Before you start judging
The COVID-19 situation sucks and I am well aware it sucks for everyone and everywhere. Before starting to judge what I am about to write, I am well aware about the different effects it had on different people; people who lost their jobs, people who work in health care, people who lost someone close, people who suffered of COVID and are still fighting the after effects ….. This list is actually endless, since everyone was affected in one way or another.
But everyone has his own way of dealing with the situation and has different emotions. I am not the type of person who feels better when learning about others’ worse situations. I felt the need to write about my view as I AM CURRENTLY STRUGGLING TO KEEP ON HOPING, STRUGGLING TO KEEP POSITIVE AND STRUGGLING TO ACTUALLY KEEP ON LIVING! Maybe someone else is going through the same phase? Maybe I am not alone?
A year after
It has been over a year now since we this situation commenced; the sudden closing down of shops, restaurants, schools and most of all international travel! Let me start by explaining that I keep living in Malta for two main reasons: my family and the fact that I can leave whenever I want to breathe different air. I travel whenever an opportunity crops up, be it for a long weekend trip somewhere in Europe or longer trips to anywhere in the world! I know some of you might think you are lucky to live in Malta; good healthcare, good lifestyle, enjoyable weather. Yeah right; but when you’ve experienced the vastness of the world, being stuck on this small piece of land for a long time feels suffocating! It is practically impossible to find a place away from everyone and everything. It is not just the fact that the entire area of the island is 316km2, but on this small rock live more than half a million people!
The prospective of being stuck here for a long period of time has taken away my ‘gioia di vivere’ as they say in Italian; the love towards life. I am just surviving! And mind you I still enjoy the outdoors and spend the less time possible at home. I go for walks, hikes and picnics in the little green areas we have; always trying to invent something new to do. But each time we go out, me and my husband keep on repeating to ourselves, how nice would it be if we could drive for a couple of hours and change the scenery; see mountains, play with some snow, look out for wildlife, walk in the forests. Instead we drive for 45 minutes to the other side of the island (as this is the furthest we can go!) almost every weekend and end up seeing the same things.
I would categorise the Maltese natural environment in 3 main types (I am not a geography expert but here it goes):
‘Garigues’ which make up most of the natural landscape in Malta with barren rock and some shrubs and low lying trees
Valleys with some larger trees that are usually ever green also known as ‘Maquis’
Coastal areas with a mix of sandy and rocky beaches
These are the main three types of landscapes you are bound to see (apart from the majority of the eastern coast of Malta which is almost entirely developed). If you feel like visiting a historical town, there is the beautifully preserved Mdina; and also the capital Valletta. Check out my photos of a surreal Valletta taken during the first lockdown.
Besides Mdina and Valletta architecture here in Malta is in my opinion in a disastrous state. Walking or driving through the built areas of Malta makes me wonder how the architects got their qualifications! There is no sign of uniformity or planning! Not to mention the general hate that seems to exist towards anything that is green! Once again I compare to cities visited abroad. When we travel, the built areas (in big cities) are usually separated in three distinct categories; historical centres with pedestrian roads and immaculately kept buildings and shops, high rise modern blocks with apartments or offices in a separate area and the outskirts with houses that pretty much look similar. I cannot help but feel awful when I see the the skylines of the majority of towns and villages in Malta featuring numerous tower cranes and agricultural land disappearing little by little.
This is taking longer than we all expected
Anyone who is a big travel addict like me can surely understand why being stuck on this small piece of land is taking my breath away! Travelling is what makes me feel alive! I am sure there are those who think I am a spoiled person and that travelling is just a treat we all can live without. I would have agreed with you 15 years ago! Back then I did not know what lies beyond this tiny island of mine; I was not aware of the beauties of this world apart from what I had seen on TV. I would have been able to live happily in the situation we are now. BUT NOT NOW! When you start to travel it’s like stepping into a new world, especially for people like me, who live on a tiny island! And this is why I believe for some people, the inability to travel is harder than for others.
When I am asked which were the happiest moments of my life; most of them would include travel. So what would happen if I were to continue my life without travel? If this is the case I would tell you; MY LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING WITHOUT TRAVEL! If I am to live with the prospect that the best moments of my life are over, and every day of my life will look like it is currently is right now – I am honestly losing all hope. This is what I mean when I say I lost my ‘gioia di vivere’. LIVING IN THE CURRENT SITUATION FEELS LIKE WASTING TIME AND TIME IS THE MOST PRECIOUS THING WE HAVE!
I was very positive with the start of 2021 and I was hoping that I would be able to get my life back soon. I saw the vaccination rollouts in several countries including mine. However so far after two full months of vaccinations, with my country having among the highest numbers in terms of distribution, THERE SEEMS TO BE NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! Neighbouring Italy, France, Spain, Germany seem to be in the same situation with the numbers of COVID cases stable or even increasing! Relaxation of measures doesn’t seem like anywhere near! The authorities blame the public because it is no longer following the restrictions; well where did following the restrictions take us? I knew this would happen! From day 1 I knew that at some point more and more people would give up! And I understand that! I am not agreeing with breaking the rules and meeting with herds of unknown people, but let us be realistic you cannot keep people from meeting anyone out of their household for a year! In other countries there are actual laws preventing this, but I am sure that unless people actually believe in the rules, the authorities won’t be able to keep the control for long.
Give us some hope
In order for people to keep positive and hopeful (and maybe keep following the restrictions), they need to have some good news! I believe we are unable to follow restrictions without having an indefinite term until which we are to live like this! I keep on looking online for countries around the world that are doing well, where COVID cases are going down and where restrictions are being relaxed. So far I was able to read about such news from Israel which was the fastest in the world in the distribution of vaccines and also the UK which plans to return to normality within the end of June. But what about the rest of the world?! Here in Malta we made excessively optimistic predictions since July, but facts proved the other way round! We thought it was over too fast and we were all very wrong!
I really have difficulties in understanding what is currently happening.
I really have difficulties in believing that we will have back our freedom.
I really have difficulties in believing that the current restrictions are preventing more spreading of the virus.
I really have difficulties in believing that the mental impact of the pandemic is being taken into consideration.
This post has been pending for quite some time as I was trying to find something positive to conclude, yet I was not able to find something positive yet! So I finally decided to publish this post with all its raw bitterness. ALL I CURRENTLY FEEL LIKE IS SHOUTING “GIVE US BACK OUR FREEDOM”!