I’m all over the place.
I can’t focus because too much is happening too fast—yet for millions of people around the world, life is on pause.
Being abroad and alone during a global crisis is a strange experience. It’s frustrating because like many immigrants, I’d like to be in different places at the same time—in Canada with Feng and Mark, in France with my family—yet I’m fully aware my mere presence wouldn’t change a thing. I mean, don’t count on me for a COVID-19 vaccine, I can’t even follow a box cake mix recipe.
This is the second time I’m in an unlikely place during a major world event, by the way—I was working in Hong Kong when, one night, my roommate barged into the apartment and announced a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre.
“Huh… it’s still standing right here,” I remember saying, pointing to Kowloon’s World Trade Centre building in the distance.
Hey, don’t judge, I was 18.
Tomorrow is my last day in Santiago. I’m flying back to Canada on Thursday—not a last-minute decision, that’s the date I picked originally. I hope everything goes as planned because, well… you’ve been reading the news as well, right?
Everything was more or less under control under it spiralled out of control around the world a few days ago.
Suddenly, I felt the need to reach out to my loved ones and talk about what was going on even though I knew it would be an echo chamber because no one has any idea what’s going on.
I tried to guess how bad it was based on Feng’s tone. He doesn’t have the Mediterranean or Latino “let’s freak out together” gene. He is rational with a scientific mind. He believes in numbers, data, probabilities. He is that guy who doesn’t get ripped off when exchanging money at the border.
Feng sounded exhausted and stressed out, mostly because of lineups in supermarkets. “People are crazy,” he sighed.
Then I called my mom who admitted she was scared—not so much of the virus itself but of the measures and lack of measures taken. Like all French, she went to work as usual on Friday, she was asked to go vote on Sunday (… only in France!) and now, as of Tuesday, she must be carrying a paper stating why she is leaving her apartment.
I talked to a few friends, all of them fairly level-headed but also confused and kind of lost because so much had changed so fast. All of them are scrambling to find childcare options, groceries, info, work-from-home solutions, a routine… and for how long?
Canada told Canadians to go home. Just as well, I was going to and Chile has just closed its borders (leaving the country isn’t an issue as far as I understand).
The atmosphere is weird in Santiago. “El virus” seemed to be far, far away until yesterday, but the President closed the school and kind of scared everyone by moving to “phase 4.” It’s still mostly business as usual but it’s hard to tell what’s “business as usual” these days in Santiago because of the ongoing protests and the impact they had on the city.
Like all over the world, people bought pasta, toilet paper and cleaning products. Not major shortage and craziness though, the shelves were mostly full again today and lineups are very reasonable.
I’m not scared, I’m anxious.
We’re all in limbo.