No, it is NOT that time of the year again. Usually our random updates appear, conveniently and somehow entirely coincidentally, around the end of the year, or the beginning of the new one. But because I had really nothing to say, then, I never got around writing our newsletter. Now I still don’t have anything to say, of course. But I also have nothing else to do. And since you have, no doubt, been bombarded already with Corona emails, I thought one more doesn’t hurt.
Firstly, I hope all of you are in good health, not imminently threatened by or suffering from Covid-19 (where have the times gone that people invented really ugly names for illnesses, like the pest, or more prosaically, the Black Death?). And I also hope you manage to get through the various measures to combat the pandemic, in whichever stage your country is at the moment. For us, you will not be surprised, all of this is still quite bearable; after all we have next to zero responsibilities, no jobs at stake, no critical businesses that may collapse – the occasional cooking workshops do not really fall in that category – and no school-age children at home. What is more, this has been one of the very few years we hadn’t planned any long trips: if the virus would have raised its ugly head a year ago, we would have been somewhere deep inside Peru. We are actually quite happy to have to sit this out in The Netherlands, with comparatively mild lockdown measures and no need for hoarding: our wine cellar is well stocked at any one time, and we’ll easily survive a few years if necessary.
Of course the Corona crisis does affect us, too. I hear you saying: No more golf. And indeed, all sports facilities, including golf courses, are closed in The Netherlands, which is somewhat disingenuous, because in our case, with our humble handicaps, golf is not really a sport, but just recreation. But then somebody explained to me, if golf would be allowed, in no time there is the accusation that the elite is looking after themselves again, whilst the commoners are suffering indoors. Makes sense. No more travel. We had a short trip booked to Surinam – initially to Cape Verde, but too many of you thought that that was more a kind of beach resort, not suitable for our type of travel, so we changed to Surinam. We listened to you, but to no avail, Surinam closed its borders even before the Dutch government suggested we don’t travel anymore. Other minor inconveniences are no more concerts, no more football on TV – how on earth are we going to fill the late Saturday night, without Match of the Day? -, no more socializing
Having entertained ourselves for years already, we have been developing new hobbies, and reviving old ones. Sofia has taken up a bit of writing again, and is taking painting more seriously, too. I have gotten myself a few more tools, and keep myself entertained with what I call functional woodwork, which could be an addition to the house, or some other foolish project that keeps me occupied. We have taken to walking, every week a long walk somewhere in The Netherlands, pictures of which then feed Sofia’s social media accounts. And we spend more time in the kitchen, and more time in the garden – Sofia working the plants, and I enjoying the sunshine.
Anything new since our last update, then? Well yes, in the world as we knew it before, we did travel to Argentina, Chile and Peru, spent almost four months in total in South America, did lots of family business, lots of great food and Pisco Sours, lots of archaeological sites more commonly referred to as ruins (except that this upsets niece Julia, who is – almost – an archaeologist), lots of spectacular mountain scenery interspersed with desert, and lots of colonial cities, pyramids, geoglyphs, and what have you. We had a fabulous time. But you already read all about that, of course. In that same world we went to Azerbaijan and Georgia late last year, surreal Azerbaijan and comfortable Georgia – but with too little time to explore all we wanted to see. Too little time? We? Hmmm, it is like this: Sofia has been a member of the local Kiwanis club, a kind of service club organisation, for a few years now, and because she did the local treasury of the club, she was asked to join the national board as a treasurer, as well. Which is very nice, of course, and she does like it a lot – a little more responsibility, a lot more social interaction, she is made for that. Except that two, three months travelling does not really sit comfortably with the fact that she is now a member of the national board, at least not in the very near future. But then there is Corona, and there is no travel anyhow, for that same foreseeable future. Georgia 2.0 will have to wait, and everything falls into place neatly again.
Another novelty, we have a new car. A BMW. Don’t worry, it is a rather humble model, but still, it is a BMW, a step up from the Japanese and Korean cars we have been driving for the past 20 years or so. A bit more comfort, a bit more power. We got it six weeks ago, just a week before the Dutch maximum speed was reduced to 100 km/hour everywhere. Right! Oh, and it is a plug-in hybrid. Just now the oil price – and so the cost of fuel at the pump – has collapsed. But hé, we are green, and we charge the car directly from the roof, so to speak (where our solar panels, another recent addition, are happily benefitting from global warming). Biggest concern is actually that the BMW is so humble, that it is in fact smaller than our previous car, which may come as a challenge once we travel again, with golfclubs to, and with lots of boxes of wine from France or Germany. Worst case scenario is that Sofia may have to take the train back. But again, that first requires opening of the borders, then of golf courses across Europe, and of the wineries. Until then, we keep on entertaining ourselves at home, mostly. And if we really have nothing else to do, we send you another letter!!
So that is as far as the world of Bruno & Sofia is concerned. A little less predictable as in the past, perhaps, but that is because we have lost control over life outside our immediate surroundings. Stay well, stay safe, and who knows, in the not too distant future we can meet up again.
Bruno & Sofia
NB For those unfamiliar with this letter, those new to our circle of friends: this rather irregular, somewhat annual letter started years ago, in our expatriate days, when we still had something new to report… we stubbornly continue the habit even though we have long settled in our Dutch home.