from Florianópolis, Brazil – Barbara Pick

Mother of two small children, completed her PhD in 2019 at the LSE on the links between the legal protection of local traditional products and territorial development, recently relocated in Brazil

General overview of our situation. Our family arrived here one week before the crisis started hitting Brazil – and 4 days before my husband’s company, banned all travels for its employees. We don’t know the country and don’t know the language; schools, restaurants and shops are closed except pharmacies and supermarkets, since Brazil entered State of emergency; and all our moving boxes are still kept by the customs. Therefore, we don’t have much of our belongings with us. I am trying to recycle everything I can and turn it into a toy for the kids. My husband is working from home and his company is monitoring the situation here for us as expats every week.

24 March. My husband went to the supermarket and they now apply a 2m social distance rule between customers. They seem to take serious measures here although no case of corona virus has been identified on the island to my knowledge. There are now 58 cases of coronavirus in Michela’s mum’s care house – out of a total of 100 residents.

20 March. Played new game Mikado (made of bag of skews found the night before at the supermarket) with Sacha. Online Coucou Loulou French class for Sacha – he used to go to this class every Friday in London and was so happy to know he could follow the classes online. Felt like a bit of London in our home in Brazil.

While taking Sacha out for cycling I met a neighbour doing his exercise cycling around the condominium. He informed me that the police were now patrolling on the beaches and streets to forbid all group gathering.

During lunch my husband nformed me that his colleague in India would be repatriated to London, and that two colleagues in Rio will be taken to Florida by private plane. Made an airplane out of a can of Coca-Cola and bits of paper – Sacha was very happy; Hannah is still very clingy with me. Unusually clingy since we arrived in Brazil. I went to the local butcher, pharmacy and supermarket to stretch my legs and see a bit of the outside world. No-one at the butcher. Pharmacy: alcohol to wash our hands at the entrance; edge protection of 1m in front of the pharmacists/employees. Supermarket: it is now mandatory to stop by an employee who pours alcohol on our hands and on the trolley or basket we will be using before entering the supermarket. Shelves are still very full. When paying I noticed the guy behind me with 20 bottles of milk.

Normal evening. Using Stories of Instagram more often – way to connect to outside world.

19 March. Built two robots with cans of coca cola and plastic bottles … talked with Michela who told me that there were now 30 cases of corona virus positive in the care house of her mum in Italy up from 3 cases last week. She was worried that people were behaving in a very selfish way in London and that supermarkets were already empty at 10am.

18 March. State of emergency declared in Brazil. We heard the news in the morning. I rushed to Tok Stock (local IKEA-style shop) to buy some toys for the kids as we had only very few. Our boxes had been blocked by the customs in Brazil and with them all our clothes, toys, books and Hannah’s bed.

Tok Stock does not have much toys but I found 3 or 4 books, 2 puzzle games, two little chairs and a table for kids (we can’t figure out how to assemble it though!). I rushed to a mall next door hoping that the toy shop there would be open but only the supermarket and the pharmacy were open. The kids were happy when I came back home with the bags. We kept all the packaging (cardboard boxes, plastic etc.) for creating toys of our own.

Talked with my friend, (who lives in London with her Brazilian boyfriend) who told me about being in Sao Paolo dealing with his dad’s death and inheritance and everything seemed very difficult – papers to find and submit from London etc. but chaos with state of emergency.

Later she sent me a video of the protest that was happening in Sao Paolo – cacophony of pan-bashing against Bolsonaro’s approach to corona virus. The same happened in other big cities of Brazil. I went out later to take the rubbish out and heard some pan-bashing close by – either in our condominium or the houses just outside. People were also protesting here.

17 March. I took Sacha to Decathlon to buy him a bike to practice in the condominium in anticipation of future difficult access to the outside world. That was a good move considering that Brazil entered state of emergency the day after. We also bought some papers, glue and other stuff to do craft activities at home. I thought it would probably be the last time Sacha would see the outside world for a long time.

16 March. Took the kids to school. The Uber driver asked me where I was from, and when I said France I felt some hesitation. People here start to understand how serious the situation is in Europe. When I arrived at the school, I was asked (very nicely) to take Hannah back home because she had a runny nose the week before! Not even a symptom of corona virus. Lots of misinformation here. I was a bit upset, especially as the staff cleaned the nose of two other babies in front of me while I was still there. I asked what about these babies – the person suddenly realised that they were indeed more sick than Hannah and she told me she would call the parents. Later that day we received the news that the school would close the following day for 14 days.

My husband told me that his company would monitor the country situation for all expats on a regular basis and that we could go back home if we wanted. Well, we don’t have a house in London anymore as it is rented out and we wouldn’t be able to meet with our families… so all in all, the situation still seems better here, having a big house with the kids inside a safe condominium.