Tomorrow morning the Spanish prime minister will declare a State of Emergency . Today feels very strange. Every thing has changed and will remain changed for quite some time to come. We are luckier than many. My classes are now all on line. Some of my students live , in apartments , in city centres. If they have children, they are all confined to barracks for at least two weeks. Here we have our little garden and roof terrace, we can still walk the dogs in people empty spaces and retain our humanity by waving or shouting ‘buenas dias ‘ to neighbours across the street, getting no closer than that! I can’t imagine being stuck inside , especially with children for such a length of time.
I have to admit to being worried. My brother in Scotland was quite surprised at the concern that I obviously displayed in a text conversation with him this morning. It is a situation never before experienced in my life time. My parents experienced it during WW2 but as a baby boomer, apart from personal sadness through loss of loved ones, the three day week when I was a teenager which was all a bit of a lark to a 14 year old, a fear of nuclear war during the 70s and 80s and mild concern over mad cow disease in the 90s, I have never really been seriously challenged. This feels like a challenge and my usual optimism is being stretched.
However, there are people out there whose challenge is much greater than mine. My students living in Madrid cooped up with kids , the people who are actually fighting the illness and those who have lost family already come to mind first. And then there are those people looking after us.
We took Rocky up in to the hills today for a long walk. We can do that and not meet a soul. We can sit on the edge of the hillside and listen to the birds singing with the sun on our shoulders. On our way home, I was able to pick lemons, onions and lettuce from the huerto. A favourite viewpoint looks down towards the city and it was here that I realised how amazing those who have to keep going, those who have to look after us are and how grateful I am for them. Not everyone can work from home, many people will have to keep going and face a greater risk from catching this virus than we do up here on the hill. All shops, bars, cafes and places of entertainment are being closed as of midnight tonight however supermarkets and pharmacies have to stay open, they have to handle money and cards, they have to stand just feet away from possible contagion. From our spot on the hill I could see the motorway in the distance, trucks still heading in all directions, getting the food and medicines to the supermarkets and pharmacies. Every delivery, every depot for a pick up , signing firms , handling boxes that many others have handled. In the factories and fields, people are still growing, picking, manufacturing and packaging these life saving necessities. In the hospitals, fire stations, health centres, police stations, TV and radio stations, people are caring, saving lives, keeping us safe and keeping us cheerful. ( listening to cheesy 80s and 90s tunes just now! Thank you Melodia FM) . I don’t fully understand how the internet and social media functions but I suspect that not everyone in these industries can work from home either . Thanks to them, as we become more physically isolated, we can still talk to family and friends. So crucial.
And so, for the first time in my lifetime I am living in a ‘ state of emergency’. No travel unless essential or local to said supermarket or pharmacy – police checks to ensure this. No fiestas, no sitting people watching in cafes, no runs to the beach but none the less still realising how much I have to be grateful for and how ever scary and difficult the next few months are going to be , they will not last the six years my parents had to endure from 39 to 45 ( and beyond). Walt, prepare for a major domino tornament… it will be more fun than watching Hearts , I promise. And thank you, thank you , thank you for everyone mentioned above and any I have missed.