It’s Friday in Zurich, and not far from the line to use the instant photo booth on Geroldstrasse, another line — this one for a vaccine in front of Café Medici in Zürich West — is booming. There are so many improbable things in this scene that I had to stop to understand it all.
First because, confess, you never imagined that anything could bomb in zurich.
Second, a Friday night isn’t where you think you’d find a Covid-19 vaccination line. Even more full of young people looking like clubbers.
It has the strange presence of the instant photo booth in the neighborhood, as a resurrected meeting place, where teenagers want to take a “selfie”, like in the old days. Oh, and there’s also the fact that I’ve been out of Brazil after… Well, it was exactly 20 months without leaving our Brazil, a hiatus I hadn’t experienced since the late 1980s!
The reasons for this you know well.
But the fact is that, let’s say, a window of opportunity has emerged. And I didn’t even think twice about enjoying it.
As The Economist put it so well in a recent article on restrictions on international travel in this post-Covid era, for travelers a less open world means less freedom to come and go. As the magazine says, “this loss is even more irritating because the rules (for traveling) don’t make any sense.”
When I boarded for Switzerland last week, all I had to present on boarding was proof of two doses of vaccine. But then, just when I was there, the rules changed.
Among other things, since Monday (13), visitors are required to have a health certificate, like a Covid passport, and tourists will still have to be continually tested during their stay—tests that are, from October, on the traveler’s expense.
Or at least I think that’s it. The rules are detailed and at the same time confusing, a reflection not only of the rigor of Swiss protocols, but of a still fragile global understanding of what can and cannot, what is safe and what is not, what we know and we ignore about the pandemic.
It remains for us, with a thirst for travel, to adapt to these unstable times and try to make the best of every chance to go out.
Exactly what I was doing that night in Zürich West, the most bohemian part of the city, which mixes industrial buildings (the most interesting cultural center in the region, Schiffbau, was a ship factory) with an atmosphere of craft beer bars, young hipster chefs, impossibly hot clubs, tiny jazz rooms — and yes, vaccine lines.
This trip, which I want to explore further in this space, also included other incredible attractions: a tour of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne; a convescote on the slow food line in the Alps; a racket spree in Crans-Montana; the discovery of a stained glass church by Sigmar Polke; exciting train journeys.
But most fascinating of all was being able to re-experience the feeling of traveling to a foreign country. From the 12-hour flight — an excruciating time to ask someone not to take off their mask — to the fatigue of trekking at 2,000 meters, do you think I had room to complain about something?
The happiness of traveling the world again outweighed any inconvenience. And, in more than one moment, rediscovering this pleasure, I found myself singing a certain Madonna song from 1984, which reminds us what it’s like to be touched (or touched) for the first time…
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