Quarantine Diaries – Day 2: Settling in (or not)

by Catherine

We arrived at Long Beach in three prison-issue buses and a police escourt. I laughed at the obvious symbolism, but after closing the bedroom door, realised that although I’m no stranger to rejection, physical confinement evokes feelings of helplessness. I’ve been thinking about other forms of incarceration-those many slaveries into which we’re born and don’t question: the cultural, the social, the political. Plenty of fodder for the notebook, relevant for our times, and for Mauritius.

The Rock, free of COVID since May, is nipping in the bud cases detected from repatriations. In this 450-room resort, we boast an in-house medical team to manage regular testing and take temperatures twice daily. Over the top? The ubiquitous “they” are frightening the daylights out of islanders. I suppress a chuckle each time I reach out for my food and the staff member thinks I’m too close. Lurks a false sense of power, akin, perhaps, to that experienced by wild animals in zoos.

Yesterday’s enthusiasm was short-lived. Here is my first list of moans: we have no plates, no drinking glasses, no salt and no coffee, and we receive two tots of milk per day, for tea. And I’m still blanketless, although the weather isn’t any warmer. By the time the brown bag reaches my room, the food is cold. I’m sharing meals with my only wingless visitor (pictured), who may become a friend. He provides the opportunity to shed a few of my eleven extra lockdown kilos. And the lovely 007 gave me her TRX. So, in the absence of prying eyes, I am swinging my rolls to boost lost muscle tone.

Some shops were delivering “basic” goodies to quarantined people. I got the lecture from the front office: no alcohol and cigarettes – no skin off my nose, I (unwisely) do neither. But the government is shutting down this delivery service on Thursday, so I must order today. I’m not impressed, because hotel kitchens overflow with milk, salt and coffee. Perhaps it’s not good for a hotel that charges Rs122 000 a week in normal times, to lose its reputation over quarantine services? I mean, no coffee?

As they say in Afrikaans, môre is net nog ‘n dag.

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