Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Missing the silence

The road was empty. No cars, no tourists, no noise. Just me and the silent concrete.

I had just arrived at Málaga airport. I had been stranded in Germany for four months, far from my daughter, my girlfriend and the sea. It was June 21st, the beginning of summer, and I had come on one of the first flights after the Corona lockdown. I was greeted by a poster of a crucified Jesus with a colourful phrase asking me whether I was ready to have fun, then my temperature was taken and finally I exited the airport where I was interviewed by a local newspaper. Then a 10-minute walk to my car. On normal days, you can hardly cross the road, it's so busy – and always! That day, however, I walked right in the middle of the three lanes. It felt like I had landed in a post-apocalyptic world, the last survivor on planet Earth. All alone. The end.

Humankind has gone through far worse times than 2020. If you were to tell the people who lived through the black plague of the Middle Ages about Covid-19 they'd laugh at you! But considering that most of Europe has enjoyed several decades of peace and prosperity, the Corona crisis has been the biggest crisis most of us have experienced so far. Many voices were heard saying that nothing will be the same anymore. 'Life is now changed. Forever. What was is not coming back.' (Chris Martenson). A potential glimpse of hope for a world that has been getting sicker and sicker over the years. But is there really any reason to be hopeful?

Since I first came to the South of Spain, back in 2002, the whole area has become more and more dependent on tourism. When I returned after four months of lockdown, just a couple of weeks ago, I was met with two extremes: The airport was literally deserted, and the beaches were more packed than ever. No tourists from abroad meant there was no work and so most hotel and restaurant staff seized the opportunity and got comfortable in the sun. A deserved rest from the pandemic, why not. But you'd think people in charge would realize that it's not a good idea to remain so dependent on only one industry, in this case tourism. Having only one leg to stand on doesn't provide much resilience. And yet, since I got back, I’ve read about plans to convert more natural land into artificial resorts, to build more holiday homes for rich foreigners and to attract even more tourists than before Corona. Life is now changed? Doesn't look like it.

And then there are the masks. And gloves. And individual portions of olive oil in plastic packaging. And plastic cups and forks and knifes and plates and a zillion empty bottles of disinfectant. Forget 5G and Bill Gates, it seems the new Coronavirus was created by Mr and Mrs Plastic!

I'm not against masks. I think some people are going slightly over the top, like that guy my daughter told me about who was swimming with a mask on, fearing he might catch Covid-19 in the sea. But in general, wearing a mask in situations where you can't maintain a distance, like in shops, to me that makes sense. However, why can't we all get reusable masks? And possibly the most important question of all: why do so many people throw their single-use masks and gloves onto the street, onto the beach and into the woods? It makes me wonder whether we, as a human species, are actually still worthy of salvation. Most bacteria seem to have more consciousness and ethics than us lot.

I could continue by mentioning the woman I met the other day, who said she's a great Trump lover and thinks it's a crime that statues of cruel racist colonialists are being torn down. If I erected a three-metre monument of Adolf H. on my terrace in 2020, would I receive angry screams or applause?

So many reasons to get depressed. So many reasons to hide in a hole and forget about salvation.

There's a line in a song by STAY HOMAS, a group that was born during the recent confinement in Barcelona, that really stuck in my head. 'What will happen with the silence once the bells of freedom ring?' Whether you are Pro-Covid or Contra-Covid, perhaps the world would be a better place if we all stayed in lockdown.

I miss the silence.


  1. The pandemic gave us a chance to come together and fix what what was broken. I think we have squandered that opportunity. I have been an optimist all my life, but my hope is waning.

  2. Let's be a bit positive here. I think many people who commuted before will now work from home. This has been proven and so will save on transport as well as aid the environment. Many more pare cycling and walking so with pressure from them we may find our cities cleaner. People have come together and got to know their neighbours. They have come forward and offered help and support. Hopefully this will continue and grow. Green solutions are being offered as COvid 19seems to thrive where there is pollution.People have learnt to cook and grow their own vegetables even if it's just a few sprouting seeds. Iam hopeful of a greener more sustainable future. Let's be positive please

    1. You're right Jane, there are also reasons to be positive. But I think it would be dangerous to ignore the negative side, it's part of reality. Knowing that hope alone won't save us might help us to stay focused so that we continue doing the work that needs to be done. And I actually do miss the silence ;-)

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