A few months ago I experienced Covid-19 in Switzerland, when it was decided to close schools and work from home as much as possible. Back then, I thought it would be quite difficult to spend a few weeks at home with the kids, without school, without play dates. I was wondering how I would keep the kids busy, without leaving them unlimited hours in front of the screen. And how can I do home schooling, without losing pace and combining the requirements of a 5-year-old child with the needs of a 10-year-old.
Our pre-Corona days had a very demanding schedule. In addition to the school schedule, we also had extracurricular activities 4 afternoons a week, which involved juggling two different schedules of the two children, taken and brought back by one or the other, from one side of town to the other, without losing any time. When evening came, I was tired, enjoying a moment of silence after the dragons fell asleep.
Panic set in when a state of emergency and school closure was declared. I thought that the days would pass slowly and boring for us, and that we would grow tired of each other. In such situations, relationships are validated. My husband, who works countless hours every day, had to be home more often. Wonderful, but how was it going to work out in practice, I wondered. Apart from a few days off, it was rare that he would be able to enjoy his company during the day, have meals with the family, or help the children with homework. In the end, the restricted days in Bern passed relatively quickly and very pleasantly. We pulled out some nice benefices from this pandemic situation.
Luckily we like each other and we still want to spend days together! Now that in Switzerland the situation of Covid is stabilized and under control, now that the schools are functioning normally and that people have partially returned to work, we have decided to move overseas, and start Corona experience all over again, only under a much more drastic form of quarantine and emergency in faraway Australia.
The truth is that anyone who has known us as a family for the past 5 years knew about our dream of leaving Australia for at least a year. And 2020 was announced to be the lucky year, when Australia would open its doors to our family. Everything is fine and beautiful, despite the extremely laborious and expensive bureaucracy, it seemed that we would leave as provided by the employment contract, starting in July. Not that it could have been better, because that meant enjoying a few days of vacation and visiting our families in Romania and Spain, before starting the Australian adventure.
Let’s put aside waiting for the visa and for the special approval that actually allowed us to undertake the journey and enter Australia. Once all these criteria were met, we were able to pack our bags. For a few weeks in a row, the airline contacted us just two days before the flight, to announce with regret that the flight was canceled…. We had been out of work since the end of June and now it was already August and the children were going to start a new school year in just 3 days. That was not in our plan at all.
We managed to find tickets with a new airline, and fly. On the first day of the new school year, all the friends were at school, and our children were boarding an Airbus A350 with only three other passengers besides our family. A unique experience indeed, to be up in the air in a plane practically only for us. I admit the VIP feeling was there. The crew on board was more numerous than the passengers, and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. I think with horror about the economical impact the whole Corona generated situation around the Globe.
Once in Australia, we were escorted by police to a hotel for the required 14 days of quarantine. By the way, I’m still in the same hotel room as I write this, on the twelve day isolation. Absolutely forbidden to leave the room. So many days since I last felt a breeze or wind outside. Now it’s a time to remember the nice walks in the Swiss Alps, just a few minutes drive from home. We have the liberty of moving from one room to another of the 3 that have been assigned to us. Lucky us that we travel with kids, as adults not accompanied by children are given a simpler room. The conditions are wonderful, and I think that will be reflected in the final invoice. But for now, all we want is to be able to go out for a walk. Only that. To be outside. To feel the Australian wind blowing. What does the Australian air smell like? Of course, the windows cannot be opened. It would be far too dangerous in the current situation, especially for those who quarantine themselves alone.
On weekends, there is a live performance: on rare occasions there are Australians who come to visit a family member quarantined in one of the hotel rooms. They sit outside in the yard and look up at the multitude of windows. The imprisoned one is close to the smoky glass window, with the phone pressed to her ear. For a few minutes all other residents enjoy the show and imagine their conversation. Otherwise, not much happens outside. Rarely we get to see the military in charge of security passing by and waiving at the viewers.
And after this experience I find with joy that we still like each other and that we have not gone completely crazy.