Maggie Viegener studies on the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course at London College of Communication. She has made a photo journal over 3 days of the COVID-19 outbreak, her experiences of London and onward travel home to Argentina to isolate with her family. Maggie has kindly shared her journal with Post-Grad Community below.
London public transport on Tuesday 17th March: The day before we were supposed to fly back to Buenos Aires & the day Boris Johnson finally suggests that people stay at home.
London streets on Tuesday 17th March: The morning before we were supposed to fly back to Buenos Aires & the day Boris Johnson finally suggests that people stay at home.
Three hours later, we receive a phone call from my father instructing Mencha (my friend & flatmate) and I to head to the airport. Change of plans: We were flying that same night. The series “Enter the Fish Tank” had began.
Monday 16th of March: What begins like a normal day in our routines, ends up with the decision of flying back home till things settled down in London, our new home. @camila.mendi and I are both doing our MA’s and due to COVID-19 were informed our classes would be canceled till further notice, and continue online.
Monday 5:00pm : Beer(s) on one hand. Sitting in a park, watching people go by as if nothing was going on. That was the feeling of living in London the past few weeks while the rest of the world was taking serious measures to contain this thing. Do we leave or do we stay? That was the question we asked ourselves for 4 hours. List of cons and pros. Conversations with our families. Glasses of wine, beers…. Stay in London for the next two months (or so) under isolation, or leave and go home for a few months till things settled down and them come back.
There’s no need to tell you what decision we took. I’m writing this from the comfort of my home quarantined for the next 14 days in what I now call The Fish Tank: Basically what in Argentina we call “El quincho”, or “pool house” in english. I’m not allowed inside my house. If I want to play with my dogs I must use a mask.
My mother cooks me food and leaves it on a table for me to pick it up (the cheapest and tastiest Deliveroo ever). My clothes must be packed in a bag that will be washed once the quarantine is over. Does this sound a bit too much? Maybe. But I’d rather take these measures than put my family at risk.
Tuesday 17th March: We get to Heathrow airport imagining people would be hysterical. That was not the case. Check-in (overweight because of the 8 books I took from the library 🤓). Security. We’re in. Very few people with face masks, not even Latam’s employees. Lots of flights to Europe canceled. Other than that, Heathrow Airport looks like any other day, with less people. @camila.mendi and I are psychologically exhausted. and decide to get a pint… or three to be exact. London-Sao Paulo / Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires.
The guy two rows behind us coughing all flight long. Very reassuring 🙄. Sao Paulo looks more prepared than Heathrow to our surprise: Airport employees using masks and gloves, instructing people where to go. Two hours later, we are already on the two hour and forty minute flight back home. The face mask was getting really annoying. My mother is a biologist so imagine all the three minute voice messages and the precautions that were waiting for us once we arrived at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires…👩🏻🔬
Wednesday 18th March: The day we finally arrived to Buenos Aires. As an Argentinian you know you are back in your country the minute the plane lands and everyone just gets up before the seatbelt sign is off. This time was no difference. For my own amusement, the minute this happens, the crew attendant informs everyone to sit down.
We have to hand in the sanitary forms we were given earlier: Indicating our whereabouts for the next 14 days, personal information and possible symptoms of the virus. They start calling people to the front of the plane. No one knows what for. The thought of communicating why these people are being called is overrated. We are definitely back in Argentina. Finally, we are allowed to exit the plane. We are the only flight arriving at the airport that morning . Ezeiza International Airport beats Heathrow and Guarulhos.
Everyone is with gloves, face masks and keeps a certain distance from the passengers. Swiftly we pass through migrations and off to find our bags. Too good to be true so far. Fifteen minutes later, our bags are nowhere to bee seen. Oh yes. They left them at Sao Paulo. 😑 Fine. We head to the baggage claim counter. A really nice guy informs us they will arrive on the next flight and they will send them to our homes. We exit the airport and find my parents with two cars. One for us. One for them.
Let the quarantine begin: My parents arrive with two cars. One for them. One for us. My mom, a biologist, lays down a tray on the pavement and instructs us to step on it. She sprays dilute bleach on our shoes to disinfect them. No hugs. No kisses. We get on the car and I drive @camila.mendi to her house. With a big hug we say: “See you in 15 days for an asado (barbecue)!”
I get home. No meeting the new doggie before a shower. Clothes on a disposable bag for 14 days. Sleep on the fish tank (quincho). No entering the house. 😟 Microwave/coffee machine🙏🏻 / a fridge/TV projector/ my bed. Not bad. I finally get to meet Anoushka 🐶. We’re best friends already. I’m allowed in the garden if I keep a certain distance from my parents. With my dogs: I must wear a mask. Why? I know dogs can’t be infected with the virus. But think this: If I accidentally spit on them (they “are surfaces”) and my parents touch them...🤯so yeah..
And so "Enter the Fish Tank Series" begins. This was only the introduction. 😉Have you ever heard of Big Brother? Big sista here 🙋🏼♀️
Follow Maggie Viegener on Instagram for more journals @maggieviegener
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