh, what a time to be (still) alive.

And in other news, the army is out in full force clearing the streets of disobedient citizens. The soldiers know they can’t throw everyone in jail so offenders are given a choice: a cell or pushups in the street. Most are choosing pushups. Don’t tell the jogging deprived middle-class.

Today was a better day than yesterday, although I’m not quite sure what that means anymore.

Here are a few photos of the dogs of this household. Black one is Vida, my dog, and the other is Havana, my son’s dog. We’re super grateful to have them around and, as most cats and dogs throughout the world, they’re chuffed to bits that we’re in lockdown.

 

 

Locking down in the time of Corona

Day 1 of the National Lockdown for South Africa, wherein more than 60 million mostly disobedient-by-nature and outdoor-loving people across a region of 1,2 million square km are told to stay at home for at least 21 days, unless they are providing an essential service.

Stats: On first day of lockdown we learn of the first deaths – 2 women in the Western Cape, both under 50. It has begun. As the global number passes the half-million mark, South Africa has 927 people affected, 7 in critical condition and 12 recovered.

19 grapes

The harvesting of grapes has been declared an essential service. Anything else would have been a disaster – this virus does not respect the fact that the Cape winelands is a very important wine-producing region and is slap-bang in the middle of harvest.

As people complain of streets and minibus taxis not as empty as they should be, my neighbourhood has been quiet. It makes a pleasant change to not hear the trains, the speeding cars, the sirens. I fear for the homeless in my suburb because I suspect the City’s proposed homeless arrangements have not gone much further than the centre of the city. Of course Hillbrow was the first suburb in the country where the cops had to move in with teargas to disperse boozing and partying crowds. It’s not the naughtiest suburb for nothing.

So .. 20 days to go … my first day was a bit of a mooch around, doing nothing much, walked around my tiny garden taking the pics below. Seriously, it doesn’t feel any different to my usual days between tours working on admin from home, except I have no choice now and the admin is very minimal.

Because I think one should try new things in these times of Corona, my venture today is to make lentils and ham. Delicious and simple. I cooked the lentils as per the packet instructions in a broth, with stock. I used pork neck for the ham, cut into small pieces and fried with chopped onions and a dash of soy sauce.  I added the ham to the lentils and it’ll all be reheated at supper time. Tasted by two us already and deemed excellent. I envisage an early supper.

The Kiffness – local musician with sense of humour is today’s Covid-19 musical interlude, with The Beatles Yesterday. Kiff = South African word meaning cool, as in ‘This lockdown is not kiff”.

I’m starting to regret not having bought a few things to plant in my garden so I’ll have to faff over what there is and use as much water as the restrictions allow. Sadly, the virus does not change the drought situation but I think this lockdown will allow me to sacrifice a few showers for the sake of the garden.

 

Emotional in the time of Corona

Last day before South Africa’s total lockdown begins tonight at midnight – that’s when both hands are on the 12, facing straight up. The only thing I’m grateful about is I didn’t need to go to the shops today. I suspect the locusts were out in full force.

Stats: 927 positive cases, 12 recovered, 2 critical, zero mortality.

These are surreal times and I still can’t believe this is actually happening.

You know the world is topsy-turvy when a business radio-show host breaks down in tears after playing the recording of the CEO of one of the country’s top companies (Edcon) addressing his suppliers. I thought I was hearing things but this evening Bruce Whitfield broke down completely on hearing Grant Pattison, who had also broke down towards the end of his call wherein he told his suppliers that he cannot pay them this month – they are mostly small or medium businesses.

Here is the clip from the show.

The most eerie thing is hearing and reading about hospital and medical personnel preparations. They have sent home everyone who does not need a bed and doctors and staff that are not needed, and are literally standing by waiting for an avalanche of sick people. Some hotels and community buildings have been put on stand-by. A company that makes prefabricated buildings is on stand-by, having been sanitised and prepped. Factories are re-configuring their machinery to make emergency equipment, such as ventilators. Think about that.  An entire country, on stand-by for mass illness.

It’s all just a bit too fucking much, quite frankly, and my emotions are all over the place.

My friend Gerald Schreiner put this on his Facebook status tonight and I think it’s worth repeating:

As we go into lockdown tonight in SA, I’d like us all to think about the major shift that is happening. This is the end of the world for the lack of a better phrase. The end of what we know. This past 10 days already we’ve been in self imposed isolation, and it has made me think of what this is teaching me about how I interact with my environment. People and planet. The current world order cannot continue. That much is obvious from the way we are reeling from the impact of this virus. I’m going to spend my time in isolation doing some soul searching about my intentions for this new world that’s coming, the impact I’d want to make and the effects want to have. Not to simply just plod on. Amidst the anxiety I have learned that there is possibly, just possibly a lot of lessons and ultimately a whole new world we can shape. So friends, near and far. Trite as you might think it is, think about the contribution you want to bring to a new world. And what that new world should look like for ALL of us on this Earth. And of course, may you and your loved ones stay safe. 🙏🏾

I think that pretty much sums it up and should give us all pause for thought.

Photo below : sunset on Knysna lagoon – days of oysters and bubbly and a lot less to worry about, had we only known it then.

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Prohibition in the time of Corona

Minus 2 days to country-wide lockdown in the Republic of South Africa, wherein people are confused as to the meaning of ‘midnight’ and prohibition is the new norm.

Stats: Officially, 709 positive cases of Covid-19, 12 recovered, 2 critical, and still not one single death.  We have been compared to Germany for the exceptional handling of this virus – a very high compliment indeed. Also, it’s believed that Americans want to borrow our President for a few months.  Sorry, no, we need him.

My day has been less than productive. I volunteered my services to assist with local Meals on Wheels food distribution but was talked out of it by my little household.

I had a midday nap and woke up feeling rotten. I guess I won’t be the only one experiencing psychosomatic flu symptoms.

I’ve just watched all our sSecurity cluster ministers present details of how this lockdown will work. (A rare instance of actually watching government in action when it works well, quite satisfying in a way). I hate this feeling of impending doom. It’s as if something’s about to happen, except it’s already begun.  The planned mass roll out of testing will result in a massive surge in numbers. It’ll frighten people who don’t realise that we are not testing enough and not gathering enough data on who and where the infections are.

Stockpiling continued frantically today throughout the country, or so I heard. This little peninsula can’t deal with traffic jams at the best of times and apparently today was worse than pre-Christmas. Our leading supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, arranged an online collaboration of some of our best local artists to produce this.

If not for Covid-19 I might be at the Cape of Good Hope today. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and to showcase to tourists. Oh blimey, tourists … my last tour was almost two weeks ago. My clients went straight into 14-day quarantine when they landed back home in Montreal and that’s almost over now. I will email them this weekend to get an update.

14 baboon

The most common animal to see at Cape Point – the Chacma Baboon. Naughty, greedy and completely out of hand now that they associate man with food.

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At the precise spot known as the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western spot of the African continent, there is a strip of beach covered in stones of all shapes and sizes. People can’t resist making cairns. The sea and the park rangers come along and knock them all down and the next day it starts again.

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One of the best things to do down there is a short and not strenuous hike along the cliffs. It allows the visitor to enjoy views not visible from the road.

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Pristine beaches, cliffs eroded over millions of years, views to die for!

 

 

 

 

Stupidity and compassion in the time of Corona

I have no idea what day it is .. is it Day 9 since the first presidential covid-19 announcement or is it -3 days to lockdown? It’s Tuesday, that much I know.

554 affected people, as per test results and official numbers, 4 recovered and 2 critical, still no deaths. Our stats actually look better than one might expect, despite the rise, and some say we might never reach the horrors experienced by Italy and now Spain. I suspect this nightmare has not yet reached the poor who have no way of self-isolating and/or difficulty keeping good hygiene. That is when the poo will hit the fan and that is why government has reacted so fast and efficiently.

A brief foray to the grocery store today – oh my god, designer masks, helmets,  welding masks. At one point I became emotional, thank goodness I wasn’t shopping alone and my friend calmed me down. I think what freaks me out is that we are living something that fiction has shown me time and again in ‘doomsday and disaster’ type of films and series that I must confess to enjoy. Is this happening for real???

I spent the rest of the day catching up on bookkeeping and preparing my accounts for the auditors – I will need their advice and assistance for whatever relief the state is preparing for small businesses. God help us when you consider that these funds are going to be administered by goons put in position years ago by one of the most corrupt presidents/regimes we have ever known. They’ve already managed to confuse the hell out of us with their websites and lack of details. It’s all very well that we have a fabulous president at the moment, but he is surrounded by fools and thieves!

I was horrified to receive an email from a country lodge enticing people to take advantage of special rates. They are going against government advice to NOT go into the countryside so as to not spread the virus, exposing their staff, and they are profiting from the virus. Bastards. They are in Malmesbury and their name is Fynbos Estate – let’s put their name where it belongs, in the trash.

Oh and if you are thinking of leaving the city for the countryside or for Easter – tough shit, these are not normal times, you are stuck in the cities with the rest of us. The point of a lockdown is to contain this virus, not spread it like dooses all over the country. In case it’s not obvious, the countryside is not crawling with big hospitals that would be able to deal with this as well as the cities. Watch this and see how the mayors of Italy are losing their shit with the people who are in effect killing others.

I am so touched at the reaching out from various people. I’ve had quite a few clients contacting me to check if I am all right, to ask how I am handling the obvious negative effect on tourism, to just touch base, to send greetings, to show humanity and empathy. I am also touched by the people who know that I have a lung disease and who have touched base on that particular aspect – they will all be remembered for their compassion and ability to think beyond how this is affecting them.

If not for this virus, today I should have been touring the West Coast with clients. We had planned a visit to an animal reserve and then birding in the West Coast National Park. It’s one of my favourite places and only a short distance from Cape Town.  A couple of pics below. I can’t seem to find photos that do not show the reserve in its renowned flower season. That will come in spring, in September – now there is something to look forward to!

bokkies and flowers

 

langebaan lagoon flowers

Lockdown in the time of Corona

Day 8 since the first Covid-19 Presidential address and Day Zero of the latest address in which he announces country-wide lockdown starting in 3 days time.

He also announced a whole bunch of other things. You’d better have a good reason to be out and about and, no , coffee at Tasha’s with your bestie doesn’t count … the army will deal with you .. no more private jets at Lanseria airport .. tourists who ignore the foreigner ban will be sent home .. price regulations .. NO stockpiling necessary because there will be plenty of food and food production is NOT included in the lockdown … take care of your workers or face the wrath (about bloody time, why did we need a virus for this?) .. the National Prosecuting Agency will chuck you in prison if you try any corrupt or profiteering nonsense .. and banks must work nicely together to help us poor folk out.

But … my best my very very  best … A one billion rand fund has been established for SMEs, by none other than the infamous Rupert and Openheimer families. Well done boytjies!  I hope to be a direct beneficiary of some of that, as a small business owner but, even better than direct benefit, it’s awesome for these very wealthy white families to be able to assist in this crisis which will affect the poorest of the poor the most.

And as for today’s stats: 402 officially recorded cases, which is a jump of 128 since yesterday’s figures. No deaths, 2 recovered, no-one critical. I expect the jump tomorrow to be large as test results come in.

The shit has barely started. We are weeks behind Italy. Wuhan is slowly recovering and their lockdown is loosening.

And yet, our lockdown is needed because people are still not getting it. The past weekend saw unprecedented crowds flocking to beaches and public parks, not keeping the voluntary physical distancing as requested, not giving a fuck, really. Amazing how so many ordinary people know more about this than all the scientists on earth.

As a result, all beaches are now closed. All of them. Makes me so guilty that I didn’t do as I planned which was to take the hounds to Scarborough or Witsand for a nice run – both are secluded and large enough to not be forced into close contact with anyone.

People were reportedly not allowing staff to work from home even when it would be easy and feasible. I guess they don’t trust their staff. Also, some people thought going to the office for only a few hours instead of the full day was going to make some sort of difference. Some people have stockpiled food and toilet paper yet others still intended going out every day. Well, time to learn to enjoy your own company. May I suggest reading  when you get bored with Netflix? Or gardening?

Every morning when I wake up there are a few fleeting seconds during which all is normal. And then reality returns. Here are some photos of normal regular sights, back in more carefree days.

 

 

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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