The escape from ‘Egypt*’ (*Lavinia)21 March, 2020
Spain, Friday 20th March 2020
It has become strangely quiet in Lavinia. You don’t hear anything there anymore, except the sounds of nature. Nowhere anymore a car that stops, or a gate that is slid open, or people on the street. You hardly see any traffic on the highway in the distance anymore. It’s dead, you can even feel it in the air. It is thin, empty, or is it purely the reflection of my feelings on what it really is? Suddenly we have an empty house, while we were still full at the beginning of the week.
All guests have literally fled home, motivated by the fear of not being able to return home when Spain would close its borders to air traffic as well. The guests who would normally be here any longer, still made the decision to leave, despite the fact that nowhere did they feel safer than here. Each has its own villa, its own terrace, and can perfectly isolate itself from everything and everyone. Often it was the children who were worried and wanted their parents close to them. It was a very double feeling for those guests, because they would have enjoyed themselves here, the sun, walking, doing nothing, … But on the other hand, of course, you want to be at home when strange things happen that you can’t control. Being at home in isolation is always different from being on ‘vacation’. You are still a guest there, and even if you can do what you want, just the idea that it is not your own ‘home’ makes you feel just not at home enough to feel at ease.
Last week we were suddenly assigned another task, a task for which we were not prepared either. For hours we looked up information about what the situation was in Spain, in Belgium and in the Netherlands. The search was very difficult, especially about the Spanish situation. Maybe because we didn’t know which sources we should consult. After a phone call to the Belgian Embassy, it soon became clear that they didn’t have any information either. The website they recommended to us -the official one of the Spanish Ministry- turned out not to give enough information. What could we do with statistical information about the number of infections and the deceased? We had to provide our guests with correct and useful information. After a lot of searching we found the necessary information so we could inform our guests personally. Together Wim and I went to each villa to give the necessary explanation, and to answer questions. This turned out to be desperately needed, because a single couple didn’t have the slightest idea that such insusceptible strange things were happening in the world. That’s how intense they had been enjoying their holiday until then. They thought it was strange that so many shelves were empty in the shop, but thought they were just shopping late in the day so a lot had already been sold. It wasn’t until they heard about all the perils that they realised what was going on. It was a reasonable shock for them. Especially when we had to bring the message that the whole of Spain was in lockdown and that nobody was allowed in or out of our domain anymore. Only necessary groceries and medication was still allowed.
The moment they heard that they were no longer allowed to go into the mountains to go hiking, people got a feeling that they wanted to leave quickly. You can read books and sunbathe and swim, but the concept of ‘holiday’ quickly degenerates into a concept of ‘imprisonment’ when you are controlled and restricted. The fact that police and army do checks and impose heavy fines only reinforces that feeling. And control there is. When Wim took the garbage to the container down the street, he was stopped by the Guardia Civil and had to explain why he was on the road. Fortunately, he still had a prescription for the pharmacy in the car that could justify his presence.
Actually, the past week we have only been busy with Corona, more specifically looking up information and talking about it with our guests. Because of course that is -as worldwide- the topic of conversation of the day.
It seems like a war situation, a panic situation from which people want to get away at all costs. This is even more fuelled by false calamity messages such as that airports are closed, etc… We have to check these rumours, again for hours on end, on various official pages and in our turn pass on the correct information to the guests. It has been quite a tough week. In addition, almost all bookings for April were cancelled and rebooked. Moreover, we also wanted to inform all guests who come on holiday in 2020 via a personal mail, and put a post on our website around this. Because all this is sensitive, you have to weigh your words very carefully. So it all takes a lot of time.
I was relieved when the last guests left on Wednesday, knowing that everyone would be safe at home again. Not that I was glad everyone was gone, on the contrary. The season just started, back in the mood, and after months of hibernation I finally got back to experiencing how nice it is to be among the guests, and then this. Back to square one. What the future holds, of course, nobody knows how long it will take. What the financial consequences will be is even more unclear. So we continue with what is still on our countless to-do lists. And this also means: taking the much-needed rest that – due to the deadline of the start of the new season – we didn’t get around to. So we take advantage of it to rest a lot, to enjoy a long sleep, to take a long siesta, to calmly put everything in order, to finally get the vegetable garden in order…
The worst thing is that the children who would come in mid-April will not be able to do this now and that those trips have to be cancelled. I was so looking forward to it. It remains uncertain if it will succeed this year. It is not so easy to get their diaries all at the same time and that we can also close for a week. They don’t always choose when they can get holiday at work, unfortunately…
Yesterday, or was it the day before yesterday, we were lying down in the morning – something that hadn’t happened for a long time. When I asked Wim what weather it was going to be, he promptly picked up his ‘Mrs Google’ on his smartphone and asked her what weather it was going to be. We had fun for more than half an hour with ‘his mrs’ talking the craziest things when we asked her all kinds of questions. Lovely that artificial intelligence ! What a laugh we had! I’ll let you guys enjoy yourselves…
Asked if she knew a song called Wim in :
When asked if she knew a song about Lavinia :
When asked to tell a joke:
As you can see, we make the best of it. I see and hear that people often get depressed, but then I think; we are all in the same shit, and even if it sometimes seems a bit of a war, it’s not. Within a few months this will only be a nasty memory and we will continue with our lives, hopefully more conscious and with more joy of life than before. Let this be a wake-up call for many of us. Let us realize how important it is to connect with each other, to be physically present with each other, not just virtually. Let us realize what it means when you can hug each other, feel each other’s warmth, look into each other’s eyes, be together with friends and family. Because you have to admit it ; virtual contacts can never replace what unique human relationships and contacts mean. I miss it anyway, and I’m quite sure that many people will recognize this now. Maybe after the whole thing is over we should have a national hugging day to make up for all the damage of the past days or weeks. I’m in! Who else?
Maybe you like to read “All days Sunday” as well ?