As everybody else, I was following the Coronavirus developments quite closely for the last few weeks. At the beginning I didn’t think it would get that bad and things would normalise after a few weeks – jeez was I wrong! The loss of life and overall humanitarian toll is extrem across the globe and this turns out to be the biggest global crisis any of us, or most of us, had in their lifetime. The German Chancellor even had her first, direct address to the nation. And she has been Chancellor for like 50 years it feels. So believe me that we take it serious.
Things turned from “this seems to be in China only” to “wholly sh…, this is getting real” when we arrived in South Africa and states began to put travel restrictions in place and closing borders. Now Europe and especially Italy and Germany (and Iran plus a few new places I assume) are the new epicentres of the virus with a large number of cases, or rather patients. Being on a one year world trip, having sold our place in New Zealand and being in Southern Africa – what to do?!
For a start, a big thanks for all those messages, calls and check ins! In short, we are still fine but the situation and uncertainty is not a nice feeling whatsoever when you are with your family and young children at the other end of the world in an unfamiliar country. I am writing this post in our small but nice apartment in Windhoek where overall everything is still business as usual. Well it kind of is but isn’t. On the day we flew from Cape Town to Windhoek, the Namibian Government declared the state of emergency (we only learned that later in the evening when we were already in Windhoek. News travel at a different pace and via different ways I tell you…), blocking all borders to only let Namibians back in, and tourists out. I actually don’t know how we managed to get in, maybe the news didn’t make it to the airport neither. But I can tell you that we were the only ones in the tourist line at the airport. Anyway, we got screened and checked for fever and then got our visa as per normal.
The big question on our first day, after having learned of the state of emergency – what does that mean for our plans? Will National Parks be closed, are you allowed to travel at all? So we went to a couple of tourism offices and checked with them. Good news, all still go and plan is to keep National Parks open but put preventative measures in place at each site.
Here are my thoughts at the moment.
- We are not the age group most at risk. Not saying there is no risk, but not as high as for the older generations. And we don’t have any symptoms as of yet and seem to be fine.
- Do we want to head back to NZ as asked for by our Government? Not at this stage, we have no place to be. Friends will surely help out but where to go into the mandatory 2 week quarantine, no job, …
- Do we head back to family in Germany? Also not at this stage, why would we head straight into the epicentre? We would definitely have a place to stay though. Still no job though.
- We made it into Namibia with two isolated patients so far. The numbers are likely higher though… On the other hand it is a vast country with not a lot of people living there.
So our first priority at the moment is not to get COVID-19 to not be in the first big wave of infections with stretched hospital capacities. And we don’t want to spread it around if we unknowingly have the virus. Hence we are minimising contact (as advised by every government, and yes we wash our hands still) and have done so in South Africa already. Next we rented a self contained 4×4 camper for the next 4 weeks to go on safari. With most tourists gone and no more coming in, I don’t think we will meet a lot of people. The developments are so fast around this, who knows what the situation will be like in 4 weeks. Maybe there is an effective treatment/vaccine available? Trying to think positive here…
If Namibia is not completely shutting down everything, I think we are in a pretty good spot for the next month, and of course will explore Namibia and have an awesome safari experience. And at least we provide some business for the very hard hit tourism industry here. Same as back home in NZ, over night it went to zero with countless cancellations. The big unknown at this stage is – what’s next? I don’t think that the travel restrictions will be gone, so how to get to Germany then? Seriously don’t know. Our visas here run out in early May – what does that mean? We put our names on both emergency lists, New Zealand and Germany. Hope one will bail us out if everything turns pear-shaped!
On top of this all, it’s Jannik’s birthday today. Last year the Mosque shooting in Christchurch a few days before and this year COVID-19 – jeez, what’s next year?
But we managed to make his birthday a bit special at least, he got a few presents, a nice birthday breakfast table setting and a cheesecake in the afternoon. And we decided that his birthday kind of is tomorrow when we start our safari.
I really hope that the situation is not getting any worse anywhere and for us here in Namibia. If you really want to worry, what does it mean for the global economy and for Germany and New Zealand. Will there be any jobs at all? What about house prices and inflation, will our little money in the bank be worth anything at all anymore when we come back at the end of the year? Is there anything we can do about it at the moment? Questions, questions, questions which will be the same or similar for people across the world.
We have four rolls of toilet paper, food and water – what can go wrong?! I really hope that in a few months (years?) we can look back and laugh about it, but at the moment it doesn’t feel funny at all. Crazy times… Stay safe people and look after each other!