March 30, 2020

city of arts and sciences Valencia
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As we slowly make our way through week three of the Spain lockdown, I thought l’d update you on the mood of at least this household as we settle in for what is looking like the middling of this whole episode. From the latest news clip released yesterday, it is likely that the lockdown will actually be extended till April 26th. I can understand why they would do this, and hope we all have the needed patience.

Valencia Spain in tales from a Spanish lockdown
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Tales from the Spanish Lockdown:

The reasoning is that they want to make sure all is well, or at least going the right way (new infections and deaths decreasing) as opposed to releasing people too early and then the past month of lockdown would have been all for nothing, which would suck because l think at that point, it would be all but impossible to reimpose the lockdown.

By law, the “state of alarm” which is what the government is imposing is only good for 14 days. I think telling people for instance that the lockdown will be six weeks or something would freak a lot out. Better in small bites, even though some like me prefer the ripping the bandaid at once.

My worry is that people that are stuck indoors for such a long time will (assuming they are not already) experience bouts of depression and anxiety. I feel especially for people who are single and have no pets. At least, we, as pet owners, are allowed to walk the dogs for a few minutes. They on the other hand, have to stay in at all times, except to get groceries, or go to the pharmacy or some other deemed important places.

Fines begin at €100 and go as high as €30,000 for serious offences including the seizure of your vehicle. This mainly applies to those who flee from where there are huge numbers like Madrid to their second homes along the coast, unintentionally bringing the virus with them. Road blocks are set up to stop this.

I know it’s a small sacrifice to make for most, but if you are alone, it’s important in my opinion to be allowed to go out for a bit, otherwise you go stir crazy. Not everyone agrees with me, but that’s okay. In Cyprus for instance, people are allowed to go out for exercise  (after texting to inform the local government). I’m beginning to think that there will be a whole lot more cases of alcoholism at the end of this whole saga.

It’s already evident the increased rise of domestic violence around the world. In Spain, as much as a 20% increase (suspect it’s even higher), Cyprus 30% and on and on. In normal times, the abused had jobs to go to, kids school. A little reprieve from their prisons. With everyone being cooped up in often small spaces, you can imagine how much worse it has gotten, which is also draining on law enforcement.

Weather in Valencia:

rainy weather Valencia - tales from the Spanish lockdown
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rainy weather Valencia - tales from the Spanish lockdown
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Yep! I think it helps when the weather outside is sucky!

The weather has been cooperating, at least l think so. Except for one, maybe two days when it was sunny, it’s been mostly grey, cold and rainy. Almost like the weather is just as depressed as the people. One of my friends wanted great weather, but l think it would only encourage people to break the rules. The desire to be outside would have been unbearable. Today is another rainy day. The dog was not going out for any reason, so l turned back at the lobby and so no outside for me today. I will make do by sitting on the balcony and watching the silence.

The U.S. Feeling The Pain Of Covid-19:

The U.S. as predicted by many seems to just in the beginning stages of dealing with the pandemic after the stages of denial and ignorance. The reality is down starting to dawn on them with the astronomical figures being reported. We can only hope that it truly isn’t as devastating as the experts predict, but it certainly seems to be headed that way.

It might be hard to find someone who doesn’t get affected in one form or another, an aunt there, a friend there as l read my wall. My sister was worried about me, as were friends. I told them at that point that l was indeed more worried about them there, and l still am. She is a pharmacist also, and is on the front line. We had a late start with containment here in Spain. Italy did too. The U.S. however had loads of time to prepare, but l think the word from above made the people lackadaisical. Now, the s**t has hit the fan so to speak, and it looks like the Emperor has no clothes.

The numbers in Italy seems to finally be getting better the last few days. We are thankful that Fede’s mom and family in Rome continue to be well. Everyone is observing the lockdown and l think there will be light at the end of their dark tunnel soon.

Related: How we left Italy Just In Time:

Fighting Boredom during Covid-19 Lockdown:

Reading:

I have a lot of books to read, or reread. Currently, “A Column of Fire” is going well. It’s not one l can’t put down though. It’s just okay. I have also been reading a lot of magazines, finance and  news articles too. One of the first things l have to do once lockdown is over is see an optician. I’m pretty sure l need cataract surgery, at least in the right eye. It’s making it a bit difficult to read as much as l would like. Next, I will read “The Guardians” from John Grisham as l enjoy his novels. As l mentioned in the last post, Audible is not my cup of tea.

Music:

Loads and loads of music. I like to find old albums on youtube music and just listen without watching. Artists like Bryan Ferry, Metallica, Patsy Cline, The Hollies. Old music l said :-). I have also been listening to my favourite Nigerian artist King Sunny Ade because his music cheers me up immensely and make me dance with myself. International artists such as Nitin Shawney, Transglobal Underground, and Antonio Carlos Jobim to name a few. I’m thankful for our Bose headphones. Fede doesn’t have to go crazy while l listen to my music, and l don’t have to listen to his Italian library of songs. :-)

Spanish:

I’ve been keeping up with my learning via Youtube. Our teacher also wrote the students to ask if we wanted to continue classes in a diminished capacity. She has been sending us homework via Whatsapp. We do it, and then she sends the answers when due so we can see how we did. It’s helped because then l go look up the subject and study some more. I can confidently say my comprehension is better and l am practising with Fede as much as possible.

two dogs on couch opposite ends in tales from the Spain lockdown
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two dogs on couch opposite ends in tales from the Spain lockdown
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Their day consists of moving from one couch to the other. Tough life!

Television and Movies:

We have definitely been watching a lot of movies. During the day, we watch Columbo. Despite the fact that we’ve seen a lot of the episodes, it’s still fun. Netflix has been great.  I can definitely recommend “Cold Games” on Netflix. Everyone said l needed to watch “Tiger Kings”.  After seeing the preview though, Federico flat out decided against seeing it, so l have been watching it by myself. I am on the third episode and l am definitely not a fan. I don’t like reality shows much. I don’t know if l will continue watching. It kind of sucks. We watched Hobbs and Shaw with the Rock and Jason a couple of days ago. Meh!, but expected.

 I can recommend on Amazon Prime :

“Kin” with Dennis Quaid and James Franco. Low budget, but good.

“Anna”: I like Luc Besson movies going as far back as “The Fifth Element”.

“Blow the man down”: Quirky, independent weird movie but mostly good.

“John Wick”: what can l say?

“Unknown” : We always enjoy Liam Neeson, you might want to check out the best of his movies in my opinion, “A walk among the tombstones”. I know it didn’t make any money, but it’s awesome if you like suspense.

“Expendables” series, but mostly 1 and 2.

women dancing and celebrating. Tales from the Spanish lockdown
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women dancing and celebrating. Tales from the Spanish lockdown
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Happy days will return sooner than later ojala (hopefully) to Valencia.

I have been spending the last couple of days trying to rustle up all our U.S. tax paperwork since we like to have it done by April 15th, even though as non-residents , we have till October or something. Password lockouts, VPN crap, and trying to remember all we did has been a pain in the ass and only reminds me that l need to keep better records going forward. I have forwarded them to our accountant back in L.A so that’s one big thing off the table.

I’ve also been surprised at how easy it was to get refunded by the airlines for our cancelled flights. Even our AirBnB booking through Booking.com gave us a refund for all but one night unused which was okay with us. Our train tickets cost were refunded to us without prompting within 24 hours being sent an email about the automatic refunds and cancellation.

One day, I got desperate enough to dig up our Wii console that we had in our little storage room. Of course it was way in the bottom and in the back. After all that, turns out l had thrown the CD games out :-), the only thing l found was the FIFA soccer game from 2012. Bah! I’m thinking maybe after this, it might not be a bad idea to have a console for desperate times. If anyone can recommend a great one with loads of games ( I used to like Tetris, Sonic, Zelda and Devil may Care), I would appreciate it. We had them all at one point, but l don’t remember which was better.

Exercise :

Still going strong with my Zumba and Body Combat classes via Youtube. I miss going to the gym and talking to the other women in the classes. Here is a video l had pasted on my personal FB page of a song from our dance class. Everyone loves this song and the instructor encouraged us to wear those belly dancing outfits. As more and more women wore them, he made a video one day. I, along with l think two other ladies did not wear any, and we stayed in the back. Anyway, that class is always fun. See if you can spot me in the video, much as l tried to hide.. haha!

Clapping:

The nightly clapping for the workers on the front line still takes place at 8pm nightly. I have noticed that the number of people clapping have decreased somewhat. The enthusiasm seems to be fading a bit, at least in my neighbourhood. I hope it’s not a sign of spirits being crushed. My neighbour has given up his nightly concert. The applause was getting fainter. Malaise.

shelves stocked in grocery store
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shelves stocked in grocery store
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This was not recently, but a good representation of the stock now.

Grocery Shopping:

Only one person is allowed to go shopping, so Federico does it since he knows what he needs for cooking. We have limited it to twice a week to limit our exposure. The shelves are pretty much stocked again. The initial panic is definitely gone. Things that seem to always run low includes pasta and fresh milk. Popcorn is definitely gone ( I think everyone is watching movies too), but everything else is in stock. The lines are also much faster, he says he wishes it could remain like this.

Food:

thai shrimp pasta, tales from Spain lockdown
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thai shrimp pasta, tales from Spain lockdown
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Yes! I made this. My take on the Thai chicken pasta, but with shrimp from California Pizza Kitchen. It was awesome!

I made some ribs and plantain last night for dinner, and it was good. Most nights, we have soup, especially my favourite, Leek.

leek soup with parsley
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leek soup with parsley
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Spanish lockdown food: Potato leek soup. My favourite!

 

ribs, plantain on plate and glass of beer
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ribs, plantain on plate and glass of beer
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Since you can’t have ribs without beer, we did!. Plantain is my my absolute favourite food in the world as you know. You think we would drink loads of beer at only 65 cents for 1 litre of German beer!

My thoughts on the Spanish Lockdown:

Tough times are ahead for all, especially working people in just about every industry. I have already started seeing people who were laid off from their jobs and are immigrants starting to beg for rent money. There is some government relief for those that qualify, like those who have been working in Spain for a year. One guy for instance got a job here from Denmark l think, moved, started work on the 3rd of March and has now been terminated. I think we will see more and more cases like that. It always reminds me how fortunate we are. Our sacrifices of the past paying off, but l think the Spanish dream might become a nightmare for some with no cushion.

How are things where you are? Are you in lockdown? If so, is it as restrictive as it is in Spain? If not, do you think there’s a right way to do things? I hope everyone is doing their part to make this pandemic a thing of the past. Listen to the experts please, not to your friends.