Living in the 'heart' of outbreak
I’m writing from Spain, Madrid, and to be totally honest, the life here changed overnight. For a society known for being really sociable, really outgoing, known for their ‘fiesta’, being suddenly confined behind four walls wasn’t so easy to accept. Life as they knew it was instantly transformed, the optimism that was present when at first just the kids had to be home and that the situation is not as bad, was quickly gone. But as the days went by and as people were treating it more and more as some sort of vacation, the Spanish government realized that they have to put out strict rules or nothing will change.
And just like that everything stopped, we became confined behind four walls. We couldn’t just go out for a walk, as we could get a fine, we couldn’t go to whichever supermarket we wanted, it had to be the one closest to us, we couldn’t go more than one person in a car as we would be fined, police were driving around and shouting through speakers that we have to stay inside. Suddenly we started feeling like we were prisoners of our own homes.
In the beginning, I was surprised with how fast the virus was spreading here, but as Spaniards are known for being one of the societies that doesn’t shake hands when they meet but gives two kisses instead, it quickly became more than obvious why this virus spread like fire. At first people didn’t listen to the authorities, police had to write a few fines and they still didn’t think it was that serious, on the first weekends of total quarantine, one of the roads on the way to the beach became totally backed as people wanted to go to the seaside. I think it wasn’t until the hospitals started overflowing and the death toll started rising rapidly, that people started taking the situation seriously and became aware that it is really better that they start staying at home. I believe I took everything even more serious as one of my roommate’s family members got infected and when after feeling bad for a few days he started feeling like his lungs are overflowing with water and was rushed to the hospital.
The days he was in the hospital I could have used a knife to cut the tension in our house. The silence at moments was unbearable, I didn’t know if I should be crying with her or just be quiet and try to comfort her. At the end, he was one of the lucky ones and got released from the hospital after a few days, as he was feeling better. It was at the time the hospitals started overflowing with patients and they were starting to lower the age at which they would still help a person, or rather help a younger one. And then is when it hit us hard, for we suddenly figured out that in the end, maybe we would come out of all this good and survive the virus because we were younger, but it could mean a bad ending for our older relatives. It that exact moment quarantine in Slovenia was starting to happen and it was at that exact moment, that I started calling all my family and begging them to stay at home and just go out if it is really, really, really necessary.
I live in Madrid, the region where currently there is more than 47.000 people infected and the situation is the worst. This week we started receiving good news, the number of infected started decreasing with less and less people infected with each and every day, which showed that staying home did help and it gave people a bit of hope. I’ve been in quarantine since 11th of march, so almost 33 days if anyone is counting, we still aren’t sure when the kids will go back to school, but they are saying we will probably start working in the next few weeks and that some other not so essential stores will start to open.
I have seen the society that is so known for being really sociable come together and start doing good things for their neighbors, baking them cakes for their birthdays and leaving them cute notes on the doors, having mini concerts and singing on their balconies, helping their older neighbors and going to do the shopping for them and so much more. I have seen people come together in bad times with hope of a really optimistic outcome even though the times got as dark as they could get.
And with the spring in full bloom and the temperatures rising I leave you on a positive note and hope you are healthy and staying home.
A Master’s student of Communication studies that loves traveling and learning about new cultures, who is currently living in a country she considers her second home, where she is doing an internship and perfecting her Spanish.