It all started about six months ago when I received an email with a great deal on tickets to Copenhagen. We bought those immediately, as well as made the reservation for the hotel, right in the city center. My husband and I love to travel, and Denmark was one of the places we have always been interested in visiting. It was just a long weekend, but enough to sate our wanderlust for a while. We were thrilled, planning tours, checking for appetizing places to eat, when …
The first person to (try to) alert me was a Brazilian friend whose siblings live in Hong Kong. She asked if it would be possible for me to send them some masks from where we live in the Netherlands in case they needed some, because they were running out. Sending anything from Brazil would take forever, hence the request. In the end, it was not necessary, but she was emphatic: “You guys should buy masks and hand sanitizers. It will get there shortly.”
My husband had already bought some masks, so I thought it would be enough. It was something very, very distant. And in a matter of weeks …
At the same time, we were receiving and watching more and more junk related to the topic: people doing cocaine or drinking ethyl alcohol to kill the virus. Others were suggesting homemade recipes, such as using vinegar as a mouthwash.
Have you heard of the Brazilian church that was selling the blessed healing?! I mean, seriously?
Besides, we know how the media has the power to transform something important and worth attention to complete and unimaginable chaos. The amount of content about coronavirus was overwhelming and ruthless. And, let’s face it, in general, good news does not sell as many newspapers as bad news, right?
So, it was clear for us that the press was bombarding us with this issue because it was convenient for them. What I am saying here is that we thought it was not as serious as they were portraying.
This became clearer in contrast with what we were experiencing daily: here in the Netherlands, everything was fine. Stores and businesses were open and working regularly. Some people got startled by the lack of toilet paper in England and, therefore, started buying a little more than usual.
In the company for which my husband works, for example, teams would take turns, so that employees would not have much contact with each other, and companies were gradually limiting the number of people present at meetings. Beside that, life went on practically normal, albeit under the shadow of the infamous virus.
‘We’ll be fine ….’
In the week before our trip, we started hearing about the first cases in the Netherlands, especially in the region of Noord-Brabant, where we live. We know that in some contexts, people do not have a particularly strong personal hygiene culture. The house we bought in Eindhoven, for instance, had no sink in the newly renovated toilet. We had to break everything and have one installed because that is something unacceptable for us. We see in public bathrooms people just not washing their hands. This is already a problem in itself. At a time like this, it is absurd.
Therefore, our thought was: “We have a washing hands (and everything else) habit. We’ll be fine. We will follow the health authorities’ recommendations and keep a distance from people, cover our faces if necessary, etc. Furthermore, Copenhagen is not showing red on the map. It’s gonna be okay.”
Finally, as I mentioned, the tickets to Copenhagen were purchased for a good price, from one of those low-fare airlines that we know and love so much. However, as we know, they charge huge fees to reschedule flights. Up to a few weeks ago, they were not dismissing anyone from the payment, even with all the hype.
The equation became simple: a lot of nonsense + the media is painting the situation much worse than it really is + our world is “normal” + we maintain good hygiene habits and are attentive to the procedures + we don’t want to lose our money = whatever, let’s go to Copenhagen.
(To be continued ….)
You can see what expat centers across Europe are doing to combat the coronavirus pandemic here.
About the author:
Letícia Batista was born in Porto Alegre, south Brazil. She is a content creator with a Master’s Degree in Literary Studies. Her thesis was on avant-garde movements and Brazilian music, which she is most passionate about.
She has the best memories from Israel, where she lived from 2012 to 2014. Currently living in The Netherlands, more precisely in Eindhoven, she is once again enjoying the ease of traveling around, always accompanied by “the most beautiful and peaceful pair of green eyes I have ever,” as she describes her husband.
A curly fanatic, enthusiastic dancer and devoted home baker, Leticia’s motto is “everyone’s life is material for an incredible movie or a great book.” She loves to tell a story and, therefore, writes whenever she can.