It is already a week and some days since we arrived in Gotland, Sweden. After a journey without hiccups (wasted so much energy being nervous!) we came to a rainy, chilly, and wet island. And dark. By 3pm. As expected, everything is affected by the covid pandemic, we knew there’d be restrictions, but these restrictions kept getting harder. We didn’t travel here to go to malls and day trips to indoor entertainment areas, we came to see family. But even that has changed. People didn’t pop over for coffee once they knew we’d arrived. They waited until we had shown no symptoms. We won’t have extended family over at Christmas. We don’t take the kids to the shops. And people don’t hug. Swedes hug, swedes are huggers rather than cheek kissers. And when you meat an old friend or relative you greet with a big warm hug. So when you meet and keep at a safe distance it feels like you didn’t actually meet, and I’ve come to realise that the hugs serve as an ice breaker as well. With no hug you just kind of stand and look at each other and the whole scenario just becomes stiff. We met a few family friends the other day when we went to look at a Lucia (who’s Lucia?) procession on horse back in town (a village really). Instead of hugging and asking each other about regular stuff in life we just kind of greeted and well, looked at each other. I never knew that such a brief embrace made all the difference. Sweden is much worse affected by covid compared to Zambia and it has really been an eye opener to see how things have had to change here. Once the vaccine is administered en masse I hope Swedes will go straight back to hugging! It’s just not the same without!
We have made the most of the drab weather and few entertainment options by taking the kids to the sea for little outings or just short walks in the area. Here are a few photos!
We are travelling to Sweden in December! Normally this would only bring excitement but 2020 isn’t normal, so here we are, watching the news, seeing covid numbers rise, and restrictions tighten. We are in for a very different holiday, but what covid can’t cancel is quality time with the family and after all that is why we are travelling. With two new babies in the family, we don’t mind that we can’t even have a meal at a restaurant together (max 8 people per group). With all the cousins to hang out with, who needs to go anywhere anyway?
For a long time I haven’t felt the need to follow the covid situation too closely outside Zambia, but now my ear is close to the ground for any update on further restrictions and regulations. So instead of excitement it’s a rather nerve wrecking countdown to our flight! It’s a strange feeling to be worried about catching a disease going to Europe, it has always been the other way around, people worried about all kinds of illnesses, whether founded or unfounded, people have been scared to travel to Africa. The tables have turned in the strangest of ways. And as much as I look forward to having a Christmas in Sweden and for the children to see snow for their first time, I am worried about the whole situation.
I will end this post with a few photos from the last couple of month:
Looking at my recent post “Open our schools!” you might think I was dancing with joy when the president last Friday announced that schools can reopen. But I wasn’t. I do think it is the only way forward as children in government schools have missed out on six month of learning, but as for me and my youngest boys we were just getting the hang of it. I was even planning how to set up our new “classroom”. You could say I received the news with mixed emotions. And so did the boys. Six months away from what was routine meant it was like first day at school all over again on Tuesday, it didn’t make it any easier that we weren’t allowed to escort them to hostel or class, just drop off and go to avoid crowding. (I know it was all smiles by the end of the day but it was still hard!) My youngest only goes back next week and will hopefully get the excitement up, at least he made sure to load up on snacks today when we went grocery shopping. Thanks to technology and hard working teachers the children at Martin house have been able to keep up with work. Unfortunately, that can’t be said about many other schools that are now looking at catching up on all the lost time. 2020 is really a year for the history books for all the wrong reasons but I hope we can see a silver lining which for me has been all the time spent with my children (though I can’t lie, it’s been challenging too!) Now the question is how do we expect our kids to adhere to social distancing and wearing masks at school when most adults have failed so badly at it!?
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about my self (or rather confirmed) in the last few month it’s that I am a true introvert, quite content in my own company. I’ve always been bad at keeping up with friends (hey, don’t take it personal!), so when we now all sit at home more than ever I “forget” to keep in touch. From the time the schools closed I’ve been busy helping my kids with their on- and offline work and only doing my weekly trip to town to stock up on groceries. To say that my social life has taken a back seat would be an understatement, but that seems to be the tune of 2020! I really shouldn’t complain, others have had to sit it out in flats, we don’t even have a lock-down in place. I think though, I’ve had a lock-down-mentality, I’ve locked myself in with my thoughts and not making enough effort to keep up with the world outside (and I don’t mean the news, just with you know, people). I’ve seen that I easily close myself into a cocoon, this week I’ve been craving company though, and the plan is to go visit a friend this afternoon for some good old gossip and coffee (they go together well).
Another thing I’ve learnt is that I own way to few leggings and nowhere near enough sweatpants but too many jeans! I saw a headline recently saying that shampoo sales had dropped while ice cream sales had soared, sounds about right. We have had to deeply reevaluate our priorities and we might be on to something here!
Tomorrow we close this term, without knowing if we are coming back online or to actual school in September. It is, however, a welcome break from logging on, keeping the boys from fighting (“he’s looking at me mum!”), and sitting in the house all morning. I may even be slightly more excited for the holiday than my kids!