An Easter of hope on Madeira. Corona seems under control

It’s Easter. A big thing in Portugal and on Madeira. People accept the extra measures, some grudgingly, but let’s be honest: it seems to work. Madeira seems to have Corona under control. In the week running up to Easter there were hardly any new infections, and the ones there were concerned people who had come from abroad and were already in quarantine.

Easter at home

Let’s quickly remind you of the extra measures that were taken by the central government of Portugal for the Easter week: no travelling outside your council, unless it’s for work and you needed paperwork to prove it. Police have been instructed to be strict, and they were. On the first day of the extra restrictions, on Madeira alone, some 700 cars were sent back to where they came from because they tried to cross into another council without a valid reason. Probably most offending drivers were not even trying to ignore the Easter regulations, but simply did not realise they were crossing an otherwise meaningless council border on their way to a nearby supermarket. For those who haven’t been to Madeira: not every village has a supermarket, some councils don’t even have one and have to rely on smaller local shops. You can read all about the police checks in our friend Tobi’s Madeira Island News. Still, this state of emergency with all its restrictions tend to have a surprising effect on the people of Madeira. I already wrote about the Madeira Quarantine Sessions, a daily live stream on Facebook, that shows many island performing artists, some better than others – let’s be realistic – but all set on giving people a good time and bringing people together – albeit virtually. I have seen a small new community being born out of this, the same people ‘showing up’ online and greeting one another.

Empty streets

If life online is blooming, the streets in the towns and villages of Madeira are virtually empty. But empty streets by no means mean a lifeless island. On the contrary. As Tobi reported in his blog, the town of Machico put a challenge in their Facebook page asking people to make Music and make themselves heard. Even the police, who have been extremely busy keeping people at home or at least within their council, participated. They drove around town and asked people in a rap-like recording to stay at home. All very simple things, but it creates an atmosphere of togetherness that makes up for a lot of things we have to do without this Easter. Things meant to bring some fun in gloomy days, but honestly, I find them touching and I find my eyes tearing up regularly witnessing all these expressions of solidarity and responsibility.

Easter saw the majority of food shops closed this year. Consequently, the roads were almost deserted. It looks like people understand the need to stay home, and don’t try to escape the regulations like in my home country the Netherlands, where many people try to ignore the requests of the authorities to stay at home. We fail to understand this mindless behaviour.

Good news: corona under control, it seems.

Amid our Easter confinement, we have been receiving some good news as well. Last week ended with three consecutive days without new infection cases on Madeira. Yesterday the IASaúde, the Madeiran Health Authority, reported a new case, but this turned out to be a lady who had returned from London a month ago, had felt a bit ill like the normal flu, recovered, but had herself tested when she heard people in London she had been in contact with were infected. She was still in quarantine and turned out to be infected, though she is not showing any more symptoms. The real good news is that the IASaúde seems to have things concerning corona under control. They seem to know the exact provenance of every single infection, which is quite reassuring. It now looks like they have things well in hand, but they keep repeating that the state of emergency will certainly not be alleviated any time soon. We need to wait out two complete incubation cycles of two weeks each, before the state of emergency and the measures coming with it will be reconsidered. Meanwhile, the island government has started tentative talks about some sectors getting back to work.

Our Easter

So we stayed put, like the good boys we are. We did go out on Saturday though, we walked to the Panoeste bakery for some bread. It is a nice walk, going up from our house,  by the Vereda da Soalheira. After a couple of minutes, we reach the Levada Nova which we can follow until we get close to the bakery, then up via a small footpath. The bakery was open and had everything they usually have, including some über Portuguese ‘pastéis de nata’, cream pastries. There was one customer who just came out of the shop when we arrived. Noud went in, I stayed outside and, typical for these days, had a nice chat with the gentleman who had bought a large cake if the square box he carried was any indication. We agreed that moaning is useless and that we’d best make the best of it. I said ‘typical for these days’, as everyone we meet – not many,  except for our necessary visits to the supermarkets or the farmers’market – because it strikes me that people stop for a – well- distanced –  chat more frequently than under normal circumstances.  And everyone agrees: we are not doing the authorities a favour, we are doing it for ourselves.

Pastéis de Nata. With corona under control, Easter turned out a bit more hopeful than expected.

Leg of lamb

When Noud had the bread and the stuff we needed, this time, the roads being empty, we decided to walk back along the regional road 222, this making our walk a circular one. Even though there is plenty to worry about, we never cease to enjoy the magnificent views the quiet West of Madeira offers. We are really privileged living in this quiet area, isolated enough to not feel much threatened by the coronavirus, and quiet enough to give us every opportunity to do a walk if we feel like it.

Easter arrives with the typical Easter weather:  cool and showers. No weather for a walk, so reading, trying some new watercolour techniques (can’t show you any results yet) and Noud busying himself in his favourite playground: the kitchen. He had found a nice leg of lamb at the Anoitecer supermarket, and as we have plenty of time on our hands, the recently discovered slow cooking method was applied to prepare it. The result was delicious. We do not like overcooked meat of any kind, but a nice leg of lamb well done is blasphemy and Noud has the times and temperatures well under control. Anyone who wants to try: let us know in your comment below and we will send you the requirements. It’s simple: you need an oven and a meat thermometer.

Before our lovely Easter dinner, we enjoyed the impressive short concert by Andrea Bocelli in the empty Dome of Milan, and we were moved by his Amazing Grace sung on the deserted Piazza del Duomo at the end of the concert. It’s incredible to see how much good this nasty virus brings out in so many people. We can only hope this will last after the virus has been defeated.

For those who have missed it: here it is.

Tell us about your Easter

Easter is, if we look at it from a non-religious angle, a moment in spring that is a promise. A promise of renewal, a promise of spring, and this year, maybe a reminder that things will get better. Have you done anything special to make the most of your Easter in isolation? Tell us all about it. Leave a comment below and let us know what you did to make these days the promise we all need at this moment in time. While you think about it, listen to a Brazilian cl assic, that tells us Canta, canta, minha gente, sing, sing, my people, deixa a tristeza prá lá, leave your sadness over there, canta forte, canta alta, sing loud and strong, a vida vai melhorar, life will get better. A song that is brought to us by Martinho da Vila, the epitome of a people that knows about both joy and misery. Let’s try and go for Joy. With a capital J.  

As you have seen, much of the news I find on Tobi’s Madeira Island News. If you are interested in what happens here, make sure and subscribe at the bottom of his page if you haven’t already.

I love to read your feedback, so make sure and leave a comment below. If you like reading my articles and you haven’t already done so, scroll to the bottom of this page and subscribe.

Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1949. He has a history in PR and copywriting. Now, part time resident of the Island of Madeira of over 10 years, he writes about Madeira, its culture, its overwhelming nature, its food and drink, and about everything concerning travel to and on this beautiful island.

2 thoughts on “An Easter of hope on Madeira. Corona seems under control

  1. Thank you Peter. I listened to Andrea Easter evening. When I joined on there were 120,000 people, when he began 2.5 million. It was beautiful and surreal as we saw the empty streets and heard his beautiful voice. Loved the Brazilian classic which brought such a different mood. The lamb sounds wonderful and of course you have the best chef. Look forward to when we can gather, laugh, walk and drink a poncha or two again.

    1. Hi Annie, thanks for commenting. Indeed it was surreal and impressive to hear Amazing Grace sung on an empty square which normally looks more like a beehive. We are looking very much forward to a good poncha, probably two or three, (four?), in the lovely company of you and all our friends. It will be a little while, but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. Stay safe, stay healthy and look after yourself. We all want everybody back safe and sound when this is over! Beijinhos!

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