Quarantined in Spain

Sounds like a bad American/European movie, but it’s just a bad reality

In the beginning of March, I traveled to Madrid so I could visit some friends, check upon a very dear one who had just had a baby, march side by side with my fellow female darlings and to celebrate my birthday. Many high hopes for the best month of the year. Yes, yes, very biased.

I live in Barcelona, so the trip wasn’t that long, but I took a bus for economical and environmental purposes; so it’s about seven hours long, it’s fine, I can sleep perfectly on a night bus.

During that time things were already getting heavy in Italy and after the Women’s March in Madrid, the cases started to rise a lot in the city. A few days later, after my birthday, the supermarkets were already being emptied, lot’s of products missing. Yes, toilet paper was a fable at that time already. That was the first supermarket withdraw.

The President went on television saying that measures were being studied and asked the population to calm down and not overreact. Clearly the population overreacted a little bit. Have you ever tried to say calm down to a person that is already nervous? It’s like putting out fire with gasoline.

On March the 13, I took my bus back to Barcelona. While I was going to the bus station, the President (it is actually a Prime Minister but everyone calls him the President) went on television again and gave another pronouncement: Madrid and Catalunya was going to be shut and a lockdown would start from that day on.

Luckily I was able to reach my house in time, and on the next day I went to the supermarket to buy my quarantine – let’s say – resources.

It’s funny how we find ourselves in situations such as laughing inside an elevator full of people type of situations. I had one of those inside the bus. Everyone was obviously scared of taking a transport at that moment, everyone knew there was a possibility that someone might be infected inside that packed bus.

So as soon as the air conditioning of the bus started lowering the temperature, I had a coughing episode and I could feel people hating me… hahaha. It happens.

Mayhem. I was so tired from the trip that I overslept and I went to the supermarket at noon. There wasn’t much left. I felt like a scavenger on a regular zombie movie, getting what I could from what there was left. That was the second assault on supermarkets, both followed by TV pronouncements.

I made it home. I didn’t have many healthy foods, but I was packed for two weeks. There was absolutely no vegetables, nothing. I could only buy what was frozen and some canned things. I had some grains back home, so it made me more tranquil about it. Once again, toilet paper was a myth.

Okay, so here I was at home with lots of time to kill. I made myself a little routine that included waking up early (I’m a morning person), sunbathing on my window a bit, also a little bit of stretching, then playing video-games, drinking tons of tea, making my food.

And in the afternoon I would vary, but usually I would study (I’m learning German) or write (hey!) or draw (I have some graphic design projects on the move), watch a movie/series and at 8PM there’s the clapping at the window — which is great!

In Spain at 8PM everyday, people come out to their balconies and windows and we clap for some minutes to pay an homage for the frontliners; people that have to work to establish a minimal functional society while the pandemic is out there. It’s a couple of appreciation minutes that makes us also see our neighbors from afar and in a way, understand that all of us are in this together.

Those days are being followed by lots of reflection as well. I consider myself a person who is aware that I should be living in the present more often, but I simply do not. For many reasons that now are not important. But despite the horrific moment we are all going through right now, I’m being forced somehow to live in the present.

There’s no way I can make plans, cause we have no idea when this is going to end. And when it ends, the world is probably going to be changed, at least that’s what I hope. And so I need to understand this new moment to see where I fit, where we fit in it. And how.

The reflections go away if you turn on the television. There are Coronavirus (can you hear Cardi B. saying this when you read it? It’s bigger than me, help) news 24/7 with new numbers and new information and interviews. The borders of every EU country are now closed. There are fines for people who go out of the house without having a permit (if you need to work). We are only able to go to the supermarket, the pharmacy, hospital, walk our dogs or… wait for it…hairdressers!

Yes, you read that correctly. It was a national joke, but it is taken as a sanitary issue, who am I to judge? Also the memes are incredible.

Today is the 14th day of my quarantine. The numbers are still scary. On the 10th day, I had to go to the supermarket because I had to buy my cats some food. I woke up early as usual and decided to go before the supermarket was even opened, so I could be one of the firsts. I was the fifth.

There was a line with 1,5m separating people, and they were all wearing masks. A couple of minutes before the supermarket opened its doors, a security guard came out and explained the rules. I had no idea there were rules now.

Only an x amount of people are allowed inside per time. The elderly have priority, everyone is obliged to wear gloves and hand sanitizer, we provide both at the entrance hall. You are only allowed to get two pieces of the same product. The carts are sanitized already, do not take out your gloves and do not break the 1,5m distance from one another.”

When I entered the supermarket, we lined up to get the gloves and sanitize hands and gloves (I’m sure I would only need to sanitize the gloves, but you know, just in case), people would gently shout, if there is such a thing, to each other to keep distance. It was just sad and I started crying (very discreetly).

Was that going to be our new reality from now on? Very possibly and for some time still. I was only going to get cat food and toilet paper (that wasn’t a myth anymore), but I got so scared that I shopped for two more weeks.

It was already announced that the lockdown was going to be extended. Personally I was already expecting that. I have a close (clearly not in distance) friend that lives in China and another one that lives in Hong Kong that had nine and seven weeks of lockdown respectively. They are slowly going back to their normal lives with still lot’s of fear in the air.

There is a possibility that there can be a second break of the virus, it’s something expected. So for us here in Spain that are only behind Italy on death rates (oh my god, this was so strong to write), I’m thinking that at least until the end of April we will be still quarantined.

Besides having people close to me that are infected, friends and family, it’s also not easy not to know when I’m going to see my friends or my boyfriend — he lives in Germany. But the time I’m taking for myself and for pausing and self-reflecting is comforting me a lot. Also, the good expectations about a degrowth society post pandemia makes me hopeful.

But for now, I can only live this present and be hopeful of a better future doing my part staying home. This year March wasn’t the best month, but I can surely try to make the best out of it with what I have in my hands.


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