Quarantine Diary: Part 4

{La versión del post en español está aquí}

Hello all – for me we are now on Day 28 of this official quarantine in Barcelona (and all of Spain). Since last Sunday we’ve known that the country’s “State of Alarm” aka the government-enforced stay-at-home order would be extended now until April 25th, at the earliest. The positive news is that it seems that we’ve perhaps passed the peak in terms of the rate of new cases of COVID-19, and now more recent days have shown a descending trend in number of new cases and there’s been less pressure in hospitals and ICUs in terms of the number of hospitalized cases.

We’ve been in this quarantine for nearly a month now (which for here means no going for a run, going on a walk, going for a bike ride, walking to a friend’s place, nor strolling the beach – nothing). Knowing that, it’s easier to understand how taking out the trash or recycling has become one of my favorite moments of the day – I get a bit of fresh air, sunshine and feel normal for 5 minutes walking in our lovely neighborhood like normal). Truthfully, I’m afraid that the quarantine here will get extended for a 3rd time and go through May (there is already talk that it will be extended again until May 10th), but for now I have to be positive and take things one day at a time, doing the best I can.

Pujades Street in Poblenou, empty. As seen whilst taking out our recycling.

I’m thrilled to share the below interview with you all! I had the pleasure of interviewing my Italian friend, Aury recently. We’ve all seen the news about Italy and how they’ve been struggling to fight against the spread of coronavirus in their country. After China, Italy was the first to truly send warnings to the rest of the world to not make the same mistakes that they did as far as preventing the massive spread of the virus and the consequential overwhelming of their health system. I think Spain has pretty closely followed the same path as Italy, frankly doing too little too late (and it seems that the U.S. is steamrolling down the same path).

For me, Italy is a magical place full of love, beauty, the best food and more history and breathtaking views than you could see in an entire lifetime. The first time I went to Italy was in the summer of 2013 with 3 friends (Cass, Bri and Taylor) during our epic backpacking trip. In Italy, we traveled around from Milan to Venice to Florence then Cinque Terre and finally to Rome, and needless to say I was completely enamored with the country. In the following years, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled back to Italy for work with PRONOVIAS (store openings and photo shoots). The last time I was on Italian soil was two summers ago in July when I vacationed in Rome (& Greece) with my family. This photo was from a tour of the Coliseum – extremely hot and steamy, but worth it! I think Italians have set the bar in terms of following traditions, how to enjoy “the sweetness of doing nothing” and of course, the art of the cooking.

Here we go, my interview with Aury, Damian’s cousin Emmi’s girlfriend. Aury is from Carrara, Italy and she now lives there with her family and Emmi (he’s from Córdoba, Argentina but grew up in Alicante, Spain). The couple met in Barcelona several years ago when they were both working in restaurants on the bustling Rambla de Poblenou.  Her hometown, Carrara is located in the central region of Tuscany and is known for its white marble that is quarried there. About 62,700 people live there and the city is just one hour away (in car) from Pisa, the city famous for its leaning tower. Aury’s mom is the owner of a restaurant & bar called Caffé Crema Carrara, and in 2018 Emmi & Aury opened their own place called Mind the Crepe, which serves speciality crepes, pancakes and belgian waffles.


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

A: “The hardest part for me has been to have to close my family’s establishments, accept that someone forces me not to go into work, even though the reasoning is more than fair. Not being able to walk around the streets at my leisure, not being able to buy some products that maybe aren’t absolutely necessary. Last but not least, not being able to go have lunch at my grandma’s house on Sundays.”

Q: What worries you most about all this? 

A: “What worries me most is that nothing will go back to the way it was before. I think that we won’t go back to our calm and ordinary lives like before; I don’t think that we’ll go back to getting together with friends to have a drink or go out to dinner with as much ease or normalcy as we did previously – that’s what scares me at this point.”

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

A: “The best things I’ve been seeing have taken place on social media – many famous people have been doing videos of themselves cooking or working out at home; many famous Italians have even done live videos on Instagram singing and playing instruments, giving their followers at home concerts. I think that has been beautiful because it’s really made me smile and for a few minutes, at least, not think about the unfortunate things that are happening everyday.

I’ve also seen several famous people trying to give back and help out by creating accounts to donate money to our hospitales in order to improve the recovery areas and try to help as many people as possible. In my city, they’ve started a project where people go to the supermarkets to buy groceries for elderly residents that live alone or don’t have family nearby.” 

Q: As someone who’s from a family of restauranteurs, how are you handling the current situation? How do you think this experience will change your sector in the future?

 A: “I think it’s very hard for many reasons, for example in terms of our employees, even though we’re closed currently and they’re not working, we still have to pay their salaries as if everything was normal and next month they’ll get paid double (quattordicesima). Another example is that we’ve had to throw out many food orders that I’d made for the restaurant because the government decided to force the closure of all establishments from one day to the next, so I didn’t have time to organize the orders already placed. In that way, the Italian government has done very little to help us. It’s a really serious problem for all of us.

We’re afraid of what will happen after all this, because I think that we won’t simply go back to work like before. The people will be scared and won’t get over this quickly; they won’t just go back to normal life as it always was previously. I feel like the rules limiting the number of customers in one place at a time will continue, same as the minimum distances between people, and we’ll have to work with gloves, masks, etc., and that won’t help increase our volume of work. There are so many expenses to cover and every night I go to sleep thinking about the folks who work for us, and how they need our help right now more than ever. I just hope that this all ends as soon as possible.”

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

A: “The only thing I want to say is: stay at home and leave only if you truly need something urgently. Do your grocery shopping in the supermarket closest to your house, even if it doesn’t have all your favorite brands. We have to adapt to this situation that we’re living and we need to respect others by wearing masks, gloves and making sure to maintain the recommended amount of physical distance between one another.”

Thank you, Aury for answering all my questions and being up for sharing your experience of being in quarantine in Italy. We will all put this behind us soon enough, I hope. Still crossing my fingers that sometime in 2020 Damian and I will be able to come visit you guys there!

My church here in Barcelona, ICB is having an online Easter gatherings on Sunday morning at 12pm (BCN time) in English and Spanish. Click here to go to their web and access more info & recourses.

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. Stay strong everyone!

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