When one door closes, all kinds of windows open: Updates from Portugal
Classic Journeys guide Susana lives in Lisbon and leads our Portugal tours. As the coronavirus situation unfolds worldwide, Susana is our woman on the street, letting us know how Portugal has been affected by COVID-19. This is Susana’s second update, you can read the first here.
Being confined to a two bedroom apartment without a balcony, I pass my days cleaning, organizing, cooking, baking and laughing at social media creativity of others in quarantine. Lisboners aren’t as lucky as those living in the outskirts of the city or elsewhere in Portugal. We don’t have homes with gardens, so quarantine really means being indoors all the time.
Since I can’t be out in nature, I’m nurturing the nature I have in the house. I have a few plants and herbs growing in vases that I now take care of, as if I was outside tending a garden.
I love waking up in the morning to read by my window. Spring is here and the trees are starting to show their new green outfit. Having also trained as a Taiji and Qigong teacher, sometimes I practice using the space I have. Loving to dance, I take advantage of my free time to play music and dance. Movement in days of quarantine is essential. It makes the body’s energy flow and prevents us feeling numb and getting lost in the computer where all connectivity with the outside world is.
In Portugal, we’ve seen a big change in just a few weeks. It’s like we have gone back in time to the old days when sound pollution wasn’t around and very few people walked the streets.
We can hear the birds so clearly now as they sing to welcome in the spring!
Most people have changed their habits very quickly too. They are having online work meetings, online friend gatherings, online dancing, online concerts, online workshops, online beer drinking, you name it!
Creativity is at its heights: since toilet paper (who would guess!), hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves are in extinction nowadays, people are making masks out of things like coffee filters, plastic bags and diving masks, as well as wearing all kinds of gloves including thick kitchen gloves.
Portugal doesn’t have enough healthcare professionals, so retired doctors and nurses are being called to help. There has been a big wave of people stepping forward.
A young Portuguese scientist sent out an urgent call for specialists to volunteer and develop new ventilators for the hospitals after seeing what a major problem it was in Italy. In 48 hours, he gathered more than 1500 specialists willing to make it happen, from computer scientists to doctors. The project is now in full swing.
When one door closes, all kinds of windows open. We are extremely adaptive and creative creatures, and this is the time to explore that aspect even more!
Portugal and Europe saw the black plague in the 14th century that coincidently also started in China and arrived first in Europe through Italy, devastating about 1/3 of Europe’s population. It was a time when people didn’t take showers, rarely washed their hands, soap was only for the nobility and there were no sewers or organized landfills… We have evolved and learned a lot since then. Thank God!
I am sending heartfelt wishes of good health to everyone. May you and your families stay safe and healthy.
Read more Classic Journeys guide updates from around the world: