Despite Covid variants, Michael and I are traveling.
(I’m not looking for judgement on this. I’m merely writing to share my experiences.)
I haven’t studied all of the travel regulations for the countries we have visited–I only look at the ones that pertain to us. If we want to leave Spain, we have a few things in our favor:
- Since we have a Visa from Spain and all the appropriate paperwork to make us residents (for at least a year), we are also classified as residents of the European Union.
- We are vaccinated. (And let’s be honest: one of our top reasons for getting the vaccine was in order to travel.)
- Back in October, we got the all-important EU Digital Covid Passport.
So last week we were in France cat-sitting for five days. Then we were off to Germany to visit friends. So far, our travels haven’t been a problem thanks to the procurement of the aforementioned EU Digital Covid-19 Passport (available to those of us that live in the EU, have registered with our national health service, and have received a vaccine—even if we received it in the US).
In France, the QR code from our digital passport was uploaded to their own app. That QR code was then scanned at every cafe or event we walked into. (And, in that way, used for contact tracing as well.). None of this was optional. If we wanted to have our split-pea soup, roasted chicken, and chocolate mousse (because we were in France, after all) at a local restaurant, we showed the code.
(Note we were not required to show it in supermarkets or bakeries—everyone gets to buy their own food, but if you want someone else make it and serve it to you in a restaurant? You need the code.)
And so it was that we showed our QR code to attend the live jazz concert in the bookstore in Montcuq.
In front of the wood-burning fire, sipping first a heavy red wine and then the homemade soups from small teacups, we watched as the keyboardist played music with his whole body. He was accompanied by a drummer and an electric bass player, but the keyboardist was the star of the show. Much of the time he played with his eyes closed, his head leaned back or nodding, his body up off the bench or, if seated, his feet dancing across the floor, sometimes touching the pedal. His hands, at various times, danced, caressed, bounced off the keys.
At a pause in the action, I dipped my bread—crusty, chewy all at the same time as only the French air and earth can make it—into my cup of squash soup.
I watched as two little girls—maybe four and nine years old—with their parents in the front row listened with a patience rarely seen these days in young children. The youngest sat on her mother’s lap, thumb in mouth, clutching a small stuffed rabbit with the remaining fingers.
When a song was over, we all clapped, and only those in the first two rows could easily hear the keyboardist speak, his voice so low I wondered if he didn’t want his voice to be heard—just his music.
Michael recognized many of the songs—St. Thomas, Misty. And then. . . is that Some Day My Prince Will Come? Yes, yes it is. The keyboardist smiles at the girls in the front row. The four-year-old’s head, resting on her mother’s shoulder, pops up when the keyboardist livens it up, turning it into something almost unrecognizable from its original, with the melody occasionally shining through. I slip my arm around Michael’s. This is exactly where I want to be right now.
As the clock passes 10 p.m., both girls are asleep. The soup tureens have been scooped empty. Apple tart has been passed out. The logs in the fire have turned to embers.
The musicians have tried to end their time here once already. Only a few of the thirty of us present took leave, so they played two more songs. The clapping seemed to go on and on. And then silence. The audience didn’t make a move to leave. We looked at the musicians expectantly. They looked at us.
They played another song.
After more applause, the owner of the bookstore thanked them for coming. The bass guitar player thanked us for listening. We grabbed our umbrellas and ducked out, through the courtyard, into the cobblestoned street.
The entry is through the gate. . .