A New Perspective on Corona virus, the weather and Social Distancing

A New Perspective on Corona virus, the weather and Social Distancing

It wasn’t before bodies started dropping at an increased rate, people all around the world finally realized how serious the Corona virus pandemic was. We tend not to take things seriously unless it hits directly home. And when it does, we feel we have been sucker-punched for reasons unknown.

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Catastrophes on this scale tend to teach humanity some invaluable lessons. Japan has become the birthplace of master architects, designing earthquake-proof, durable buildings that bend before break, due to the devastating effects of suffering from years of earth-shaking experience over the centuries. Fierce fires have helped us invent fire extinguishers, foam and strategies to contain them before spreading wildly. Floods likewise. What has the Corona virus taught us, then? Well, it taught a whole generation the importance of personal hygiene and how to wash hands!

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Sadly, it has also shown us (those who can see) that our education systems fail big time. With extensive spoon-feeding over decades, young minds (but not limited to) never get the chance to develop creative thinking skills, questioning skills or basic reasoning. Here’s a tiny example of what millions of people shared on their social media, spreading false info without bothering to take a minute to think:

“Corona virus threat will be over by summer as it cannot survive over 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit).”

Sounds reasonable, right? As we’ve been taught to assume viruses don’t like it hot!

But… the average body temperature of a person is around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit)! Which means it should die out as soon as it makes it’s way into our bodies.

Or…

The fact that Southern hemisphere countries are going through summer while northerners experience winter. As you can see, basic geographical knowledge does not help unless it’s paired with some kind of reasoning.

I am not even going to mention toilet paper hoarders that stockpile to last them decades, the self-quarantine gatherings with 15 or more friends coming from all over the city or some people having the habit of licking their fingertips when they count money, turn pages of a book etc… we seem like we understand… or that we care… but actually, we are all wearing masks, and none of them are for the right reasons.

Let’s focus on the weather a bit more:

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The infection rate in warmer countries are skyrocketing (see Italy, Spain, France and Turkey) while cooler countries are more consistent with the infection rate. There are several reasons for this distinction:

People born in warmer countries have always:

  • Spent a huge proportion of their times outdoors due to the nice weather all year round.
  • Had more outdoor hobbies like swimming etc..
  • Showed their love of people by firm hugs, touches and kisses… (personal space does not exist in some warmer cultures)…
  • Enjoyed large group gatherings…
  • Taken life less seriously…

Now that they have to socially distance themselves from what they had been doing all their lives, they are having difficulty of changing their habits… so, they tend to sneak out and have a day off of their briefest cabin fever experience.

Social distancing can be great for a while (both for us and the world itself) if we stop whining.

We tend to present ourselves to others as what we are not, we lie, hide the truth, get jealous of people without showing them or share useless small talk. Perhaps, it’s time to turn to our inner selves and take a break, focusing on our true needs. This is an opportunity to improve ourselves, which we really didn’t have time before because of extensive socializing.

On the other side of the coin, the pollution over Wuhan, China has dispersed since people stopped going out… the fish in the canals of Venice, Italy have resurfaced again (this needs confirmation)… The world’s taking a break from us. Perhaps, we are the disease and the Earth is just trying to recover.

Valencia diaries VIII – A Tribute to its people (Part I)

This blog entry is dedicated to the wonderful people I met during my stay in one of the liveliest cities of the world. So, if you’re looking for an entertaining piece of writing, you may be in the wrong place (unless you’re in it ). Read this at your own risk as it’s highly personal and there will be no refund for your wasted time.
I hereby thank the people below who have touched my heart and will reside there for the rest of my life. ..There’s no particular order in the names below. How could there be? There’s no order in my life:

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Roberto (Robin): The joyful owner of the Zakate Café on Blasco Ibaňez Street. He is the living proof that you do not need common language to communicate or even chat.

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Cafe con leche

Vanessa : The merry, fire-haired baker of our favourite coffee shop in Benimaclet. The way she says “Hola!” can make anyone buy an extra bocadillo or two. Serving ten people in limited coffee breaks in relaxed Valencia is not everyone’s cup of tea but she can surprise you by teleporting herself to your table with the coffee you’ve been thinking of but haven’t articulated yet.

Thomas: The friendly German who overruns  (Literally). If you see someone running anywhere in the city and you shout his name, the chances are very high that it’s him. His hospitality matches his atlethic skills making him a unique asset to the city.

Alex: Along with Thomas, he may very well be the next German prodigy in athletics in the next Olympic games representing his country in all events. Apart from that, he is a great guide of nightlife and has mastered the Valencian way of drinking beer from the jug while explaining the physics of the whole process.

Carol: An angel who is so kindhearted that makes me wonder if she fell from heaven or just glided down to help people in need, volunteering in everything and not limiting herself only to Valencia. I met her when I had lost my faith in humanity but she literally hugged me back to my senses. Thank you!

Ana: I do not really know her but she was the one who showed me that the world is indeed tiny as she revealed herself to be the best buddy of our course’s secretary. She was the first person I met by coincidence (on my second day) and we already had a common acquaintance and loads to talk about.

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Carol’s friends at the beach picnic: I’m ashamed to admit that I do not remember their names but that night they made me feel like one of them. The language barrier turned into dust as we communicated about almost anything from politics to how coffee tasted more delicious if a bean had been consumed and outed by a monkey in Spanglish, Italian and Google translate.

Diego: Pinar’s meet up Diego proved to be a true host even after us arriving 15 minutes late to meet him. Although he had dinner plans with his buddies, he tried to extend our time beyond its limits and introduced us to Ruzafa along with a brief introduction to Spanish politics.

Rafa: A true local of the Mercat central area with a vast knowledge of the city amongst other things. We felt like we had known each other for a very long time. He was full of joy which turned out to be highly contagious.

Victor: Imagine a street artist, a guitarist so talented that he can play local English songs with perfect pronunciation although not being able to speak a single word of English. It was a pity that he was like Cindrella and after 22:30, his glamour had to wear off. The laws prohibited him from carrying on performing his songs after that time but there were no regulations about drunken, shouting tourists stealing the tranquility of the night.

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Yummy

Cavus: When an expat misses home, he looks for a fellow countryman. Well, that had never been the case for me….until that time when we heard Cavus’s (Owner of the kebab restaurant Sofra) voice telling us to sit down and drink Turkish tea. It was so nice to experience Turkish hospitality once more as he offered us the restaurant’s most breezy table (evert time with complimentary tea). We witnessed a life changing event happening in our country together and sat for hours in front of the satellite TV in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Well,  next part will be about the rest of the people I met. …soon. …

P.S : You may have noticed that most pictures are missing people  (the main theme) but that’s for the readers to find out and experience the people  by visiting the places.

Valencia diaries VII – The merry people of the city

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What makes a city, a city? Although the unfolding, lengthy beach at the foot of the city helps, it’s not that. The answer is simply its people; the ones living in it and livening it up and giving it a soul.

Imagine a city where people greet their closest friends and strangers they’ve never met in the same fashion; with smiling faces and firm hugs. You can almost touch the sincerity in the air when you hear the musical word “Hola!” exchanged between complete strangers. Try saying it with a sulking face and you’ll discover that you can never do it. The face muscles won’t allow it. Not in Valencia anyway. English is spoken very little to none. Connecting to people with zero aid from language, befriending them with pure emotions, is indeed priceless. The term “language barrier” never exists there. Perhaps, this is because the city houses a mix of cultures; it’s a tiny mosaic from a world map of diverse nations.

On one of my upcoming blog entries, I will describe every single person that has made a positive impact on my life there, not because I don’t want to forget them (which will never happen) but because I want the whole world ( or the people who read my blog) to meet them. (The idea sounds boring for people who don’t know me or them but you can always choose not to read one blog entry) 😉

Valencia diaries VI -The night is young, so are the clubbers

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Valencia is a lively city, oozing with people whatever the time might be. In summer, the sun works overtime with its intense heat and light almost until 10 pm, so sons and daughters of the night start showing their faces after 11 pm when the nightlife truly begins. There’s another reason for that; the late dinner times the Spaniards are accustomed to. Most dinners start at 10 and go on until midnight and it’s easier to drink on a full stomach.

The area near the cathedral is one of the popular places, full of pubs and discos. The closing hours differ so more experienced pub goers, hop from one pub to another using their time in the most convenient way.
My first experience was with a bunch of friendly locals. Carol, my lovely couchsurfing contact took us to dinner, to a local Italian restaurant and we had a decent dinner for a very good price. We were ready for the rest of the night and we went to an Irish pub (The Finnegan’s) to meet our German contacts. A little note: Not many people speak English in an Irish pub but still most of the names of drinks are universal! Pointing to bottles or beer taps also works if you can’t remember essential words like “cerveza”. Keep in mind that a caňa is a small beer, tanque is bigger and pinta is a pint. Whatever the size is they all have reasonable prices. There are a lot of gin drinkers in Valencia and no matter what you order, drinks are often accompanied by peanuts or olives.

Next, our new German friends Alex and Thomas took us to a local bar where we got to know about the Valencian way of drinking beer of which we were told took many years to master.

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The beer resident jug should finish in one go and the secret is to keep your throat open at all times and let the beer flow down. If your mouth gets full, take a break because we don’t want to drown in the process. In such cases, spitting out always helps.

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As the jug went from one hand to another and the beer found its place either inside our stomachs or the ground, it was time to change places.

The next destination was a disco and that’s where we felt like grandfathers and grandmothers, being at least 10 years older than any other person there. Valencia is indeed full of youngsters.

To be continued. …

Valencia diaries IV – First impressions

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That's not a popcorn earring on my ear

Valencia is a floral city and it seems to be the nature is winning the war against concrete in this city. Flowers bloom, plants and trees that are scattered everywhere brings pleasant aromas as well as the needed shade in a burning city. Massive, ancient trees stand like city guards, waving away the heat.

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Let nature out

The people are true mediterraneans; they are extra friendly and will do everything they can to help a confused tourist although the language barrier is a serious issue. But when hearts are synced, communication finds its way; smiling is universal.

Food is pretty cheap in the city compared to other European cities. For 2 or 3 Euros you can have a sandwich and good coffee almost anywhere. 2 melons cost 1 euro for God’s sake.

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And of course gastronomy. Everything is delicious in the city of great paella. My advice is that eat nothing but lettuce for a week prior to coming here or else you’ll be a few pounds heavier when you get back.

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Burnt paella? No. It's just black rice

Valencia diaries III –

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I have never been a true football fan but I’ve always admired stylish edifices no matter what purpose they serve as they give a city, a lively spirit like the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, home of Valencia FC.  Enough of football talk.

My day started in flaming Ankara, continued on planes and airports and finally ended in breezy Valencia. Although the city, lies in the south by the seaside, it didn’t feel disturbingly hot thanks to the trees sheltering the streets from the blazing sun. Ok, now I feel this is becoming rather like small talk. First talking about football and now the weather!

So, let me skip to the interesting bits. What’s the city and it’s people like?

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The airport is no bigger than a sizely village square with only a couple of parked planes, which is actually fine because I hate wasting time getting out of the airport. However, the problem is that nobody at the airport seemed to speak English. Not the passport police, not the customs officer who wanted me to explain a bag of medication in my luggage ( like flu medication and vitamin pills…and many more that I had packed as I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find medication in case I got sick ) or the friendly taxi driver who took me to the city centre. It wasn’t much different in the city either. Only a handful of people spoke English. However, all the people I encountered  were friendly and eager to help. It motivated me to learn some basic Spanish. Tomorrow, I’ll try that.

Valencia Diaries I – Born a nomad…

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“This is not Valencia….literally”

It might seem odd to start a travel journal back in your hometown, but doesn’t the actual journey start in your mind before you physically move your body to the destination? The excitement you feel, the preparation/planning process, the extensive reading about the secrets of the city and dreaming – that’s when the real journey begins…

 In 8 days, I will be travelling to the land of paella and oranges – Valencia, Spain with a colleague to do an intensive CELTA course for a month. Going there a week prior to the course will allow me to discover the city and learn to live like a local – the best part. I’ll post my experience and findings here but before that….let me tell you something.

I’m a nomad… I’ve always been one. My mother used to tell me stories about me, in my infancy, about the times I hadn’t existed (While I was still in her belly). She used to say that I had kicked a lot as if I had been trying to move, change my place in the tiny belly-pod. Travelling; the desire to change places was in my blood. And once again, my blood began to boil…can’t wait!