Covid 19 news from my guides around the world…

In April I wrote to my guides in different places around the world to get an on-the-ground-perspective of what was happening in the world. One day we will look back at this post as a piece of history, and a reminder of what we went through.
Here is what they said:
NEWS FROM MARCELLO IN SOUTHERN ITALY: We are surviving. We are happy that none of the people we know got ill, here we had few cases but our area was not hit as Northern Italy.  The situation in Italy is changing quickly but we honestly don’t know what is going to happen during next weeks. 
We still continue to use the necessary attention trying to avoid places that are usually crowded. 
The bad numbers are going down but we still don’t know the effects of the reopenings. We will get the results within a couple of weeks.  All the hotels are still closed and many of them are about to decide when they will be ready to open. They are waiting to see when the bookings will be enough to make it worth to start again. 
We are continuing to plan and study, trying to be helpful to members of our families and communities and work on things that we never could do during our past lives. 
I have a vegetable garden near my house and I have never had the chance to spend the necessary amount of time, but things changed with the pandemic and now I’m proudly learning how to grow vegetables for my family. Then I got the chance to spend quality time with my dad on a small farm near in the village where I live, we planted potatoes together. I usually did this kind of thing with my grandad as a kid and now I’m enjoying doing it with my dad. Southern Italy may look a bit far from the standards of the global economy but here the human capital, that is often not available in the charts, in many cases, makes the differences. 
We are trying to be productive and we will do our best to be ready to start when this virus will be over. 

NEWS FROM MONICA IN SOUTHERN ITALY:  Today I heard from Monica, our lovely Amalfi Coast walking guide. In the countryside, Italian families make their own mozzarella cheese, bake bread, make wine and grow organic vegetables. It’s always a delight to visit a small family farm and eat the best homemade food ever!
Here’s Monica’s news:


Monica (right) with the girls on a day trip along the Amalfi Coast.

We are all good here, luckily the coronavirus didn’t affect our area. It was March, 10th when the lockdown started in Italy, it was tough, it lasted since May, 4th.
In our region even delivery and take away for pizzeria and restaurant were closed, this was down to April, 27th, but of course we could not manage more than a month without pizza, so everybody started baking it’s own pizza and not only that, even bread, cornetti and many more yummy food, so, as you can guess, weight goes up &up 😂

From May, 4th things are a Little bit Better, we can go out for a walk again.
It was hard, seeing everything locked down right at the time when we usually start to work again, when we usually open up, to welcoming people and sharing beauty… In this period we were used to see our colorful streets busy with tourist, happy people taking pictures and enjoying the beauty of our coast, now all you can see are empty streets, it’s kinda unreal.
But still, I feel blessed everything went good and we weren’t affected by the virus.
No work now…we hope in September things will be better, as you know here most of the people live on tourism, restaurants, hotels, guides… I think I will just keep walking, thinking of new tours and experiences to share with my guests, studing to tell you always new things.. trying to make the best out of this lockdown, but as long as people will not be able to travel, we cannot tell what is going to be.


NEWS FROM SPAIN: if you have been to Spain, you‘ll know Gayle, our lovely local guide. I recently wrote to her to see how she was getting on. Here’s her reply:

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Gayle (right) and me, drinking blue wine in Madrid

Spain has had the strictest lockdown in all of Europe. As of March 14th we were all requested to stay at home. The only exceptions were if you worked somewhere considered essential, to walk your dog or to go to the supermarket, chemist or bank (preferrably as close to your home as possible). No short walks, no sport, no visiting friends. The country literally shut down. Now, as of May 4th, the government has begun to relax the restrictions. According to age, we have time slots to go out for walks or do individual exercise.
There have been days of frustration but on the whole I´ve managed. There are loads of things I can be getting on with in the house and of course, having a 7 month old makes it far more bearable! Thank goodness really. It might have been harder without him.
I´ve put on weight! No, seriously, well, I now do more online shopping than ever, which isn´t what I intended but because we couldn´t go anywhere and my little neighbourhood shops don´t have everything you need for a baby, well, it was a necessity. I´ve done a lot of little projects that I´ve had in mind for ages and feel quite chilled and fulfilled. Work-wise, well, things have completely collapsed. All bookings I have for tourism related tours have cancelled. It´s not a good situation but so many people are in a similar boat and I´m grateful to have my health and happy to say I don´t know anyone who has been affected by COVID-19, neither in Spain nor in Scotland.

Every night, everyone gets out on their balconies and applauds the healthcare workers. We´ve been doing this since day 1. Sometimes from my balcony I hear (but can´t see) a saxophone concert just round the corner. S/He plays covers of Spanish and international classics. He´s pretty good. It was Granada´s favourite festival at the start of May (the Crosses Festival) and instead of being out in the streets and squares, people decorated their balconies which was lovely to see. Music was belting out from some apartments too.



NEWS FROM MOROCCO: Anyone who has traveled to Morocco with me will have met my friend and tourism partner Astrid. I asked her about life in Morocco under Covid 19:

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Ps. Here’s a photo of me stuck on the roof terrace with the kids

Hi! I am busy here all day with the kids and cooking for Ramadan.
– restrictions in Morocco: we cannot go outside unless you have a signed permission to go shopping or to pharmacie or something. One paper per family. This means me and the kids haven’t been outside since March 20 untill may 20. Outside a mask is required.
– Ramadan: everyone is home, fasting and sleeping and cooking. Kids have one week vacation now, because parents and teachers will be too tired to do home schooling. I’m not fasting this year to be there for the kids.
– not much Corona here: about 4.000 people affected and 160 deaths in total. I think it’s because of the vaccin against tuberculosis, that the whole population got at birth (whole of Africa).
– the King has set up aid for everyone: he’s paying all people who have official jobs (like those in our Riad) 2.000 dhs/month and all without jobs about 800 dhs.
– everyone is helping each other because there are no tourists and no income. We are also helping about 20 families in Dades region with food/week.
– good as well: lots of Moroccan factories have been making protective masks from the start (few million a day!) And they’re for sale for only 80 cent

Good luck and hope to see you in Morocco, Astrid x



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Firew with a tribesman from the Hamar tribe

1/ What are your restrictions in Ethiopia?
Some of the restrictions are similar to any other countries. But some are very different because of the nature of the life style and our culture.
The good thing is Ethiopia start checking first at 31 boarder points and now the checking is at more than 40 border points. That helped us a lot. We have now 126 cases, but the preparation is very wide. Government organized a lot of quarantine places at different corner of the country.
The first restriction was lock down for 2 weeks. During this 2 weeks it is only essential government employees doing their job. Others, which are not very essential were working from their home. The airline stopped flying to more than 80 international destinations. Domestic flights reduced very much. All public transport after lock down were using only 50% of the seats in the cars and buses. Anyone travelling should hand wash before getting in the car or bus. Transporters who are using more than 50% of the seats get punished. People are not allowed to sit or stand in less than two meters. When people want use the bank they have to stay in line a meter apart and get their service after washing hand in front of the bank. The same for the shops, supermarket butchers and any other service giving sectors. All cars in Addis divided by number plates. Odd numbers can be used only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Even plates on the other days. It is strictly not allowed to greet each other with shaking hand.

Have the Ethiopian people been badly affected by the effects of the virus? The number of cases are small compared to other countries, but all the restrictions and the lock down is damaging the country. As you know much of Ethiopia is below the poverty line. These people are laborers working and getting payment which is only for their each day life. They do not have extra to reserve. If they do not work each day they do not have anything for that day. You can imagine how the lock down is affecting them.
Hotels, and in general the tourism sector is affected 100%. I ,myself, as owner of a tour company, lost all my bookings from March to coming September. I am not sure if tourism is going to revive again after September. i am still paying all my workers their salary. I am not sure that I continue like that.

Are you experiencing anything nice/special in Ethiopia – eg more community support?
The good thing of Ethiopia is people support each other. Many people gave their big buildings to government so it can be use for quarantine. Many factory owners start producing some food to give for poor people. A lot of people contributed money to the government to support the effort against corona. Even farmers in the surrounding of Addis contributed variety of grain for poor and homeless people support. In addition every community in different part of Addis is organized to contribute and support poor in their surrounding.

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