Joburg COVID-19 Lockdown Journal: Day 3

If you’re new to this blog series (and/or you live under a boulder) and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, my first post has all the details. Or read all my lockdown journal entries.

Today is Day 3 of South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown. Today was harder than yesterday.

Lockdown photo 3: I think the Melville Cat‘s expression speaks for all of us.

The Ministry of Health has not yet released new COVID-19 case statistics for today. I’m bracing for a big jump tomorrow.

Today’s thoughts:

  1. I was chatting with my mom and sister (both in America) via text. My mom — who lives alone with her two dogs — and I were saying how grateful we are for our pets. My sister — who lives with her elderly (and incontinent) dog, cat, and three-year-old son, while also working as a teacher from home — said she could live without pets right now as she really has her hands full. How great would it be if there was a program in which busy parents could temporarily lend out some of their pets to lonely singles? Can someone in the world get on this?
  2. I am extremely sad and afraid for my city. I’m worried about George at the Hillbrow Boxing Club and Lucy, my cleaning lady who lives in Yeoville. And for everyone else. The stories and pictures coming out of these parts of town, as well as Alexandra and lots of other places, are heartbreaking. It’s hard not to be consumed by fear and grief.
  3. I was riveted by this JHBLive video — a time lapse of a drive today through Melville, the CBD, and Braamfontein. If you’re curious to see what things look like “on the outside” right now, watch it.
  4. Sound Africa has started a podcast series about the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa and the rest of the continent. I really enjoyed the first episode.

Lockdown Journal

3:00 a.m.: Wake up with back pain — dull ache just below my shoulder blade. Might have strained it while climbing the koppie on Day 1. Freak out: If anything bars me from exercise during this lockdown I may truly lose my mind. Can’t sleep.

7:30 a.m.: It’s Sunday. Get up, make coffee, eat Sweet Tea & Chickadee biscuit (the rest are frozen so I’ll be forced to ration them), take ibuprofen for sore back. Read news, feel depressed.

8:00 a.m.: Walk around garden with cats. Feel better.

The Melville Cats during lockdown
Smokey and Trixie in a rare moment of affection.

9:00 a.m.: Meditate, stretch, bath, wash hair. Lay on bed, listen to podcasts, stare at ceiling.

11:30 a.m.: Brunch-time Zoom with Julie and Julia. Whatsapp call with Michelle.

1:00 p.m.: Hear Pickitup truck on street. Trash pickup excitement! The truck is two days late, which is totally understandable. Never have I felt so grateful for the luxury of waste removal. Rush to open gate and wave at sanitation workers to thank them for their loyal service. One worker sees me, waves back, and walks toward me. I realize he’s hoping for a tip and I don’t have one, nor do I want to walk close to another human. Wave again, back away, say thanks, close gate. Feel guilty.

1:30 p.m.: Eat salad. Record weekly Patreon voice note. Write Patreon blog post about my February trip to Kameel, which now feels like 10,000 years ago. Read news stories. Sob.

5:00 p.m.: Blog time.

7:00 p.m. (now): My back feels better.

I’m trying to make these posts a bit more concise, as I realize I’m going to burn out if I don’t slow down a bit and figure out how to finish writing earlier in the evening.

Today’s worthy cause is a fundraiser for the African Reclaimers Organisation, (ARO), which represents the country’s informal recyclers (or reclaimers). If you live in Joburg you know our sanitation system depends on these informal workers, who sort through people’s trash and walk incredibly long distances pulling massive trolleys stacked with recyclable waste. They barely earn enough money to survive.

Sam informal recycler
Sam, an informal recycler I photographed many years ago in Jeppestown.

Currently the recyclers are not allowed to work during the lockdown. (In fact all recycling services, both formal and informal, have been shut down. I can’t bear to put my recycling into the regular trash so I’m currently hoarding it until the end of the lockdown.) Read more here.

There are millions people suffering in Joburg but these men and women are at the top of the list. If you’d like to support them please send your donation to:

Khanya College
Bank: Nedbank
Account no: 1908942428
Universal branch code: 198765
Ref: ARO solidarity

The ARO has also now set up an online tool for donations:

If you’re overseas and want to donate, please contact me privately and we can work something out. Thanks to reader Jenny Ricks for alerting me to this campaign.

Be safe everyone.

Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply catji March 29, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    btw, cats, and subreddit r/cats… I noticed a post saying there seems to be increased demand for rescue cats. [USA]
    Many posts of pics showing cats looking puzzled about family staying at home. LOL:

    • Reply 2summers March 29, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Hahahaha. Yes to both!

  • Reply lindasneedLinda Sneed March 29, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Hi Heather, while you are in lockdown you need to stay as stress free as possible to save your adrenal glands etc. so try your best to not worry about people and events you have no control over right now. Don’t watch too much news. Read lovely books and watch fun movies. Share titles with your friends. You need to stay mentally healthy. Best advice I can give you. This will eventually ease so can’t stress about the future yet.

    • Reply 2summers March 29, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Linda, I’ll try. It’s very hard though. The suffering going on all around us here is unimaginable. But I try to save my worry sessions for 2/3 times a day 🙂

  • Reply mvschulze March 29, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    The video was numbing, thinking about how widespread and devastating the pandemic is. We are housebound, in northern New Jersey about 40 km from mid town Manhattan, and in our third week of the beginning. It continues to get worse, but not nearly as bad here as in the cities. We need to continue our social separation. J-burg looks nearly deserted, …frightening. Be careful and Stay well. M.

    • Reply 2summers March 29, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks. You too! Thinking of everyone in the NYC/NJ area 😢

  • Reply AutumnAshbough March 29, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    I can’t decide if it is better or worse to have children and partners with you during quarantine. It’s less lonely, but it’s more aggravation and so difficult to work.

    • Reply 2summers March 30, 2020 at 5:29 am

      I’ve also given a lot of thought to this question. Right now I’m pretty happy to be alone but let’s see how I feel around Day 10-12.

  • Reply Peggy Laws March 30, 2020 at 5:13 am

    Go easy on the ibuprofen – I keep reading that IF you were to get this virus (God forbid) – it thrives on ibuprofen. Stay cool Heather – your blogs are brilliant – and you capture how we are all feeling right now.

    • Reply 2summers March 30, 2020 at 5:32 am

      I know, I also heard that but then I read another article that it’s ok after all? I guess no one knows for sure. I’m taking it sparingly but it’s the only thing that works for this type of pain.

    • Reply 2summers March 30, 2020 at 6:34 am

      I did some googling and looks like the ‘ibuprofen is bad’ claim has been debunked as fake news:

      • Reply Caroline March 30, 2020 at 11:44 am

        My doctor at Meldene yesterday (who may well be your doctor too!) said ‘let’s play safe, I’ll give you Stilpane’. Have you tried that?

        • Reply 2summers March 30, 2020 at 11:47 am

          Very good chance it’s the same doctor. And no I haven’t! Is it over the counter? Luckily my back pain is gone so I’m good for now.

          • Caroline March 30, 2020 at 4:40 pm

            I believe so, although I got a script. Just googled, contains codeine, it may be as dangerous altho in a different way as ibuprofen! Best thing is – don’t put your back out again 🙂

          • 2summers March 30, 2020 at 5:24 pm

            Hahaha, yes good idea. I think now is a time not to get hurt at all

  • Reply Peggy Laws March 30, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Am glad to hear that Heather as you don’t want back pain on top of everything else!! Stay cool!!

    • Reply 2summers March 30, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Thanks you too! Luckily my back seems fully back to normal today and no more painkillers needed 🙂

  • Reply Catrina March 30, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for your daily updates. We watched the video, looks eerie.
    And what Linda said: I have limited my news consumption to once a day. It helps a little.
    Keep it up! You’re not alone!

  • Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: