Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 23, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Enrica Stucchi. Bergamo, Italy. A Camino friend.


On May 14, 2019, I was walking on the Camino in Spain ,somewhere between Calzadilla de la Cueza and El Burgo Ranero. I had already walked 10 kilometres by 7:30 a.m. My plan was to stop and have breakfast. I spotted a couple of people ahead of me who were walking at quite a clip. I am a pretty fast walker myself and so I decided to join them for a few minutes. Two minutes turned into two hours. Soren, the fittest 65 year- old man I ever met, was from Denmark and his walking partner was Enrica, a 28 year- old woman from Bergamo, Italy. I would meet Enrica several days later as she performed one of the many works of mercy on the Camino, helping me patch up my blisters.

When I got back home, I interviewed Enrica for my Camino book and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

I had never heard of Bergamo, Italy before. Today, it is the hardest hit city in the world with a medical system nearly collapsing under the weight of the Covid-19 epidemic. As of this writing, over 2,550 people have died in the Lombardy region of Italy.

Enrica Stucchi is a very bright, engaging woman. Her educational background is teaching languages, but her passion is art, writing, dancing and singing. At the time I met her, she was trying to decide where the road of life would take her next.

What a difference a few months makes. She is back in Bergamo, living with her family as the coronavirus cascades around the globe.

Like many people, I wasn’t paying too much attention to the coronavirus initially. Enrica was one of the first people to alert me as to what was happening in Italy. From these early discussions, I started to pay very close attention. Today we are in a brave and uncertain new world of a global pandemic.

An older relative of Enrica’s died a few weeks ago. He died at home. He was quite ill, and under normal circumstances would have ended up in the hospital. But these are not normal times. When the government banned visitors from visiting the sick in hospitals, many families chose to keep their loved one’s home.

Enrica admits that the initial news out of China was viewed by many with skepticism but soon it became all too real.
In recent weeks as things have worsened, Enrica’s life is spent almost entirely indoors. Citizens are not allowed to leave their home unless they have a valid reason (groceries, medicine). The government is strictly enforcing these measures and people are being fined for non-compliance. The fear level in the city is palpable.

I asked her if Italy’s medical system was prepared for an epidemic. Some people in Canada have suggested that an outbreak like Italy’s could never happen here because of our world class, universal health care system. Enrica told me that the current crisis can be traced back to government cutbacks to health.

The situation in Bergamo is dire. Enrica has friends who work in the health care field. They are being forced to make life and death decisions every day. She knows a doctor who has worked 14 days straight under incredible pressure. One fears for the health of the people on the front lines.

When asked if the crisis was nearing its peak in Italy she said that most experts think that this won’t happen for another month, but nobody knows for certain.

Enrica remains calm in the middle of the storm. Like many of us she watches in amazement and shock as people horde items like toilet paper. More horrifying is that in some parts of the world, people are buying more guns.

Her advice to Canadians who are in the early innings of this ball game: “Don’t underestimate this virus. If you take precautions and look after yourself, you are protecting those who are most vulnerable. If you don’t spread the virus, less people will die.”

One thing that being quarantined has taught Enrica is to recalibrate what is important in life.

When I walked the Camino, I interviewed people from all over the world. I suspect that if I were conducting interviews after the fallout from the pandemic, people would be viewing the world in a different light.

Isolation may be just what we need to bring us all closer together.

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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