Surviving Coronavirus in Spain - great to be out and about

Cathy Hogan continues to chart the progress in Spain, a country one step ahead of us

Surviving Coronavirus in Spain

Alan and Cathy

On Monday, June 8 most of Spain will enter Phase Three, the final one in the de-escalation of State of Alarm before stepping into our ‘New Normal’ by the end of this month.
From next Monday we will be allowed to travel to other regions within Spain. We’re especially looking forward to this because a few days before lockdown was imposed Alan returned from the UK with goods that were requested by a British couple in a neighbouring region.
The long shopping list included tins of peas and beans – 110 of them, all of which have remained in the van for nearly three months.
Motorbikes in Spain have to pass an NCT (called ITV here) every two years so, last week we brought ours into the newly reopened centres. Before the €22 test we took the bikes to be washed.
The wet engine caused my 30-year-old Suzuki GS to backfire so loudly that I assumed I had killed my second motorbike in less than a year. And the bangs had the petrol station staff dashing outside, presumably thinking that someone had been shot.
But the bikes dried off and the quick test was passed so we headed for the coast for my first pleasure ride (it’s always been just a mode of transport for me). We had a stunning 40-minute sunny trip around the Cardó mountain range but I miss the stability and comfort of my exploded X-Max so much that my road bike is now up for sale and I’ve started shopping around for a replacement large scooter.
I find it amusing when my Irish friends say how lucky I am that I can now visit a café.
How short our memories are. For two months I viewed with much joy and some envy Facebook posts from Ireland and other countries with photos of them out for a walk in the local woods or a run in socially distant groups kilometres from their homes.
They chatted about driving into town to go shopping, which I hadn’t done since mid-March.
But because we’re now able to eat out in our region (outdoors only and up to 50% capacity) my situation is suddenly to be envied. Try not leaving the house or seeing another human, apart from my partner, for over two months. And for the next two weeks, I could only walk within a kilometre of home. I live in a country where the number of people dying hovered above 800 a day by the end of March. It was terrifying when it reached 950 on April 2.
But I know that perception of our plight is all relative and that we are all in the luckiest few percent in the world. Since the beginning of April the United States all too frequently has daily death rates of well over 2,000.
I asked my American friends if they were satisfied with their government’s handling of the pandemic. My sister-in-law in Boston replied: “It’s hard to even know where to begin on this question. Abysmal!”
“Absolutely not. Totally incompetent. Trump must go,” Jo Anne in New York answered.
And Mark doesn’t mince his words either: “Our president and his party are the worst in the history of the United States. There was no leader, and those who pretended to lead mostly lied for their own needs. Nothing they even tried to do was for the benefit of the people; it was all about their power, money and self-interest. The only thing to do is to vote those in the White House and the president’s party out of office. Hopefully the world will forgive this failure in leadership of the US and once we get rid of the Republican Party, the world accepts the US back into its fold.”
This contrasts with Scott in New Zealand, who says: “It’s a difficult situation; the government reacted very quickly based on what happened in the northern hemisphere and predictions they made for NZ, which was that we were heading for same situation as Italy.”
His mother, Sue, tells me: “I’m happy with the government, except that I don’t think we were given all of the information and I felt like we were living in a police state. Last month one minister did his own thing and didn’t obey the rules; he went for bike-ride and took his family to the beach 11km away.
“ I think that the government could have closed our borders earlier and they didn’t act quickly enough, but when they did react it worked out for all concerned.”
And Liam in Ireland says: “I think that the government did its best but passed the decision-making to experts and academics. Politicians have dithered in putting a new government in place, playing ‘party values’ as if there was no crisis. My distrust of the government and health experts has grown. And I resent the ‘house arrest’ ageism of lockdown cocoonery.”
Every person’s situation and how they cope emotionally, financially and health-wise, is as unique as the individual. As we all emerge out of lockdown at the various regional rates I just hope we remember that we do so with different challenges and comfort zones. Some families, for example, need to continue isolating for months, if not years to come, in order to protect their elderly parents, or their newborn or as yet unborn baby; others cannot afford or do not trust their healthcare system.
We must respect where each fellow citizen is at because we are all in this together for life.

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