1 Year Lock-Down
March, 19th 2020 to March, 19th 2021
Living in 3 Different Countries during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Surviving One Year Lock-Down
Just about 9 weeks before Covid-19 was declared a Pandemic by the WHO (March 11th, 2020) I moved from Portugal to Morocco. The date was January 8th, 2020. We weren’t in Lock-down yet. Fully unaware.
In the winter of 2019/2020, I was having severe lung issues and I had to move to a country less humid. When I left Porto. In Portugal, there were cases of an unknown deadly sickness but at that time nothing to worry about. It seemed to be located only in Asia, in the Wuhan area. A few weeks into the New Year, more and more cases, all over the world were discovered and the death rate was high. But even more dangerous, the contagiousness was high. It was first called a “flu-like” sickness, yet much more deadly and contagious. And now we know, the recovery time of many infected people would turn out to be very long. Some suffer still from complications after 1 year!
Morocco went into a complete lock-down & State of Emergency on March 19th, 2020. The day most of my colleagues, as was I, started to work from home. At that time I worked for a Belgian company, the biggest in the world in its area, and was responsible for supporting B2B customers having issues with their pin machine. Payment machines in stores, gas stations, ATM’s etc. Although Belgium had a strict lock-down policy, at that time we were very busy. What also had to do with the completely stupid idea of the company to push upgrades (not very good tested upgrades) to the machines which stopped working afterwards. People in rich countries became anxious about touching money. Didn’t want to touch it, so the machines we supported were used almost 100% of the time a customer came in and had to pay something. And a not working pin machine caused a lot of stress for the merchant. And customers.
Lock-down in Morocco
The support from the Team Leads, Managers & HR of that company was horrible. And that is an understatement. We are 1 year later and I still haven’t had answers to questions I asked the first day of the lock-down. Due to this lack of answers, I missed a lot of information. Information about the fact that I needed an official paper to be allowed to get outside. When I heard about this it was too late to get the paper. And when the company finally reached out to me I was so angry with them that I refused all further “help” from them. Therefore I have been illegal on the streets when I needed to go to the bank to collect my salary. My luck was that I had a very deer neighbour. Also my landlady. Who cooked for me (of course I paid her) and brought me the food. Without her, I would not have survived these months.
During summer I decided that I didn’t want to stay. But it would be difficult to leave. Many countries worldwide had their borders closed because of this Pandemic. I got in contact with a company I worked with previously and had an interview for a job. And made the agreement that as soon as it was possible to leave Morocco, I would contact them. Every time the lock-down & State of Emergency was extended. Finally, the word came that all foreigners without a residence needed to leave the country at least on August 10th 2020.
As nobody knew how this should be arranged I went to the Police Station to inform myself. Informed the person I had the job interview with and I told HR that I had to leave the country and was not able to come back. Within a few days, everything was arranged and Saturday, August 8th, 2020 I left Morocco. It was very exciting if I really would be able to leave as Morocco announced the Friday before I left that they would be closing borders again for European countries.
I was so happy when we finally flew above Gibraltar. Back in Europe again, although in the sky. The next hours at Charles de Gaulle airport was horrible. Hardly anyone following the Covid-19 restrictions and no one pointing them to this. In the early night of the following day, I arrived in Athens and later in the morning in Thessalonica.
And again in Lock-down. Greece this time
The job in Thessalonica was not what I hoped it would be. Nor was the management or the company. I could have known. In 2016 I worked for the same company in Athens. And humanity, always very important for me, is not one of their qualities. Although I had, later one, a great job I was pushed back on the phone over and over again when the KPIs went down. Instead of training the people who needed to be trained, no it is so much easier to push 2 colleagues (one was I) back on the phone to level up quickly the numbers. For a few weeks, we worked in the office. Until a colleague of ours, not on our floor, was infected. And after that another one. So we were sent back home to work from there. Restrictions in Greece became very strict again. You did want to go outside? A text message had to be sent to the government with a reason. Only after receiving an acceptance, you were allowed to go out. But only in your own area. The police were tracking and controlling the approvals.
Working at home made the circumstances worse. I have no idea what the management did, but answering questions wasn’t one of them. And helping out neither. I was, together with the other colleague, pushed back over and over on the telephone line again. I warned them that there would come an end to my patience. They didn’t believe me. Their problem. One Saturday, I had dedicated time for offline things, I was been pushed back on the line over and over again. I had spoken about this the day before with my Team Leader and he had promised me that the weekend Team Leads wouldn’t push me on the line. He told me he would email them. For sure that he did this. The issue though, they never ever read their emails. After 30 minutes of being pushed back on the phone line over and over again, I was done with it. And when the most horrible Team Lead, a backstabbing bitch called me after I refused to take a call, I was so angry that I told her that I would quit immediately. I smashed down the phone. After that, I dismantled the computer and put it back in the box on which it came.
Something my employer in Thessalonica didn’t know, but I did… At the time I had enough of the way they were treating us was the fact that I had a job offer already. And 7 days later I was in Bulgaria, where I still am.
The last year we have seen many differences between countries. Some were strict from the start, others hardly did a thing. Nope, like an ostrich, the government put the head in the sand. What you don’t see is what you don’t get. Covid-19 proved different. The ignorers, saying everything is made up and “just a kind of flu” etc. People in their 20s, 30s and even 40s who (in the Netherlands) said they didn’t want to stay home to help prevent older people from getting sick. Because… they people in the 50s and older had had their life already. The egoism of these people is horrible.
People compare Covid-19 mortality with the Spanish Flue from 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920 and finally 1921. Yet what they seem to forget is that at the beginning of the 1900s healthcare, and medication, wasn’t as developed as it is now. And yet, the cities, in the early 1900s, which practised social distance, made wearing masks an obligation, advised to wash their hands often had a much lower death rate than other cities.
Countries eased their lock-down, only to make it more strict again some weeks later.
At the moment people are being vaccinated. There is a problem though. Covid-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, mutated itself and at the moment it is not sure if these vaccines will help against these mutations There is a British, Nigerian, Brazilian, South African etc. variation.
It is thought that right now, date of posting, there are already at least 30 different strains.
I have survived, for now, the first year of this Pandemic. In three countries. Two European and 1 African. This year I decided to live healthier than before. Already at the start of the Pandemic, I started to do exercises (with YouTube). As my neighbour cooked for me I ate healthy Moroccan food that she cooked. From March until August 2020 I dropped 2 cloth sizes. Almost 3. From August until now another size.