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 go off in Zurich.
Second, a Friday night is not 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 right 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, such as a Covid passport, and tourists will still have to be continuously tested during their stay — tests that remain, from October, on account of the traveller.
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, eager to 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 a vibe 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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