When Portugal declared the end of the State of Emergency and moved to a new phase, aptly named ‘Calamity’, I felt apprehensive. There are still no reported cases of Covid-19 in the western corner of the Algarve but with the phased opening of restaurants, beaches, shops etc., even with limiting the numbers, maintaining social-distancing, hand sanitizing and the compulsory wearing of masks in public areas in an effort to limit further infections, I wonder how long this will last.
During the State of Emergency we all worked together to keep infections to a minimum in the Western Algarve by following the rules to not only keep ourselves safe but also to protect the health service. In our local area a car with a megaphone used to patrol the streets daily with the announcement asking us to ‘stay at home we are in this together’. There was an eerie reassurance as the message repeated over and over again in English and Portuguese faded into the distance and silence resumed.
Family and Friends
The ban on socialising with friends and family has also been lifted (with restrictions), however, after respecting the lockdown isolation rules for so long it seems strange to sit and chat with friends (respecting the 2m rule) in their gardens as opposed to snatched conversations over the gate as they walk by the house.
Unfortunately, our family is spread across France, the UK and Spain and the prospect of us or them travelling anywhere beyond our own country for at least the rest of this year is not feasible. It makes me sad but better to be safe. Besides, who wants to be herded in queues at the airport and then trapped on a potentially germ-ridden airplane for over two hours? Not me. Our friends have become like family and we support each other.
Since the lifting of the State of Emergency I’ve noticed not everyone complies and some people can’t even grasp the two meter rule and insist on invading your protected space. The only way to deal with these people to make them take heed is to shout at them ‘dois meters’ and shooting them away, while muttering a few choice obscenities under my breath.
Our worst experience of this was whilst trying to shop at Le RoyMerlin’s DIY store at Guia. When we arrived there was no security limiting the numbers entering the store, checking masks, no hand sanitizer and very little organisation. When you stopped to look at a product people reached across you rather than wait two minutes while you made your selection and moved on.
It was during lockdown we discovered ‘Click and Collect’ from Intermarche in Lagos. We’d stocked the cupboards and freezer before lockdown and close friends had kept us supplied with fresh fruit, eggs and some necessities. As the weeks dragged on we realised we would need to bite the proverbial bullet and go shopping to restock. We tried to place an order for home delivery with Continent, but no luck. Delivery would be five weeks. It was then we discovered Click and Collect.
We’d never used the service in the UK so we were delighted to learn all we had to do was place the order online, select a timeslot and park in the designated area of the car park, after we’d received notification, and our order would be wheeled out to our car. Happy days! We had a couple of mishaps because we misunderstood the product description but everything was well in date which was important.
By our third click-and-collect order we even noticed the NO replacement option. We will certainly be making use of this service again during the height of the tourist season.
Groundhog Day – Gardening, Hobbies and Interests
Looking back it’s surprising how quickly the lockdown passed. While every day was the same it was different. It was Goundhog in the fact we could not leave our home and every morning I’d wake, catch the first morning light as it peeped through the curtains, and imagine the Corona virus was just a bad dream. But of course it wasn’t.
Gardening – the garden and growing food became my anchor to hang hope on as I planted lots of different vegetable seeds. The open market where I usually buy vegetable plugs closed which meant I was on my own. But I learnt a lot and am still learning as gardening became my main focus. Even my Gnome became infected by my enthusiasm to grow as much produce as we could. It’s been a long haul and progress slow, however, the joy of picking our own peas, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries has been worth the effort.
Cooking – we also became more creative with cooking and tried many new recipes. Hubby also developed his cooking skills by honing in on baking bread made more difficult by the fact we eventually run out of yeast and bread flour. These were the Portuguese equivalent of the Brits panic buying toilet rolls.
Portuguese Lessons – I started well but soon became despondent as after two weeks my progress was pathetic as the words refused to stick in my memory.
Handpan – I set myself a goal to practise daily even for a few minutes and I am pleased with the progress I’ve made. At least i have developed the knack of striking the handpan so i produce notes as opposed to dull thuds.
Writing – April was National Poetry Writing Month so I wrote a poem a day for thirty days. It was tough but worth the discipline to keep me focused. I posted one of the poems here
Painting and Mosaics – I was hoping to produce some creative work in lockdown but I am afraid hours past by like minutes and so it came to pass my promise to study seascapes and create another mosaic pot came to nothing. … at least for now.
So our life continues in the groove of the NEW normal as I hand sew more protective masks, continually sanitize hands and ‘degerm’ shopping in various stages of quarentine I hope it’s not too long before they discover a vacine.
How are you guys coping?