“More people die of the flu every day”. Yes – but we don’t know where this is going, that’s what scares me. This is a two-line summary of the daily discussions I had with my boyfriend for the last couple of weeks, ever since that weird “coronavirus” that started in China in what, January? Started appearing all over the news.
A conspiracy by Big Pharma? A play by China? Or a very desperate bid to get everyone to shut up about Brexit already.
We went through a surreal few weeks. Coronavirus was infecting the media. It was a pandemic all across the radio, TV (not that we have one, I just imagine) and all the news sources we both read. And yet – nothing. Not a whisper in the streets. Life was completely normal. We took Mary to her nursery school every day as usual.
If anything, she was in there for longer than ever before. I had chosen this time to do a series of long runs. My aim being to get from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar in three stretches. After a 43 km run on Monday the “COVID-19” situation in Italy was looking grim. After another debate, we concluded my coronavirus panic shop was nevertheless out of our budget and I reluctantly cancelled the Mercadona order.
I frantically caught up on work on Wednesday (the jammy life of us freelancers) before doing a shorter run on Wednesday; 26 km. I have very little time to read the news and I binged the whole way home.
By the time I got off at Clot-Aragó station, I was a walking panic button of corona. With weak legs and an empty stomach (I still hadn’t even had lunch at it was nearly four pm, and I’d run 26km!) I went straight to Lidl.
*I did not stockpile*
I wish. Our budget does not stretch to panic buying a shop to last several months. We did your average family’s weekly shop. I staggered home with lots of exciting groceries like powdered milk and dried chickpeas.
Thursday 12th March: Surprised by the radio silence by the nursery I asked the director Vanessa when I was picking Mary up, whether they were going to stay open? I regret that question.
Vanessa balefully showed me the letter on her Gmail account that had come in minutes before. All schools to close for the next 14 (to 27!) days.
We optimistically (irresponsibly) took Mary to her swimming lesson that evening only to be shoed away at the door.
We glumly started the walk home silently dreading what could be a month of being confined in a city flat with a toddler.
We spent the weekend debating – do we go to an Airbnb in the country? Too much money. Do we go home to England (James) or Ireland/Zimbabwe (me) – too irresponsible (given that children can be asymptomatic carriers, we could be dragging a deadly coronavirus sponge through the airport, to then stay with older relatives). We resigned ourselves to 2 weeks in the city. On Saturday afternoon, I did another shop. Mostly for wine at the prospect of 14 days in side with a toddler, and a giant tub of ice-cream. On a whim, I also bought a giant 15 litre bottle of water and candles (growing up in Zimbabwe – you never know!) and staggered home.
What an advert for the times….mask on (i.e. unsubtly bright pink balaclava pulled up over nose and mouth), gloves on (hence the awkward fumbling around at the till) I staggered home with wine and water (looking like a reverse Jesus) piled up in the pushchair.
Day 1(2). In 2020 you don’t get knocks on the door, phone calls or someone reading out a scroll in the local plaza, you’re just expected to look up the facts yourselves. We did not. – So obsessed with the global pandemic of COVID-19 I managed to miss the fact that all of Spain was shut down.
We had a relaxing morning. Pancakes for a lazy Sunday start and then we headed off to Parc Cuitadella.
The park is normally heaving with tourists (and slightly hazy with the smell of magic cigarettes). Today, there was just the lone drifter wandering through and the odd jogger. At times, we were completely alone in the park. It was eerily wonderful.
We spent a few hours watching the ducks, letting Mary charge around and burn steam before deciding to make tracks. Given it was the last day of freedom before the crackdown quarantine began, it was surprisingly desolate.
My phone buzzed and I took it out to see a photo of police cars surrounding a cyclist. “Estan multando” (They’re giving fines). What? It’s only starting tomorrow?
Turns out, we need to read more local news.
The quarantine officially started at 00.00 on Sunday. I.e in the early hours that morning.
We made our way home in what was suddenly a slightly more sinister “calm”.
In the afternoon, I clawed the walls with boredom.
Everyone will struggle with a two-week quarantine. No one wants to be cooped up indoors for a fortnight. It is depressing, frustrating, claustrophobic and no one needs to spend that much time with their flat mates OR beloved families.
For me – it is worse.
I hate being indoors. I have too much energy. And not the useful, let’s focus on a project or do a well-planned workout, but the let’s buzz around stabbing frantically at different ideas and moving on. I have the energy of a racehorse and the attention span of a toddler with ADHD.
I am basically Tigger on crack. Forced to stay indoors for 14 days. Tigger on crack having a bad trip.
Poor Mary was happy plodding around with her toys and quietly turning the flat upside down while I was scratching at the door to be let out.
Maybe if I shoot myself in the foot it will be easier? I can be distracted by having something to nurse and stop turning septic, and I probably won’t want to go for a run anymore.
We were 1 Day in (and I had already been out that morning!).
It’s going to be a long 2 weeks.
In the end, we had a brilliant Sunday! I remembered we actually have a rooftop terrace on our building! It is not ideal with toddlers as it is six floors high with dicey walls. So we can’t stay long. We took up a picnic, my guitar and Mary’s toys and made an evening of it.
Hey – there are worse places to be quarantined J
Also, as I have just been soberly reminded by a very stoic and calm James – our grandparents were called up to War. We are complaining because we are forced to sit on couches and watch Netflix!
Strangely – even though we are all squirreled away silently – there is much bigger sense of community and camaraderie than when we were all rubbing up against each other in the streets. We are hyper aware now, when before we would gormlessly bump into each other as pavement zombies lost in our smartphones.