On the first Monday of the month at noon, a bunch of sirens go off all over the country.
For the first few months I kind of missed it, probably because I was working in a site office out of the city.
So the first time I heard it was a bit of a surprise. It was in the first month of lockdown, maybe the second. I thought there was an air raid or something.
I then found out its a testing protocol to make sure all the emergency systems work. Since then I found that every time this happened the newcomers tend to ask “what’s going on in [insert area name], I can hear all the sirens going off in the distance”.
Today when I heard it I joked to a friend that I was waiting for the question when he had the best response:
“Organised crime. Hulle steel almal op Maandag oggend 12 uur karre. Dan is dit te veel vir polisie om te reageer. Oorweldig die polisie. Vandaar al die 12 uur kar alarms”
A friend of my boyfriend told me he is watching Trackers, a South African series, and I expressed a wish to see it too. This led to me gushing about how much I enjoyed the books from the author of the series, Deon Meyer.
Consequently my boyfriend says he would like to read the books, and preferably in Afrikaans, and this led to me posting on a Facebook group to try and find some Afrikaans copies here in the Netherlands. (I have all the books, but I left them in South Africa, because well, I have already read them.) Next moment this leads to the creation of a book club for Afrikaans books in the Netherlands!
So after a wonderful breakfast at a local spot, we put on our “bekjassies” aka mouth masks, and make our way to another part of the city where we can pick up a book from one of the book club members.
The weather was lovely, as the heat of the last few days was tempered by a cooler breeze. We decided to make the most of this and go for a walkabout afterwards.
I remembered a recommendation from a friend via Facebook, and we decided to brave the crowds and look for something in Kalverstraat, one of the busiest streets in Amsterdam.
Although it’s busier than a few weeks back, it was still possible to maintain the 1.5m distance, and I realised that it’s quite possibly the only time I can see things in the city that are both open and not jam packed.
We reached our destination, Van Wonderen, a stroopwafel emporium that has been featured in more than one good looking travel video on Facebook (think CultureTrip) and definitely cute enough for Instagram.
Thank goodness for weekends to enjoy the sweeter side of life.
When they said it takes 48 hours to get the test results, they definitely meant it. I was hoping to hear a bit earlier, as I had plans for the rest of the day, and I heard at hour 47:57. I am glad to say that at this point in time I don’t have COVID-19.
Luckily I had enough of the day left to get to my plans: the South Africans in the Netherlands had a big get together for a braai and a socially responsible picnic.
The organisers found a lovely place in the countryside where we could go.
Fire was arranged, braai packs was ordered. A shuttle service was arranged to get people from the station to the venue.
And we all had a lekker time, catching up with old friends and making new ones.
And the end of a long day I could go home happy and full (of memories and food).
I just read somewhere that they want to make masks mandatory in public places in Amsterdam.
I am not surprised, because I did notice it getting busier. Just a couple of days ago I was thinking with the borders opening up and the holiday season the risks are getting higher.
Now I feel like in the early days of the lockdown. Every person is a potential carrier. Myself included.
With a lot of plans coming up to make use of this season, I have to remind myself that the safety of persons, myself and others, come before pleasure. So I will focus again on the things that make me happy and I can do at home.
I decided that all this lethargy during corona times and really the months preceding it needs to stop. Sadly, the days of getting up early to surf twice a week is long gone (since I left Peru) and even though there are some surfing in the Netherlands, for the current situation it is not a viable exercise plan.
So I responded to a Facebook Ad (can you believe it? believe it, because its true) and went to an info session for a Wellness centre in my neighbourhood. By wellness centre I intend it to mean a place that looks after your physical and nutritional wellness, not to be confused with the “wellness” concept of the Netherlands, that basically means a sauna (and nudity is mandatory, but thats a story for another day)/
I guess its a good thing they placed the ad, because I wouldnt visit the place if I was just walking by. From the outside it looks like the kind of place run by a guy named Thysie from the “Gym of all nations”.
The inside was a different story, all tastefully decorated in a rustic but clean style, like a Coricraft flagship store.
What really impressed me though, is their holistic approach to fitness and health, and also the fact that it wasn’t an intimidating atmosphere. I have seen a number of fitness centres that really makes me feel like the guys are all going to look like pro sports people and the girls like soccer moms in colour coordinated crop tops and brand name tekkies. This wasn’t like that at all.
Part of the trial week includes a number of scheduled group training sessions and today I did an outdoor bootcamp class with one of the resident trainers. It was the right amount of challenging but achievable exercise and I felt good moving again. I can definitely say there is room for improvement, but if that wasn’t the case I guess I wouldn’t need to go. Lets see how this goes.
There were no covid related questions, but I did have to wear gloves while working on the laptop that was designated for the test. Interestingly I didn’t need to wear a mask so I’m guessing I could have hypothetically been picking my nose with my gloved hands and transferred the virus to the computer that way. Conversely, someone else may have done so before me and my nose picking could have lead to me getting into contact with the nasty stuff. Let’s hope neither of those things have happened.
It was however nice to get out of my home office for a work related activity and it is also pleasant to have a nice little cycle there and back.
I was studying for an exam all day. We have to write a VCA exam, its is about safe working practices on construction sites. I wonder how much of this kind of thing will be changed now to include the risk of being infected with a common disease like Covid-19.
I wonder how life would change. Would we be wearing masks for the next few years, or for more than a few (then I really need to invest in the kind that doesn’t fog up my glasses.) Would we be allowed to travel only if we have a card that shows our vaccinations are up to date (like the yellow fever vaccination card)?
It’s always been impossible to tell what the future holds, and now even more so. As much as we like to be armchair experts and predict what the course of the disease, in reality we will just have to wait and see. There are so many things that we have to worry about and think about and in the end, all we can do is be responsible and take care of those around us.
1. I am honestly thankful that I am in the Netherlands during this strange time, for a multitude of reasons.
2. It’s always good to have a plan that’s not dependent on the weather.
When I was preparing for this weekend I packed my flip flops, sunscreen and swimsuit. In stead I got rainy Dutch weather.
Thank goodness I also packed my Museumkaart.
I spent the afternoon doing window shopping and visiting a charming little museum in the Hague, the Panorama Mesdag. It is an incredible painting of a 360 degree view of Scheveningen and it is just so lifelike and simultaneously like a painting, so it was a really special experience.
Afterwards Marinus and I could have a few beers outside a local pub, working in one of the dates we missed in this time of social distancing and charm.