Outlasting Covid-19: a Jordan journal-13

Week 6 of Jordan lockdown: Visiting Fears…

Signs of the times while window shopping on Rainbow Street

As with many of our friends, we’ve not talked much about our fears during the pandemic. But the other night, we shared these with each other.


The spur to the exchange was considering whether to book a flight out of Jordan to Portugal, where we have residency. Suddenly, we confronted what it would feel like to emerge from our bubble here in Amman, where the virus has apparently been contained, and where we have supportive friends and all the resources we need.

There are few places with better stats: an average of fewer than 3 new cases per day; no new deaths for weeks; under 100 active cases, fewer than 40% of the highest active figure; and all that with 2500 to 3000 tests performed per day.

Not so bad, but been better

So what fears then?

Flights – Occasionally in the souqs, we’ve been in a crowd for brief periods, but most often we’re separated from people in shops. The more we pictured the reality of a flight, the more we found ourselves disturbed by the idea of being herded through three airports, stuck in several planes for hours with people breathing down our necks, and all the rest of imperfect social distancing. Or do the airlines have some unknown system for protection?

Life in Europe – Portugal has done OK in controlling the virus but not nearly as well as Jordan. And then the arc of infection is likely to recur based on all the evidence so far, limiting activity and adventure even more than here. What would we do, visit Spain or Italy? And we are likely to find ourselves in quarantine for some weeks after we arrive (as Americans not Jordanians). Nor do we have any idea where we would live. We’re likely to find ourselves in a hotel at first, with lots of incidental interaction. Then we would need to wander around Lisbon, taking much more care than in Jordan, in order to find a more permanent place as well as arrange again for shopping and other resources in this tough time.

Catching the virus – All this made us confront more primal fears of catching the virus, where our emotions swing from “we’d probably be OK” to knowing that our age makes us susceptible to the virus’ damage and complications. To add to the distress, we’ve just learned about the impact of the virus among our relatives, as our 98 year old aunt overcame covid-19, but in weakened state; as another cousin on the front lines of care has contracted it, as well as two other second cousins. These familial infections made the virus feel much closer.

Adding all this to a base level of stress and anxiety, we found ourselves way off balance suddenly. Like most, we normally try to put on a brave face. But we do recognize how so many things wear away our strength: dealing with the limitations of lockdowns, the need to keep apart from people, the inability to visit our families, financial issues, plus the lack of adventure as nomads, and more. You can tell because big decisions seem tougher to resolve, while plans and schedules slip a bit. We snap at each other more. Sleep can be a challenge at times.


We now have the pleasures of spring to relieve the stress

After being wrung out somewhat by the possibility of adding flying to our anxieties, we felt that it was just as well that we aren’t likely to take any flight till late May. Despite finding many scheduled flights on online booking sites, we know that so far Jordan has banned air traffic until the end of Ramadan. And prices look to fall sharply toward the beginning of June. Realistically, and appreciatively, we now have a month to deal with – and settle – our fears about a move.

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