Weather has been good, but I just can’t shake this melancholy feeling. I guess it’s just going to be part of the process that I will need to address every day, including in this message from Cyprus.
In an effort to stay creative and productive, I thought I would do something fun this week and give you our message from Cyprus on video! One good thing is it forces me to make myself presentable (shower? what’s a shower?) and it forces me to speak in full sentences, different than the grunts and grumbles used to correspond with my spouse.
So before you click on the link below to my weekly update – and we have some good news to share – let me just give you a quick rundown on the numbers;
Today is day 50 in Cyprus and day 46 in Quarantine/Lockdown
Current cases in Cyprus 819 with 14 deaths. Numbers are leveling out.
WE HAVE SOME EXCITING NEWS TO SHARE! Check out our video here.
We are still here! Hope you all are hanging in there…I gotta say, it’s kind of weird, but it’s starting to not feel all that strange…like this is just my life now. Living on this island but not being able to see any of it.
Cyprus Covid-19 Cases 760 Deaths 13
Day 41 on Cyprus. Day 37 in Quarantine/Lockdown
The strange thing about these numbers above is my perception of them. For instance…it took us 41 days to walk the Camino Francis…that was 37 days of walking and 4 rest days. But THAT actually seemed longer than the time I have been here. Why?
Additionally, we spent 42 days on the Island of Mauritius. And THAT seemed longer than the time I have been here. Why?
I think it’s because there is no end date for me to look at here. It’s just a never ending carousel of days. Around and around we go…
Today is Orthodox Easter, the biggest holiday of the year in Cyprus. I’m sorry we are not able to participate in this celebration. I understand it is a very special four days. Everything of course was canceled…or postponed until further notice. I posted a blog on Friday all about the way this holiday is celebrated in Cyprus. Please find it here.
Even though virus cases have continued to grow, wide spread testing has been available and many people are getting tested, which of course is affecting the numbers. There are still infractions being issued for those who break the curfew or are out with out their “permission slip”. We have settled into life with only leaving the house once a day. Sometimes when we are out on our run, we will make a quick pit-stop at the mini market down the street if we need bread or eggs or gin! But I believe these restriction are helping Cyprus – while back home it sounds like much of the population are ignoring the rules, going to Home Depot, walking along Tacoma’s waterfront etc.
The President of Cyprus and cabinet announced this week a four step plan to reopen the economy in early May. But the plan begins with very minor lessening of the restrictions, and we do not yet know if it will include opening the airport or even give us an opportunity to get outside our village.
Mostly Good News
I’m happy to share that Airbnb came through for us and has issued us a full refund for our Jerusalem house. They have been redeemed in my eyes. We have three more Airbnb’s currently reserved; Finland and France in June and New York City in December. We will wait and see what’s next.
The flight we had booked from Malta to Belgrade via Istanbul has been canceled…but they are giving us credit towards a future flight. Not helpful.
We have also negotiated to continue to stay here at Lemon Grove Villa with a week by week extension at the same rate per day ($69 USD). We are happy about that. If we do need to leave at the spur of the moment they will also issue us a refund. So no complaints there. All of the flights we have seen leave the island, have happened with only 24 hours notice. So we need to be ready at a moments notice.
I have leaped past my “feeling sorry for myself” state-of-mind and have had a very productive week. I’ve lost track of how many webinars I have participated in. This week I continued to revamp my Pinterest account, did a total rebranding of my Instagram and have spent hours learning Tailwind. This stuff is really interesting to me….I’m a marketing geek what can I say? I also loved having an hour and a half on Zoom with my Book Club, even at 4:00 am. That made me happy.
I’m still having trouble reading though…and I’ve also had a couple nightmares and restless nights.
Since we arrived I’ve been focused on teaching myself the cuisine of Cyprus, and hope to have a blog all about that in the weeks ahead. Hard to believe we have been here 41 days and not eaten in a single restaurant.
I hope you all are finding your peace in all this mess and accepting how life has changed forever. Please stay well. Please stay positive. Please stay fabulous.
Thanks for caring about us. We are doing fine. Thanks for continuing to support my blog. Love you all.
Lockdown in Cyprus. It’s day 26 on the island of Cyprus. Of our 26 days here only four of them we were free. March 14-24 in quarantine and March 24 to today in lockdown. Like the rest of the world, we wait. And then we wait some more. Here is the latest;
On Thursday we participated in a live Facebook feed with the US Ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber. There was no good news really, she just confirmed everything we already knew. No clear explanation as to why we received an email 10 days ago saying there might be a flight out for US citizens…??? There are no flights in the foreseeable future, even though we hear about stranded Americans in other countries getting out. Cyprus isn’t getting any assistance. By the way…how do you become an Ambassador? I would like that job.
President Nicos Anastasiades has extended the airport closure until April 18th. I have zero confidence in this date…I expect it will be extended again. We wait.
This week lockdown in Cyprus tighter restrictions were put into effect for the stay at home order. We can now only leave the house once a day.
We are in a dispute with Airbnb now over the $900 from Jerusalem cancellation. They are being nasty. So now we are being nasty back. We did get a credit for Malta but they reversed what they told us about Jerusalem. We wait.
I had a really bad, teary-eyed day on Thursday. It seemed to me from comments I saw others were melting down too. It’s exactly like grieving – such a feeling of loss. I’m not a psychiatrist or mental health expert but I think this is normal to feel this way…we need to work through it and stay hopeful even when it seems there is little to be hopeful for.
I blame a bit of my melancholy on Thursday to the fact that, since I can only leave the house once a day, I didn’t run or work out. Instead we saved our once a day outing to go get some fresh produce at the grocery store. I know I feel better when I work out, and I am forcing myself to run and walk even when I feel tired and sorry for myself.
The cases on the island continue to grow. As of today 430 with 13 deaths. From 3 cases the day we arrived (March 10) that’s 150 fold increase. We wait.
My husband is keeping my spirits up. While still being realistic about how grave this looks in the months and years ahead, he is always my rock. I just miss my kids so much. We wait.
We learned that many US Citizens are having difficulty with the SMS system of asking permission to leave the house. Apparently if you are trying to do the request with a phone that does not have a Cyprus SIM it isn’t working. Another reason to always buy a local SIM when you travel rather than trying to use your home carrier’s international data plan.
The weather is improving and although still very windy here in this part of the island we are now looking at temps around 23c (mid 70’s f). We are no longer using the heat at night in the bedroom or the space heater in the living room. We are still using blankets on the couch when we read in the evening but it’s at least 15-20 degrees warmer than a month ago. I wore shorts for the first time this week. Maybe those sundresses will see the light of day soon. We wait.
My goal is to need to turn on the AC before we leave. Arne’s goal is to run ten miles before we leave. Maybe me too.
I had a wonderful Zoom Meeting with my book club…my first time using that application, followed by a Martini Zoom Party with the Martini Mamas back home. Tonight we plan to zoom with our boys. If I can get the hang of it I have a lot of people I would like to Zoom with.
Grocery stores are still well stocked and we are not wanting for anything in that area. I’m trying to teach myself some local Cypriot dishes. Our Airbnb hosts (who speak very minimal English) have been so wonderful…bringing us goodies and produce. If we have to be stuck this Airbnb is a good place to be stuck and we are grateful for that. We wish we had some jigsaw puzzles and movies in English though.
Waiting is not something this girl is good at….nor am I good at not controlling my situation. So everything in me is on high-alert during this lockdown in Cyprus. But I am resigned to this being long-term, and I am resigned to waiting.
Message from Cyprus Lockdown 2020 – Cyprus Day 22. Lockdown Day 8.
Note: Since Wednesday is a regular blog day for Reading Wednesday, I hope you won’t be confused by this second blog. I’ve never posted two blogs in one day. Please see the Reading Wednesday blog here. Thanks.
It’s feast or famine here with either a whole lot of nada going on or so much happening it’s overload and hard to keep up.
It’s been seven days since we received an email from the Cyprus Embassy telling us there may be a flight out for US Citizens within 48 hours. Since then we have heard absolutely nothing. I am getting much more information from other embassies around the globe than I am getting from Cyprus. No explanation on their website regarding their silence. Nada.
HOWEVER tomorrow there is a live Facebook feed for US citizens with the US Ambassador to Cyprus. We will sit in on that and hopefully get some news. Check the My Fab Fifties FB page tomorrow (Thursday) to see if we learned anything.
Every morning I check the Cyprus Mail website for the latest information. On Tuesday further restriction to movement were put into place. Now we can only leave the house once a day, still using the SMS system and asking permission for one of the 8 categories. Which sucks because we have to choose do we go for a run today or do we go to the grocery store. They are also closing grocery stores on Sundays. Locals are really up in arms about all of this…one man laments what is he to do about walking his dogs on a day he needs to go to the store, pharmacy or doctor? Another crazy new rule is anyone who has tested positive and told to self-isolate will be forced to wear monitoring ankle bracelets so authorities can track their movement…just like a criminal.
I’m kinda pissed at Airbnb right now (and ya all know I’m a big fan) but after 22 days we still have not received our refund from Jerusalem that was promised to be sent within ten days. Additionally they aren’t communicating with us any longer. I’m sure they are overwhelmed but all I was looking for was a status for the delayed refund of nearly $900. They have just updated their website however, giving us an option to either get 50% cash back for our Airbnb in Malta or 100% in credit. We are taking the credit…and still waiting about Jerusalem.
We would like to help local businesses, but the tiny village we are in has no restaurants doing take-out or curbside. We would need to go to the big city of Paphos for that an hour away. So unfortunately we have had zero chance to enjoy the local Cypriot cuisine from local restaurants. So glad we took the cooking class the first few days we were here…it may likley be the only thing we get to do on this beautiful island.
The exasperating news from the USA gives me a headache and I’m trying to train myself to not spend so much time looking at it. It’s grim and the politics of it all makes me sick. If only, if only, if only. Two months ago and things could have been so different – one month ago would have saved lives. It’s sad how many people will die and how many people still can’t see the forest through the trees.
My hands are tied as far as being able to help small businesses back home. Can’t really get take-out can I? I did however order a bunch of Easter yummies for delivery from Boehm’s Chocolates of Poulsbo, owned by a good friend of mine. It’s not much and I wish I could do more.
Spring is in full force here on the island and the pollen is in total overload and the symptom are kinda like Covid; eyes, throat, lethargic. Ugh. Too much.
Cyprus loves its holidays and TODAY is Cyprus National Day – a celebration of the day the war between Cyprus and Britain began in 1955 that eventually resulted in Cyprus Independence in 1959. But, no celebrations anywhere…churches are closed, parks, beaches and no one can gather. Party pooper. I’m interested to see what happens with Easter in this very religious country. Curiously Easter in Orthodox is not celebrated on the same day as everyone else. It’s celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon which in 2020 is April 19th.
And so we sit tight. Few options but we are still healthy and comfortable. Our Airbnb hosts have been wonderful, continuing to deliver fresh produce and baked goods several times a week. It’s so quiet here…no airplanes and few cars…just the wind and the waves.
Our original dates on Cyprus were supposed to be March 25-April 7. Our changed plans had us arrive on March 10 and our departure date remains unknown, it could be tomorrow…or it could be in June. Your guess is as good as mine.
Note – this will now be a regular update, possibly weekly, in an effort to answer so many questions we are getting and the extreme fluid situation. Love you all.
Cyprus Musings – things are happening quickly now and all indications from where I sit is the world is in this for a very long haul. We are now receiving notices of flight cancellations we have in the future. We are seeing a lot of activity and messages from the US State Department and embassies we have in our itinerary in the months ahead. We received a notice from the embassy of Cyprus that they are trying to secure a flight for US Citizens. I am normally very decisive but now vacillate over this issue because reports here say Cyprus is nearing its peak in virus cases (approaching 200 cases) and I feel safe here. I feel any movement right now, particularly to the USA; on planes; through airports; with other humans; puts us at high risk. But I also feel we might be in Cyprus for months….three, six, more if we don’t take the last plane out. What to do?
Getting home would be a comfort…but if I get sick trying to get there it will create a burden for ourselves and those we love. But if we stay in Cyprus we are useless to my family if they need us. And if we get sick here it could be a financial nightmare (yes we have insurance but it still could be costly).
Mostly I’m no longer worried about the loss of travel money. It’s irrelevant at this point.
When I compare the governments responses between the USA and Cyprus starting when we arrived here 19 days ago I am convinced Cyprus’ quick, decisive and egalitarian approach has saved lives, even though the tight restrictions are causing strife. Nineteen days since we arrived in Cyprus and the USA is still chatting about what to do and state by state mandates are clearly not effective enough for a country the size of the USA. The freedom of assembly will kill us…
Time to think long term my friends…it’s gonna be a long long time until we have anything resembling the old normalcy. Definitely not Easter. Acceptance of the new normal is the healthiest thing we can do now. It’s okay to grieve. But also prepare. Stay safe. Breathe. Don’t stick your head in the sand…we can be kind and compassionate and try to stay positive while distancing and being ready for a long journey.
As I post this blog we have been self-quarantined on Cyprus for a week. Every day brings a new development. We are currently comfortable and healthy but unsure of how or if our world journey will continue. So for today I thought I would tell you a bit about life on Cyprus under quarantine.
Some of you who follow my personal Facebook page might remember this post I made on January 23rd. I said “when people ask me if travel scares me it’s things like this (Corona) that scare me more than terrorism or crime. Luckily we aren’t flying for three more weeks but still its the kind of thing that can explode so quickly…”
That was on January 23rd two months ago and we were in Mauritius. As soon as I read the first story about Wuhan I felt a strong foreboding. But also thought to myself that we had two months in Africa and it would possibly be gone by the time we headed towards Europe.
But the nagging in the back of my mind made me go to the pharmacy in Mauritius and buy some face masks. The pharmacists asked me if we were going to China? Even he wasn’t thinking about it spreading outside of Asia.
It was late January when the first case was diagnosed in Washington State USA. But the US government did not react.
Fast Forward Late February
We were carefree in Victoria Falls and in Uganda too as we continued with our planned itinerary. It wasn’t until our arrival in Rwanda on February 27th that we began to see significant changes in airports and hotels (as a matter of fact, Rwanda had the coolest hi-tech system in place for screening). This is when I began taking very strong measures such as washing hands more frequently, not touching railings or elevator buttons and scrubbing things in our room like remote controls and door knobs. I’ve always washed down my airplane space and now we began using a bleach product everywhere we go.
In Kigali Rwanda we bought hand-sanitizer and more face masks, despite now hearing that face masks weren’t helpful. I still wanted to have some.
By this point the virus was spreading in the USA and becoming epidemic in my home state of Washington but Trump continued to deny that it was a legitimate issue or take measures to protect his citizens or the US economy. He was not listening to Advisor’s and making statements like this one – “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”. As we watched from afar the virus take over entire countries we were flabbergasted at the lack of concern from the US President.
People I know back home were split over the issue and not surprisingly along party lines. One faction thinking it was all getting blown out of proportion (and actually blaming Democrats for causing the outbreak to take the focus away from the election) while the other faction was beginning to hoard food, toilet paper and scream that something needed to be done.
Because of the malaria meds we took all through Africa I was suffering with some tummy issues and I was really worried about being flagged on the arrival in Israel since I wasn’t feeling 100%.
We touched down in Israel on March 4th and absolutely breezed through the airport. We were totally shocked that Israel’s entry was easier than Rwanda or Botswana and Israel seemed to not be doing ANYTHING to check visitors arriving in Tel Aviv. It sounded just like what was happening in the USA. Head in the sand. I was a bit disconcerted.
We enjoyed our first few days in Israel but on day four we began hearing that they may close the border to tourists and our planned day trip with a local tour company to Palestine was cancelled when Palestine closed its borders.
We assumed we would be fine since we had arrived in Israel before the border closed, but when we woke up on day six (March 10), regular alerts we receive from the US State Department told us anyone who had arrived in the past week would be quarantined for at least two weeks from date of entry. Spot checks were going to be made and we would need to prove we had a place to stay for a 14-day quarantine. Since our planned itinerary in Israel did not include us staying in one place for 14 days we did not have lodging secured. We made a spur of the moment decision that it would be in our best interest to leave the country while the airport was open and we still could. We made this decision at 8:45 am and were on a flight to Cyprus at 1:45 pm. Never in our nearly four years of travel have we changed our plans so drastically. It was a stressful and heartbreaking decision but in hindsight the right one.
Before leaving Israel we had contacted the Airbnb in Cyprus to see if it might be available early. It was and they welcomed us 15 days early on March 10th. It’s a beautiful spot and perfect for a long stay. We currently have it booked until April 7th.
When we arrived in Cyprus ten days ago there were only three cases of Covid-19. We went to the grocery store, the pharmacy and stopped at a sporting goods store to buy sweatshirts. We had coffee in a coffee shop and visited the butcher. Our Airbnb host stopped by with cookies and citrus. Everything seemed normal and no one was panicking. We even did a cooking class and a winery tour and spent one day hiking.
But on the evening of March 15th we learned that Cyprus was limiting inbound flights and incoming tourists until April 10th. Schools were closing too and two of the island’s large hotels were closing. The island now had a total of 20 cases, all but one related to incoming visitors. Cyprus is a popular direct flight from London and many British expats live here.
This news also included the mandate that any visitor already on the island should self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of entry. So on March 15th we began a self-quarantine. We will stay quarantined until March 24th. For us that means we will still do our morning run, where we have no contact with other people, but spend the rest of the day at our villa.
BUT THEN, on the morning of the 16th it was announced the island was closing all restaurants, hotels, malls, museums, archeology sights until April 30th. Even one hospital was closed for 48 hours for sanitizing. Cases now up to 39.
We now realized that at the end of our 14-day quarantine, we still might not be able to enjoy the the sites of Cyprus because everything will be closed. But, it’s out of our hands.
On March 17th they began turning away people, even residents, arriving on flights unless they had a medical statement of their wellness. And those who were allowed in, are going into a mandatory GOVERNMENT LOCATION quarantine. That’s big…we did not want to be in a government location quarantine.
Today, March 20 th a big announcement. ALL FLIGHTS are to be terminated in and out of Cyprus beginning Sunday. All flights. Wowza. Even flights for Cypriots trying to return home. There is rumor of a possible curfew. Meanwhile today the US government declared a Level 4 Travel Advisory. Better late than never I guess. Hopefully the idiots partying in the Florida beaches aren’t carriers.
Cyprus has very quickly, without a lot of politicizing, created a comprehensive economic assistance plan to help it’s citizens get through this. It’s impressive and quit thorough including such things as unemployment, childcare and elder care. I am impressed with their foresight and lack of political bickering.
As of March 20th, Cyprus now has 81 cases of Covid-19. In the ten days we have been here it’s gone from 3 to 81, an exponential growth.
Grocery stores remain open, but only a dozen people allowed in at a time. We went yesterday and were presented with hand sanitizer and rubber gloves before entering the store.
So every day something new and foreboding.
So Now What?
So now what? I have no idea. Our next flight booked was to Ukraine on April 7th. But even if Cyprus reopens its airport by then, Ukraine’s borders are closed. Beyond that we are supposed to be in Malta in late April and May. As of today Malta’s borders remain open but anyone entering must self-quarantine for 14 days. No doubt that too will change shortly.
We were planning to attend a wedding in France in late June and then head to the USA for a six month visit. Even if we forego France we are currently unable to get a flight home. We have a lot of money at stake, with little help from airlines or lodgings as far as refunds so far. We did get a refund from Airbnb for our place in Jerusalem, but lost the money for the other hotels and flight changes in Israel. We also got a full refund from our Kiev hotel after we contacted them with a personal email. We are currently waiting to hear from Ukraine airlines.
Of course our health is more important than the money, but we actually might be safer staying put than going to the USA. And we honestly might not be able to get a flight for an indefinite amount of time. We just don’t know.
We feel we can’t make a decision now until the end of March at the earliest, when several countries who closed their borders on March 14th will make a decision as to what’s next. If borders and airports remain closed we may be able to get flight refunds or at least credit. Or we may have to cough up (no pun intended) the money to get back to the USA. Currently a flight from Cyprus through London to the USA will cost us nearly $2000 per person – that is if the Cyprus airport reopens…and if any flights to the USA are running.
My Biggest Fears
My biggest fear is not about coming down with the virus; although we are in our sixties we are healthy and strong. My biggest fear is the economy and how this might effect jobs and lives of people I care about back home. Already my friends and family who own small businesses and restaurants are in dire straits. Even since I began writing this blog several days ago the changing economic impact to the USA seems catastrophic. Frightening.
My biggest fear is that my father (age 87 Alzheimer patient), my mom (age 81) and step-day (age 90 with many medical complications) and my mother-in-law (healthy but age 86) will get the virus. And of course I’m very fearful for my adult sons.
My biggest fear is this thing will go on for months…years? And we may get trapped indefinitely.
I am in no way a “sky is falling” kind of person. I am definitely “look at the bright side” girl. In fact I have been criticized in my life as a “Pollyanna” by people with a less positive outlook.
HOWEVER I am also a realist and see this as a long-term scenario. And that is why the things I listed above scare me.
Meanwhile we have no choice really but to wait and watch at least until mid April. Hopefully by then we will be armed with enough information to move forward in one way or another. There are few other options. The only silver lining is the weather here in Cyprus is finally beginning to warm up a bit.
I’d love your comments on the blog about your situation wherever you are. I am genuinely concerned for each of you and I am thinking of all of you and sending love and best wishes. God speed.
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