Empty Island Chronicle – Lockdown Blues from Greece

So many of you are asking us about how serious is the lockdown here in Greece, how tragic is the situation in the hospitals, and how safe people feel, in general. Truth to be told, we are quite far away from the madness of the big cities – our heart goes out to all who struggle and suffer in Thessaloniki, the absolute nest of COVID-19 infections at the moment -, but even here, out in the end of the world there is a sense of depression and hopelessness.

Many of the villagers who are used to taking their boats out in the morning to the open sea complain missing their purpose is pushing them into despair: the fine of taking a boat out – all alone – is 5000 Euros, while it’s completely legal to play tennis for instance, and while it is illegal for sailors to use their boats, private business owners, family firms sit behind closed doors and open in someone knocks, saying: “I cannot give a receipt as I’d be fined for being open”, wholesale stores explode with shoppers. Being 100% aware how important it is to stop coronavirus spreading, I am, we are puzzled by the rules that seemingly don’t make much sense, and we are even more tortured knowing it’s “politically incorrect” to even raise these questions – the current global restrictions seem to restrict the “commoners”, making them even more poor, while business giants keep on earning money on us. And if anyone feels like “something’s got to give for safety, let me tell you a story that made me cry so bad like one if my closest friends is going through an indigestible loss…

A few days ago an autistic man was found hugging his dead mother in their home: the mom, and caretaker of the son died of coronavirus – after receiving their positive test results the Healthcare Organisation ordered them to self isolate. By the time the neighbours called the police to break the door in, the son was also in critical condition: his lungs were failing due to the COVID-19 infection, and to weeping over his mom’s body for several days. While drying my tears I was thinking, how humans got to a place where when someone is asking help, we say: “Stay home and do not dare opening your doors” – without making sure the person has a support system. How no one asked the mom: “Do you have anyone who could do your groceries shopping?”, “If something happens to any of you, is there someone, a friend, a family member, an organisation you are in touch with, so they can rescue you?”How on Earth we became so worried about “me” and “the country” that we put a warning sign on sick people’s doors: “Danger – quarantine area!”, knowing we don’t give a chance of survival to those who are not lucky to be checked on by loved ones. When did this become “normal” in the name of “safety”, and when will we start using common sense, our heart and soul, doing everything in our power to stick together, seeing a bigger picture, taking care of our shared values – our humanity?

If generating fear, panic, and stress – for money, for governments to showcase how powerful they are, being on top of the pandemic – is what we call “normal”, it’s time to give a new meaning to the word. Like NOT using a global tragedy to stabilise political power, and understanding how our system is deeply compromised. Normal is living a sustainable life, giving back to our community, recognising our responsibility. Honouring UNICEF #WorldChildrensDay I’d like to remind all of us: we are all the children of this planet, and non of us is more, or less important than the other!On the photos: our first day out since the lockdown started – the empty town of Poros. We ran into the manager of one of our favourite tavernas on the island, and as usually we asked her: “Ti kanis?”, but instead of “Poli kala”, she replied: “Very difficult here – we are not even allowed to leave the island if we don’t have a good enough reason to tell to the police on the other side. They say: you can do your shopping on Poros – do not cross!” To make it clear how absurd this is – Poros and the main land, Galatas is separated by a one minute taxi boat ride.
The latest rumour is that the lockdown can go on up until the end of December, and soon it will be tightened “China-style”: citizens will be able to leave their homes only every 4th day, and even then, only one person at the time is allowed to go shopping, to the pharmacy, or to the doctor, all alone. Nimi and I feel privileged and very lucky, as we are healthy, we are self-employed, and we don’t mind staying home taking care of our kittens and our veggie garden, cooking and baking, and we have plenty of time and energy to try helping and supporting others in need. However, we encourage governments all over the world not to impose generic rules on nations as some of us are living in abandoned villages with no post office, no bank, no supermarket, some of us are not strong or young enough to drive, or walk all by oneself, and while in large metropolises such restrictions make obvious sense, it is simply undemocratic and neglectful, putting vulnerable, elderly, challenged people through a generalised strategy on fighting the pandemic. Stay safe, stain sane.
Yours, Kristóf I Support local food businesses and help family firms with us – new project on
CookOuting by Kristóf & Nimi – Vegan Foodie Tips ‘n’ Trips Around the World I Sustainable kitchen tips on Kristóf’s Kitchen – Kristóf Konyhája and on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/kristofskitchen I FB group: KristOffStage I Join our Instagrams for daily stories from rural Greece: www.instagram.com/kristofsteiner and www.instagram.com/nimrodagan I Book a one on one, personalised cooking class with us online, or sign up for a culinary and culture trip for 2021: www.kristofandnimi.com

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