Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Corona Virus in France - Starting week 2 - Total Confinement, venture to grocery store & Importance of routine

As I start writing this morning, it's still shocking to me how much of the world is currently living confinement like we are in France - and everyday it is increasing.  All due to Covid-19 or the Corona Virus.

We are now starting our second week in confinement - Day 7.  Second week of home-schooling - second week of only leaving the house out of necessity.  As I shared last week, we can only leave our homes for food shopping & pharmacy, work (if unable to tele-commute), medical appointments, a small bit of exercise close to the house (by foot) and families who share custody can exchange the kids.  That's it.  Yes, and each time we leave we must have our ID and an official signed sheet stating what your are doing. You could meet up with a police officer who has been assigned to patrol the area.

So yesterday for the first time in a week we ventured out to the grocery store.  We filled out our sheets and off we went.  We were actually not only shopping for us, but also for a friend, who has health issues and is advised to not leave the house.  We decided to try the large grocery store as it should have everything we would be looking for and due to size would allow more people inside.  Social Distancing is the new way of life.

This particular store is located inside a mall (the rest of the mall is closed, only the grocery store remains open).  As we drove up, we noticed there was a long line formed outside the first entrance.  People all politely standing behind their carts keeping their proper distance from each other.  I counted about 20 or so in the line outside.

We parked our car and noticed that the second entrance was open too.  There was also a line but not as long, so we chose to join that line. It moved slowly at first but then quickly.  There was tape markings on the floor indicating how far to stand apart.  If you look at the photo below, you see silver horizontal strips to the right of the people, each.

As we arrived closer to the entrance we saw a sign that read - only one person per household could enter the store.  Okay - I understand the logic (make sure everyone has an opportunity to shop) but 1 person?  really?  I could see why they wouldn't want families, parents with kids etc. but really?

Luckily as we have the right to shop for someone who can't leave the house, we split up a bit and if asked were going to explain that one of us is shopping for our household & one for our friend.  No one asked as we were allowed to enter the store in an orderly fashion.  Of course, one woman a few people behind us noticed that we split apart in line and of course, once we were both inside, told me that we were cheating that it was one person from each household.  Typically, French!!! Those that follow the rules, follow them exactly! I could have tried to explain to her that we were actually shopping for 2 households but I chose to ignore her comment and moved on my way.  

Once in side, everyone was going about their shopping.  Some had masks, some had gloves.  (The general recommendation in France is that unless your sick, leave the masks for health care professionals).  There is currently a shortage in France of masks & factories are doing 24 hour continuous production to get more out to health care professionals.  But there were people wearing masks, even scarves and I even saw one woman wearing a large heavy duty mask used for sanding. (Sorry no photo but it was a sight!)

Overall everyone kept their space from one another.  Weighing stations at the fruit/vegetable section also had marked out squares of security indicating where to wait.  A very surreal and odd experience.  Everyone extra vigilant and extra aware.

We finished our shopping and headed home. The roads are eerily quiet, only a few cars. We didn't meet any controls on the road nor at the entrance of the store.  We did see Police walking inside the store verifying that everyone was following the rules of social distancing.  We do live in the suburbs of Bordeaux so it's pretty civilized here.  We are hearing though that in certain parts of France, and even here in Bordeaux - there are people who are really pushing the rules.  They have increased fines and even giving jail time for repeat offenders.

What surprised me the most about our non-eventful run to the store was actually how stressed I was but didn't actually know it.  I am a calm person - I take everything in stride and I try not to get overwhelmed by life in general.  I'm positive and optimistic.  Deep inside, using China as a good example, I know it will be a matter of weeks or perhaps a couple of months that we have to endure this virus - this pandemic.  But I do believe that we will get through it by following what we have learned worked from the Chinese.  So we stay home, we stay confined and we keep our distance from others for a time to stop this virus from spreading. 

All of that swirls in my head, and all the news that keeps coming at us.  Unfortunately we are still in that time where we are waiting for the peak, waiting for the confinement to take it's effect, waiting for less cases, less deaths etc. So all of that produces underlying stress - underlying worry - it pushes wears on our system.

So yesterday afternoon, after our outing and after lunch - I took a nap - I was tired.  Not achy tired, just tired.  I think all the stress of it all caught up with me and even though I sleep pretty well at night - this whole experience is tiring.  So instead of fighting it, I let myself enjoy a nap. A good nap!

I felt much better afterwards.  The other thing that I noticed this week without the girls - is that there is no routine.  I don't have to get up at 7:30/8:00 to make sure my youngest gets started on her work.  The routine is up to me.  Routine is important - even if it's a fluid routine. 

So without the kids it's  Get up, get dressed, breakfast - work, write, our 1 hour of exercise, lunch, afternoon project/cleaning/arranging the house, dinner & evening TV.  Yes, at any point a movie could be added in to pass the time.  Flexible but a routine in any case.

As France talks about stricter rules of confinement, closes open-air markets, talk of hopes in research trials of the drug Cloroquine to combat the virus - we wait, we stay home and we stay safe.

We dream of the return to normal times, to our life - it will come - we just have to wait a bit.  This is definitely a test of our patience.  

In the mean time, here are a few photos of Arcachon- our lovely seaside town on the bay of Arcachon - one hours west of Bordeaux, for your travel dreams.  This photos were taken just a month ago!

The open air market in the center of Arcachon - always selling lots of interesting items.
On a nice day, it's great to eat by the water

The walk along the keyside


Stay safe, dream of better times, we will endure this.

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