Limboland. It’s not a place I have spent much time in before.
Who would have thought, that whilst on a 4 week holiday in my country of birth, New Zealand, visiting friends and family, that I would have gotten stranded here in Limboland, with my life as I knew it turned upside down?
Mid March 2020. Three weeks into my New Zealand holiday, Etihad cancelled my return ticket to Egypt – not much I could do.
I went into the bush for a couple of days on a bike trip with friends….as we left “civilisation” behind on that Friday night, 22 March, we wondered if things would be different once we emerged, just 2 days later. There was already a lot of fake news emerging on how to get rid of the Covid-19 virus (blowdrying your mouth, drinking hot drinks…) At that time New Zealand only had around 38 cases of Covid-19. Late Sunday night, after a wonderful short trip away, we got home and by Monday afternoon we were told that within 48 hours (midnight Wednesday) we would be going into full lockdown. We had to get to the place where we would spend the next 4 weeks or more in lockdown and stay there! Life was changing rapidly.
I was strolling around the streets of Wellington when I got that news. I walked into the entrance of the Wellington Zoo for a look – already things were getting strange…the guy working there was distancing himself, and you couldn’t pay for anything with cash. Almost overnight we had entered a strange new world. I had to get back to my friends house and book a ferry. Despite offers from my friends to stay, the message was that anyone over 70 was at risk, so I decided to go and help my mother. But strolling around the capital, whilst waiting for my ferry, was eerie. Most shops shut. Queues outside cafes with people standing 2m apart, only one person allowed in at a time for takeaway only. People social distancing. The air was full of uncertainty and anticipation.Driving towards Christchurch to my mothers house filled me full of dread. I took my time on the five hour drive, stopping for the views, to see the river, and enjoy the world for the last time in a while, and my freedom. At one lookout, I bumped into an old friend, heading north to his lockdown. It was a cherished, strange moment. I don’t like Christchurch, I don’t like being stuck in the burbs of a big city, with sirens, and noisy neighbors, I was heading towards my idea of hell…
Now, almost 8 weeks later, I look at what a roller coaster ride it has been. Each day the anticipation of cases/deaths on the news. The news trying to provide some uplifting stuff of life in lockdown: entertaining videos of what people have been doing at home. Some people seemed to be in really fun lockdown bubbles. Others are at home alone. The first 2 weeks were a period of adjustment. I wanted to go for bike rides, but had a wrecked tyre. I reached out to my few local contacts, and someone was able to deliver me a tyre. We met on an empty street, she was in her car. She popped her boot, I looked around, took the tyre and left. It was like a broad daylight drug deal.
I went for long sanity bike rides. I chatted a lot with friends all over the globe. I tried to make sense of it all and gave up. Too much news was unhealthy, I didn’t know when I would ever get home to my 10 cats in Egypt. My partner, my flat…even my clothes…I was stuck.
I went through a period of being mad. Mad that overnight my flat, partner, cats, clothes, job, income – everything – was taken from me til God knows when. Usually when I have a problem I compare myself to others less fortunate and tell myself I’m ok. But this time I allowed myself to be mad. My life was in limbo land. Turned upside down. I had no sense of purpose. There was no certainty about anything. Nothing. I read every travel trade news I could get my hands on, looking for a glimmer of hope that I might be able to go back to Egypt. News reports contradicted each other. I tried not to buy into the articles saying there would be no travel for the next 18 months to 2 years. It was all just predictions anyway, what does anyone really know? Nothing.
Biking kept me sane. The longer I biked, the more I was able to leave my head behind…if that makes sense. Lack of decent conversation didn’t help. I missed sunrises and sunsets, the song of native birds. I missed living with nature. Although I had plenty to do, I need social interaction. Somehow the days filled themselves, and I found having a routine helped. As we went to Level 3 (not much different from Level 4), cafes opened up for takeaway. But even that was bizarre – a lot of them had put in special doors, where you got your order through a protective slot. In the dairy the man wore a mask and had a screen up, he had put a table between the counter and you, to keep distance and he reached out for your money with a long box. Supermarkets…the queues, the hand sanny, the masks, the distancing, the weirdness…
My biggest fear was having all my savings decimated by this ongoing situation, as it had taken everything else from me. I had to survive. I still had bills to pay in Egypt. There were no jobs around. I reinvented my Venus Adventures trips to cater to the local Kiwi market. People had been pent up. There was pent up demand for coffee, for shopping, and for travel. I posted my trip and a group of ladies from past international trips filled it for me – in support. Level 2 was about to dawn on us, and that meant freedom. At last.
I will be running a series of trips just for Kiwi women over the next few months, and I am really excited about it. I personally can’t wait to see all my fun-loving ladies again. Read about them here if you want to come!
Under level 3 we were allowed to increase our bubbles – I had a client in Christchurch living on her own, so I went to see her regularly. I needed the conversation, the wine, the laughs. She helped keep me sane. It’s a strange thing, the things that go through your head. So important to only fill it with good stuff. And to keep up the bike rides.
New Zealand has had very few cases, most recovered, and to date only 21 deaths. There’s a sense of people’s frustration, people needing to get out and do things…Everyday there were people walking and biking everywhere, on warm days local pathways were literally packed. I won’t be beaten by this situation, even though it’s not easy, I intend to strive. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring…