This blog is for all those open-hearted travelers who have adopted me and, therefore, thought about me over the last several weeks, sending expressions of concern and affection. This blog is also for the curious, who want an insider’s view to what is happening in a very small portion of the world—but could reflect upcoming global trends.
First, the Coronavirus seemed overblown. And it is, but it is not. It’s a virus and there’s no novelty there. It spreads rapidly. (Linguistically, things wouldn’t go “viral,” if this weren’t true…) Here’s where it gets tricky: like any flu, you may have symptoms and you may not. If your immune system responds, you’ll get over it – you might not even notice it! If you’re elderly and your immune system is compromised and / or you have other health issues, it may generate into pneumonia. And, oh!, speaking of elderly, let’s remember that Italy’s population is one of the oldest in the world!
In the worst cases, the ill need respirators and there are only a limited number of them available. If the contagion spreads quickly and a predictable percentage of the ill need respirators, not all of their needs can be filled. Now the problem becomes clearer: no one wants to hear that death is imminent because there isn’t the necessary equipment to help. And no one wants to break that sort of news.
So there was the Coronavirus looming on the horizon several weeks ago. With some intuitive thinking, I might have connected the dots… Why connect dots, when I can go kayaking with friends and then to an aperitif later on in the evening?
The restrictions first occurred in Northern Italy, where the contagion raged. Cases then started showing up across Italy. The restrictions became faster and more furious. Movie theaters closed. Theaters closed. Libraries, schools, academies closed. Then there were ordinances that restaurants and cafes had to close by 6:00 p.m. Yesterday, you couldn’t drive to another city without a justification. Today you can’t leave your house without a justification. Not just to drive somewhere – pedestrians must carry a written justification with them, as well. The penalty of not having one? Fines and / or jail. Justifications include “work; necessity; health; and returning home.”
In other words, yesterday I went to bed in Rome, Italy. Today I woke up in a police state with restrictions on mobility. At midday, I went up to the roof of my apartment block to do laps. (Those of you who know me remember that I am a perpetual motion machine…) There I met a neighbor. She had come up to do laps, too. She had a step-counter and told me that the entire rooftop’s perimeter was 100 meters. Good. Today I did 5k… Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Watching the other rooftops revealed that we were all trying to cope: teens smoking; adulterers on cell phones; the elderly doing neck stretches like turtles coming out of hibernation…
Rome in the Time of Coronavirus or One Hundred Years of Solitude? If I don’t throw myself off the rooftop, there may be more news to follow…