France: Virus Update

The Mediterranean

“The computer does not know we have no more vaccine.”

Huh? This was the response I received when I showed up for my vaccination appointment last week. I received not one, but two emails reminding me of the appointment. Granted, several days prior I received a phone call advising me that my appointment had been canceled because they ran out of vaccine. Since I later received the emails, I wrongly assumed that a new vaccine shipment had arrived. 

That response was baffling. They could not delete those emails? Send ones notifying of cancelation?

Menton on a wintry day

I am no longer enamored of France, at least not on vaccine roll outs. It’s a mess. Prior to my fiasco, Bob’s appointment was canceled by phone, but he received no emails. Since I received the two emails, I figured all was back on track. No way. What lies ahead? Who knows? France, at least in our area, has no more vaccine. Apparently the shortages are prevalent throughout the EU which screwed up on ordering. France, however, lags behind other European countries.

It is aggravating, especially since I have good news from family and friends in the US and the UK – most have been vaccinated. 

BREAKING NEWS: We got lucky and received the first vaccination a few days ago. My apologies to France. It is tough everywhere.

So, we wait. Life goes on with fear of the dreaded virus. France is not under lockdown, although a 6 p.m. curfew has been enforced for weeks. If the UK variant now circulating in the country surges out of control, another lockdown, number three, is likely.

Restaurants and bars, as well as theaters, have been closed since the end of October – with no opening in sight. It’s been a good year for snow in the Alps, but French ski resorts remain closed. 

Seaside socializing and eating

Masks are de rigueur. Social distancing – yes and no. It was impossible on a recent sunny Sunday in nearby Menton. Crowds of happy folk enjoyed good food and socializing seaside. It seemed like a celebration. “It’s wonderful to see all these people. It’s like being let out of prison,” remarked a friend. 

Noses and mouths were covered with masks when not eating – but eating is what this is all about.

Restos sur le pouce” (restaurants on the go) is sponsored by the city of Menton which offers restaurants the opportunity to serve take-out food at stands set up along the shore. The stands are Christmas market type chalets. Participating restaurants, fifteen serving a variety of cuisines, pay a small fee to use the chalets. Proceeds benefit restaurants in the nearby Roya Valley which were devastated by Storm Alex, an extratropical cyclone, last October. Extensive flooding destroyed homes and swept away roads, leaving at least 12 dead.

It was a festive ambience that sunny Sunday, especially relished since nothing like it had happened in too many months. We met our friend Thomas and sat along a wall adjacent to the Mediterranean savoring our food, sun and camaraderie. We all had tasty Indian specials.

Restos sur le pouce is scheduled to continue throughout February. If real restaurants are still closed, we hope it will be extended.

Although we have not had much sun recently, it is not that cold. Daytime temperatures are usually in the mid teens (Celsius), mid 50s (Fahrenheit). Bob and I have been back to the delightful Restos many times during the week. No crowds, but delicious food. We have tried oysters on the half shell, moules frites, galettes, burgers, eggplant parmigiana. We will return. There are more goodies to try: Russian, Moroccan, Armenian. Last time Bob befriended a hungry seagull. The bird was a master at catching french fries in mid air.

Bob and Thomas

Impeachment: The house managers were outstanding. I was so impressed with, and proud of, their diligent work and masterful presentations. They proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump incited the insurrection and did nothing to stop it. Even House minority leader Mitch McConnell agreed, ending the trial with a powerful condemnation of the former president in a politically calculated speech. Sadly only seven Republicans showed courage. It’s all about politics. Trump still controls the GOP. Forty-three senators fear his wrath, losing their jobs – to them more important than the country. It’s disgraceful, tragic. What does this say to the rest of the world about the United States, long considered the beacon of democracy? How can the majority of Republican leaders continue to support this corrupt and immoral leader who tried to stamp out democracy?

January 6 was a black day for the nation. This cannot be America. This cannot happen again.

Bagan, Myanmar

Myanmar: Bob and I visited this fascinating country in 2014.  After almost 50 years under a repressive and abusive military regime, it was at last on the path to democracy. In 2015 Aung San Suu Kyi was elected, sharing power as state councilor (prime minister) with the military. Sadly she failed to stand up to their brutal treatment of the country’s Muslim minority, the Rohingya, which has been labeled genocide. Although she won a decisive victory in the November 2020 election, just weeks ago the military staged a coup.  She is under house arrest. Massive pro democracy demonstrations are underway throughout the country, but the military is cracking down even harder. It is tragic and very sad. I think about all the kind and loving people we met, people who were working hard to make a life in the country’s budding tourist industry.  Can they overcome? 

For details of our experiences in Myanmar, do a search on “Myanmar” column upper right.

Following are some random photos taken on walks in the area and from our balcony.

In early January, snow covered the tops of the Maritime Alps seen from our balcony.
Massive cliffs above Menton on the border with Italy,
Belated Valentines greetings. Bob is recovering from an injured shoulder, hence the sling.

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