Lock down hell – week 12

Days 79-85 – Week 12 – Phase 2

Monday 1 June 2020 – Day 79

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

Paulo Coelho

Start of a new month. Start of Week 12. Start of Phase 2. It’s like a new beginning today. Refreshing and Invigorating.

So as the Malaga and Granada regions catch up with the rest of Andalucia today, this means that in total around 70 per cent of Spain is now in Phase II. There are four islands in Phase III and the remaining handful of regions stuck in Phase I for the time being.

So what does this mean? We can exercise without time slots (except not between 10am and 12pm and 7pm-8pm which are reserved for the 70+ vulnerable folks); bars can open their indoor areas 40% capacity and shopping centres can open with 40% capacity in each shop. We can now have gatherings of up to 15 instead of 10. Which is pushing it. I was struggling to find 10 friends to be honest. And the beaches and pools are open with some restrictions (drones and security guards being put in place) some of which make a beach trip a tad unappealing.

But on the whole, this is another step in the right direction and a return to the post CV19 lifestyle we are slowly becoming accustomed to. There are all sorts of things now to consider when going out. Gloves, mask, sanitiser, rules, appointments, restrictions and timings. Total freedom has gone replaced by a new regulated and coordinated lifestyle. It’s hard some days. And the urge to race forward, to return to what once was, is compelling.

I remember during an unhappy period of my life I once read an article about “triumphant unhappiness” – basically it’s easier to be miserable and moan than to be joyful and rejoice. Human nature finds it simpler to be disapproving or blame someone or something than dish out appreciation or praise.

So what prevents us from changing? Resistance. Basically we fight it. We are more comfortable reverting to our default settings. Character traits are one thing. Learned behaviour is another. And we all have the ability to alter this. Some people refuse to acknowledge transformation: “Accept me as I am..” well such arrogance isn’t very appealing if you a twat. Because that’s when you really need to be making some adjustments 😉

Ultimately this is why the Coronavirus crisis has thrown lots of us into turmoil. We have floundered with an enforced lock down, we haven’t coped with restrictions or just broken the rules. Because we want to return to our notion of normality and regularity. We have resisted change.

But a new dawn is approaching. Although there’s still months of this to play out, there is a ‘new normality’ on the horizon and it’s so interesting to observe how each country performs and how people react.

Tuesday 2 June 2020 – Day 80

Worldwide Coronavirus cases: 6,397,743 Deaths: 377,974
Spain Coronavirus cases: 286,718 Deaths: 27,127

Figures show there were no deaths yesterday in Spain during a 24 hour period and only 35 deaths in the last 7 days and the lowest daily increase of infections since march 5. Average new daily cases is currently 200.

So we are 80 days in. According to numerology 80 is a building number and resonates with business, legalities and finance. In bingo it’s ‘Gandhi’s Breakfast’ (ie: ate nothing). I like that! Meanwhile as the story goes, Phileas Fogg sailed around the world in the same amount of time. Which puts my achievements (or lack of them) into shame really.

June is probably my favourite month. I think it’s the anticipation of school holidays and the arrival of summer without the intense heat. Everything winds down but is still moving, albeit at a much slower pace. Saying that if my kids went any slower at the moment they’d rust.

School has 3 weeks left to run. Inwardly I’m rejoicing. I am done with this online schooling lark. It’s exhausting and frustrating. I didn’t sign up for this in the parenting agreement. I feel like I am a permanent fixture hovering over son’s shoulder checking up on him. I came across this anecdote from a couple of years ago which sums up the challenges I face:

Maths homework with Sol – probabilities and averages.
Mummy: “OK so give me the average age of the people in our house for example So Pete’s 52, I’m 47, Luna is 13 and you are 10”
Sol: (muttering adding up in his head) “So…. 122”
Mummy: “Yep so now divide that by how many?”
Sol: “4”
Mummy: “Yep and it’s…?”
Sol: “30!”
Mummy: “errrr yep But I think it’s 30 point something isn’t it?….”
Sol: “No just 30”
Mummy. “I think there’s something left over. Grab the calculator and check it.”
Sol: (punching numbers). “See 30. Well 30.5. “
Mummy: “There you go. You need the whole number really.”
Sol: “No in Spanish it’s just 30. This is an English calculator.”

But as some elements slow down, in contrast other post lock down activities are being resurrected. son went back to karate last night. First time since mid March lock down began. Classes of 10 maximum and no contact which is difficult in karate!

But exercise and regime has been restored and for that I am grateful, although judging by this lifeless figure late this morning, it may be some time before battery life is fully recharged.

Wednesday 3 June 2020 – Day 81

Mid week already. Time flies. Managed a quick dog walk yesterday afternoon after work and daughter had an online class meeting yesterday to discuss her going up into her 4th and final year of ESO (high school) with a view to going through to Bachillerato (6th form) if she gets the grades of course. Decisions to be made in terms of subjects. All very grown up stuff. Where did my babies go?

I remember when the biggest obstacle in life was introducing solids, toilet training and not losing them in Dunnes. That seems like a walk in the park now compared to lessons and guidance they need to deal with the big wide world. It’s a scary place on all sorts of levels. And preparing them for what they will probably be faced with in a prejudiced and damaged planet sends shivers down my spine some days.

I’m struggling to watch or read the coverage of the George Floyd protests. It’s incredibly sad and frightening. I’m not convinced protests work in such emotional situations. They just seem to cause more tension and violence. There needs to be a new approach. I have no idea what. I saw one video with a black guy pleading with a 16-year begging him literally to gather his peers and “find a different way.” He is right

I find it utterly incomprehensible, that in the 21st century with all our resources, knowledge, information, history, education and experiences that issues with racism, religion, sexual orientation and the like still exists. How can one person actually believe they are better than another? In any instance.

Coupled with this, how can people just not admit they made a mistake or did something wrong? There’s a simple phrase “I’m sorry” which can go a long way in making things right. If only Dominic Cummings or Derek Chauvin had uttered these words instead of pathetically trying to justify or deny their actions. It would be a starting point. It takes real humility to make a sincere apology and sadly there are those who simply don’t care enough or are too ignorant or narcissistic.

On that topic Carter and I watched the Central Park Five ‘When they see us’ and the Rubin Carter ‘The Hurricane’ documentary films a while ago, which are both harrowing. I also watched a really interesting documentary last night on Netflix – the story of Cyntoia Brown which restores a little faith in humanity – because yes thankfully there are people out there who will still stand up and fight to support others.

Anyway “I’m sorry” for babbling on. I’ll get off my soapbox. The fact that this topic exists demonstrates the dismal state of affairs in a world where humanity seems to care so little about each other. Is making it right such a huge effort or sacrifice?

On a lighter note I’ll leave you with a video of something I never had a problem teaching my kids – eating. On the other hand, table manners are still a work in progress.

Thursday 4 June 2020 – Day 82

Gym day followed by a 10.30am appointment at the local council building. Took me 3 days to get through on the phone number to make the appointment, which was either engaged or no one answered. Frustrating. Anyway finally they responded and digital signature has been re-instated. Who knew the darn thing runs out?! Bizarre. Anyway that sorted I also managed to squeeze in a cup of coffee (yes out out) with a friend in town. My second outing to a café in the last 3 months. How daring and decadent that feels.

Still feels a bit alien in town. It’s the queuing outside that I find bizarre. For everything. To enter the bank. To enter the shops. To enter the post office. Lots of masked people hanging around outside establishments waiting for their turn to enter.

And the Spanish don’t do queuing per se. They huddle and congregate. There is no line to join. You just blend into the crowd and ask: “who is the last one?”. When that person identifies themselves you pin point them, and basically when they disengage themselves from the throng and go to the counter, you know you are next. It’s a system which works. No queue jumping. No standing in an official line. You can talk to a friend. Sit on your phone. Relax. And just wait your turn.

The only time you are buggered is if your allotted person decides to break rank and disappear, because then confusion sets in as you of course have no idea who was before them or where you belong in the queue. The key is to keep your eyes fixed on said ear marked predecessor at all times.

After my little jaunt through town I decided after my caffeine induced cycling adventure last week, it would be safer all round to steer away from any machinery or equipment, so I headed straight home to find children just emerging from their slumber. Yes, we are clearly winning at this home schooling motivation malarkey.

Rainy afternoon – very refreshing. I’ve just finished the book I was reading ‘Unorthodox – scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots’ – yes it’s taken me ages mainly due to lack of time. Bit different to the film and more in depth look at Feldman’s Jewish past. But a fascinating story.

We forget sometimes, present situation excluded, how much freedom we have. And how much others don’t, or may never have.

Friday 5 June 2020 – Day 83

Another week has flown by. Time is speeding up once again as work kicks in and activities resume albeit on a scaled down version.

Sanchez got the votes he needed for the 6th and final state of alarm extension which will run until June 21 and the end of lock down officially. And this blog. Hooray I hear you cheer. OK Susan calm down at the back. Put the flags away. That’s just rude.

I shall hereby call June 21 ‘CV Day’ – which will go down in history books like ‘D Day’ or in a movie like ‘Independence Day’). And so to paraphrase Mr Pullman:

“Post COVID. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is June 21 and Summer Solstice and we will once again be fighting for a return of tourism. Not trying to wipe out dodgy criminals in Marbs, corrupt politicians or drunken Brits vomiting outside bars… but a flu virus. We’re fighting for our right to return to the beach. Without gloves and masks. And should we win the day, June 21 will no longer be known as the Start of Summer, but as the day when Spain declared in one voice: We will not go quietly to the beach! We will not sunbathe 2m apart! We will go into the sea on an airbed! We will play bat and ball! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our CV Day!”

Andalucia has received the go ahead to pass through to Phase 3 next week, which means Malaga and Granada have been fast-tracked after only doing a week in Phase 2. There seems to be a push to get everyone ready as once June 21 arrives no restrictions can be upheld without the state of alarm in place.

Malaga has had no registered deaths for a few days. Total number of deaths in Malaga is 287 and apparently only 17 are in hospital (four in ICU) as a result of CV19. The province has 2,800 cases.

Meanwhile at Casa Cater. Full Moon tonight and a little soiree with a couple of friends with drinks and food to kick start the local bank holiday weekend.

Saturday 6 June 2020 – Day 84

Dashing in last minute, skidding to a halt with a glass of wine after a very long busy day.

Kids have spent the day doing horsey things with Aunty Carol and Uncle Kalle. It’s been a long time since they’ve been able to do this and I’m still awaiting their return! Hence the glass of wine.

Whilst they were occupied hubby and I spent the day at the townhouse. More cleaning. More decorating. More sorting. It’s taking some time but our aim is to have it restored to its former glory by end of June so we can use it over the summer and offer it to friends and family who may want to pop over to Spain for a visit. Not expecting many, if any, visitors this year with everything that’s going on, but it’s there just in case.

Apparently our land borders with France and Portugal will open June 22 followed by international restrictions lifted July 1. There were zero tourists in the month of April with no hotels opened and no international visitors. Spain is waiting for July 1 when international travel is expected to resume. In April last year Spain saw 7 million visitors who spent more than €7bn. May figures not yet released are expected to be equally as dire.Between January and April this year tourism spending dropped from €22.4m to €11.7bn and visitors from 21.3 million last year to 10.5 million this year.

It is going to be a tough year economically for Spain. Sanchez is pressuring the EU for the completion of a post COVID recovery scheme, where Spain should receive around €140m worth of grants and loans. He is also introducing a new national Minimum Guaranteed Income Scheme. In theory this should help an estimated 1.6 million people who live in extreme poverty, a group that represents 12.4% of the population.

Although this welfare scheme was mooted back in 2019 the pandemic has speeded up the process as it has highlighted just how many live below the poverty line. In Spain 26.1% of the population live on less than 60% of the median income (€8,871 a year).

Sunday 7 June 2020 – Day 85

Shit job Sunday has returned with a vengeance and double whammy of blockages to sort this morning as kitchen and bathroom drainage both required some attention. Boiling water, rodding and a bit of swearing seems to have rectified the matter. Bloody campo houses and their endless list of problems or jobs to do.

Meanwhile I blinked. It rained. And I’ve a garden full of weeds again too. My good efforts during lock down have been undone in a downpour. On the plus side a very wet spring this year means all the new trees I planted are growing like Triffids.

At the start of lock down the kids and I scattered some sunflower seeds and over the course of the last 3 months we have watched them grow. It’s been like our quarantine chart. Most are now over 2 metres tall and most impressive of all is they are now all flowering. Beautiful. And also a bee magnet.

Talking of bees I happened upon a swarm of odd looking massive insects this morning. They looked like mutant giant killer bees. So googled them. From their picture I think they are Mammoth Wasps. Harmless I believe (thank god) even though they look slightly intimidating. Never seen them before in my garden but I now have a bunch of them nesting and hovering around my herb garden.

Today also involved a Skype call with my mum and dad which was lovely. Gutted that in all reality it’s going to be at least 12 months before they come here or we go there, and that’s if this situation improves which judging by the horrendous reports on the UK news with protests and packed beaches it might be longer. Protesters go the hell home. Not. Helping. At. All.

Figures here on the other hand are looking very positive. In Andalucia there’s 17,592 confirmed cases and 1,423 deaths and 13,989 recovered. In Malaga province there are 4,554 cases and 287 deaths and 2,965 recovered. In Coin there are 44 reported cases and just 1 in the last 2 weeks. There is light at the end of this tunnel.

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