Landisa: I’m South African and have been semi-quarantined in China for 30 days. Here’s my story.

2020-02-28 12:22
Ilse Oelofse.

Ilse Oelofse.

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Near the end of 2019, my husband and I left the shores of South Africa for China to go teach in a bid to better our lives.

Leaving the sunny rainbow nation, I could not have imagined that we’d arrive in the midst of a viral outbreak - the coronavirus. 

One big enough to make doomsday naysayers stock up on bottled water and masks, imported all the way in America. 

We are urged to stay inside our apartments in Beijing and to only go out when absolutely necessary. 

Our apartment complex consists of about 20 buildings of 31 stories each, normally a bustling little town in and of itself. With our own shops, restaurants, parks, and walkways. 

But these days there are people guarding the gate, whether it is to keep people out or us in, is a mystery. 

Today marks little more than a month since I left the safe bubble of the complex. It leaves me with plenty of time to dream about home. I only think about the good things though, not the fear of murder, rape and torture. 

I think about the warm air of Clifton, perfumed with sunscreen.

Crisp Sunday morning motorbike rides with my hubby for a day in Stellenbosch or Hout Bay or the view from Bloubergstrand, of the proud blue mountain standing over a proud rainbow city. 

Then the sunny haze lifts from my eyes and all I am staring at is a beige-yellow building, masked children playing badminton in the far corner of the parking lot, next to a muddy, frozen pile of snow. 

Now, staying inside and fairly inactive gets a schedule nice and jumbled.

Go to bed at 3am, wake up at 8am, take a nap from 11am until 2pm and then have some cereal for a weird lunch-breakfast, confusing to the biological clock. 

One night it started snowing heavily and with no one around, since it's 1am and freezing cold, we decided to don our masks and go for a walk. We spent extra time and care in building a wonderful snowman in view of our window. 

Coming back into the apartment after being outside is always a hassle of epidemic proportions.

We have a decontamination zone, where we leave all outer layers of clothes, Dettol wipes and bleach cloths to wipe groceries or phones and the shoes stay outside in the hall.

No one here takes stuff that doesn’t belong to them, it’s pretty cool. 

Some days are filled with productivity, waking up early, going outside, exercising, cleaning the house and cooking.

While other days are lazy days.

Spent scrolling aimlessly through social media, basking in the spring sun streaming in from the window, watching masked children play and envying the snowman, because he’s the only one without a mask. 

All this COVID-19 hype and panic will melt away, just like the frozen snowman and I will grow old and reminisce about playing in the snow with the love of my life, forgetting the bad stuff once again.

Ilse is a Unisa student, residing in Beijing in China and is originally from Ceres in the Western Cape. 

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Read more on:    china  |  beijing  |  coronavirus  |  epidemic

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