All days Sunday…30 March, 2020
San Vicente del Raspeig, 29 March 2020
Lately we are constantly getting messages from people who are worried how we are doing, here in Spain. It’s very heart-warming to receive messages from people you haven’t heard from for a long time, or from guests who have been here before, or even have yet to come, or are planning to come. Apparently only very dramatic stories about Spain come into Belgium. We also follow the news of course, but because we are so strict in isolation, we feel very safe here in Lavinia. This ensures that it still stays a bit at large perceives. It seems disrespectful, knowing that 1000 people die here every day. Now that I write this, this very high number, it partly dawned on me how bad this situation is. As long as we stay within the gates of our resort, there doesn’t seem to be much going on. At least if you make abstraction of the fact that there would be guests at this very moment. Apart from that, we’re going to go on, we won’t get bored for a moment. Wim tackles the website thoroughly, translations are made,
and I’ve flown into the garden. So far there has been little time for this. Almost all the vegetables are in the ground, the herb garden has been thoroughly refurbished,
and now it’s the turn of the rest of the gigantic garden. The gardeners are no longer allowed to come to work, but weeds are not directed by corona. Thanks to the rain of the past week it only got a big spurt of growth, so there is really nowhere to start. The advantage is, that it is not miniscule pieces, but almost complete plants. If you remove one, you’ve immediately made a world of difference. Moreover, I would like to separate some plants that almost crush each other in the 10 years of vacancy. They both need oxygen, so we’ll take care of that, so at least they’ll be restored to their glory. It is going to be a feat where Wim will be able to bring out his masculine strength. Here, in this predominantly arid climate, digging out a plant is not the way to do it in Belgium. You almost have to chop through rock-hard soil to get some roots free. Because they are used to so little water, the roots are usually very firm and deeply anchored. So we actually take advantage of the ‘stay at home’ measures, which are extremely strict here by the way, to finally do things we would never have done otherwise. And it gives a lot of satisfaction. At least, when I’m able to ignore my tired, creaking body.
Today we finally have another sunny day, which makes me relive automatically. I have to admit, even in our little paradise, with its spacious garden and breath-taking views of mountains and sea, I feel trapped. It starts to gnaw. Just the idea, that is imposed on us that we are not allowed outside, gives me that feeling. I don’t immediately feel the need to go outside, and I mean outside our domain. The few times I did go outside, because I had to, gave me such a strange feeling, making me feel even more locked up. The same contradictory feeling you can have when you feel lonely in the middle of a group of people. As if everything happens outside of you, as if you’re just an extra who doesn’t participate in the real story. That’s the way I felt yesterday when I went to the pharmacy. I thought it might do me some good to go out myself. I thought I needed it and it would be liberating. Unfortunately, just the opposite was true. No one on the street, not even in the busy shopping street, and that on a Saturday afternoon. No cars. You could just cross without looking, there was no one anyway.
The only people who were forced to go out on the street wore gloves and a mask. They looked like aliens to me, huddled away in fear of someone getting closer. Avoiding all eye contact, to absurd, as if you get infected just when you look someone in the eye. The amicable atmosphere, the noisy talking and calling, the busy gesticulating, nothing is there anymore. And that is what attracts me so much in southern life. It’s gone, there’s nothing left, it’s like Sunday, every day of the week. And on Sunday, everyone buries themselves in their house. Shops are closed. And yet it doesn’t even look like Sunday, because then the social life is buzzing and friends and family are looking for each other to eat and drink something together. Suddenly I don’t feel at home anymore, so I rush to the pharmacy, looking around with wonder at what all this is doing to an entire society.
Apparently everything has gone so fast that people have to improvise to make sure that everyone in the shops and pharmacy stays at least one meter away from each other. The ‘grab-boxes’ in the pharmacy now serve as partitions at the counter.
It’s quite an event to place your order. You are forced to ‘throw’ your prescription almost as far as the pharmacist from a distance, because that bin is between you and the counter. Moreover, the pharmacy clerks are wearing a mask, which makes them -thanks to my modest Spanish knowledge- even less understandable. The payment terminal is carefully pushed against the hatch, so you have to squeeze yourself into curves to enter your code from that one meter distance. As soon as the next customer comes in, I notice that everyone looks around anxiously to make sure no one gets near them after all. Almost accusingly, the entrant is looked at as if he is being accused of ‘daring’ to enter while they are already standing there. I establish by myself that I am taking the same timid stance and I notice that I too may cast the same look at the person behind me. This is not who I am. Corona turns people into strange creatures, creatures that only radiate fear, fear of an invisible enemy. I notice that the fear is deep in here. People are like death to get out on the street. The repercussions aren’t soft either. There are severe penalties of up to 3000 € if you turn out to be on the street with the wrong reason. And control there is, very often. I feel fear of being stopped by the police. I feel like a criminal being chased. Completely unjustified, but that’s the feeling I’ve had since the measures were taken.
When I leave the pharmacy, I can’t help myself to look behind me again. To my dismay I see that no new gloves are used, that they are not disinfected. Am I wrong if I think this is a false sense of safety? That you delude people into thinking it’s safe as long as you wear a mask and gloves? I flee into my car, on my way home, and I have an uncontrollable urge to drive fast, in order to experience a bit of a sense of freedom. On the way home, I see people sitting behind their wheel like robots, fully equipped with a mask and gloves. They’re alone in the car, because that’s compulsory. I can’t get rid of the thought that they might be wearing the same pair of gloves, the same mask, for days in a row. At home as well as in the shop and in the car. Is this what they’re supposed to do? Or is this over-acting?
I wonder if people have been properly informed. 24 hours a day you hear nothing but corona. You’re bombarded with all kinds of information. Sometimes you have a guess as to which source the information comes from. Often people make statements or speculations on social media that are totally untrue, or at least questionable. It confuses your mind. You no longer know what to do, can and may. I don’t know either. Emotional war. I’m afraid for all the people who were struggling emotionally before corona. I’m afraid for people who live in loneliness. I fear that the impact of corona will be much greater emotionally and psychologically than being sick itself. Finally, stories are emerging of how people who have been healed experienced the illness. Before, we were only beaten around the ears with figures about the dead and the sick. Figures that are only important for the statistics and for the science and politics that needs them. It almost seems to be a race of numbers. I have the feeling that the human being behind every number is so little addressed. Every number has a family next to it, friends, who aren’t even allowed to come near them, can’t say goodbye. Dying lonely, without a loved one at your bedside, possibly gasping for breath because your lungs are giving up completely. That seems to be corona to me. Being scared to death because you can’t breathe, because you’re afraid you would become a statistic. Fears because you have to go through this alone, you only see white suits around you, worried and stressed faces of nursing staff. Overtired running from one patient to another. Because you end up in a strange world without someone who loves you by your side. It seems like hell to me. And I do not wish anyone to go through this.
So, dear people, take care of yourself and your loved ones, from a distance of course, and still let them feel how much you love each other. One way or another…
con suerte en buena salud (hopefully in good health)
Annemie or Ana
Maybe you like to read “When Mommy becomes a grade” as well ?