Early Observations During Spain's COVID-19 Lock-Down

Spain has been in lock-down for several days. Given what the news is showing, I’m thinking that the government is likely to extend it past the original 15 day declaration.

“Shelter at home,” which is what the San Francisco Bay Area is currently doing, is not at all like what Spain and Italy are doing. We are really not supposed to be outside, unless it’s to go food shopping, go to the pharmacy or bank, or go to a job that requires you to be there.

The penalties for breaking the COVID-19 lock-down rules in Spain are pretty stiff. Given the implications of potentially spreading the virus, that’s fine with me. We’ve definitely seen police patrolling.

The benefit of having kitchen appliances the size of “Easy Bake Oven” devices is that we need to go grocery shopping every two-three days. When Joy and I did our first grocery shopping trip a few days ago, the butcher politely cautioned us that only one of us should be out shopping. Check out the photo of the butcher shop. There is a white/red tape about three feet in front of the counter to keep customers away from the glass case. The tape provides a distancing reminder for customers and reduces employees’ need to wipe down the counters. It’s awkward when you need to hand the butcher a glass jar of olives for them to scan, but it’s a very clear reminder to keep your distance. One butcher has her face mask on her forehead while she slices meat. The butcher who helped me kept his face mask on while he sliced my chorizo. (Hmmm. that didn’t come out right.)

COVID-19 measures at the butcher
COVID-19 measures at the butcher

By mutual (and unspoken) consent, only 2-3 customers are in the store at any one time. If there are already customers in there, you just wait outside until someone leaves.

Random things I’ve learned over the past few days:

  • 4 steps from where I sit on the couch to where I sit at the table.
  • 3 more steps to the kitchen (and everything in the kitchen is reachable in 1.5 sidesteps in either direction)
  • 5 steps to the bathroom from the kitchen
  • From my side of the bed (the far side) to the bathroom is 10 steps.
  • If I want to get extravagant, it’s 19 steps from where I sit on the couch to my side of the bed.
  • It is tempting to boredom snack, but so far, we’ve been really good.
  • Sometimes I pee just to have something to do.
  • I wouldn’t make it in prison.

The Cami de Ronda, a seaside hiking trail that follows the Costa Brava from Sant Feliu de Guíxols (where we’re ensconced) to the village of Begur 43KM away, literally crosses our apartment complex driveway. The trail is secluded this time of year and particularly right now. This is where Joy and I now take turns walking the dog. A series of twenty minute walks along this steep trail is keeping all three of us sane.

The photos below shows how lucky we are in terms of where our AirBnB is located. Of course, we spent a lot of time trying to find the optimal place in which to stay for an extended time. Sure would be nice to visit the beach across the bay and maybe go kayaking or snorkeling, but chances of that happening any time soon aren’t very likely. We certainly appreciate having a nice balcony, a nice view, and fresh sea breezes.

On a dog-walking related note, police in the Spanish city of Murcia posted the following video with text that essentially says, “… walking pets is allowed if accompanied by one person, always short walks so they can relieve themselves. Having a Tyrannosaurus Rex is not covered. #stayathome”

I suspect many of you reading this are going through, or will be going through, your own levels of stir-crazy over the next weeks. Good luck to us all!


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