Column

Two months of life in lockdown in Spain

Cathy Hogan considers some of the positives that have come out of lockdown

Brian Keyes

Reporter:

Brian Keyes

Surviving the coronavirus in Spain

Cathy Hogan

This Friday (May 15), marks two months of strict lockdown in Spain. We celebrate each small lifting of restrictions, but know that more lives are put at risk with every step.

From the end of March I starting seeing the hashtag #lovinglockdown but I’ve never used it, feeling guilty for being happy despite the pandemic.
The truth is I’m loving life, as I’ve always done - not life in lockdown per se, therefore I think it would be misleading for me to use that hashtag. Sometimes I even feel guilty for sharing positivity when so many are in mourning or barely surviving mentally or financially. But as an Irish Catholic, I may be genetically predisposed to feelings of guilt...
People who have spent their adult lives harbouring positive relationships, rewarding work, and healthy and happy lifestyles tend to survive and, dare I say it, thrive during testing times such as these.
Resilience is the key and hopefully many have learned to play the long game. The rest of the population is busy Googling ‘When will the pubs open’ - the second most Googled question in Ireland of late.
Searching for and spreading positivity is essential these days and I was wondering about the things that, only for lockdown I wouldn’t have done. Things like tasting our own home-grown fruit and vegetables, and buying a brood of hens.
I reconnected with some international friends who have since become part of my circle of strong, supportive people. I also wouldn’t have seen sides of some friends and family that have come to the fore: resourcefulness, humour, and an appreciation for the important things in life.
I put the question to my friends and here is what some of them shared with me:
SCOTT: “I’ve always been good in the kitchen but now I enjoy being forced to cook every evening since there is no other option available here in New Zealand.”
ROSEY: “I have been watching plays regularly on Zoom with a friend that I used to go the theatre with and I literally live for those calls. I also got virtual acting coaching and that was so much more diagnostic than the usual sessions. I spend much more time walking with my dog, and I learned how to use a sewing machine which I have wanted to do for an age.”
AILISH: “Only for lockdown I wouldn’t have appreciated the frontline workers saving lives.”
DYMPHNA: “We’ve really bonded as a family, and we have adopted some nice new habits, such as our 11 o’clock coffee break on the patio where mobiles are banned. We’ve taken up tennis on the front drive and we also built and planted a huge polytunnel - I hadn’t envisioned us getting around to that until our retirement in 15 or 20 years’ time!”
BREDA: “I planted a large new flower bed and bought a sustainably made picnic bench for my back garden. It was produced in Co Offaly from 6,000 recycled plastic bottles.”
LIAM: “Only for lockdown I wouldn’t have had the interest to doubt politicians and their informed decision-making. I had the time to think and wonder why in Ireland it is taking so long to form a Government. If the pandemic is so scary and urgent, and it is, why isn’t a new government rushing to take over. Did we elect only an opposition?”
JOHN: “I wouldn’t have developed a fitness regime with my daughters. They have free time from work and university now and every morning we put the lead on the dog and clock up over 10,000 steps on our Fitbits. As a family, it’s brought us closer together.’
SARAH: “Only for lockdown I wouldn’t be organising our second Beours Digital Open Mic Night to raise funds for the Sexual Violence Centre Cork this weekend. And I wouldn’t have dug up that huge creeper that has been choking the garden for the last two years.”
JITKA: “I’ve been reminded of how great the people I have around me are - I feel blessed! And I’ve had the chance to spend so much quality time with my family. I also got around to spring cleaning. I realised that we took for granted the endless supply goods, our healthcare workers, teachers, hairdressers, local shops etc. It has also been great to see how the creative half of the Czech Republic took out their sewing machines and made masks and scrubs for those who needed it. Donating is huge here now - from coffee and goodies for medical stuff, to supporting local producers and shops. Or just giving a bar of chocolate to our postal service woman.”
ALAN: “Only for lockdown, I wouldn’t have started a cooking blog.”
SABINE: “I wouldn’t have shone a torch into certain corners of my mind, and I’m glad I did. It’s not all pretty but I’m figuring out what parts of me that I like and what parts need work.”
TRISH: “Without lockdown I wouldn’t have been able to focus on writing my thesis.”
MARIA: “I recently convened a session at the European Geophysical Union meeting from my music room at home. The annual event usually takes place in Vienna and it’s the largest meeting of geo scientists in Europe. About 20,000 people normally travel to share their findings, learn from each other, network and create new collaborative projects in hundreds of environmental disciplines.
“For years I thought that these large conferences needed to move online for the most part; the cost to the environment, as well as financially to our agencies is huge. This year, instead of cancelling it the organisers switched to the internet. Now topical sessions, like mine on seabed mapping was facilitated via an online platform. Co-convenes and I introduced and questioned each author and their work is accessible for the rest of the month.
“It worked out so well that all conveners, speakers and the audience were praising the new system. Moving to an online platform would never have happened if not for the pandemic, not even for environmental scientists who are responsible for monitoring and educating the public on global warming!
“This pandemic also made it possible for me to attend. Being currently out of work I would never have made it to Vienna to carry out the convening, keep up with the latest research and interact with my research colleagues.”
The return to the old way of life is not an option for many so here’s hoping that our ‘new normal’ will be as half as good as it can and ought to be. Now, to get going on that list of ‘Things to do before lockdown ends’.