Coronavirus Quarantine Diary: Part 2

{La versión del post en español está aquí}

The Part 1 of this series has been my most viewed post ever on the blog, which I am taking the liberty to interpret that it means that people are interested to know what quarantine is like here in Barcelona, how it’s affecting peoples’ lives and and any sort of tips or inspiration that I can offer during these trying times. 

I want to preface this post by saying that while my last post ended with lots of ideas on how to make this quarantine period easier or more fun or more productive, I also want to acknowledge that for many people this slowing down of normal life is not a welcomed sort of stay-cation, but rather plunges folks into being stuck between a rock and a hard spot. For example, my Aunt Lori is a hair stylist in Omaha and now is not sure of what she can expect for her income for the next several months (as her work is a no work, no pay set up), or my best friend here in Barcelona, Charlotte is a freelance photographer who has seen most projects wiped for the foreseeable future. Freelancers, self-employed, restaurant owners or employees, gym owners & staff, retail warriors – so many people continue to feel the coronavirus’ impact in a domino effect that has no signs of stopping anytime soon. I see you & feel for you.

First of all, I wanted to update everyone on the situation here in Spain. As many of you have likely already read or seen in the news, Europe is now the “epicenter” of the virus, and as of today, Saturday, March 19th, there are 25K cases of coronavirus infections in Spain, with over 1300 deaths. Italy has surpassed China in the number of deaths and their daily death rate continues to rise. The curve here is still growing daily with no sign of slowing down yet. While it’s not official yet, the government is already saying that the official, government mandated quarantine (as in shelter-in-home) will likely have to be extended by at least 1 week more, likely more than that (so about a month from now). My French friend, Camille’s reaction to this? “I really hope not… I miss freedom.” Below are photos from Camille’s neck of the woods, empty Plaza Real in Gothic quarter.

There are petitions going around to make measures like those of France (where the confinement policy started Tuesday, 3/17) to pause all mortgage, rental and utility payments until this crisis allows for businesses to reopen and people to get back to work, so we’ll see if that happens in Spain. I talked to my friend Adi this week and she said Israel went into lockdown on Wednesday 3/18. Keeping with the trend, the European Commission put into a place a new policy restricting ALL non-essential travel to and from the EU for the next 30 days (so if I had gone on my original trip, I indeed wouldn’t have been able to get back into Spain since now only long-term residents or EU citizens can enter the region (I can apply for long-term residency this May, but do not currently have it)). 

I was just informed that we now have to carry around the below documentation to properly register any sort of movement from one’s home, “Self-responsible certificate of displacement.” First is the official doc, then the English translation. They’ve already been doing this measure in France and Italy to further enforce the quarantine. 

To all my American friends and family, please stay inside, even if you don’t live in NYC or California where it is required quarantine already. Be smart, you can handle not going out for a while. I sincerely hope that the States acts quickly enough to mitigate the spread, something that southern Europe has failed to do.

All the above being said, I still am of the opinion that worrying about things outside of your own control is futile and counterproductive. So let’s worry about what IS in your control – your perspective, how you treat yourself and others, your faith, your generosity. 

Highlights of days 4-7 of Spain’s official quarantine in our household include: 

Seeing how talented people and professionals are giving of their time and effort to help make once in-person activities available online or virtual in some sense. This week I tuned into an Instagram Live guided meditation session led by Dallas-based fitness instructor, Ella Leupold, an online Vinyasa yoga class on zoom led by Barcelona’s Yogalinda Hot Yoga Studio owner, Heather Anderson, and many PopSugar Fitness videos on YouTube (all free). Honestly, I would love to go for a long run along the beach or go to my current fave class, Les Mills Body Pump at Anytime Fitness Poblenou – but alas, those are not options right now. 

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We’ve also done a fair amount of cooking – below are two photos of things Camila has whipped up this week: polenta (like grits) with tomato & meat sauce, and buñuelos (fritters or lil fried doughnuts) with powdered sugar on top. A post-workout snack favorite is smoothies (frozen strawberries & mango, coconut yogurt, banana & a bit of skim milk). 

Working on my blog has been a great creative and mental outlet for me, as it always has been. The outdoor desk on my balcony has also been a nice way to get some sunshine and fresh air without leaving my home. I love to write, to express yourself with words and hopefully those words resonate with others in some way that matters. I so appreciate all those who have been sharing my blog posts recently – you have no idea how much it means to me! 

Our quarantine means that you can only leave your home to: 

  • Go to your nearest grocery store to buy necessary items 
  • Go to your nearest pharmacy to buy necessary medicines/ prescriptions 
  • Go to & from your place of work (if it’s still operating and not doing WFH) 
  • Take out your recycling and trash 
  • Walk your dog (a reasonable amount) 

This usually means that the streets are empty nowadays (above is the normally buzzing Rambla Poblenou). Over the last week, Damian, Camila, Mayco and Andy have all gone to our closest supermarkets. We know firsthand that the police are stopping people to check their ID, and make sure they’re going STRAIGHT from the grocery store or pharmacy back home (sometimes they even ask for your receipt to verify your trip). Below is a photo of the checkout lanes at Mercadona, showing the taped lines to keep the appropriate amount of distance between customers in line. 

This photo was from a mid-week grocery run – guess everyone else wanted to stock up on wine as well! Red wine was almost 100% out. e9789245-a3e1-4b62-ac09-846ddce019c9The next several photos are from my best friend here, Charlotte on her most recent grocery run Friday morning, 3/18 to Lidl. She waited over a half-hour in line outside the store for her turn to enter as now they only allow few people into the stores at a time. The normally packed, full of life Plaza of Saint James in the Gothic quarter, now empty. 

 

 

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The usually PACKED main street, Las Ramblas

As you can see, in this second post I wanted to include photos, quotes and opinions from my friends here because we are all in this together. So now, I’d like to share a little interview and some AMAZING photos from my talented Catalan friend, Claudia Leon Más (her boyfriend, Rodrigo, is Damian’s best friend). 

INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDIA: 

Q: What has been the hardest part of the quarantine? 

A: “For me the hardest part has been not being able to go out when I want to, and I don’t mean making plans with my girlfriends or going to dinner with my boyfriend. For two months now I’ve been on a short-term medical leave from work due to a knee injury, so I’ve already gotten used to a schedule that’s not the norm, but included lots of variety still. My part-time occupation and biggest hobby is photography, so this period has been a great opportunity to dedicate more time taking photos. Up until recently all was well, because I could leave my house whenever I wanted to, whether it was to take photos or get some fresh air and change up my work-from-home surroundings. Now though, we just have to adapt to the current situation! Just like you’re taking advantage of more time at home to work on your blog, I’m investing more into my website, my photography Instagram account, etc.” 

“Desde mi ventana” / “From my window”

Q: What worries you most about all this? 

A: “Like most people, I think what worries me most is the economic situation. This is a crisis that affects everyone, and we’re all hanging on by a string that in any moment can break. My company just communicated that they might be forced to do an ERTE (lay-offs due to temporary factors); my boyfriend’s family’s restaurant is closed until further notice… On the other hand, my boyfriend works in a pharmacy and we know they’re not going to close nor fire people, but they’re being worked to the bone and are constantly at risk to being exposed to contagions.” 

Like supermarkets, some convenience stores are still open, though taking precautions.
The famous Paseo de Gracia street in Barcelona city-center, empty.

Q: What has been the best thing you’ve seen during these days? 

A: “Every night I go out on my balcony to applaud all of our medical & pharmaceutical  professionals and seeing the amount of people doing the same makes me choke up. I’d also say that we have to be aware of what’s happening and not forget it when the next election days comes around. 

On the other hand, I’ve also seen so much solidarity on social media where people are helping, supporting and entertaining one another to make this quarantine more livable. For example, the number of artists that have done concerts (which were canceled in person) live on their social media accounts, museums that have opened their doors virtually, magazines that have made free editions online, teachers, doctors, etc… Lastly, a really nice thing I saw on the news was about our planet, Earth and how the canals in Venice are now almost entirely cleaned and pollution free, that they’ve even seen fish back in the canals. I think we still need to see the positive side and realize that these days have created a decrease of global contamination and at least all this might help the fight against climate change.” 

‘Domingo. Día 2 de cuarentena.’ // ‘Sunday. Day 2 of quarantine.’

Q: Do you have any recommendation for people that want to help out some way? 

A: “I think the best way we can help each other out now, although it might seem paradoxical, is to stay inside your home. It’s the main thing that we can do now to combat this virus and little by little lessen the peak of infected people in Spain (and the world at large). We have to stop being egocentric and think of the people that are currently giving their all in hospitals in terrible conditions, in the pharmacies and supermarkets that are completely exposed. Think of the people alone in their homes who can’t go out and buy food or medicine even, and think that the sooner we make progress to stop the spread of this virus, the sooner we can ALL get back to our normal lives- start working again, help the economy recover, the healthcare system, education, etc. Moreover, when I think about the future, once this is all behind us, I hope we all support small businesses, family-owned shops, freelancers & self-employed people, and most importantly, we should think about the quality of life that one wants to have.”

Last but not least, here you have my current Netflix recommendations in terms of series. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT waste your time by watching “The Last Thing He Wanted” that new action movie with Anne Hathaway – it was terrible. 

My church here in Barcelona, ICB is hosting virtual gatherings again tomorrow morning at 12pm (BCN time) in English and Spanish for all those who need a bit of worship and encouragement, CLICK HERE! 

If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU! If you liked this post, found it interesting or useful in the least, please feel free to comment, share, send to friends. Good luck everyone! 

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