Walkies in the time of Corona

Friday March 20, 2020 – Day 5 since our President told us we are in shit. (Also Day 3 since he told us to stop buying toilet paper).

202 cases in South Africa, no deaths, no-one in ICU. Many public facilities closing, no alcohol to be served or sold anywhere after 18:00. I can’t believe that it’s 6 weeks since I first read about this virus and something told me this is going to be The Big One.

Being a very adventurous thrill-seeker I ventured out today, twice. First the pharmacy because they sent me a text that my monthly meds were ready. I don’t actually need them right now but I figured if I wait it might be riskier to go to a place full of sick people. While I was out I popped into the supermarket to take advantage of the Odd Bins special (buy 4, get 20% off, hulloooo what’s not to love). Odd Bins is the best-kept secret in the wine world and I’m not saying another word on that.

The supermarket was surreal. Not very busy for a Friday but I didn’t get a feeling of impending doom. Toilet paper is rationed, hand sanitiser is gone, and liquid soap is not priced which means we’re about to be ripped-off. A lady squeezed past me at the till and then returned to stand so close behind me I could feel her against my back. Clearly she hadn’t heard the news so I brought her up to speed fast. I am not wearing a mask but I am wearing my trusty buff which I pull up over my mouth when needed.

When people get too close to me I should shout out that I work with European tourists for a living. (Ok, ok, not right now anymore but less than 2 weeks ago I did and some of those are now in lockdown).

Once the wine was safely stashed away at home I decided ‘in for a penny in for a pound’ let’s take the dogs for a walk while we still can.

The contrast between the neighbourhood where I live and shop and the one where I walk the dogs is stark. Home hood is middle-class, but I walk my dogs in a nearby very posh hood – where they still have green spaces and the traveling class lives. I used to shop there, too, but have stopped for my own safety.

The walking trail, known as Alphen, was almost empty. The few people Paul and I encountered kept their distance, as did we. What is strange is how people don’t even greet anymore. As if greeting or smiling were dangerous.  The only person who greeted me was a little girl who tried to befriend my dog – good luck with that, little girl, this Queen Sha-Noopsie (Vida) doesn’t like kids. Or cyclists. Or skateboarders. Or kitesurfers. Or being cooped up at home.

I don’t have a television set so all my news and information comes from the internet and talk radio. I am grateful for that because I can filter out the absurdities that people are swallowing. I am also grateful for my well-managed Facebook feed which brings me gems like this : Bella Ciao – a poignant song where a resistance fighter is saying goodbye to the “beautiful world” as he prepares to die for freedom. In this rendition, a saxophonist in times of coronavirus in Italy. When the mayor of Rome told her citizens to sing from their balconies, did she have any idea what she was unleashing?

Incidentally, the song plays a major role in one of the best series I have ever watched. If you haven’t seen it yet, this the perfect time to catch up – Money Heist / La casa de papel.  I am thrilled to know that the next season is being released on my birthday next month (3 April) – I thought it was going to be a real downer of a birthday but clearly there is a silver lining.


About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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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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