NEW! STUCK IN SOUTH AFRICA WHILE CORONAVIRUS SHUTS THE WORLD DOWN
I never thought I would be a grounded nomad. I chose this lifestyle to have total, utter, relentless freedom and right now, I am a caged bird with clipped wings, as Coronavirus shuts the world down. Hi from Cape Town by the way! Where I have been living for the past 6 months, and where I will stay put for the unforeseeable future. You see, my original plan was to leave end of March, hit up the UK, USA and Canada for work visits and then trip over to the Mediterranean for summer. Now? I am tripping to the grocery store wearing a frown. That’s ‘bout it.
What’s it like to live in a “3rd world country” while a viral pandemic shuts the world down? Not as hectic as you might think. Just as of March 15th, President Cyrl Ramaphosa announced a bold move to shut down 35 ports, inbound international flights from high risk countries, revoke tourist visas from high risk countries, ban events of over 100 people, shut down schools and encourage social distancing with the entire country only at 64 reported cases. Yes those cases are bound to double exponentially but this COULD be more containable. Other countries like the UK, Italy and USA let cases EXPLODE before taking measures! Here is South Africa, learning right away. I must say… I was IMPRESSED with this move.
The locals aren’t split, they aren’t questioning his decisions and no one is debating left or right. People here seem to be BEHIND their president’s decision to take immediate action to stop the spread as fast as possible, to not “wait and see what happens” so that the economy doesn’t slow to a halt (we all know the economy in SA is long gone for other reasons) and to learn from other countries in far worse positions.
In other words, I feel safer here than I would “back home” in the USA. Let me be clear. I am not over 70, I’ve got a healthy immune system, I like staying away from people regularly (LOL), I already work from home and not from a cesspool office space and I love washing my damn hands 50 times a day. So no, I am not worried about contracting COVID-19, though anything can happen.
What am I worried about then? I am worried about sharing a city with greedy, irresponsible citizens who are hoarding their houses with unnecessary amounts of supplies. I am worried about youngsters who think it’s cool to be rebellious and go out and drink and mess up their bodies, possibly get the virus and bring it back home to ma and pa. I am worried about a president who wants to keep the numbers down for PR purposes and I am worried about a government that doesn’t want to test its citizens because of herd immunity. >This is what I LOVE about being a nomad. I love that I get to see how other cultures and countries respond to world related issues. I never thought, in my waking life,that I would be alive for a global pandemic let alone experiencing it while nomading alone in South Africa. If you told me this would happen in the future BEFORE i decided to become a nomad, I am sure the anxiety would have been enough to turn me off from taking that leap. But now that I am here, seeing how the locals and the government are handling the problem so far in comparison to how it’s being handled back home in America ….jesus. I LOVE THIS PLACE!
Panic, dare I say….may be a cultural thing. Different cultures respond to disaster with different emotions. Some cultures are cold, calculating and pragmatic while others are dramatic, emotional and maybe even immature. Is there worry here? Yes. Is everyone talking about COVID-19 and what the next steps are? Yes. But is there legit hysteria, pillaging of grocery stores and toilet paper shortages? No and I seriously cannot see South Africans behaving this way. They are simply too polite. Their manners, despite global disasters, are never compromised. Will there be the odd person here and there to prove me wrong? Of course. These are sweeping generalizations coming from a place of observation.
This is South Africa we are talking about. Famous for Cheetahs, BBQ’s and drive by shootings. This country has seen its fair share of epic disasters. Petty crime, femicide, homicide, rapes, break ins, rampant disease….. Makes this place full of “I’ve seen it all” warrior types, used to a suffering unlike any other. Do I really think a COVID-19 outbreak here is going to break their spirits? No it’s just another day in a 3rd world country with an already challenging deck of cards.
It just so happens, that a government, usually under scrutiny and usually heavily criticized by a divided group of citizens, got their shit together pretty effing fast, and as an outsider stuck on the inside… I guess I just feel safer here.
Stay tuned in the next coming weeks to see how this unfolds.
#digitalnomad #southafrica #coronavirus #covid19 #panicpandemic #globalcrisis