It feels like an age ago I wrote the last blog, so much has happened. Lockdown, our prime minister catching Corona, halting of flights all over the world.
But we rejoice. We are one of 55 inhabited territories who are still COVID-19 free, according to WIKIPEDIA, who seems to provide the most up to date list (unlike the BBC who miss St Helena off completely).
How? Our weekly flight became impossible after S Africa banned travel by Brits, Americans and Europeans on 18 March, and those arriving in St Helena on 21 March, a small group considering, had to quarantine for 14 days. There hasn’t been any flights into the Island since.
Yachties have been required to quarantine and can only come on shore if there is distress as per the international codes.
When the next flight does arrive, any arrivals will be quarantined for 14 days.
Other islands in our position include Svalbard, Tuvalu, Samoa and Palau. Other British OTs still COVID-19 free include Tristan, Ascension and Pitcairn.
But there is a huge amount of guilt I feel after seeing friends in the UK on their 3rd week of quarantining, and after having heard from friends in quarantine in China back in January.
Remoteness has it’s restraints. From time to time I wish I was in a city going to watch some live music, or go to a bar I’ve never been to, or simply hang out in a country pub by the fire. We have shortages in the shops, only once every 3 weeks our supply ship arrives with the fresh imports (like apples and oranges) which we can’t produce here. If you buy something online, unless you send it by air freight (2 weeks) it will go by ship (3 months). So in a way, we know how the rest of the world are feeling when things are hard to get. But there is no way we can fully experience the pain. There is no way I can feel what it’s like being in a 2 bed flat with 2 kids off school and no garden.
Going about our business on the Island has been too much for some people and “self-isolation” as we are calling it in St Helena (referring to staying in to avoid catching the virus) has been wide spread here, for precaution, for safety, and in solidarity with those across the world. Even though we have no cases. “Just in cases”.
The restaurants, the bars and the night club here is dead quiet. People are staying at home. Whilst we are still able to go out and about, the Islanders are holding their breath, waiting, watching, hoping, wishing.
But there is a part of me which feels absolutely grateful for being here right now. Thankful for this remoteness, for the open ocean I see stretched before me, for the hills and the forests and the desert and the dust. For the freedom to roam, to care for others, to drink a glass of wine in a restaurant and eat fish by the seaside (no chips, we ran out of potatoes and frozen fries last month, ha).
I’m also thankful for Zoom and Whatsapp. I haven’t connected as much with my friends and family from the UK and Europe in the last 3.5 years of being here as I have now. I may be rubbish at responding, as I only get on social media at home, but it brings a smile on my face turning my WiFi on and receiving 35 messages from my friends in the UK. All the sweeter now my holiday to the UK in June has been put off.
I worry about saying the wrong thing. This post isn’t about lording it over others, or putting out judgements. But this is my blog, and this is how I feel. Sending love to all of those quarantining right now. Stay safe. xx