For the 8th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Asha Kirkby. Asha is a 46-year-old inline skater from Brighton, England but is currently isolating on a remote island off the coast of Brazil between Rio and São Paulo. She teaches inline skating around the world, as well as providing lessons on her Skate Fresh Asha YouTube page and website.

What is the current situation in Brazil with COVID-19?

In Brazil things are worrying. It’s just in the beginning stages and state Governors closed interstate borders four days ago, and all services except supermarkets and pharmacies have been shut down. Self-isolation is being strongly recommended by the state Governors ,but is not being enforced by police. However there is a huge contradiction happening, because last night on TV, President Bolsonaro said that the isolation does not need to be so strict and that he wants to reopen schools and businesses and only practice vertical isolation (of people over 50 years old). There is a mirror between Bolsonaro’s ideas right now and Trump’s. The Governors rejected his complaints and say they’ll continue to protect their citizens. It’s political chaos on top of everything else.

Are you self-isolating?

I am currently in Brazil at the end of my usual winter season here. I’ve been in self-imposed isolation, four hours outside Rio de Janeiro, for the last week. Days before being urged to by the authorities, I went into isolation. Watching the situation in other countries unfold, made me realize that I didn’t want to wait for official instructions. I am staying on and island with friends in their house, so I am feeling very safe and geographically isolated. We have plenty of supplies and don’t need to restock for several weeks.

Are you able to skate on the island while in isolation?

No, I can’t skate on this island because there are no roads or asphalt of any kind. There is just a veranda that I can skate on as seen in my tutorial videos.

What are you doing to fill your time?

I am pretty busy working, which right now means filming, editing and posting free content to help support my followers who are stuck indoors. I am making small space tutorials in the following categories: Skate Dance   #SkatefreshDanceChallenge | General small space skate moves  #Skatefreshisolateskate |#smallspaceskating | Fitness stuff (on skates)  #isolationexercises |Yoga for Skaters (off skates) #yogaforskaters

#smallsapceskating (General skills)
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What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

Yoga for my own sanity.  Reading novels, while waiting for the internet to work or for videos to upload. I am struggling with a very slow internet connection. Cooking, but no change there, as I always cook healthy food.

I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep. Once I get into this new work routine and am able to carve out some time for myself, I plan on starting to rest a bit. I’m struggling with that so far and need to work on lowering my expectations of myself, particularly with the challenging internet connection, which has triggered me to be overwhelmed this week.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

As we are luckily on a beautiful island with stunning scenery and nature all around us, I am aware every day that we need to use our resources sparingly. The way I use/consume everything has changed, from how much toothpaste I put on my brush, to re-using tea bags. 

Isolation views from the remote island off the coast of Brazil.
What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

Right now my major concern is how Brazil will be affected. This country does not have a government that can help people in any way and although the virus is “equal” in how it infects rich and poor alike, I fear that poor people in Brazil will be very badly affected with little or no medical care available. I worry about civil unrest on top of it all, as the political situation is very, very unstable.

Looking into the future right now just causes me anxiety as I, like everyone else, have no answers to the question of when my job and salary may resume and when I can return to the United Kingdom. I am avoiding thinking too far ahead and cultivating patience on all levels and trust that we will move through this global crisis and emerge with some wisdom as a consequence.

How have your skate communities responded to the crisis? 

I hear that Rio de Janeiro is very quiet and no one is skating there. Back in London, outdoor exercise is still allowed and some of my students and skate friends are still doing so, while others are staying indoors. There have been no group skates in London for a week or so already.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? 

I think COVID-19 is an opportunity for us to rethink our relationship to the planet. Population ‘culls’ is a normal part of ecological system when population numbers outstrip resources and different ‘events’ happen to then control that population (of rabbits or insects or whatever). I think the planet can sustain the population we have but not with the rate we are using resources and destroying the planet. I hope we can start to look at this as a correction of the unsustainable ways that humans are abusing the earth. If we do not talk about this narrative and just return to “business as usual” I believe some other ‘event’ will come to help us learn that lesson until we learn and change.

How we treat other humans is also up for reflection and I’m glad to see and feel lots of communicative and positive, supporting messages and energies flowing around right now. But let’s not forget the poor planet who (if she was conscious) would be saying “I’m so sorry to do this to you, but you wouldn’t listen to my other warnings of climate change, fires, melting icecaps, pollution, falling species diversity, deforestation etc etc”.

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