PANDEMIC DIARY FROM PAPAMOA, NEW ZEALAND: WEEK 5

Now that everyone has a working context of my reasons for being in New Zealand during the Pandemic from last week’s post, it seems like a good time to reflect on my thoughts about my being here. Obviously, it feels glorious, exciting, and unbelievable. But behind the initial cloak of exhilaration, is a gloomy feeling of an imbalanced existence.

The first sensation is that of chance. Like winning the lotto, or how fortunate you feel for something that happened to you but that you had no control over. No skill, or talent, or grit. Just luck. How is it that I, as an American, can travel halfway around the world, to flee the doom of the rest of the world’s woes? Will we pay the price later? Is it a fluke, or is it something that will suddenly reverse?

The second sensation is that of loneliness. Why are we able to go about freely, in a dream-like society, to walk about and engage with other human beings? What privileges are we given for something that other citizens throughout the world are unable to do? As social animals, humans depend on our relationships with others. Despite being able to interact with 5 million other humans on a captive tropical island, what keeps us from interacting with 5 billion others?

The third impression of being in an odd, or unique country as New Zealand, is the abnormality of normality. People go about their daily lives, yes, with difficulties, but far, far less than those faced by the rest of the world. We can smile at others on the street and they can smile back, with 2/3 of our facial features unmasked.

We are able to hug each other—the most priceless possession at the moment for me and my family. And we are able to conduct life in normal ways—shop, go to the post office, have dinner in a restaurant. And we can even get ourselves exasperated at traffic, stand in line a little too long, and complain about the sports teams’ failures.

What has caused these feelings? No one asked for the pandemic. There is a price for interacting. The urban advantages of living close together are challenging us. But rural freedom is also paying its price. Neither environment is doing much better than the other, as we see numbers climbing in the U.S. in both types.

I have always been fascinated with anthropology. But it will take anthropologists a long time to come forward with their analysis of the pandemic. Maybe it will take decades or even hundreds of thousands of years before they are able to grasp the phenomenon of what we call COVID-19 and the havoc it has wreaked on our society today.

Perhaps they will find evidence of the pandemic. Like mass burial graves in Italy or China. Or chemical traces of the vaccine in our bodies we took to extend our lives. Or a sudden drop in world-wide birth rates, just like what one reads on tree rings indicating droughts. The scads of evidence collected will not convey the human emotion and stress.

New Zealand has indeed done a few good things. And with skill and endurance. A commendable deed between a government by the people and for the people. The U.S. has lost its moral compass, but long before this pandemic. The basics of human dignity were already tossed aside.

I feel as if I am living in the future, seeing normality in a world yet to experience it. Soon, the rest of the world will normalize. Streets will be populated, animated with people meeting people, and lives connecting again. Soon, the rest of world will be living their expected lives with fun, humor, sadness and irony. I am looking through this lens now.

I am grateful to be in a country that enables me to temporarily avoid the woes of the rest of the world. I can only hope that the rest will become “normal” again by this time next year. There will be many stories, tragedies, and fallout, just as there had been from the last pandemic. And we will recover. Mankind can only cope with so much before the next one strikes.

6 thoughts on “PANDEMIC DIARY FROM PAPAMOA, NEW ZEALAND: WEEK 5”

  1. Hi Vickie – thank you for this beautiful, lyrical introduction to your life in New Zealand. Your post has this noble spirit, the generosity you always share with us. For that I am truly appreciative. It has the freedom filled with the goodness of all the good nutrients, the sunshine… all the good things we need in our lives these days. Please keep posting them … we need to read it, to see it more and more to visualize a new art de vivre that will come out of this ordeal for all of us once the worst is over. I am looking forward to reading more posts :). They are like vitamine D or a kind of “friendly pro-biotics” :):) to help us go through the pandemic. We are still in Paris where new rules are being put in place to contain the epidemic.

    Like

    1. Hello Isa! I am not one to wax poetic, but occasionally a glass of wine while writing can do wonders! The sun shines here blindingly, and one can secretly take unfettered pleasure in it. There are warning signs on the highway for sunstrikes that can temporarily blind drivers when the sun suddenly emerges behind fast-moving black clouds.

      Speaking of Vitamin D, did you know that sunscreen can block up to 50% of one’s intake of Vitamin D?!? I knew there was a reason to be too lazy to use it!

      Would love to hear more about your being in Paris–a friend of ours is thinking about moving there permanently. Did you ever return to SD?!? Let’s stay in touch via email to catch up. VV.

      Like

  2. Hi, Victoria,

    Your reflection on the pandemic world in New Zealand and in US evoked some acutely painful realization, in an absolutely POSITIVE way and worth to be published on NY Times.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    I re-read it several times and shared it with my close friends. You summarized succinctly and accurately what have kept many wonder since the beginning of the lockdown in March. In deed, life is often by chance.

    Carmen and I were lucky to be able to travel for the most part of 2019 and returned to SF from Japan in 2020, only a few weeks before the lockdown.

    We are at the SF airport now, waiting for a flight Charlotte. We are considering relocating there.

    Enjoy your time with your family in New Zealand!

    Once the pandemic is over, perhaps we can meet in Germany. I am so disappointed that we are not able to visit Germany 🇩🇪 this year.

    Again, thank you for sharing your posts!  Reading them really brightens our lives.

    Best, Pedro

    Like

    1. Hello Pedro and Carmen, what an unexpected surprise! Thank you for your kind words. You have made continuing my blog worthwhile. As you are aware, I tend to avoid commentary in my posts, but my own personal thoughts seemed relevant at this point. I give credit to daughter Julianne who encouraged me to share them with readers.

      Obviously the traveling that both of you and I have enjoyed is disrupted by the pandemic, and navigating around it has been problematic and questionable. I’m sure you look forward to the time when this situation will be behind us, and we can continue to enjoy going to Germany and German culture. Despite Angela Merkel’s incredible leadership, Germany is also enduring great hardship which I find perplexing. She is often mentioned in the same breath as Jacinda Ardern, yet the stats from Germany are nearly as dire as those in the States. I still want to believe that Germany will recover quicker, and that we will be able to revel in the language and culture we have come to appreciate so much. Sounds like NC will be a good position for you, and even more so when it is closer to Germany! Kindest regards to you and Carmen, und bis bald! VV.

      Like

  3. I really enjoyed the video. Felix is too cute. So much has changed. From a precious little infant to a gorgeous baby. He doesn’t like being rolled over. So funny! I watched it twice. It is so nice to see such a wonderful family being together and enjoying life. Miss you here. s

    On Sun, Dec 13, 2020 at 1:30 AM Travels with Myself and Others wrote:

    > VickieVictoria posted: ” Now that everyone has a working context of my > reasons for being in New Zealand during the Pandemic from last week’s post, > it seems like a good time to reflect on my thoughts about being here. > Obviously, it feels glorious, exciting, and unbelievable. But ” >

    Like

Leave a Reply to sherlynchew Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.