Build diary 16 – The Corona diaries
A couple of weeks ago, life was going on as usual in Canggu – open cafes full of foreigners, markets busy and thriving – people interacting in a “corona soup”. Blissful ignorance everywhere. The government hadn’t released much information on corona.
Quite a lot has changed in a mere 2 weeks, the government has closed down schools, government offices and facilities. Many restaurants and cafes have closed too. Many of our friends who own restaurants have made this heart-breaking choice to close their businesses. Of course, this is necessary for public health. However, on an island where there is no government-funded welfare system or unemployment benefits, this can leave many workers without any income. No work = no money. Some employers are hoping to continue paying salaries to their employees, but this is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term.
At the same time, many local warungs and some cafes remain open, and there are still people chatting and socialising. While there are more people using masks in daily life, clearly we need people to remain at home as much as possible. The government has implemented some new regulations to encourage people to stay home, but not all people are following them e..g at the Melasti ceremony just before Nyepi, many 100s of people gathered together to pray. The government could do an island-wide lockdown (which it does very successfully every year for Nyepi) but this would leave many people destitute, so it’s an incredibly challenging situation.
The streets are certainly emptier. We are self-isolating. We very rarely leave the house, except for a stocking up on supplies at the supermarket. Previously, we could take a very rare trip to an empty beach (no human contact to the way to or from, or even at the beach), but the beaches have now been closed. We disinfect or wash everything that enters the house from outside, food goods, clothes, and of course us!
My family in Argentina has been told by their government that due to corona, clothes that have been used outside need to be removed and washed too. Anytime one of us re-enters the house, they decontaminate with a thorough shower and all their clothes are removed and washed.
Although I can’t do any shoots at the moment (ah wah!), I had hoped to be more productive during this isolation period. Unfortunately, with 2 munchkins in my life, it’s not really possible! These 2 need lots and lots of attention. I have even more respect for their teachers now than I did before! It’s hard work! I’ve tried to incorporate them in some of my new projects, such as making jamu and creating a new herb garden.
During this upheaval, our build has continued and this time we’re building up! The supporting columns are being built so that we can make the second floor. Although we decided to build 3 buildings, we can’t do much work on the smallest of the 3 (my photography studio – yay!) as it will block access to the site. So, for the moment, we’re focussing on building the main (residential) building and the office space.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
I got back from a trip to Argentina a few months ago. I usually rent an Airbnb when I bring my husband and 2 kids – I don’t want the guilt of inflicting our family hurricane on anyone! However, this time I went alone and stayed in my mum’s apartment.
My mum has been a painter, fashion designer, artist, designer. I’ve always known her to be creative. Combined with an architect father, it’s no surprise that my sister and I have followed an artistic path. I hadn’t lived with my mum in her home since I was a teenager. It was a pleasure to explore her home and the art that she has curated.
I love this photo from a few years ago of my mum, daughter and I walking along the beach in Sydney.
Bali is unpredictable
Life in Bali is certainly unpredictable, not just during this corona pandemic. You’ve just got to roll with it or the frustration will overwhelm you. Not very long ago, the local government suddenly dug up all the gutters in our street in order to widen the road. It’s great to improve the infrastructure. But when digging up the gutter means blocking all vehicle access, it’d be equally great to have even a few hours of advance warning!
A couple of months ago we discovered that the name of the deceased landowner on one of the many documents we submitted was spelled incorrectly on the government form so we had to go through the hassle of getting it re-issued. Annoyingly, we have to do the same thing again, as the soil sample report we submitted is missing one stamp! Damn!
But that wasn’t all. Our land has neighbours on 2 sides (who have already given their approval for our build), and narrow water drainage gutters on the other 2. Turns out we need a licence for each of those drainage ditches. Up until 2019, it was a relatively simple process to go to the local government office and get the required licence.
But in 2020, the regulations have changed. Now the local government says only the provisional government can issue the licence. The provisional government says only the local government office can do it. Neither believes they have the authority, so we’re unable to get the licences, which means our building application is incomplete. Even Kafka couldn’t have planned this better!
Our consultant says that many people are in the same boat, so it’s a matter of waiting until the different layers of government reach a consensus. And I thought building in the time of corona was hard enough!