Today I am grateful for…

We survived one week of lock-down, it’s almost Monday and we have almost reached our 14 days of self-isolation. On Monday we can declare ourselves safe!

I could hear how people asked me; “how are you feeling?” and they didn’t mean how I was feeling about the weather or lock-down or work from home thing. They really wanted to know if I was in the slightest bit sick. Then they always asked about hubby, how is he feeling? Is he also OK?

I was always too scared to mention that sometimes I had a cough. That’s the thing nowadays you can’t cough or sneeze without getting some kind of panicked reaction….nope it’s not always corona.

We are fine, we really are! I am so grateful for God’s protection so many airports, places, things and people that we touched.

One week of lock-down and I am grateful for our holiday even when everything was shutting down behind us or ahead of us. I am grateful that we managed to get on a flight back home before all airlines parked their planes on runways, and airports became large creepy empty spaces.

Grateful for my family, the comfort of my home, that I was able to stay home and work in my PJ’s and slippers. That I can take a break to make lunch (not just eat at my desk) well actually the kitchen might be a problem, I spend way too much time there and I fear I’ll get out of this fatter than I came in! Just this week I baked two cakes (one flopped) I made bread and my own pizza from scratch!! See what I mean? Fat!

But I am grateful for the comforts and freedom of working from home and having a salary at the end of the month.

I am grateful for nature, the joy of the birds and the loud hadeda, that inspire love in some and hate in others. Has anyone noticed that they are louder now that we are home? Maybe I hear them as louder because I am not rushing to do something or to go somewhere. Grateful for the slow days, no traffic, no crowds, no business. Grateful for the generous amount of rain we have had, it has reminded me of Ireland and also, no one wants water restrictions in winter.

Grateful for the gift of prayer, we can all pray and I have been praying and thinking of my family spread all over the world, if we need to comfort one another we are so far even for that…I miss them so much it hurts.

And then I have to say I am grateful for technology – for this nonsense called Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, because although it is not always a good distraction, and it consumes us, and teaches our children things we don’t like if we did not have this crazy distraction and connection right now how would we “talk” to each other when we are on lock-down and social distancing?

You know that I am friends with my cousins’ children that I had never met in real life. But because of this thing called Instagram, we connect and chat to each other occasionally and we stay in touch. If it wasn’t for that we would be complete strangers, but I arrived in Portugal and meeting and hugging them for real for the first time was like ♥ I don’t know how to explain it, it was magical and wonderful and emotional and all things fuzzy and warm.

As churches are closed all over the country and in other parts of the world I see pastors of our churches posting videos of themselves doing devotionals. Little messages of encouragement from others, as they learn to use their cell phones and become more and more comfortable with the camera and posting their videos. I love them and they have brought me peace over the past week.

My sister and her family have been locked up and cooped up in a two bedroom apartment for much much longer than us, oh Itlay ☹ your numbers are still so high. I hear the pain in her voice sometimes.

So tonight when everything was silent and the rain was softly falling we received a special message from our own pastor on WhatsApp.

We can’t go to church tomorrow but no one and nothing is stopping us from worshiping together. And so we received his message; something inspirational and uplifting as some of us will be fasting tomorrow and praying. Yip worshiping with our phones in our hands, who would’ve thought this could ever happen!?

Ah I am grateful that this technology can keep us connected for now. And I am especially grateful for the soft confident voice saying that we are to put our complete trust in Him. He will give us courage to face this crisis, Be still and put your trust in Him.

Happy Sabbath all ♥

Slow drive south

From the north of the country we traveled slowly to the south, making our way through beautiful towns where my family lives. Stopping in different cities and spending time with family along the way. After 25 years everything is new and different and I’m enjoying everything I see. Although we had rain along the way we managed to do some sightseeing on our drives, what a beautiful country. You have to see it for yourself.

Long dinners with late nights ending in softly talking in the kitchen or the dining room until 2 A.M. no one noticed the time….

Every visit with family was filled with so much love, hugs and kisses and a lot of tears. Happy tears, we cried, or maybe I did most of the crying. On Saturday we were in church (that was probably the last or second last service before church closed down due to the virus) we were celebrating one of my cousins’ baby dedication.

This was the first announcement of the possibility of churches closing temporarily. On this day there were only 13 reported cases in Portugal, you kind of think that this is still a China problem and that everything is OK and people are just being paranoid.

So far I had been with two of my aunts, there was one missing, and then she walked into church! I was emotional and cried at every hymn and then when she walked in….well the tears were uncontrollable.

We had such an awesome reunion that day, we could not fit everyone in one photo the apartment was too small for all of us, there were people bursting from every crack in the apartment. It was beautiful, the long talks and continued laughing and old stories told by some of the best characters in the family.

I went to Portugal to experience this…this is what I longed for and missed.

It was especially rewarding to also meet some family members for the first time, cousins that have over the years married and had children that I had never met. The embraces were given as if we’d known each other all this time….I miss them all already.

We traveled south to the beautiful Algarve where hubby’s family lives. I though he had hardly any family left that we just had to see a few people and would have time for more sightseeing but it turns out there are aunts and cousins in every corner of Algarve. It was something so special, to see everyone again, every photo is a reminder of that. Just by the way, on my cell phone I have over 2 000 photos, I imagine its double on my photographers camera!

Every visit was a photo shoot and we spent the days there literally going from one table to the next – for breakfast, lunches and dinners – it was insane but so enjoyable and I loved connecting with old friends and family again.

On the 11th of March we left for Ireland.

Corona update on this day – Italy now had over 12 000 confirmed cases, Ireland 43 and Portugal 35. Some people were starting to panic just a little.

At least I got to hug her

We arrived in the north with the first visit and nights sleep in a cute little town called Joane, oh there was so much excitement at the dinner table. So much noise, the TV going, a noisy extractor fan (my cousin kept switching off but mysteriously found its way back on) the frying of bacalhau and chips and kids talking loudly while playing on their iPads. The continuous talking you hardly had time to answer one question and the next one was being asked. This is exactly what I longed for and why I wanted to be there I wanted to experience this again. I get emotional just thinking about it.

One very exciting thing was going to happen the next morning, we were picking someone up form the airport. That someone special was my sister!!! We have not seen each other since Dec 2014. We speak to each other daily, but wow, to actually see each other again after so long….I was beyond excited. Also we had a surprise for her, that’s the day we told her we coming to Italy to spend a few days with her & GC and the boys. We arrive on the 19th  ask your husband about the plans, he knows everything, we are coming to see you all in Italy.

The reason for her quick visit is a complicated thing around her driver’s license….filled with lots of bureaucracy.

Well that little bit of excitement was very short lived. Because on that very day our airline sent an email saying that flights to Italy had to be postponed or cancelled. Sadly we had to opt for the cancellation and a refund.

Corona virus was now spreading quite a bit in Italy they were not on lock-down yet, but the country was starting to suffer under this virus. Countries were not flying in to Italy to avoid the spread.

We spent a day with my sister and then she had to leave and go back home to full lock-down. To the uncertainty of what was going on back home with the number of reported cases escalating daily. The day she left, Italy had just over 3000 confirmed cases.

Our dream mini holiday in Italy was cancelled and we made plans to just come back to Portugal for more time with family after our trip to Ireland. At this point things were still pretty normal in the places we visited and we still had some touristic sightings and visits and lots of family catch ups with long lunches and dinners. Anything that involved lots of food, laughter and love.

At least I got to hug her ♥

A travel diary

I don’t know how to start this story, I just know that it has a few parts to it that need to be broken down a bit. By now a few people have written about living in a time of the coronavirus – the lock-downs, the self-isolation and the quarantine. My story is about my observation as a traveler during this time.

We holiday a lot back home but stamps on my passport are scarce – this is my story and travel diary –

I was last in Portugal in May 1995. At that time I had two babies in my arms both in nappies. I was on maternity leave of my second child and when we came back home a month later maternity leave was over and I was back at work.  And just like that 25 years later I was finally going on my dream trip to Portugal. I just wanted to visit my aunties (my dad’s sisters) I was so excited that I think I started packing end of January.

In February I was surprised with a visit from something called shingles!!! And to add to that I also contracted tick bite fever. I have no idea how I got either one of them, and the doctor actually said stop thinking about it. Stop trying to figure it out, what matters is that we have the blood results; you now have the correct medication and you will be fine. At one stage I really thought I was dying and that I would not make this trip at all. I cried in-between fever sweats and lay awake at night sweating and thinking that maybe I should plan my own funeral. Just in case…it was that bad 😦

It was a terrible month. But I did recover and I did get better and the planning and packing continued. I was most excited because no one knew we were coming. Some of my cousins found out in the middle of the month of February, I told five of them about our arrival date, and five might sound like a good amount of people knowing but in a large family like ours that is nothing!

My sister in law found out about our arrival the day we were leaving SA. At the airport after checking in we sat down for lunch and then we made a video. She received this with photos of our bags being wrapped and put on airport scales. Photos of boarding passes and us standing next to check-in counters. I was excited for us and excited for them!!! It was such a good feeling doing that video, sending it to her and saying; Hi, we coming, we will see you Sunday night at around dinner time. But don’t cook we going out for dinner, a place has been booked. Just give us a bed and a good Portuguese breakfast the day after.

And that she did.

We left SA on the 2nd of March for Portugal, on to Ireland, Italy, and then back to Portugal and finally back home to land in SA on the 25th.

Phew that’s a lot of places in such a short time, we were a bit stretched but the adventurous spirit was larger than life.

So exciting I cant even !!!!!!!!!! ♥