Sunday, March 21, 2021

Normal - a matter of perspective

We've passed the mid-point in our Pacific Northwest stay. The month we allotted ourselves here is slipping by as rapidly as did the year we spent in Greece before working up our courage to tackle a trip back during a time of Covid-19.

Lake Chelan and its Butte - Washington State

This is 'normally' the point in our U.S. visits where we start daydreaming of those Greek salads and other foods we are missing and the tavernas where we will eat them, the people we want to get together with as soon as we return, and the places we want to go after we get back. 

Greek Salad

Instead of daydreaming about what we will do once we get there, we are planning how to accomplish the steps required to return to our expat life in the Greek Peloponnese: Where to get the Covid-19 test, a requirement for travel as well as entry into Greece? Timing the submission of the PLF, passenger locator form, to meet another of Greece's Covid-related requirements for entry into the country. Making sure the residency card is ready to display, as only Greek citizens and residents traveling from the US are allowed into Greece right now. . .again, thanks to Covid.

'Normally' time to start planning more Greek adventures

That's not the case this year. 

What we 'Normally do' went out the window when the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic a year ago.

Government SMS sent a year ago still applies


One year later, Greece remains in its second multi-month lockdown. This one began the first week of November. It, like the first lockdown in the spring, has closed most everything, other than businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores which are deemed essential services. For a time Greek authorities reduced movement to a two kilometer radius of one's home which pretty much allowed us to get to the pharmacy, grocery store, and gas station in the village. A nighttime curfew remains in place. We still need to text the government to get permission for 'movement outside the home'.

'You've been  able to sit outside at a taverna, haven't you?' asked a friend here in our US who had visited us in Greece. 

Dining out in the village before the Nov. lockdown

'Not since last October. And we've not been allowed to sit inside a restaurant or taverna since last March when the first lockdown began,' I replied, noting that for a time we could stand in parking lots or at the side of the road, consuming 'to go' items. 

Somehow when we were in Greece, the lockdown started to feel so 'normal', so accepted by all, that things like texting for permission to leave the house, didn't seem as harsh as they sound when I am sipping wine at a nearby winery in Washington State describing those measures to friends here. 

Athens Airport Feb. 26 - no problem distancing here


However, in Greece citizens and residents are getting restless. Media headlines there call it 'lockdown fatigue'. Last spring the lockdown kept Covid numbers low, but that hasn't been the case the second time around. The numbers of Covid cases continue to skyrocket, and intubations are at an all-time high. The Greek authorities struggle with how to open the country and jump start the economy and tourism, while the health system remains overwhelmed with patients. 

Those same authorities continue to grapple with how to vaccinate their thousands of expats who call Greece home. A measure to set up a system is, or was, being debated in the Parliament (stories differ as to whether it continues or has been decided). Then if/when passed, a system will be put into place to apply for the vaccination. Then a schedule to get the vaccination.

In all fairness, it isn't just Greece, expats in Spain are experiencing similar obstacles to getting jabs.

A Taste of Normal

Our roots are planted in Washington State


We arrived in Washington State -- that one tucked up in the furthest northwest corner of the continental states -- and the place our US roots are planted, during what is called, Phase Two.  That is pandemic jargon for the gradual steps being taken to reopen and try to return to 'normal' here.

Our return to the U.S. was finally prompted by a lengthening to-do list here including the need to finally have several 'annual' but long-over-due medical appointments as well as to seek out and hopefully get Covid-19 vaccinations. We will have checked every item off that to do list after we receive our second Pfizer shots on Monday.

We were among eight people here on a weekday night

Phase Two requires wearing masks in public and social distancing. Most retail stores are open. You can dine and drink inside or outside, with capacity limits of 25 percent inside for those places that have reopened, however a number of restaurants remain closed. You can travel where you want, when you want. By the time most read this, the State will be implementing Phase Three which will allow 50% inside and open some of the non-essential facilities that are still closed. 

There are many in this state not happy with these current mandates and they make their unhappiness known on social media, printed signs, and in everyday conversation.  Most abide by the rules even if they grumble about them.  We are not empathetic. 

Sunday morning drive around Manson

From our perspective, we feel like we have landed in Disneyland!! We are kids in a candy store!! We don't have to text for permission to walk into the village for coffee.  We can go to any of the dozen wineries around us and sit there and sip wine.  We have dined inside five times since arriving back. (And I might add have always felt well-distanced from other diners and servers wore protective gear, masks and gloves and cleaning seemed a constant.) 

Sitting inside a coffee shop is a treat!

Seeing friends and family has been a highpoint of the trip. While the days of greeting each other with hugs and kisses are over, just seeing people again, hearing their voices and being face-to-face has been the shot of adrenalin we needed. We miss that social interaction with friends in Greece.

 Normal is as Normal Does

Highway sign in Greece

We are surprised at how quickly we adapted to this freedom of movement and being among people again. It will be interesting to see how quickly we re-adjust to not having those freedoms in Greece.  Who knows? Perhaps by the time of our return, it will have returned to 'normal'. . .whatever that might be, these days?

Thanks for being with us today. We wonder how you are handling your current 'normal' in the world of Covid? How about telling us in the comments or shooting us an email?

Linking sometime soon with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

 

9 comments:

  1. This was such an insightful and informative post, Jackie. Thx so much for sharing your dual-continent experiences with us. I will be sharing this post on my FB pager as so many of my friends are avid travellers and feeling disgruntled about the restrictions. we are lucky compared to other parts of the world as you have so succinctly pointed out.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this one, Doreen. Our friends here in the States are also feeling disgruntled. . .they need to spend some time in Greece right now as they'd have a whole new perspective.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this perspective on how differently COVID is affecting other parts of the world. Calling for permission to leave the house? I can't imagine! I have little patience for people who complain about wearing masks and social distancing. Get a grip, people! This is a worldwide pandemic, not a limitation of your "rights."

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    1. That is our thoughts as well. I now understand though being in a US world that allows movement and normal activities how it would be difficult to understand that half a world away life is so much different and the struggle against Covid seems almost a losing battle right now.

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  3. Being restricted does feel normal - although a tedious kind of normal.

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  4. You definitely have the best of both worlds to live a wonderful life in the Northwest and then another exciting world in Greece and the sunny mediterranean coast. Hopefully you can do both again soon!

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  5. This winter as I've isolated in the desert with infrequent shopping excursions I almost forget we're not living quite normal. Soon I will return to work at Bryce and be surrounded by people again, masked and distancing. Great piece on making comparisons. Bet that even with restrictions you are anxious to return to Greece.

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  6. It's odd how quickly the human spirit can adapt to drastic changes. This is especially true when we find ourselves regulated to them. The pandemic certainly created havoc across the globe, but hopefully, as the vaccine becomes more widely available, our lives can begin returning to normal.

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  7. You're right - our view of what is "normal" has changed drastically over the last year! I wonder how quickly we will re-adapt to our old ways of doing things once places start to open up again...

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