From Barbara in Florianopolis: An exceptional time

11 August

My circumstances are quite exceptional as we had moved to Brazil when corona was not a thing yet – but just one week before everything escalated, the lockdown was decided here and schools and shops were closed. So there we were, my husband, our two children aged 1 and 4, and myself, in a country we knew nothing about, without speaking Portuguese, with no friend or family around, without our personal things for almost two months (our boxes were blocked at the border because no-one was working in its warehouse anymore) – trying to entertain the kids with the few toys and books we had taken with us in our backpacks and with whatever else we could find. I could have never imagined how many treasures I would find one day in a simple shoe or a cardboard box. 

Five months later, we still don’t have our residency cards because all the administrative offices are still closed – and this has certain implications on our everyday life because everything here is so bureaucratic. For instance, because we don’t have a residency card, we cannot open a bank account which means, among other complications, that we cannot do online shopping on the Brazilian websites as they all require a Brazilian credit card. And at times when “physical” shops are closed or have limited opening hours or limited supplies, this is truly annoying and frustrating. Schools are still closed and we have no idea when they open again.  After having been re-opened for a few weeks, parks and public places are forbidden again. 

What we thought would be an exciting adventure and exploration of a new continent turned out to be a thorough exploration of our house. Believe me, we know every centimetre of it. 

Despite the strict lockdown measures, the number of infections has grown exponentially in our region. My husband Josh has just been tested positive. Weirdly enough, I have done the test twice and both tests show that I haven’t been infected. Which is a good thing as at least I can continue getting supplies from the local supermarket while Josh has to quarantine. 

I have also started working again – although of course, given our circumstances, I can only do a few hours here and there – working on a book (I was supposed to submit my manuscript to my publishing house in May but I am nowhere close to finishing a chapter!) and on agricultural development projects, including the organisation of an international conference at the UN in Rome next June. 

So – life is very slow and at the same time very intense. Just being with my baby and my toddler are enough to fill my days with joy (when will I ever experience such precious time with them again? Soon enough won’t they be teenagers and not return my calls?) but also to exhaust me and, some days, leave me terribly frustrated. Simply because I never have a break and cannot envision any at the moment. It feels weird to see pictures of my friends and family back in Europe going on holiday or simply meeting again for a lunch or a drink. 

Our life here is very limited – at least physically. For the rest, we try to use our imagination to escape and plan nice activities for our kids. Despite our circumstances, we still have fun and we know that our life here will not last forever. We just have to keep going, little by little and bit by bit. One day, when all this is over, we will look back and feel very proud of ourselves! 

But in all this, I just didn’t find enough time to contribute to this fascinating blog. Because the little free time I have I just try to do my work, or learn Portuguese, or just relax. And not being an English native speaker (I am French), I find it a bit more difficult and time-consuming to write in English.

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