Stuck in Aotearoa

Lake Wanaka: who wouldn’t want to holiday here?

Today is Sunday September 12, 2021. Kia ora!

Last night I learnt that there are 3 cases of Covid 19 infection linked to the exposure at Middlemore Hospital, including a 5 month old baby.

Today my emotions are mixed, again.  I’m still watching and listening to lots of 9/11 stuff, and marvelling at the US’s so-called “nation building” achievements in Afghanistan.  I’m astonished at the American naivety – that they didn’t appear to know anything about the country, or its history, before the invasion – right after 9/11 (I think it was one month later). I remember Pete Buttigieg (Mayor Pete) being interviewed when he was a presidential candidate, about serving in Afghanistan. He explained that he knew Arabic, but this was interpreted as meaning that he knew about aerobics. He’s seriously brainy.  Anyway, the Taliban have won that battle, it appears: they’ve succeeded in many Americans thinking political (or any) violence is permissible, and how mediaeval is the Texas abortion law, not held up by the US Supreme Court, soon to be followed by other republican-controlled legislatures.

Today is my personal 9/11. Ten years ago, today, I became ill, on Monday September 12, 2011 (hence 9/11).  Everything changed – for me and my family. I accept it, but I still haven’t got used to it.

This morning I had a busy time on zoom. A friend in Auckland was speaking at a service at St Matthew’s in the City, then I zoomed into a service at St Anne’s in Newtown. That was very special! I enjoyed it. After that, my local church was having its AGM, so I zoomed into that, too.  What did I learn from all this?  That God is Love; that music is beautiful; that we are all special, and there are many different ways of being inclusive and welcoming. I also learnt that there are many concerned folk to grapple with the issues of finance (never enough), outreach, and earthquake-strengthening – a thorny problem indeed.

Today there are 20 new cases of Covid 19 in the community, and 3 in MIQ. That figure will be a huge disappointment for those in Auckland who just wish for this to be over, or at least to move down a level. One couple had supposedly legal excuses to drive to Hamilton, whence they flew to Wanaka for a holiday. That is being frowned on. In Australia, things are worse again, with NSW recording 1,262 new cases and 7 deaths; Victoria 392.  Who has managed to contain a Covid 19/delta outbreak? Only Taiwan, I believe.

Tonight we had interesting conversations with our sons overseas via messenger. It’s a great mechanism: you don’t have the difficult protocols as you do with zoom over the give and take of discussion;  also, the guys can be quite succinct, as opposed to talking at some length in reality. The All Blacks trounced the Pumas in Queensland (which has so far escaped lockdown), and then the Wallabies played the Spring Boks, just winning their game by one point. Quade Cooper kicked several goals: who knew QC was a good kicker? Apparently he was born in New Zealand, and Australia has repeatedly denied him Australian citizenship. Cruel and unusual things happen everywhere, but some actions do seem inexplicable.

It’s now Monday, and I ventured forth into Wellington city. At first it seemed quite empty, but gradually more people came. I walked, in the wind and rain, to the gift shop at Te Papa. They no longer pack gifts and post them overseas, but I did have a lovely look around, and settled on a gift to send to my son and daughter-in-law in the UK. I fear I shall never see their new house, but at least I can send something for it.

I had lunch at a roomy café – several others did, too. They must be glad to have tables well spaced. At the New World supermarket in Willis St, I had to queue to get in, but the queue moved quickly. Almost everyone is wearing a mask. It is a bit annoying, but one does feel safer. I caught two buses home – there were very few passengers. I’ve done my bit for the economy today, and it was quite busy in town by the time I left to come home.

On the way home, I learnt that there are 33 new community cases of Covid 19 today, all in Auckland. This result will be a big disappointment, I fear. The government is due to announce their decision at 4 pm as to future levels of restrictions for New Zealand.  Most suspect that Auckland (Tamaki Makaurau) will have to remain at level 4; the rest of New Zealand feels very sorry for them, but relieved, too, that the rest of us have (thus far) escaped the worst of it.

I have been listening to more podcasts about 9/11, and realised, again, that many issues are complicated. I’m reminded of the reaction when the first plane flew into one of the Twin Towers, and it was assumed to be an accident; then the other plane came, and everyone knew it was not. The use of people prepared to carry out suicidal missions was relatively new: previously, most  perpetrators had wanted to stay alive. The audacity of using a plane as a weapon was amazing, too. No planes were allowed to take off from US soil. For a while there, no one really knew what was happening. But most people remember where they were when they heard what had happened. It turned out to be a defining moment – albeit one that should never have happened. It hasn’t happened again, although there have been many suicidal terrorist missions, some using bombs, some knives, and some using cars as a weapon. When we last went to Europe in 2016, there was huge fear of another incident – the Bataclan incident in Paris had just occurred; the incident in Nice happened just after we left France for Spain; and the Manchester incident at the Ariana Grande concert happened shortly after that. We’re older, so it doesn’t matter what happens to us, but we worry for our children and grandchildren and their loved ones. Having said that, the AUMF (Authorisation to use Military Force) remains in place in the US.

It’s now Wednesday September 15th. On Monday at the 4 pm press conference we learnt that Auckland is to remain at level 4 for a further week, while the rest of the country is to stay at level 2.  On Tuesday there were15 new cases, today there were 14 new cases of Covid 19, all in Auckland, and all linked to existing cases. We all feel so badly for Tamaki Makaurau.

Here in Wellington, life is inching its way back to normality. Yesterday I went to my Tai Chi lesson: the last one on a Tuesday and the last one for term 3. The council that manages the hall we use permitted use of it. There were lots of people there, and it was a poignant occasion. Many of us cannot go to the remaining Thursday classes next term. Afterwards, I caught the train back to Wellington, and found the SCL lab on The Terrace to have my blood test. I was the only person there! I think I will always go there in future, it’s much more accessible than the Johnsonville one. Afterwards I met a friend for lunch at a café in town. There weren’t many people there, and the tables are quite well spaced. The whole etiquette of mask-wearing, talking, ordering and so on is a bit weird, but almost everyone is wearing a mask.

Afterwards I went to the Hush Puppies shop and bought some new shoes. I tried on the ones that were on special, but they didn’t fit well. Afterwards, as I was waiting for my bus, I looked everywhere (both pockets, shopping bags, handbag) for my glasses, only to realise I was wearing them. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I take them off. I’ve found that if I twist the ties on the mask so that it is really tight, my glasses don’t fog up so much. Nevertheless, I do feel even more that I’m in a bubble, wrapped in bubble-wrap, and I can’t really see properly.

Today JD and I went shopping. JD, true to form, had a number of errands to do along the way. But we bought some large towels at Farmers’ sale in Queensgate, and I also managed to post a present to my son in the UK. What a rigmarole that is! The customs form is even more demanding than it used to be, and there is very little space to write stuff on it.

I also learnt this afternoon that another case of Covid 19 has been detected in an MIQ worker.  This delta variant is proving very difficult to get rid of. In Auckland, vaccination buses have been introduced, and a new booking system for MIQ. Meanwhile, we’re stuck here. We can’t go anywhere, and people in Australia can’t come here.  Last year, we looked forward to the pandemic being over. That’s not happening any time soon. The couple who fled Auckland for a holiday at Wanaka are perhaps the most detested people in New Zealand, for now. That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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