A bright red sunset, the air full of dusty sand blowing into your nose. And windy again.
We approach Easter with a sense of resigned anticipation. I went to Gio’s to pick up some takeaway ice cream for the studying kids back at home a couple days ago. It was closed. I haven’t been to town so much recently, but I didn’t know it had got this bad. I looked through the window as if someone might change their mind. A secret ice cream tub out back? But no, it really was closed. Everything else is closed too – for weeks and weeks now with this strict lockdown. Someone really needs to throw some tumbleweed into the road.
As I was walking back to the dinghy, it hit me. A year ago we thought this pandemic would probably last for a year. Tops. Suddenly, in the shuttered windows of the pastel-coloured shop fronts, I realised we are probably only halfway through. The past year has actually been the first year of the pandemic. Aha.
The only tourists left on the island scurried past with masks on. They glanced over at me furtively. Was I holding an ice cream? I shook my head. No, I was not.
This scene is so different to when we first came to Bonaire last July. Back then, there were no masks even in sight. All we ever heard was, ‘We don’t need to wear masks. There’s no virus on the island.’
‘Not yet,’ we thought back. ‘There will be if you don’t put one on though.‘
We didn’t expect to stay long enough to see the fruition of the process. But here it is. Now, masks are the last ditch effort to control the viruses’ spread. And the vaccination programme in Bonaire has been brought forward by a month so all adults are now eligible for their vaccine jabs. Which unfortunately should have happened a month ago. They were one of the luckiest islands to have enough vaccines for the population size. Again, stupid hindsight.
This Easter weekend, it feels like lockdown has finally worn our family down like it has worn most other families in this pandemic. Doesn’t matter we’re on a boat. Doesn’t matter we can jump in and join a spectacular, non-Covid, underwater world. We haven’t played a board game together for months. We pass each other like ghosts most evenings.
‘What are you watching?’
‘You want to watch it with me?’
‘Nah, I’m watching something else.’