• PT

Civilisation implodes at the hands of the tiniest of life's wonders

Media driven decision-making

So, arriving from Norway in Amsterdam in late March on one of the final flights I took an empty train to Maastricht as the world imploded around me, you know why.


It was hard to not get caught up in the frenzied attempts to return to Australia after the Government there kept saying 'Australians should come home as soon as possible or not get home'. Easier said that done. I wish I hadn't starting watching the news or I probably would've seen it all for what it really was, not the apocalypse the media was salivating over.


Just three days after getting back to Maastricht and caught up in this frenzy, I booked a (very expensive) one-way flight to Brisbane with Emirates, their very last flight and unfortunately the very next day (my original Singapore Airlines flight for April had already been cancelled). One afternoon to organise, pack, say goodbyes etc. On the morning of departure I got an SMS saying the flight is cancelled, but we still drove to Schiphol Airport and I was even handed boarding passes, indeed it was me informing the check-in crew and manager that those flights were no longer going! It really was chaos at the airport.


I resigned to the fact that it just wasn't going to be possible to fly to Australia within the next few months. So I headed back to Maastricht after a few days in Eindhoven with family friends.


The virus comes to visit

It's late March and The Netherlands is approaching its peak in terms of Covid 19 cases. The day I got back to Maastricht I went down with a cold of sorts.... extreme fatigue, slight cough, joint pain in legs, and night sweats that lasted a week or two. Somewhere along the line, either in Norway, on the plane to Amsterdam, on the train, in Maastricht, in Eindhoven, at Schiphol Airport or anywhere in between, I picked up a virus, namely Covid 19, ever heard of it?


The times I've had the real flu (influenza) were much worse and most people I knew were suggesting I had a cold/flu as this was also going around. At this stage The Netherlands (getting hit pretty hard) was not testing people for Covid 19 unless you ended up in Intensive Care. However, it was one symptom (and the dangerous Reddit forums) that pretty well convinced me I had Covid 19: the total loss of taste and smell. This lasted maybe six weeks (i.e. until it had fully returned). Try eating food with ZERO taste or smell, it's a truly dismal experience, exactly like eating cardboard. I experimented e.g. eating garlic raw without even the slightest hint of taste or irritation, sniffing pure vinegar (the cleaning variety) ...nothing.


All sounds quite dramatic but as I said I'm usually much sicker with a flu, my immune system was definitely low at the point hence I probably even got it worse than I should've. I recovered (other than the taste/smell) within a week or two and was finally able to get out of my apartment where I'd basically locked myself inside surviving entirely off the food that was already in the house. No visits, no outings, no deliveries. My mum's relative did come to the window once but I shooed her away quickly being 80 years old! That was April.


Somehow I managed to still take a few photos, the seasons were in transition to spring and in Europe this always brightens both soul and sensor (camera).


PS - in late May I was 'fast' tested (finger prick) for Covid 19 antibodies by a private company touring the country doing this for a fee. I wanted to know if I'd had it and potentially immune... well, I kind of wanted to know, I wasn't going to be happy if it was negative. I had planned on ignoring the result (in case it was negative) and just running with the assumption that yes I'd had it, a much more comfortable feeling, but I accidentally saw an email inviting me for a full blood test to confirm the positive result., it too was positive. This opened up some options for moving about since I was arguably immune. Also, the country was slowly beginning to live alongside Covid 19.


All the following photos were taken in April within 10 min bike ride from Maastricht centre.


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Pepijn Thijsse