Living in Spain Under Lockdown
We realized recently that it’s been quite some time since we’ve updated you on the blog about what our daily life is looking like (as we did in Dani’s and Claudia’s “This is My Life Now” posts back in 2018). As you may know, we tend to keep the blog more abstract whereas we provide personal updates through our monthly newsletter. Still, from time to time it’s nice to provide a snippet of our lives here on the blog. However, 2020 has been a really weird year!
To be quite frank, we haven’t felt ready to talk about our lives under lockdown during the age of Coronavirus. It’s been a major rollercoaster and the ups and downs sometimes make us feel like a broken record, as if we’re going through and re-learning the same lessons over and over again. It hasn’t always been pretty and we don’t feel like we’ve been able to be the best versions of ourselves over the past few months. Still, now that we’re eleven weeks into quarantine here in Spain, Dani’s ready to share a bit of the experience and the insights she’s gaining as a result. This is her story (so far) of living in Granada, Spain under lockdown:
First and foremost, what does lockdown look like in Granada?
Although I have this eerie feeling that all of us around the globe are living the same experience for the first time in…at least a generation, I know that the terms ‘lockdown’ and ‘quarantine’ carry very different meanings depending on where you are. Here in Granada, we’ve been under a relatively strict lockdown since March 14th. Here, this is being called an estado de alarma, or “state of alarm” and it is scheduled to continue until (at least) June 7th. We were basically confined to our homes for two months with the only excuses for leaving being (1) trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, (2) walking your dog, (3) eventually taking children out to play, and, of course, (4) going to work if you’re an essential worker.
On May 2nd we entered Phase Zero of a five-phase de-escalation plan (they’re calling it a four phase plan, but it involves phases ‘zero’ to ‘four’ which is, indeed, a total of five). This meant that everyone was given permission to go outdoors to walk/exercise, but only within a 1 km radius of their home and only during specific hours. 10am to 12pm and 7pm to 8pm were reserved for the elderly and other adults (without children) are only allowed out from 7-10am and 8-11pm. For the most part, everyone adhered to this schedule and we even heard neighbors calling out to pedestrians when it looked like they were walking outside of their allowed time frame. Of course, you always have a few rule-breakers, but all in all, citizens respected the rules.
On May 18th we entered Phase One, which meant that small businesses were able to re-open as were bars’ and restaurants’ outdoor seating areas, given that they spaced out tables and only provided seating to 50% of their normal capacity on the terrazas. Gatherings of up to ten people, adhering to social distancing rules are also allowed. In this phase, things have begun to get very murky.
While we are still supposed to only exercise during our restricted schedules, there are plenty of ways around that. For example if we choose to walk, bike, or run to a business on the other end of town in order to purchase a coffee or a notebook, we are allowed to do so at any time. Because the rules have become less specific and strict, it seems that citizens are starting to take liberties with how they interpret the rules and we see a lot more people outdoors at all hours.
In this most recent phase, it has also become prohibited to go outdoors without a mask on. However, there’s a murkiness to this rule as well and, apparently, it is okay to not wear a mask if you are “sure you will not come into contact with others.” Although this stipulation was obviously added to allow people to be out on their own property or in their own vehicles without wearing a mask, it has created a loophole for people who feel they will just walk far enough away from others to avoid coming into contact with them.
What has my personal experience been, logistically speaking?
Both my husband and I were working from home before the lockdown was put in place so, to a certain extent, this did not change our day-to-day all that much. We already had a routine in place that allowed each of us to work from home effectively and I worked through some of my mental blocks about dealing with unstructured time in years past. In fact, lockdown seemed to provide me the perfect excuse to really hunker down and dedicate extensive hours to my new full-time writing career so (even though I am fully aware that COVID-19 has been a nightmare for many people), for me, that was the silver lining.
We also decided to take pretty serious precautions by not taking advantage of the possibility to go out to the supermarket or pharmacy at all. Before the lockdown, we stocked up on the prescriptions we would need and hit Mercadona, our favorite local supermarket, one last time. We had started to order the majority of our groceries online before the official lockdown, but we wanted to stock up on a few of our favorites beforehand as we use a different supermarket for home delivery. Because of all these precautions, I literally stayed at home every single day (never going further than the garbage bins at the end of our block) for a full two months.
What has my personal experience been, emotionally speaking?
I’ve always considered going out for walks, getting lost in new corners of my city, and losing myself in a favorite podcast to be both my favorite form of exercise as well as self-care. Thus, my friends and family began to worry that being cooped up would take a large toll on my mental and emotional health. To be honest with you, it did AND it didn’t. This is one of the aspects of life under lockdown that really felt like a rollercoaster for me. At the very beginning, I wasn’t bothered. I would usually go out for a walk a couple times a week, but I’ve certainly had one week from time to time without a walk so it didn’t feel like a terrible loss…yet.
It was during weeks two and three that I started going stir-crazy without my wanders. It really started to hit me that I couldn’t take them and I began to feel trapped. I got irritable and moody during those weeks, my emotions felt off-balance. However, with time and the encouragement of others, I started walking up and down the stairs of my apartment building with a podcast in my ears instead. It was by no means the same (there are only six floors in our building so I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person passing by the same doors every five minutes), but it helped. I was finally racking up a few steps/stairs on my FitBit, too!
And, of course, I’ve been focused on my writing career. If you haven’t heard through the newsletter or past posts, at the beginning of 2020 I quit my online teaching job and transitioned to being a full-time writer. This has been a dream of mine since I was a child and I’m so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to pursue it. Still, if I’m being completely honest with you, working on this goal during a global pandemic has been a double-edged sword emotionally.
I embarked on the endeavor three months before lockdown in Spain began, but I didn’t start telling people until after the lockdown. For that reason, I’ve struggled with mixed feelings because I want to ensure that others know I’m taking this seriously and that I am pursuing my writing as a career. At the same time, I know that A LOT of people are pursuing new hobbies right now (with the best intentions) but that they will abandon them as soon as life “goes back to normal.” I know it’s understandable for people to be uncertain if my writing is a passion project like that or not.
This has led me to (work on) coming to terms with the fact that I can’t force anyone to feel/think anything. All I can do is work hard towards what I want and show them my truth. Being under lockdown has led me to realize some mental blocks I still have, mostly about how “others see me,” and I don’t like to admit that I have a lot of hold-ups there, but I do. I’m still working on this bit, so I’ll let you know how it goes with time.
What has my personal experience been, mentally speaking?
I almost don’t want to bring this up because I know that comparing myself to others on social media who seem to be accomplishing EVERYTHING during lockdown was not a fun experience for me. However, I did get caught up in the major uptick in online offerings. Even though I often feel like I had less time and energy than usual, I couldn’t help but start scooping up some of the wonderful online courses and opportunities so many different people began offering (or that were always offered but everyone started sharing more about). These have filled my days with even more productivity and meaning, so I feel it’s only right to share them with you too.
I actually took Claudia’s advice and signed up for Coursera to do the Science of Well-being course from Yale University. I’m working through it at my own pace, so I’m still only halfway through, but it’s definitely a positive in my life.
Speaking of which, I’ve kept up with my studies on italki, taking two classes every week. If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, be sure to check out our review here (there’s also a cool referral offer there if you’re interested in signing up)! At a time when I haven’t been able to go out and be social with my Spanish friends (or even just the locals at the supermarket, cafe, or post office), this has been helping me keep up with my Spanish immersion and conversation.
I’ve also really been appreciating the courses and work offered by Rachael Lynn (author of the At Home Anywhere book we reviewed last month). Right at the beginning of the lockdown, she put together a 21-Day Journaling Course* with daily prompts and an incredibly supportive community. I’ve attended two virtual journaling meet-ups of hers as well as participated in her 7-Day Morning Pages Experience. All of these experiences have been good for me on a mental and spiritual level, helping me connect with my creativity and writing in new ways.
Finally, I have to mention that I’ve been taking live virtual workout classes from a Zumba instructor in the Chicago area and I love it!! Before a friend of mine recommended the free Saturday Zumba class (let me know if you’d like the link), I didn’t think I liked Zumba, but Kristy changed my mind. I now have a monthly membership and actually like some of her other offerings even better than the regular Zumba classes! Of course, this may sound more like “my personal experience, physically speaking” but I think the increased movement has done wonders for my mental state and productivity thereafter.
How am I feeling moving forward?
Well, to be honest, I’ve kinda been dreading de-escalation as I knew I would, emotionally, go back to the way I felt before the lockdown. My husband had been following the spread of COVID-19 since the beginning of the year and so we anticipated the lockdown more than it seems others did. For this reason, there was about a month during which we felt we should be taking precautions (avoiding public transport, not gathering socially, or at least not giving dos besos and hugs if we did) but we knew others were not. This made me feel paranoid and I didn’t want my friends to think I was crazy but, by not doing so, I felt like I was risking my health.
Now, we’re returning to a similar situation. With the transition to Phase One, came the end of the daily 8pm clap (which went strong here for a full two months) and so I get the impression that many people feel we don’t have much to worry about anymore. Bars are opening back up, and so I know that I CAN meet up with friends for a cafe con leche or a beer, but I don’t necessarily feel that the threat has instantly disappeared and so I don’t want to flock to terrazas or barbecues just yet.
Of course, people tell me that that’s my prerogative and it’s totally okay to wait until I feel it’s safe. I’m sure that they are genuinely trying to be empathetic to my feelings in these uncertain tmes. Still, I can’t help feeling like they’re rolling their eyes on the other end of that Whatsapp conversation. I don’t want to come across as any more antisocial than necessary (because this has been a REALLY antisocial year) but I just don’t think we’re “going back to normal” anytime soon. I go out for my walks and I’ve been to the pharmacy as necessary so I’m adjusting to the new normal poco a poco. I guess it’s just another part of the process of feeling comfortable with my own choices.
Well, I think I’ve rambled on enough for now. Let me know how your lockdown experience has been similar or different. Have you been battling any of the same emotional or mental blocks? I’d love to hear about it in the comment below (seriously, if you are reading this in your email please click through to “Read in Browser” and leave us a comment to let us know how you’re doing)!
*The live course has since been turned into an evergreen 7-Day experience that you can pick up whenever you’d like. If you’re interested, you can find details here. Yes, it’s still free!
Note: If you’re curious to keep up with the rules of each phase of lockdown and how they are progressing in different regions of Spain, you may find this English-language resource useful.
Here in Vitória so far, we have not been under a lockdown, just a confinement. And, trust me, I am respecting all the recommendations and being at home all the time. As crazy as it may sound, I think I can be a little antisocial because I like being locked up at home. So, I am using this time to improve my readings, taking some online courses and something I wanted, but it was too far away, that is, it was more of a desire than really an objective. So, two weeks ago, I started my French classes on an online course which guarantees that I will speak well after three months. Well, I must bet they are right, but sometimes I have doubts about it. ahah
Thanks for sharing, Felipe! To be honest with you, to a certain degree I’m comfortable with the ‘antisocial-ness’ of lockdown as well (maybe it’s an introvert thing?) and I have also been able to use this time to invest in other projects that are important to me. Best of luck with your French classes! You’ll have to let us know how they go 🙂