Thursday, May 28, 2020

Life in Cyprus as lockdown eases

The heatwave I wrote about in my last post reached the hottest temperatures recorded in May, and lasted almost a week. So despite being allowed to exercise with a friend, I didn't go out much at all. Even at 6am - the earliest we could leave our premises, during the curfew - the temperatures reached 27 degrees and by 8am it was over 30.

So I was very thankful that we cleaned the air conditioners, and even more thankful for the new air conditioning units which were installed just over a week ago. They are quiet, and efficient, and the air feels fresher when we use them.

On Thursday May 21st, since the new coronavirus cases remained in single figures in Cyprus, phase two of the lockdown release started. The curfew was abolished, and we no longer had to send text messages for authorisation to leave the house. Restrictions on travel are gone, so we can visit other parts of the island if we wish.  Best of all, we can meet friends, outside or in houses, so long as there are no more than ten people (including children) at a time.

So although it was still too hot to walk first thing, my friend Sheila and her daughters came over on Thursday mid-morning to play some games in the air conditioning in my study.  And in the evening, when it wasn't quite so hot, we had a barbecue in our side garden.

I didn't leave the premises at all on Thursday, but on Friday we did some grocery shopping, feeling a little strange not sending a text message. I don't know what would have happened if we had sent one anyway.  And in the evening we went to our friends' house for a meal, as we normally do. Thankfully it was significantly cooler then, and on Saturday morning cool enough for me to walk first thing. We went to the aqueduct, for a change. The foliage along the Salt Lake trail was already starting to look very brown:

Later I cleaned the house, as I usually do on Saturdays - although the previous week it had been so hot I did almost nothing - and in the evening Sheila came over for a non-Catan board game.  Agricola was the one on the top of the pile, which we had not played for about three months with the lockdown.

With the statistics for Cyprus being so good, the government decided to allow churches to begin meeting again that weekend, so long as the official protocols were observed. So they required hand sanitiser on the way in, no more than one person per 8 square metres of space indoors, no hugging or shaking hands.  Doors and windows must be open, and general physical distancing is expected. External loudspeakers can enable people to sit or stand outside if there isn't room inside, or if they prefer to stay in the sunshine and fresh air.

This was mainly for the benefit of the Greek Orthodox church, of course. But St Helena's folk were keen to meet again rather than having online services, so Richard set up a speaker for the courtyard, and the clergy arranged the seating to allow for physical distancing in the building. 

It was a bit strange, but good to be there. Some people decided to continue isolating at home so Richard recorded the service on a webcam and it went out later. A few people sat outside, where - thankfully - the temperatures were much milder than the week before.

In the afternoon our friends came over, so I made extra bread and a cake, and we played a game while the children watched a film. Life is beginning to feel much more normal... even if a rather different normality than the one we took for granted until two months ago.

Yesterday, Cyprus reported no new cases of Covid-19.  That's only the second time this has happened since the first cases started appearing in the country, although figures have been low in the past week. It's particularly encouraging six days after the release of the lockdown, when it might have been expected that there would be an increase. Cyprus continues extensive testing of all contacts of known cases as well as frontline people in the community, and teachers and children returning to school.

But we don't know what the future holds. Airlines are still banned until June 9th, other than a few specific chartered repatriation flights.  In June, visitors will be allowed from a small number of countries deemed 'safe'; even then, they will have to have certificates saying that they are virus-free, and there will be extensive measures in place to ensure no transmission of virus if at all possible. It doesn't sound appealing, but some airlines are offering inexpensive flights in the hope of tempting people to a holiday in the sun.

Still, the tourism industry is going to suffer, even if there are tourists from these few countries. The majority of Cyprus's usual visitors are from the UK and Russia, and neither of those countries are anywhere near 'safe' from the point of view of Covid-19. Indeed, several of the new cases in Cyprus in the past couple of weeks have been detected from people repatriating from the UK.

So unless something changes, we will be here in Cyprus all summer. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Summer has arrived in Cyprus

I shouldn't have been surprised.  My Facebook 'memories' were full of reminders about Summer arriving in Cyprus in the middle of May.  Last year it happened on May 13th. But it had been a gradual process over the course of a few weeks.

This year we seem to have had quite a long and pleasant spring, even if most of it has been spent in lockdown mode. It has been sunny during the daytime, but cool enough to continue to wear jeans and - at least in the evenings - a sweater or light jacket. The heating hasn't triggered itself on since early March but we hadn't really noticed.

It's only three weeks since we moved from using our triple-thickness duvet to the double-thickness one. Last Saturday I did say that perhaps it was time to move from the double one to the 'light' 4.5 tog duvet, but Richard said no, he still wanted the warm one.  So I thought we'd keep that for another couple of weeks...

A week ago we were opening the windows that have fly-screens (to keep insects out and cats in) through most of the day, but closing them in the evenings. Each morning I pulled the curtains or blinds to let in as much sunshine.  I was still wearing long trousers and a long-sleeved top when I went out for a walk with my friend Sheila at 6.00am...

On Thursday, it felt a bit warmer first thing, and the day quickly warmed up, though not unpleasantly so. Now that most shops are open again, we decided to buy a few things we needed so we went out in the car for the first time in a while.

We had been convinced of the importance of Vitamin D in strengthening the immune system and giving protection against the more unpleasant effects of the coronavirus. It might seem unnecessary to take supplements in a sunny country like Cyprus, but once it gets really hot I will not be going out at all in the daytime. So our first stop was Holland and Barrett.

Then we went to Mr Bricolage, where Richard hoped to find some nuts and bolts which he needed for his boat. Alas, they didn't have the exact size he needed. But we did see that they had the water filter cylinders we use, at considerably lower cost than we have been paying. And they should have been changed at least a month ago. So we bought those. And at the check-outs we saw some cloth masks.

We had talked about making masks, and had been uncertain as to whether there is any point at all wearing non-surgical ones. The consensus seems to change regularly. But there are some shops or outside stalls where customers are asked to wear masks, and as these were both washable and fairly good value, we decided to buy some of those too.

Then on to Christou Bros where Richard found the nuts and bolts he needed (at the grand cost of a little over a euro for them all).  Then on to Shoebox, as my outdoor sandals, bought eight years ago, were wearing out. I realised that the children's section was likely to be best, and was pleased to find some sandals I liked, albeit not quite as sturdy-looking as my previous two pairs.

By this stage it was decidedly warm. We wanted to keep the 'tradition' started last year of having ice cream on the first day of summer (in our opinion). But all the ice cream places seemed to be closed. We had heard that an Italian one near where we live is open, but as we drove past we saw that it was closed. Perhaps it opens only in the evenings.

So we went home for a cool box and ice packs, then into FoodSaver, a frozen food market where, last summer, our son Tim discovered some delicious luxury dairy-free ice cream.

Thus we 'celebrated' the first day of summer in lockdown style at home:

I also got out the frappé machine for the first time this year, and made myself a frappé.

And because the temperature was predicted to rise, I did a bit of sorting in my closet. I put my jeans away, and found my shorts.  I also sorted out my reasonably respectable shirts and put away the large selection I have that have developed holes over the years, which I only wear under sweaters.

We started using our ceiling fans, too. And I remembered why we don't light candles at meals during the summer, although we have been doing so since Christmas. After the current candle had been blown out by a fan for the fourth time before we had even started eating, I decided that another feature of summer is to put away the candles.

Nothing prepared me for Friday. I don't walk with Sheila on Friday, but I've been going out for short walks on my own some mornings. I got up around 6.30am, and went outside to put my shoes on.  I felt such a rush of warmth that I wondered if I were developing a sudden fever. Then I looked at my phone. My weather app told me that it was 24 degrees already, due to be hotter still later on.

So I just watered the plants rather more thoroughly than I had been doing, and didn't stay out for long. By mid-morning it was well over 30 degrees. I didn't walk to the fruitaria for the week's fruit and vegetables; Richard drove me there.  In the evening we decided to go for a walk locally - just a couple of kilometres. We didn't go out until around 8pm and I nearly melted. It was still 31 degrees.

Later, I removed the medium duvet from the cover.  We might still need the thin one if it cools down a bit next week, but the cover on its own was just fine last night. We did think about cleaning the air conditioner in our bedroom but it was only 27.5 degrees and we run the a/c at 28, so there didn't seem to be much point.

This morning I wore my walking shorts for the first time to walk with Sheila, and still felt too hot.  We decided to clean the bedroom air conditioner in the morning so we could run it for a few minutes to get rid of the smell of the cleaning fluid before using it in the evening.

Then Richard cleaned the one in his study.

It doesn't take too long, but is important to do each year as there can be fungal growth over the winter.

We had been talking about replacing some of our air conditioning units this year, as new ones are so quiet and efficient, using very little electricity.  They're much better for the environment than older ones, too.  It seems, currently, that we'll probably be stuck here in Cyprus all summer and our computers can't work over about 30 degrees.  I feel ill if I get too hot.

In addition, the a/c unit in Richard's study is very noisy, and the one in my study doesn't always work, as well as being slightly broken.  We definitely don't want either of them to break down during the main part of summer, when there will likely be a dearth of units available, and we might have to wait a long time to have new ones fitted. Besides, there might be another lockdown, if the number of coronavirus cases starts to increase again once tourists are allowed into Cyprus.

So this morning we decided that if we were going to replace our air conditioners, it should be now. We went out mid-morning to George Theodorou, our favourite local white goods place, and ordered them.  Also, thanks to a recent generous gift, we decided to replace the old (at least 20 years old) and inefficient large one in our living room.

We went to a couple of other shops too, and by the time we got home I was almost dizzy with the heat and had to lie down for a while.

Summer is here.

Richard is happy about it.

I am not.


Saturday, May 09, 2020

After the first week of relaxed regulations

Living in Cyprus, where the infection rate is low and where we don't personally know anyone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, the situation still feels almost surreal at times. We read news sites, both local and international, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have died.  But when we come across people who don't believe it's nearly as bad as reported, we can almost understand why they feel this way.  For most, the disease is mild. Many are exposed but don't catch it. Every day the Cyprus papers report hundreds of tests of known contacts, yet only a handful test positive.

Since I last wrote, we celebrated Greek Easter, albeit in a somewhat subdued way.  On Greek Good Friday (April 17th) I made hot cross buns for the first time in many years. Half a recipe was sufficient to make eight, and while they weren't very beautiful, they tasted good on Good Friday and Easter Saturday:

For Easter Sunday, we decided to have a proper roast lunch.  We almost always have a cooked meal at lunch-time on Sunday, although for the rest of the week I cook in the evening. But we don't usually bother with a roast chicken.  However, I made an expedition - using up my one authorised absence from home for the day - to the supermarket around the corner on Easter Saturday, to buy a chicken.

I also made cranberry sauce, as we had frozen some cranberries left from Christmas, roast potatoes and three kinds of vegetable.

Last year we bought some silicon moulds for chocolates, and I filled them in two different ways, wanting to make an equivalent of creme eggs that were dairy-free.  This year I simply made a dairy-free coconut mixture, something like the middle of a Bounty chocolate bar, and filled a variety of chocolates with that. They worked very well.

Of course, since we couldn't share either the lunch or the chocolates with anyone else, they lasted us a long time.  We had cold chicken on the Tuesday, fajitas on the Wednesday, and still froze some more for future pies. The chocolates lasted us all week.

I celebrated a milestone birthday that week, too.  I made a carrot cake, and for the evening spanokopita, my favourite food (dairy-free versions of both). We were eating them for several days, as we had nobody to share them with. In the evening, we went out for a walk. It was a very low-key birthday. I'm not sure what we'd have done if we had not been in lockdown; we hadn't made any plans. Just as well, really.

I mentioned in my last blog post that we were running low on cat litter.  But we had sufficient for the Easter weekend, even though it makes me a little anxious when we're close to the end of something. I usually buy new cat litter when we are down to our last couple of bags.  Instead, we almost reached the end by the time we went out shopping together, with the car, for the first time in over five weeks.  We did remember in time that Friday May 1st was a public holiday, so we went the day before.

To make it worthwhile both getting authorisation for shopping, we went to three shops (and the Post Office before that).  The first one was the shop we call the Nut Warehouse, where usually we can select different kinds of nuts to put in paper bags, though seeds and dried fruit come ready-packaged.

This time, however, even almonds and walnuts were pre-bagged.  The staff were wearing masks, but as there were no other customers we both went in.  When we got home, knowing that the coronavirus lasts less than 24 hours at around 20 degrees, but potentially up to two weeks in the fridge, I spread our purchases out on the work surface and left them until the following day:

Not that there have been any recorded cases of people becoming infected through stray viruses left on packaging, but it seemed safer not to refrigerated anything, even though it had all been at room temperature in the shop probably for at least a day or two already.

We went to Metro too; since they were counting people in and out, Richard stayed in the car and I went in. Someone waved a thermometer at my forehead, and told me to sanitise my hands and put on plastic gloves, People were pretty good about social distancing, and since they were limiting customers, it wasn't crowded. I bought four bags of cat litter and a few other bits and pieces that we were running low on.  We also went to the froutaria together, for a change.

When we got home, I noticed our glass recycling, which we'd forgotten to put in the car.  This is what six weeks of glass looks like for us:

One empty Marmite, two small instant coffee jars, one honey jar, one jam, a mayonnaise, and a few others.   We'll take them next time we venture to Metro.

May Day was inevitably muted; the government was wise to extend the full lockdown until the following Monday, rather than relaxing regulations on May 1st, as it would have been difficult for people not to want to march and congregate.

But on May 4th, since the statistics were pretty good, the first phase of relaxation began.  During lockdown, we were supposed to stay at home unless we had to get out for essential reasons (which included exercise) and could only go out once per day, sending a coded text message to get authorisation.  Now we can go out three times per day, and are no longer limited to 'essential' outings.  The construction industry has started up again, and many shops have opened.  We're no longer limited to exercising within a kilometre of our house, though we must stay in our district. And it's permitted for two unrelated people to exercise together, so long as they observe social distancing.

What a difference it makes to be allowed out three times per day!  I had not been out for any early morning walks for six weeks, not wanting to use up my one chance of getting out of the house in cases I needed to shop later, or go out for a walk with Richard.

So on May 4th I went out for a local walk on my own, just because I could, first thing. And in the evening we went down to the marina for the first time in six weeks.  It's about a kilometre and a half away, and certainly not 'essential'.  Richard was worried that there would be a lot of growth around the sides of the boat, but was pleased to find that it wasn't too bad at all.  He opened her up for a bit of fresh air, and emptied out the dehumidifier, but it wasn't overflowing.

It was strange seeing Europe Square, opposite the marina, almost deserted:

On Tuesday, since two unrelated people can now exercise together, I resumed walking with my friend Sheila.

We weren't sure about the Salt Lake trail, as it's only about 1.8 metres wide, but mostly we walked on either side, or one of us was slightly in front of the other.  Perhaps we weren't always quite 2 metres apart, but we observed the social distancing principles, and when both facing forward and walking it would be almost impossible for a virus to be transferred if one of us happened to be infectious.

Then on Wednesday evening, Richard and I went for a short walk along a part of the trail, so - for once - I saw the Salt Lake at sunset:

We still can't have any gatherings in our house, or go to anyone else's home. Not that our neighbours seem to be taking this too seriously, but they have many fewer visitors than they used to. Richard can't take his boat out for a sail, though he hopes to do some work on her in the next week.

If all is well, the next phase of the relaxation will start on May 21st, and he'll be able to sail then. We'll also be able to gather in groups of up to ten people, and are very much looking forward to doing so.  Yesterday there were only two new cases of covid-19 in Cyprus, and today only one new case.

This is very encouraging;  with six days of relaxed regulations, a spike was expected.  That may still happen next week, but figures suggest that the virus is almost entirely gone from the community.  There are still around 400 active cases, around ten of them serious, but extensive testing is not revealing widespread infection. Early lockdown with rigorous tracing, isolating and testing seems to be a good method of combating this horrible thing.

So life plods on.  We're still playing Settlers of Catan by a Zoom online meeting with our friends one evening per week. Richard is still recording (again via Zoom) and uploading services for St Helena's Church to premiere on Sunday mornings. 

But, all being well, we're hopeful of resuming something closer to normality within the next couple of weeks. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The middle of April, still under Covid-19 lockdown in Cyprus

Two weeks ago, the last time I posted, we hoped that the lockdown in Cyprus would prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and that the island might start to open up again on April 13th, as was first proposed.

It was no surprise, however, that this didn't happen.  Instead, the lockdown was extended until April 30th. And most recent news reports suggest that it might continue beyond that, with a few changes starting to happen mid-May.  That's another month. I like being at home, and my own company. But I'm finding it increasingly stressful, not being able to go out any time I wish, not seeing friends, not going for early morning walks. For those more active and extraverted than I am, it's extremely frustrating.

So we take one day at a time.  We try to stick to our normal daily routines as far as possible, eating regular meals, taking showers and getting dressed at the usual times.  I've been waking up around 6.30-7.00am most days. I have taken the opportunity to do a bit of watering and weeding amongst the plants in our side garden and front patio.  The herb planter has survived this winter much better than it did last year.  The basil and oregano died off, but the rosemary and aloe vera are still thriving, and the mint is threatening to take over entirely:

I was also pleased to see that a plant given to me by our younger son a year ago has not just survived, but is about to start flowering again:

After doing a bit of gardening each morning, I walk up and down around the side garden until I've done around 1000 steps. A very small amount, but at least I start the day with some fresh air and a tiny bit of exercise, without having to get permission to go out.

We've been out for a few walks in the evenings.  We have to ensure we stay within about a kilometre of our house, but that still gives scope for a fair bit of walking. We haven't been every day; sometimes it rained, sometimes Richard was too busy, sometimes we just didn't feel any inclination.  On Fridays I use up my once-a-day permission going to the local shops.

A few days ago when we set off to walk we realised that our white-and-brown cat Alex was accompanying us:

He used to do that when I went for early walks, until we shut the cats in the kitchen area overnight.  This is the first time he's done this in a long time.  So we walked around our block, Alex trotting with us all the way. When we got home again, we took him inside, and then went on our longer walk.  We did wonder what would happen if we put a collar and lead on him; Alex has a few dog-like tendencies. But we really don't want him to learn about routes that go further from home than he goes already, and suspect, in any case, that he would hate it.

Alex has not been so popular with either of us on three occasions in the past week, including this morning, when he caught a bird out on the balcony at the top of the house, then took it into Richard's study to eat.  It always leaves a terrible mess of feathers and worse.  He's caught birds on occasion before, but never quite so many in a short period of time.

I have continued going to the local fruit shop on Friday afternoons, as described in the post a couple of weeks ago.  The second time, on April 3rd, my experience was very similar.  I returned home with around 15kg fruit and veg, hoping I was not infected with anything as social distancing wasn't enforced, although most people were being careful. There were rubber gloves and open doors. Nobody was coughing.

Last Friday we needed a few extra things in addition to fresh fruit and veg:  grape juice, sugar, coconut milk, chocolate chips, matches.  Perhaps they weren't 'essential' in the way that fruit and veg are; I could make coconut milk with desiccated coconut again, Richard could drink water instead of diluted juice; we could not have any chocolate mug cakes on Sundays.  But they seemed important enough to me that I went to the mini-market opposite the fruitaria first. I did also buy some extra cat food, which is certainly essential in our household.

My trolley wasn't big enough for everything so I carried two bags back over my shoulders in addition, and this is what I unpacked:

I wiped down all the tetrapacks with kitchen roll and liquid soap, just in case they were infected. But didn't want to do that with the sugar, which is just in a paper pack.  So I put it in the back of the cupboard. We still have some open sugar, so by the time I start this one any viruses should have vanished.

It's not supposed to be possible to catch the virus from actually eating anything, but I still separated the new fruit and from the few that were left from the previous week:

(If that looks like a pitiful amount of fruit for two people for a week, I should add that there were also about 24 oranges and 500g strawberries which went straight in the fridge).

Unlike many of my online friends, I haven't done lots of extra baking in the past few weeks. I've made bread with the breadmaker, of course, and Richard makes a chocolate mug cake to share each Sunday after lunch.  But we've felt the need for extra sweet stuff. The first week, I had found a pack of Lidl chocolate biscuits at the back of a cupboard, well past their sell-by date, but still in good condition. So we ate those over the course of that week.

Then I decided to bake a coconut-chocolate thing that's very quick and easy:  just sugar, eggs and coconut on a chocolate base.  Except that we were a bit low on eggs, so I decided to use a substitute and thought a chia egg would work. It looked a bit odd - almost like the inside of a dragonfruit - but tasted just the same as the usual recipe, and, if anything, held together better.

When we had finished that, I decided to try our family favourite one-bowl brownie recipe.  When our son makes it, it's always perfect.  I did substitute three tablespoons of aquafaba for one of the eggs, but basically followed the same directions.... and failed. At least, I failed in making brownies.  Straight out of the oven, it was messy and gooey (albeit tasty).  But after a night in the fridge, it  turned into delicious brownie-flavoured fudge.

As for communication with others, it's been limited to online. We've had some lovely Whatsapp video chats with our grandchildren, and an enjoyable Zoom family meeting last weekend for a birthday.  Since none of us would have been together even without the lockdown, it's one small benefit, I suppose, that we've made the effort to connect the family this way.  I hope that will continue.

We've had Zoom meetings, too, of some of the St Helena's church congregation after (or before, last Sunday) the online services which Richard has recorded remotely, edited and uploaded.  And despite my being an Introvert, I find these online chats encouraging and even energising.

We've played a few games online, too. My friend Sheila and her daughters usually come over on Tuesday mornings to play board games. We can no longer do that, so we've managed to play 'One Word' and also 'Taboo' via Facebook messenger:

We had a family game of 'Drawful' one night, with our sons and daughter-in-law.  It's a short game, and perhaps a tad silly, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  It worked very well in three different locations.

Naturally we also played Settlers of Catan with our local friends which worked well by Zoom.

We did a five-player version with our sons, although it was a bit slow-going. Then last week, Alex tried to stop us.  We call this picture 'Cat-on':

Zoom allows one camera to show the board, and the other to show us so we can chat while playing. Much easier than when we first thought started playing Settlers via Skype with our younger son nearly ten years ago.

So three weeks have passed. In addition to a bit of cleaning, regular cooking and laundry etc, I have read books and written reviews, scanned slides, posted on help forums, updated the St Helena's website, and spent far too much time reading online news updates.  They are mostly very depressing. So many people have lost loved ones. Many more are struggling for their lives, without even being able to have their loved ones at their sides. We may be a bit frustrated here, but we are safe and healthy, at least so far. 

By the end of yesterday, Cyprus had 695 people who have tested positive to Covid-19,  and twelve people who have died of it.  The government has opted for extensive testing, tracking down every contact of everyone who tests positive, so many are found who are asymptomatic. Numbers are not increasing significantly, but they're not yet decreasing either.

Not knowing much about the illness makes it worse.  We know that people with underlying health conditions, or who smoke, are more likely to have it more seriously than those who are fit and healthy.  We also know that older people are more likely to have it badly than younger people.  But there are exceptions, and some young, apparently healthy people have died through complications.

Are there people who are naturally immune? It would seem likely, as many who come into contact with affected people do not test positive. In countries where there is limited testing, it's possible that contacts had the illness asymptomatically. But that's not the case here, where every possible contact of affected people, all hospital workers and most other frontline workers have been tested.  Does virus load make a difference?  Probably.  Hence the importance of self-isolating as far as possible.

So we wash our hands a lot, and keep away from everyone, giving a wide berth if we're out for a walk and meet anyone.  We eat plenty of fruit and veg in the hope of staying healthy. We also eat the extra cakes and chocolate to reduce stress (at least, that's the theory).  We've heard all kinds of speculations about possible drugs or other things that can help, many of them either untrue, or exaggerated, or potentially dangerous. Most are not available over the counter anyway.  But we do take extra Vitamin C and try to get a bit of sunshine each day for Vitamin D. If we feel any hint of cough or sore throat, we take manuka honey, which has some anti-viral properties. Perhaps these things don't make any difference, but they're unlikely to do any harm.

In the next week we really need to visit our PO Box; we're not sure quite what category of authorisation that falls under. But we might combine it with a visit to a supermarket, which will become necessary soon as our supply of cat litter is running low. It will probably be the highlight of the week. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A week of lockdown in Cyprus

As I said in the last post, from 6.00pm a week ago, Cyprus has been in 'lock down' mode. We aren't just advised to stay at home, we are required to do so by law, unless we have an acceptable reason for going out. And when we need to go out, we either send a mobile text message, or fill in a form (printed or hand-written) stating the reason. At least, that was the case until today; now anyone under 65 must request authorisation by SMS, and we can only go out once a day at most (other than for urgent medical problems, or to walk a dog).

There are those who find this extremely irritating, or even an infringement of liberty. Every day in the past week, the police have booked over 100 people around the island, either on foot or in a car, flouting the rules. Last night there were reported to be around 300 violations. It's not stated whether they didn't have the right documentation, or were in groups bigger than two people, or had been out too long, or something else. But each time someone is booked, they are either fined 150 euros on the spot. or taken to court.  I assume the latter is for the more dangerous violations, or perhaps for resisting the police. From today, that fine has doubled.

For us, while of course we don't LIKE being stuck at home without seeing anyone else, it seems like an acceptable way of trying to fight this awful pandemic. Cyprus is still seeing 10-20 new cases each day, and seven people in the main part of the island have died so far.  Possibly one of them, who was already ill, might have died anyway; but at least one was otherwise fit and healthy with no prior conditions.  The fewer people everyone sees, the easier it is to track contacts when someone is diagnosed with the virus, and - hopefully - the quicker it will be stopped.

Wednesday felt a bit strange. My phone alerted me to the monthly church book sale, which was, of course, cancelled. I was watching the news, and the worldometers site too closely - but fortunately for me, I had a project: to check continuity and proof-read a novel which my father has been writing and tweaking for at least five years. We decided at the end of last week to go ahead and self-publish it via Amazon KDP.  The title is 'The Finneal Solution'.

It was helpful having something specific to focus on for a few hours each day - and as of a couple of days ago, the novel is online, available for purchase.  Unfortunately, with postal restrictions and delays, the paperback edition won't be delivered for weeks.  So we've made the novel free in its Kindle version, until the end of this week. (If you try to download it, and your Kindle is registered to a different country, you should be able to find it, using the same code, at any of the other Amazon sites). 

On both Tuesday and Wednesday evening, we couldn't really concentrate on anything. The pandemic keeps spreading. We can pray, and we can self-isolate, but there's nothing else we can do to help.  However, I realised, as the week progressed, that I actually felt less anxious than I was the previous week. We knew a full lockdown was possible, maybe imminent; but we didn't know when it would happen, or what it would involve. But now we know. We can no longer decide whether or not to see anyone else - it's forbidden.

On Thursday night we decided to play a two-person came of Cities and Knights, for the first time in many months.  Usually our closest friends here come over to play the game with us - usually on Wednesday nights, but sometimes Thursdays.  We also play it with them every other Sunday. But that won't be happening for a while.

Alexander the Great was surprisingly disturbed. Instead of settling in the box lid, as he usually does, or even walking over the game to get our attention, he kept nuzzling the chair that Richard usually sits on to play the game, and mewing. It appeared that he was telling us we should wait for our friends...

One of the regulations which has been in force for a couple of weeks now is that supermarkets and other food stores are open only for over-60s and other vulnerable people between the hours of 6.00am-10.00am.  I won't be sixty for another few weeks, so although I prefer to buy fruit and vegetables at the fruitaria when it opens around 6.00am, I went at around 6.00pm on the Monday, before the lockdown, to make sure we had sufficient produce for the week.

I had hoped to wait until yesterday before going again, but by Friday it was clear that we were running low on fruit. It's important to stay as healthy as possible during this crisis, and to build up our immune system as far as possible. We've both had colds which seemed to be lingering, though not serious. We've been taking extra Vitamin C, and a little Manuka honey to ease sore throats.  But I didn't want to run out of fruit.

So on Friday, feeling oddly nervous, I sent a text message in the required format to the number given in the online press, and received a reply within a couple of seconds, telling me I was authorised to go out for a reasonable time. So I took my shopping trolley and ventured out.

Here's some of what I wrote on Facebook after the event:

The streets were pretty quiet as I walked there with my shopping trolley although there were a few people zooming up and down on motorbikes. At the fruitaria, which is about 500m from our house, there were disposable gloves by the door, but nobody enforcing them, nor checking my age, or ID, or stopping me going in.

It wasn't very crowded, so I'm sure there weren't more people there than there should have been, but nobody seemed to be practising social distancing... Nobody was coughing or sneezing, so I guess there's no problem but it felt a bit disturbing.

When I got home (with no spot check from the police) I looked at my receipt out of curiosity, as local delivery folk charge per 4kg of produce (I believe).  Apparently I bought around 15kg fruit and veg (at a cost of about 18 euros in total). We have plenty of other groceries in the cupboard and freezer, so all we need is fresh produce.

It occurred to me after writing this that 15kg fruit and veg sounded like quite a lot for two people for one week.  Then I remembered that 7kg of that was the oranges which I use to squeeze fresh juice each morning;  from about a kilogram of oranges we get around 400-500ml juice.  So in fact it's only about eight kilograms of fruit and veg for the two of us, or a little over 500g each per day (plus the juice). And that sounds like not much at all... according to the BBC site, 400g is the absolute minimum anyone should have each day. We're over that - but not much. 

But that's a digression. I expect to go to the fruitaria again on Thursday or Friday this week, but hope not to have to do any other shopping for the next couple of weeks. I know some people like to shop more often, and some don't have the funds to do a big shop once a month, but we're in the fortunate position of being able to - and we went a little more often right before the lock-down, to make sure we had plenty of crucial things like cat food and cat litter!  We had also visited the nut warehouse to stock up on nuts a couple of weeks earlier than we needed to. 

As well as his regular work, and doing the cover design and layout for my father's novel, Richard was working with St Helena's Church staff to try to arrange a live streaming from their house, since we're not supposed to go out or meet other people, even in a church building.  He tried various things, and hoped to make it work - unfortunately, this morning, it didn't upload properly. He was using a Skype link to the vicarage, and trying to livestream at the same time; we have quite a lot of bandwidth in our contract, and he used data on his phone too, but it wasn't good enough.  So, an hour later, they did the service again (about twenty minutes, all spoken) which he recorded, and then uploaded later.

So although the lockdown didn't actually come into force until a week ago this evening, by the end of Sunday it felt as if we had come to the end of the first week, and it had been fairly constructive.

Monday morning did not feel so positive. I don't have the same need of socialising as Richard does, but even I was beginning to wonder when this will all end. We have a lot to be thankful for, I know; we're safe and healthy in a spacious and comfortable house, we have good Internet connections with family and friends even if we can't see them for the foreseeable future.  Video chatting with our grandchildren most days, even for a few minutes, lifts the mood a little. And we have each other. It's much more difficult for those who live alone, or who are vulnerable and cannot get out, even for half an hour, to buy groceries.

But still. Cabin fever is setting in. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Cyprus goes into lockdown...

When I wrote the last post, things were basically okay. We could see a limited number of people, we were washing our hands regularly and mostly staying at home, but it was fine to go out for walks with family or friends.

On Sunday, we drove to the St Helena's Church building so that Richard could live-stream a short service. There were only four of us there, keeping our distance from each other, and although there was a problem with the sound, it went well and people seemed to appreciate it. We hoped to repeat the exercise next Sunday.

In the afternoon, our closest friends came over for a game, a film for the children, and a shared meal.  This has happened every other Sunday afternoon for years; I wondered if it would be the last one for a while.  At 7.00pm we lit a candle in the window, in solidarity with family and friends in the UK (and many in Cyprus) doing the same thing, to indicate that we were praying about the coronavirus pandemic.

Lighting a candle in the window, praying for the coronavirus pandemic

It was a little precarious, so we couldn't leave it there once we left the room.  After our friends had gone home, we went out for a walk, along the deserted sea front where we saw a handful of people and cars. We were rather concerned at the number of teenagers and young adults who seemed to be hanging out together, laughing and chatting and not even moving aside to pass in the street.

So it was no surprise, really, when yesterday evening the President announced that Cyprus was going into lockdown mode for three weeks from today at 6.00pm.  It wasn't immediately clear what this meant, but the article kept being updated.  We can no longer go out for walks or to each other's houses; the parks and beaches and other public areas outside will be closed down.

Apparently, over the weekend, groups of young people and families had been out socialising, disregarding all advice.  Not just in twos and threes for exercise, but in large groups.  This kind of thing potentially spreads the virus easily, and makes it much harder to trace all contacts if someone does contract it.

It didn't help that there were 21 new cases of the disease in Cyprus on Monday; over double the number reported on Sunday.  It's a small island, and the government wants to stop this thing so that, at least internally, we can go back to some measure of normality.

So this morning my friend Sheila and I went out for our last walk for three weeks.  We thought about it as we went into the Salt Lake Park, which will be closed from tonight onwards:

entrance to Larnaka Satl Lake Park.   Closed for three weeks from March 24th 2020

We thought about it as we wondered whether the lake will still be full in three weeks' time - if the lockdown is lifted - and whether the flamingoes will still be here:

Larnaka Salt Lake in March, still full (2020)

And I realised I hadn't even thought about the fact that March is 'yellow month' in Cyprus.  There didn't seem to be nearly as many yellow wild flowers as usual, but this one stood out:

yellow flowers in Cyprus in March

Sheila came over with her girls, mid-morning, for our last Tuesday morning of games for a while... we hope our goodbyes are only for three weeks, but nobody knows.

This afternoon I learned that not only do we need to have a good reason for leaving the house at any time in the next three weeks, but we must either send a text or fill in a form explaining who we are and where we're going. The authorities won't refuse requests, so long as we're not asking all the time... but it feels quite disturbing.  Not complying with the regulations will lead to an on-the-spot fine of 150 euros.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Cyprus covid-19 shutdown, part two

I originally called my last post a 'lockdown', but apparently that is incorrect terminology.  So I changed the title.  Some countries are observing 'lockdown' where nobody is allowed out of their houses at all, other than for essential errands.

It's not like that here in Cyprus. Not yet, anyway. We can still go out for walks, and - if we choose - see friends. Social distancing is expected, and the few remaining shops are required to be strict about numbers of customers and keeping them at least a metre away from each other. The supermarkets have started requiring customers to use hand sanitiser and gloves.

So far it hasn't made much difference to us, in practical terms. But there's an atmosphere of concern, just one topic of conversation.  It's hard to focus on anything else. Facebook is full of reminders that some people in the past had it much worse, during wars or occupations.  I wonder how long it will take for this to feel 'normal'.

Wednesday 18th March (continued)
In the evening, our friends came over for our weekly game of Cities and Knights. It was an auspicious occasion; Facebook had reminded me that morning that it was exactly ten years since we taught the game - as an expansion of Settlers of Catan - to Sheila.  It was a good game, rather longer than some, and Sheila won with rather an impressive 17 points:

Another nine confirmed cases of covid-19 taking the numbers up to 58 in the Republic of Cyprus.

Thursday 19th March
I woke around 5.30am and got up despite the house feeling decidedly chilly. My phone told me it was only 8 degrees outside. But I decided not to take my woolly hat out with me; I knew that by the time I had walked a kilometre or so I would feel warm enough. I did wear gloves, though.

I walked to Sheila's house, and we then did our usual walk along part of the Salt Lake trail.  There were fewer people out than normal, but the roads were fairly busy.  I had done 10,000 steps by the time I got home, according to my phone, so that was a good start to the day.

However when I arrived back, I felt as if I were starting a cold.  A couple of sneezes, and some coughing. Normally I would barely notice, but of course every cough is a worry at present.  It wasn't even particularly productive, but was possibly triggered by the change in temperature.  I'm not coughing most of the time, just once or twice when I move to a different room in the house.  I'm not particularly concerned. I don't have a fever, as far as I know, and it's only an occasional cough.

We've been wondering if the general social distancing and extra hand-washing that's encouraged this year will lead to fewer cases of ordinary infections and seasonal flu.  I suppose that won't be obvious for a while; but somehow I've caught a cold, albeit a mild one, despite the extra care.

And it's cold.  After a sunny start to the day, it rained mid-morning. The house was down to 15C by lunch-time.  Since our central heating isn't working, Richard turned on our electric heater, and put our living room air conditioner on to heat.  It takes the chill off the house.

Richard spent an hour at St Helena's church building this morning, recording a short video by the Chaplain, explaining what's happening.  I spent much of the morning - and afternoon - updating things on the church website, and the Facebook page.  I did then write a book review - of a book I finished a few days ago - but it's so tempting to sit and scroll through Facebook, finding out how family and friends are doing; and, of course, checking the news sites compulsively for updates...

On the last three Thursdays I went out mid-morning to the St Helena's Lent discussion group, but prior to that my Thursdays were usually very quiet. I rarely left the house after my early morning walk.  So it shouldn't have been a hardship to stay in today.  But there's a difference between choosing to stay at home, and feeling compelled to do so.  I didn't particularly want to go anywhere, so it makes no sense.

In the evening we both felt very tired. Still, we had a short but encouraging Facetime call with family in the UK.

We also discovered that Cyprus now has 67 confirmed cases of covid-19, including three on one of the military bases, plus 33 in the North (30 of whom are German tourists).  100 cases is a lot for a small island with a population of around 1.2 million.  Only one is critically ill.  None in Larnaka, so far, and most of the new cases were in contact with other cases, or arrived from elsewhere and had been self-isolating.

Tomorrow is the last day that any passenger flights can arrive in Cyprus; after that, nobody - even Cypriots - can come here for two weeks, other than a couple of specially chartered flights to pick up residents who were stranded after a cruise.

Friday 20th March
Usually on Fridays we do some shopping or 'house admin' - at least, that's the theory.  We didn't need anything from a supermarket so I decided to walk to the froutaria via the Post Office where we have a PO Box.  That gave me a little over four kilometres' worth of exercise, and some fresh air. It was still quite chilly but the sun was shining.

I collected some mail from our PO Box (mostly books I had ordered about three weeks ago, for the local book club I have joined, which - of course - might not meet for the next few months.

Although there was less traffic on the roads than normal for the time of day (I left the house about 7am) there was still construction work happening, on various buildings, and this, near the Post Office; I believe it's going to be an indoor mall of some kind eventually:

However, the town centre itself was almost deserted.  A lot of shops wouldn't be open at 7.30am anyway, but nothing at all seemed to be open today.

I saw very few people walking, until, almost at the municipal playground, I passed a man and - I assume - his son, who looked about seven or eight.  Unlike most other people I've passed in the streets in the last few days, they didn't move to the side of the pavement.  And just as I was about to go past, the boy started coughing.  Not into a tissue, or elbow, or even his hand, but into the air... and the man did nothing to try and stop him.

I'm assuming the  boy only had a cold, perhaps the one I've had for the last couple of days.  But even so, I was quite shocked that he was out on the streets with such a cough - which continued after I had passed - and that his father didn't quickly remind him to cough into his elbow, or a tissue.  I very much hope it was just a cold, since I had to keep walking along the street where they had been before I passed them!

I popped into the mini-market opposite the froutaria, and noted that there was still lots on the shelves, including toilet paper. I bought a couple of things, and then more at the fruitaria.  There weren't many other people there, but they had put red tape on the floor near the checkouts, a metre or so apart, and were telling people to queue behind the red lines. I dutifully did as I was told... and watched other shoppers ignore them completely. 

Later in the day, I wrote a rather overdue DVD review, and worked somewhat on my home education website, and wrote some emails.  Then I cooked some vegetables and we walked to our friends' house for our usual Friday shared evening meal.  Perhaps that will be forbidden in days to come, but for the meantime we're continuing with this.

In the evening the government announced that the period from 6am-10am will be reserved for over-60s and the vulnerable in supermarkets and pharmacies. I'm not quite 60 and not vulnerable, but it's a minor inconvenience; I can shop at other times. I don't know if this apples to the fruitaria anyway. 

We also learned that there are 8 more cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Cyprus, taking the total to 75, and one extra in the North, making 34.

Saturday 21st March
Another sunny-but-chilly morning; another walk with Sheila. We saw even fewer people than on Thursday, but we did meet a couple of dog-walkers with large dogs. The dogs seemed extremely pleased to see us, unusually so. Perhaps social isolation is difficult for them too.

After we've walked, we usually sit on our side garden swing for a while, and at this time of year I often start to feel a bit chilly around 8.00am.  Today I felt, suddenly, very cold shortly before that time.  It didn't feel much warmer in the house, and despite moving around and organising breakfast, I continued to feel cold, almost shivery.  As Richard did a few days ago.  I put my fan heater on, and had a very enjoyable half hour or so video chatting with my grandchildren, who had woken early. And their parents, of course.

I usually clean the house and change the sheets on Saturdays, but I was feeling so cold that we turned on the living room air conditioner to 'heat', and I used my little fan heater too.  I did more online admin,  caught up with various things, didn't do anything particularly constructive.  Then suddenly, around 5.00pm I realised I was warm enough and felt fine. So I cleaned the bathrooms, changed the sheets and pillowcases and duvet cover, and did a few other bits of housework. Not as much as usual - I kept getting exhausted - but at least I did something.

Meanwhile, Richard has been preparing and checking equipment and software to enable a very short live-streamed service from St Helena's tomorrow morning.

Another nine cases of Covid-19 in Cyprus, taking the total for the Republic to 84.  It sounds from that report as if there are three in critical condition now, although the Worldometers site only shows one critical or serious.

So the first week ends.  Numbers are not increasing exponentially, but there have been another eight or nine confirmed cases each day.  We hope this will decrease with the strict measures being taken; whether that will happen remains to be seen.

Tomorrow, Mothering Sunday in the UK, is also a national day of prayer about the virus. It's likely to be an international day of prayer, as it involves church leaders from several denominations and has been shared widely. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Cyprus Covid-19 shutdown, the first few days

Sunday 15th March 2020

We went to church in the morning. I had a feeling it might be the last time for a while.  St Helena's is small enough that it was able to hold a service. Perhaps thirty people were there. We had to use hand sanitiser before being given our service sheet and hymn book, but people were sitting together.  No physical contact, we were told, during the 'peace'.  No wine for communion, just wafers. And the servers would use extra sanitiser before distribution.

People were mostly fairly relaxed, none of them seeming too worried about the pandemic. Cyprus has 26 cases so far;  quite high in per-head terms (the population is about 1.2 million) but most are external, caught at the airport. But none, as far as we know, in Larnaka.  So far, anyway. Even so, the streets were quieter than usual, and the Municipal playground eerily quiet. Usually it's packed with lively, fast-moving children on a Sunday morning.

In the late afternoon the President gave a speech.  It's going to be far more difficult for anyone to get into Cyprus, as they will have to produce health certificates, and go into compulsory 14-day quarantine, at a government location. Only Cypriots, legal residents and essential businesspeople will be allowed in.  This will continue until at least April 30th.

All department stores, restaurants, cinemas etc must close tomorrow at 6pm, for at least two weeks, maybe longer.  Churches are encouraged to close their doors until at least April 10th. People are recommended to self-isolate, although going for walks or driving is still permitted, unlike in some parts of mainland Europe.

A lot of people in Cyprus (and the UK) have been asking about home education, either short-term or longer-term, so I decided to make the Kindle version of my book free for the next five days (Amazon won't allow any longer) and at the minimum possible price thereafter.

I got in touch with some friends who were due to stay in our guest flat for most of April, asking if they knew about the new regulations.  They had just been told that their flight was cancelled.  Perhaps they'll come later in the year; we've pencilled in some dates.

I sat at my computer for a lot of the afternoon, compulsively checking and re-checking news sites, and vegging out with Facebook.  As well as writing my previous blog post with a general update right before the start of the lock-down.

Monday 16th March

I went out to the froutaria and Achna Discount mini-market at 7.00am, wanting to make sure we had a little extra cat food, and one or two other items where we would soon be running low. I noted that there was plenty of toilet paper on the shelves in Achna Discount, although some of the other shelves looked a little less well-stocked than usual.  There aren't usually many people shopping at that time,  so there was no restriction on numbers.

Our van was due to have its clutch replaced so Richard drove it to the local garage at 8.30, only to be told that he should bring it back in two weeks' time.  The owner wasn't there.  It's not urgent; it's the van he uses when running PA for events, but there aren't going to be any events in the foreseeable future.

Richard works from home; he had some online meetings in the morning, and did some work as usual. I put links on Facebook and my home education website to encourage people to download the free edition of my book, and wrote some email. And checked the news sites compulsively...

I was sent an email from the St Helena's administrator, letting me know that the church would be closing Sunday services and all other events for the time being, in line with the Orthodox Church recommendations.  She asked me to update the church website, which I have been maintaining for many years.

I tried to keep life as normal as possible. I did some laundry, and pottered in the kitchen.  In the afternoon some friends who live in Limassol called in for coffee, after dropping a relative at the airport. It's probably one of the last flights out of Cyprus for a while.  They stayed until the flight had taken off, just in case there was a problem. It was nice to catch up with friends whom we hadn't seen for a while, but very odd not to greet them with hugs, and to sit on opposite sides of the room as we chatted.  Social distancing, it's called.

I don't usually go out much on a Monday but somehow we both felt slight cabin fever by the evening, so after we had eaten we went out for a walk, down to the sea-front.  It was quite shocking to see the place so quiet, with hardly anyone out and about.  Restaurants were not just closed, they had tables and chairs stacked away.

Back home, I checked the news sites again.  There are 46 cases of covid-19 in Cyprus now.

We usually watch a DVD on Monday nights, but neither of us really felt like doing anything so frivolous.  I started to feel as if we were stuck in a dystopian novel... not yet affected ourselves, but waiting for something to happen...

Tuesday 17th March

I woke up around 6am to very gentle rain, but decided to go out for my usual walk with my friend Sheila.  By the time we met, about half-way between our house and hers, it was raining a little more. We both had umbrellas, but didn't want to risk slipping on the Salt Lake trail.  So we walked down to the sea-front, and along.  The rain became heavier, so we headed back, then sat outside in our side garden, under the roof, and watched the rain pouring down...

Umbrellas, we realised as we were walking, are excellent tools for 'social distancing'.

Around 8am the rain stopped, so Sheila walked home and I went in to squeeze oranges and prepare our breakfasts, then made some bread and some cashew milk. Normality as far as possible.  At 10.30 or so Sheila and her three daughters - aged 14, 11 and 9 - came over to hang out. We do so much with their family that we decided last week that there was no point distancing ourselves from them.  Unless, of course, one of us develops the virus.

The girls played with lego for a while, and we chatted, then we played a few games.  At first they couldn't agree on anything - perhaps they have been playing too many games at home in the past few days, with all outside activities cancelled.  But eventually we played some Boggle and Ligretto, two favourites that can be played by almost any number.

In the afternoon, I checked the news sites compulsively, and wrote some more emails.  I also checked to see whether my book was being downloaded in its free version, and was pleased to see that there were 49 downloads yesterday, and 11 (so far) today.  It even says it's number one in the free Kindle editions of books about parent participation in education.  I could, should I so desire, call it a 'best seller':

Mid-afternoon we walked to a meeting with two of the St Helena's ministers, to discuss communication with the congregation. In addition to the church website, and we had been thinking for a while about having a Facebook page. It seemed like a good time to start one.  So when we got home, I did so.

Three more cases of covid-19 in the Republic of Cyprus, taking the total to 49 now (plus about six or seven in the North).

Wednesday 18th March

I went out to the froutaria first thing, by a roundabout route that gave me a couple of kilometres of walking before I got there. We didn't need much, so I didn't take my trolley. It was quite chilly: only 7 degrees at 6.30am.  I wore my knitted hat for the first time in several weeks.

There was only one other customer in the shop at 6.30am, but one of the women at the tills told me that they have to limit the number of customers in the shop when it gets busy later in the day.  She was feeling concerned, wondering if the staff ought to be wearing masks, even though they're not recommended as protection against the virus.  But people go through the checkout lines all day, some of them coughing or sneezing.  There are still no confirmed cases of covid-19 in Larnaka, but that could change any day.

The government have announced that there will be no passenger flights at all permitted to land from March 21st (Saturday) for two weeks.  Cargo flights will still be arriving, and there may be empty planes arriving to remove any remaining tourists who need to return to their home countries.

And on an unrelated note: as it's been warmer recently (around 18-21 degrees in the daytime) our central heating has not come on at all for about three weeks.  Last night when the temperature dropped Richard went to see why it wasn't coming on, and it appears to be not working at all.  So today the house has felt quite chilly.

Since it should warm up again by the end of the week, and it's not VERY cold - around 15-16 degrees - we're probably not going to call in the repairman yet again.  We need a full service of our heating before next winter, so will try to remember to book it in about October, when - we hope - this pandemic will have ended, or at least have reduced, and workmen will be out and about again.

As well as checking news sites compulsively, I have updated my Cyprus-life site with a brief note about the current situation, and worked a little more on the St Helena's site and page.  The new reality is taking hold, but hasn't dramatically affected us yet.  Life goes on. Laundry and shopping and cooking still happen, and since we're both usually at home most of the time, things aren't so different for us. At least, not yet.

I was going to keep updating this until a week had passed, but this is long enough already.  So, just in case anyone reading this is interested in downloading my book about home education while it's still free for the Kindle, here's the link on the UK site:  If your Kindle is linked to another country's site, you should be able to find it there using the same product code.