The third full week of the Madeira quarantine is now behind us. The restrictions continue to be firmly in place: social isolation, no travelling unless for shopping, going to the bank or travelling for medical purposes and only leaving your home for physical exercise or walking your dog. Nothing really happens, we follow the developments concerning the covid-19 virus, and keep counting our blessings as there have been no victims so far on Madeira. But even with nothing happening, I thought it was time to give you an update of how we have been these days, how we experience life in quarantine as it, inevitably, goes on, as it always does.
We are lucky. I can’t say it often enough. We have a beautiful and comfortable house and a lovely garden, so we don’t feel all that much deprived of our freedom. It must be a different matter for those living in a small apartment with a stamp-sized balcony, especially if you have young children that have too much energy for their own – and in these days anyone else’s – good.
We find we don’t mind all that much. Not that minding it would help: things are as they are, and there is nothing we can do about it. Well, there is. If we all do as we are told, the virus’ spreading is hampered, and, hopefully, eventually stopped.
So we try to keep ourselves busy. Busy with a garden that always needs work. Unfortunately, we have had a week with lots of rain, so we couldn’t do much there. The house is clean enough, so it’s reading, internet surfing and some Netflix and Youtube to keep our minds occupied. We have been able to cut away a fallen fig tree that belongs to a neighbouring plot of land but was uprooted recently in a storm and fell over a part of our garden at the back of our house. The owner of the land – and the fig – promised to send someone around to cut it up and take it away, but no-one came. This all happened some time ago, before the quarantine, so that can’t be used as an excuse. As the dead fig tree threatened to fall on top of our young pitanga shrub, we thought we might as well not wait forever and do the job ourselves. We had a dry and sunny day some days ago, so we cut the tree up – Noud wields a mean chain saw – and removed the part that could have crushed our pitanga, saving the dozen of fruits it is carrying. Note that we love pitangas, they can’t be compared with any other fruit. Noud makes ice cream out of them, absolutely delicious. With the rainly days we had, Noud plays in his domain: the kitchen, making all kinds of non-essential things that really require a lot more exercise than we really get these days of quarantine.
Another thing we have been doing is taking walks in our neighbourhood. We are allowed to do that, though not in the company of anyone outside our household, and we have to remain within a radius of one kilometre from our house. Madeira is a very steep island, so that leaves us with plenty of exercise. The last walk we did was slightly over an hour, and we covered a height difference of 200 meters. First down, then up, then down again. A challenging walk, but one that shows us the beauty of our corner of Madeira at the fullest. A good reminder of the reason why we want to spend our winters here.
Sailing in the Netherlands: not for a while
We usually plan to leave for the Netherlands by the end of April or early May, but we don’t think that this will be possible this year. Our flights on the 7th of May haven’t been cancelled yet, but they surely will be. Not that leaving would do us any good: We live aboard our yacht Heerenleed in summer, but the great majority of the marinas in the Netherlands are closed except for resident yachts. We keep our boat in the best boatyard in the Frisian area of the Netherlands, but they have no mooring facilities where we could stay for any length of time. We don’t normally need a permanent mooring in a marina – there are no swinging moorings for permanent use in the Netherlands – so we don’t have one as we just move from one nice spot to another. We prefer anchoring, but from time to time we need to go into a marina for water and shore power. We usually spend 24 hours to fully charge the batteries and to do our washing and to stock up on food and booze. This will not be possible now, at least not until July, or, more probably, August. This means that we are better off if we stay put on Madeira, even if our area has been covered in a thick layer of fog the last couple of days, limiting the view to the edge of our garden.
In another respect, we are also better off on Madeira. We can only admire the health authorities for the effort they keep putting into keeping the island and its people safe. The result up to date is that there are only 45 people infected, of which only two are now in hospital. It may well be that the number that is actually ill is lower now. We know that one patient, a Dutch lady who was the first person proven infected on Madeira, has been re-tested and is now free of the coronavirus. IASAúde, the health organisation, has not stated that this has reduced the number of cases. We suspect they do this deliberately. If they would announce the number of infected people going down, it would be extremely difficult to make people continue to keep to the restrictions. Especially over Easter.
Easter is a big thing in Portugal, and it certainly is on Madeira. People visit their families and there is a lot of celebrating done. Knowing the Madeirans, there is a lot of kissing and hugging involved, very charming, but not a good idea under the circumstances. That is why the national Portuguese government has further restricted the remaining freedom of movement. During the five days , from April 9 till April 13, no-one is allowed to travel from his municipality to another, if it isn’t for work. And if it is for work, he/she has to have a letter from the employer stating the necessity to travel. All airports in Portugal will be closed for passenger traffic. As this is a national measure to keep people from visiting family, it also applies to the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The island’s president Miguel Albuquerque just said during the daily press conference that the covid-19 situation is under control, but we shouldn’t push it, as tomorrow it might not be. We have to wait for two complete incubation cycles to have passed, before making up the balance.
How much longer?
We notice that some of our friends, especially those (slightly) younger than us, start to get bored, start pulling their leashes and really, really, want to go out and have fun again. We think they will have to be patient for a while longer. The Festival Atlântico, that normally takes place in June, has been cancelled. We already knew the Flower Festival in May is postponed, so, most likely, the heavy measures of the ongoing State of Emergency, will not be lifted anytime soon. We will just have to suck it up, relax and stay put, and, while we are here, enjoy our lovely spot in the world. We can still go food shopping. The local fruit and vegetable market in nearby Prazeres is still operational, but we are waiting for new onions and new potatoes to be harvested as the ones available are winter’s last and start to become soft and soggy. But the shops remain well-stocked, so there is no shortage of eggs or loo-paper or anything else we need.
Quarantine sessions festival
A fixed point in these subdued times of Madeira quarantine – I almost wrote ‘gloomy’, but honestly, if this is gloomy there would not be a word to describe the situation in Milan or Madrid – are the daily Quarantine Sessions that come to us from Madeiran artists via a live stream. Starting at 7 PM Western European Time, that is 20.00 h in Middle Europan Time for my non-British and non-Irish readers. Even though not every kind of music is really my kind of thing, there is something for everyone. I’d love to remind everyone that my favourite participants, the über-talented Guitarist Pedro Marques and his equally talented wife, Fado Singer Sofia Ferreira, are on again tomorrow, the 7th of April. Make sure and click the ‘like’ button on their Facebook page and switch on the notifications. The link will also be shared on our Facebook page, click the facebook icon to the left. If you are in doubt about your time zone compared to ours in WET, please use the Time Converter below.