Like the rest of the world, Portugal is being challenged, though with less impact than the rest of Europe. Numbers as of writing are 3 deaths and 785 cases. But what is clear is that the numbers reported on the numerous tracking sites lag actual circulating cases by about 10 days. Keith from home shared Tomas Pueyo's excellent article published on Medium describing the lags. 40 million views. Not bad for an epidemiology article!
And like the rest of the world, social distancing has been incremental. It began with admonishments to wash hands and avoid large groups. Then all sporting events were cancelled, particularly affecting the boys, since that was the primary reason for them to come to Europe. Porto was one of the first affected areas in the country, and the northern part of the country has the highest numbers of cases (381 of total 785). Beaches and all parks closed soon after, and this is now countrywide. This morning, a state of emergency was declared. Portugal is not yet in lockdown, but this is likely. Next door Spain is following Italy, having just surpassed 1000 deaths.
Life in Ponte da Barca is quiet. There is little foot or vehicle traffic. The normally busy cafes are nearly empty, but are still open. The restaurants, for the most part, are closed. Most businesses are closed. Public spaces are empty. Masks are on the faces of about 1/4 of the people we see. Supermarkets are open, but with quotas, with guards allowing new customers to enter when existing shoppers exit. Shelves still have food, and there is still fruits and veggies, milk and cheese and bread. Antiseptics and hand sanitizer is sold out. The longest lineups are at the Farmacias. A few days ago, on March 17, I rode to Braga to buy some English books, and it was closed, but the owner inside, finishing up with paperwork, let me in for a last-minute book purchase for us.
So how are we making out? Well, for the most part, we are calm and happy. We focus on the day-to-day routine, like everyone now. Home school is a big focus. News site browsing is rationed for sanity's sake. We are staying put, aware of the fearful stories of expats fleeing European countries, battling cancelled flights. We are aware of Air Canada's many flight suspensions. We would not be the most welcome at home right now. Even if we were to plan to return home, how can one do so when everyday brings a new reality?
The house is happy and we are getting along. And we're healthy. We get out for hikes in the surrounding hills. We have a car rented now. Our accommodations here are booked until April 1, with the possibility to extend to April 16. This is a good place to be for a lockdown, if and when it comes. Our hope is that things let up so that at least we can get to Holland for a visit with Kiki's family. We all would like to see Oma Gesman. We have nearly 3 months before our flight home...
Again, we are not suffering. We are grateful for the work of all the world's governments, scientists and health care workers, working to have us all come through this in as good condition as can be. Signing off with the new "yours truly" - stay safe!