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SUMMER BREAK
THE 4TH WAVE HAS ARRIVED
Summer! Finally! It’s been a bit grim this year…
I need sun and a change of scenery. Let’s fly to Greece.
"WE DON’TWEAR
MASKS HERE"
We’re all so fed up! We’ve been waiting really long for this liberating summer. But
the weather has been quite dull till now. To find the sun, I chose Greece. A country
I love, an island where I can hide, a break between the third and fourth wave.
Floods here, raging fires there, bitter fights between pro and anti-vax, All Saints’
Day weather... Please! Give me a break!
“We don’t wear masks here.” Those are the first words Katerina (my hostess) said
to me when I arrived after I had climbed the two hundred and fifty steps that lead
to her house above the port of Hydra. “Except in the grocery store. We are all
vaccinated because we work with tourists." Alright. That's fine with me. The view is
splendid, the air full of fig and jasmine scents, the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise.
The temperature is just above thirty degrees Celsius. I am grateful. I breathe.
©
Louise
Haas,
The
Cool
Mule
TRAVELLING
IS COMPLICATED
To get there is a real battle though. You have to download the Covid Cert app.
Fantastic start, I must say: Zurich Health department is sorry; my Covid certificate
was revoked. But I received my two doses of Pfizer last May! Confusion about my
middle name on one document and not on another. All good. With some goodwill
from the authorities in charge, things are quickly solved. You must read the "Travel
Regulations" published on the Swiss website. So much information! I have to read it
twice. Then I must fill in the PLF ("Passenger Locator Form"). Once done you receive
another QR code. Second opening door to fly to Athens.
Download the VisitGreece app. Read the instructions. Fill in the Greek government
forms in addition to the "Passenger Locator Form" and the "Health Statement
Form". Beware! Algorithms are cool but not always clever. Castagné, with or
without accent? Married name or not? Middle name or not? Françoise, with or
without a cedilla? You must write everything exactly like it is in the passport. Do not
deviate one iota or red exclamation marks will appear on the screen and you can
start all over again.
Connect to the Ferries in Greece website. Read the instructions. In English. Either
that or in Greek...Pages and pages scrolling on my screen. Read once, twice, three
times for some passages. Fill out the "Pre-boarding Health Declaration
Questionnaire". But not online, that’s not possible. I print, I fill in by hand. Careful,
accent, cedilla...
DISCONNECTING
IS HEALTHY
There are few newspapers on the island but I did find the "Canard Enchaîné".
It's been years since I had it in my hands. A newspaper that makes you laugh. It feels good.
I still have a look at the Watson and Franceinfo apps from time to time but it's not much.
Not enough to lower my good mood.
With Hervé Le Tellier's excellent Goncourt and Chuck Palahniuk's "Festival de la couille"
found at the flea market in Saint-Céré, I'm satisfied with my reading choices. The rest of
the time I walk (the island is closed to traffic, transport is done by mule or water cab) and
swim in the turquoise waters. In the early morning. When the water is perfectly clear and
the tourists are still sleeping. Before the sun gets too hot.
Lunch in the shade of the tall pinetrees. Grilled octopus, zucchini and tarama. I am grateful.
I enjoy. I think about my husband in zoom calls all day, my French friends who look at their
weather app as soon as they get up, then at the grey sky, then at the weather forecast for
the next few days and go back to bed.
I disconnect and it feels great.
BRUTAL RETURN
TO REALITY
Unfortunately the vacation days pass as quickly as the others. I am in Athens, drinking a
coffee at 8 o'clock in the morning with more than 30 degrees Celsius in the shade. I quickly
check in on the Swiss app. On the way to the airport a thick cloud of smoke and two
circling helicopters signal the place where it’s burning, not far from the city.
The Swiss flight is delayed. Fortunately because I am missing a document. I thought I had
done everything just fine! The one I am presenting is for the Greek government. I need the
same one but for the Swiss authorities. Flash the QR code stuck on the check-in counter,
fill in the form on my iPhone while uncomfortably sitting on my small suitcase. No choice,
the few benches are occupied by duly masked passengers. Finally, the boarding pass QR
code is displayed. Show the QR code in order to reach the departure area. Before boarding
show the QR code on the Covid Cert app again. Accept, of course, the disinfectant wipe
handed to you by the flight attendant. Disinfect your hands, the tray table and armrests.
Finally, settle into the seat of the Airbus A321. It doesn't matter if it's row 23 near the
toilets. My mask covers my mouth AND my nose anyway.
Landing at Zurich airport. What's the news? Do I really want to know? Frankly, no. I wait a
little longer before logging in again.
I don't wait too long. Once I’m re-connected and I see those big waterdrops streaming
down the window, I just want to fly away again.
Sylvie Castagné. Zurich, August 4, 2021

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"Summer Break – The 4th wave has arrived"

  • 1. SUMMER BREAK THE 4TH WAVE HAS ARRIVED Summer! Finally! It’s been a bit grim this year… I need sun and a change of scenery. Let’s fly to Greece. "WE DON’TWEAR MASKS HERE" We’re all so fed up! We’ve been waiting really long for this liberating summer. But the weather has been quite dull till now. To find the sun, I chose Greece. A country I love, an island where I can hide, a break between the third and fourth wave. Floods here, raging fires there, bitter fights between pro and anti-vax, All Saints’ Day weather... Please! Give me a break! “We don’t wear masks here.” Those are the first words Katerina (my hostess) said to me when I arrived after I had climbed the two hundred and fifty steps that lead to her house above the port of Hydra. “Except in the grocery store. We are all vaccinated because we work with tourists." Alright. That's fine with me. The view is splendid, the air full of fig and jasmine scents, the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise. The temperature is just above thirty degrees Celsius. I am grateful. I breathe. © Louise Haas, The Cool Mule
  • 2. TRAVELLING IS COMPLICATED To get there is a real battle though. You have to download the Covid Cert app. Fantastic start, I must say: Zurich Health department is sorry; my Covid certificate was revoked. But I received my two doses of Pfizer last May! Confusion about my middle name on one document and not on another. All good. With some goodwill from the authorities in charge, things are quickly solved. You must read the "Travel Regulations" published on the Swiss website. So much information! I have to read it twice. Then I must fill in the PLF ("Passenger Locator Form"). Once done you receive another QR code. Second opening door to fly to Athens. Download the VisitGreece app. Read the instructions. Fill in the Greek government forms in addition to the "Passenger Locator Form" and the "Health Statement Form". Beware! Algorithms are cool but not always clever. Castagné, with or without accent? Married name or not? Middle name or not? Françoise, with or without a cedilla? You must write everything exactly like it is in the passport. Do not deviate one iota or red exclamation marks will appear on the screen and you can start all over again. Connect to the Ferries in Greece website. Read the instructions. In English. Either that or in Greek...Pages and pages scrolling on my screen. Read once, twice, three times for some passages. Fill out the "Pre-boarding Health Declaration Questionnaire". But not online, that’s not possible. I print, I fill in by hand. Careful, accent, cedilla... DISCONNECTING IS HEALTHY There are few newspapers on the island but I did find the "Canard Enchaîné". It's been years since I had it in my hands. A newspaper that makes you laugh. It feels good. I still have a look at the Watson and Franceinfo apps from time to time but it's not much. Not enough to lower my good mood. With Hervé Le Tellier's excellent Goncourt and Chuck Palahniuk's "Festival de la couille" found at the flea market in Saint-Céré, I'm satisfied with my reading choices. The rest of the time I walk (the island is closed to traffic, transport is done by mule or water cab) and swim in the turquoise waters. In the early morning. When the water is perfectly clear and the tourists are still sleeping. Before the sun gets too hot. Lunch in the shade of the tall pinetrees. Grilled octopus, zucchini and tarama. I am grateful. I enjoy. I think about my husband in zoom calls all day, my French friends who look at their weather app as soon as they get up, then at the grey sky, then at the weather forecast for the next few days and go back to bed. I disconnect and it feels great.
  • 3. BRUTAL RETURN TO REALITY Unfortunately the vacation days pass as quickly as the others. I am in Athens, drinking a coffee at 8 o'clock in the morning with more than 30 degrees Celsius in the shade. I quickly check in on the Swiss app. On the way to the airport a thick cloud of smoke and two circling helicopters signal the place where it’s burning, not far from the city. The Swiss flight is delayed. Fortunately because I am missing a document. I thought I had done everything just fine! The one I am presenting is for the Greek government. I need the same one but for the Swiss authorities. Flash the QR code stuck on the check-in counter, fill in the form on my iPhone while uncomfortably sitting on my small suitcase. No choice, the few benches are occupied by duly masked passengers. Finally, the boarding pass QR code is displayed. Show the QR code in order to reach the departure area. Before boarding show the QR code on the Covid Cert app again. Accept, of course, the disinfectant wipe handed to you by the flight attendant. Disinfect your hands, the tray table and armrests. Finally, settle into the seat of the Airbus A321. It doesn't matter if it's row 23 near the toilets. My mask covers my mouth AND my nose anyway. Landing at Zurich airport. What's the news? Do I really want to know? Frankly, no. I wait a little longer before logging in again. I don't wait too long. Once I’m re-connected and I see those big waterdrops streaming down the window, I just want to fly away again. Sylvie Castagné. Zurich, August 4, 2021