How I experience the global crisis in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Saturday at 9.30 am. Not one person around.

Today felt like a normal day. Kind of. Woke up at 3 am to scan the latest Covid-19 news, went back to sleep, alarm at 7 am, dog duty and then off to Pilates. I really didn’t want to go to my private weekly sessions but I’ve been with my trainer for 3 years and that’s her main source of income. She’s a wonderful person that had to deal with health problems and as a completely healthy person, it felt wrong to cancel.

My new greeting when I meet with people that will be in my personal space for a bit is: No fever? No cough? Yes, I know, I’m such a charmer. When I had a minor coughing fit, we both had to laugh. During a typical Pilates session, she touches me lightly to correct my movement but this time she was sitting a few meters apart, correcting just through instruction. While it was somehow different, it felt normal.

Supermarkets have been transformed, tapes all over the floor, plastic covers at the register. Even more, the butcher shop was in full virus mode: Even the POS terminal was covered in plastic wrap that, after each usage, the customer has to throw away. It felt strange but also good to see how much thought they put into the whole customer experience.

A few hours later, we went to Noordermarkt, a local farmers market. I wasn’t sure we should go but I know how much local, small businesses are suffering and we gave it a try. The moment we entered, we saw masses of people waiting for assistance, I heard multiple, nasty coughs and I said to my daughter: It’s a Coronaparty, we are out of here. We missed out on dried mangos, amazing sausages, our weekly pea soup, veggies and fruits but I just was too afraid. Our flower man had his stand in a remote place, the customers kept a distance and we bought too many flowers. Who knows, by next week the market might be closed for a while.

While everything was different, it felt good to have some kind of normalcy. A nice chicken is about to be devoured together with carrots and potatoes. It almost feels like a Thanksgiving meal.