How close is too close now?
For many in the rural areas, walking is the main means of transport unless one owns a donkey cart or something similar. But I have noticed some greater sense of social distance. I have a car at the farm and if I need milk here, someone has to go to buy it. The tetrapacks of milk are at a grocery store about 8 km away. There is no delivery. But there are not crowds entering and leaving the shop, and as I am parked outside (I am the chauffeur) people are not standing on top of each other. We buy our fruits and vegetables from a roadside stand that I have been using for almost 20 years. I can stand an easy 2 meters away and be given the items that I need. I ask the girl if anyone in the neighbourhood is sick and she says, "No. But people here are staying away from the city." This means that the virus will likely come more slowly to us. She also gives me her phone number and says that since she has to be closed over Friday and Saturday, if I need anything to call her and she will provide it from her home if I can send someone. I think that we will be ok.
Most of the "villages", which are simply small to medium cities without services, have water issues and in our area larger farms and homes have installed water filters that are attached to an outside wall to provide clean water to poorer neighbours. These water stations can be quite crowded at times. Since I'm hardly ever out of the farm I don't know how this is working out. Our water comes from our wells on the farm and the drinking water is filtered in the kitchen. Tests have showed that the water is clean but highly mineralised, which is really rough on electric kettles and such. That is the main reason for our filter. But we are self sufficient for water at least.
Here at the farm, the guys have work to do spread out over 3 feddans (acres) so again social distancing is being observed. My friend and her daughters are wandering around with their own projects or helping the guys, so they are also out of doors a lot. If anyone is inside much, it is me since keeping up with the news these days is almost a full time job. I'm spending a lot of time catching up with friends abroad, with events in the neighbourhood, with friends who are all going slowly mad in their homes and apartments in the cities. With a 7 pm curfew, the guys are here all day, go home to their families, have a bite to eat, and everyone goes to bed pretty early. On the first night of the curfew, the police did arrive to shut down a couple of weddings in the area, and no one has heard any more. Weddings out here in the reef are generally held out of doors so that all the neighbours can "enjoy" the music that is played at maximum decibels. There are some silver linings.
I have more time available to observe the social interactions of the dog pack lately. We lost our alpha male, Finn, who formed our pack some 15 years ago, a few months back. He had taken some time to train JC, our wolfdog, and Calypso, a baladi who looks exactly like a Cane Corso and is my self-appointed personal assistant, to take over his job, but nevertheless actually doing the job has been a pretty steep learning curve for them. Finn generally just sort of cruised around watching and giving very subtle orders to the others. He did have to get a bit louder with the 6 month to 1 year age group, the teenagers who need to learn that there really are limits, since puppies under 6 months old are treated quite kindly. JC is only about 3 and Calypso is only 4 years old, so they are working on volume control when disciplining the teenagers. When we have school trips here, one of the most common questions about the dogs has always been, "Who is the boss?" and why. Is it size? In that case Bran our doofus Dane would be boss, but that is unlikely ever to happen. Is it strength? That could be a real toss-up. I suspect that it is a combination of emotional intelligence, communications skills, and organisational intelligence. I could see Finn spending more time with JC and Calypso in the last months of his life, so it was clear to me that he was working at teaching them something, although I wasn't sure of what it was.
How am I doing? Well that depends. I am not bored. Not in the least. The planning and logistics work continues apace. We are replacing the crazy old yellow house in what we call Narieda's garden with a new house of two floors that will each have three bedrooms and bathrooms, a big living area for meetings or gatherings and an enormous kitchen that can be used for teaching, cooking, teaching cooking, first aid classes or whatever. So I have workmen pouring concrete and doing all that housebuilding stuff at the other end of the farm. The guys are working on the gardens and green house as well as the horses, goats, and sheep, since this is the time of year when ordinarily we would be making at least one trip to the plant fair in Orman Gardens... but of course those trips aren't happening. I'm corresponding with a farrier in either Switzerland or India depending on his schedule and a vet professor in Italy. Bernard is currently in India but is quite isolated (he sent photos to prove it) and Sergio is laying low in Italy with success so far.
They were here earlier this winter and we are hoping to be able to set up a school for farriers and for veterinary paramedics if the stars align themselves in the coming year with the help of Giza University. And of course in my free time I'm supposed to be writing my book. I don't know whether the blog qualifies on cheating at that or preparation for it.
copyright 2020 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani