Emma Clyde-Smith has been working in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, since last June and has endured a stringent lockdown regime that permitted only a brief trip to a local supermarket or pharmacy every other day.
From 20 March until 27 April, the 7.5 million residents of the city were confined to their homes, with the exception of essential shopping that had to be done on ‘even’ days by women, or ‘odd’ days by men.
The 28-year-old former St Michael’s student admitted it was difficult to compare notes with family and friends back in Jersey and see them enjoying plentiful daily exercise and walks on the beach.
‘It seems like the weather’s been really good in Jersey and people have been making the most of their chance to get outside,’ she said. ‘When you aren’t allowed to do something for a long time, it becomes really hard.’
Miss Clyde-Smith said her three male flatmates – one Colombian native, one from London and the other from the Isle of Man – had conformed to gender stereotypes in their shopping habits.
‘Women manage to whizz around efficiently in an average of 15 minutes, while the men spend three times as long, apparently struggling with the new environment and foreign task at hand,’ she said. ‘But maybe it’s a mastermind ploy to enjoy a few more moments of peace away from those they are quarantining with!’
When lockdown was first introduced in Bogotà, which is home to around one seventh of Colombia’s 50 million population, Miss Clyde-Smith considered attempting to return to Jersey.
‘In some ways I really wanted to come back, but I have work here and was worried about the added risk for my parents,’ she said. ‘And during my indecisiveness the borders closed and the decision was made for me.’
As an English teacher, Miss Clyde-Smith has been able to carry on with virtual lessons with a mixture of corporate and private clients, although her volume of work has reduced and the unreliable internet connection is a far cry from Jersey’s broadband network.
The Colombian restrictions appear to have been effective, with 6,500 cases and just under 300 deaths recorded by the end of April, leading to relaxations in lockdown, meaning those aged 18 to 60 can exercise outside their homes for up to an hour a day.
‘I dream of being back on the rock, pacing along St Ouen or having a revitalising dunk in the sea,’ Miss Clyde-Smith added.
‘But, for now, I have to make the most of the daily Jersey updates I receive through social media, weekly virtual quizzes, online HouseParty drinking sessions and hold on to the fact that this is an extraordinary experience that I will hopefully be telling my grandkids about in the future.’