Friday, June 19, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Final Update)

Over the past month or more, the country of Spain and our small province of Cadiz has begun to slowly loosen restrictions to create our "new normal" -- which basically means the continuing of social distancing, not gathering in large groups and wearing face masks.  Our entire territory of Andalucia has moved into Phase 3 which is the final phase of things loosening up.  And thankfully the numbers within our region and the entire country seem to have stayed low.  

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here and week ten here and week eleven here.

The estado de alarma is set to expire for real this time on June 21st so in two days (and it will not be not extended).  Since March 14th the Spanish government has been voting to extend it every two weeks The state of alarm allowed the central Madrid government to take control of all of the territories (sort of like if the American federal government had taken control of the states).  Once the state of alarm expires, the territories then resume control over what happens with COVID and such.  As of now, we haven't heard if or how things will change once the state of alarm ends but we are fairly certain things will stay the same as Phase 3.  

And as the weeks go on, I feel more and more like we are back to "normal" -- you know, other than wearing masks everywhere, no school for Serafina...  But Trevor is working full-time again and Serafina and I are home each day trying not to lose our minds!  We are doing just fine, but the days sure are long.  Some summer camps are opening up but no word on the amazing camp that Serafina went to last year yet -- I am hoping and praying and crossing all of my fingers and toes.  I have hired a babysitter to watch Serafina a few days a week to give us both a break from each other and to have Serafina keep practicing her Spanish.  And even better, the babysitter will watch Serafina in her own home so I get to be ALONE in the house for the first time in way too long.  However, of course, I find myself running around like a crazy person getting all the errands done without having to drag Serafina around.  We have been able to do some fun activities with friends as well -- going to a local small farm to learn about planting vegetables and Serafina went for a one day camp they had.  She had a blast and came home exhausted and covered in dirt. 

The beaches are open with social distancing and even the pop up beach bars (called chirinquitos) are being built which makes me really happy because it means things are slowly going back...  My girlfriends and I have been going to our favorite restaurants every Friday night which has been so amazing.  Most are very small and local so it has been fun seeing the owners and chefs we have gotten to know over the years.  And also we are so happy to be together and supporting the local economy.  

It has also been amazing seeing friends.  While we continue to see the same friends over and over, it has been so good for all of us.  Although the goodbyes after playdates have been very hard on Serafina.  We are noticing that this season of change has been hard on the kids, adults too even.  For so long the kids were told they couldn't do anything because of COVID so Serafina and a lot of her friends have been struggling with now being allowed to do things.... But we are working on it and keep talking about how the virus is slowly going away and such.  

More and more people are arriving in our small beach town for the summer so it makes us all a little nervous but also happy to see people enjoying their lives again.  Borders still aren't open within the countries in Europe, but they will start opening up on June 21st -- with only countries from the European Union (and the Portugal border won't open until July 1st).  We still aren't sure if we will travel this summer -- depends on a lot of things.  We hope to at least be able to take a road trip around Spain but we are also being realistic.  At this point we are perfectly happy to spend some time enjoying our small town, the beach and friends!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 11)

I really don't know when I will end these updates -- maybe when the estado de alarma is finally lifted (which I believe is set to happen at the end of June).  But it is not ending in the next two weeks, so you have at least have two more of these as the government agreed to yet another estado de alarma which was expected.  The state of alarm allows for the slow reopening of everything, so it makes sense to continue it as needed.  Because from what I understand, as long as the state of alarm is in place, the government can mandate the slow opening of things (which is a good thing).    

A few people asked how eating out was so I thought I would touch a little on what it is like...  Two weeks ago we entered into Phase 1 which meant restaurants could open with many precautions and only for outdoor seating at 30% capacity.  One of our favorite restaurants opened up in Rota so a small group of girlfriends and I made reservations to finally go out and eat dinner.  At the restaurant, we obviously sat outside at a table that had been completely disinfected, including the chairs (everything was cleaned after a table was done eating).  There was only one menu, taped to the table in order to easily disinfect.  Waiters wore gloves + mask, but we did not wear masks at the table (seeing as we were eating and all).  Many places have fully closed their indoor access (including bathrooms) -- this restaurant did allow us inside to pay but hand sanitizer was placed outside the door, one person in at a time and of course masks on.  It felt so good to get out but also still so weird....  

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- 
week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here and week ten here.

We officially entered (our small province at least) into Phase 2 on Monday.  Basically it means more places can open up -- all at reduced capacity (nothing over 50%), we can gather in groups of up to 15 AND the beaches in our town have opened again but social distancing is still required everywhere as well as masks are required whenever you can't socially distance.  Our family will still keep our groups smaller and will continue to make choices that best keep our family safe and healthy, but I also trust that the Spanish government is doing a wonderful job at safely opening up the country.  Numbers continue to be the low, and our small province of Cadiz saw three days in a row with NO new cases (or hospitalizations or deaths -- very good news).  

We also ventured out as a family for the first time this week, something we used to do all the time.  It felt really normal but also really hard because it was so obvious of the world we are now living in -- social distancing, masks, gloves, etc.  We went to Jerez (the closest larger city) to do some shopping for needed items that we have been unable to find online (or that won't actually get to us anytime soon).  Sadly, Serafina has gotten really used to wearing her mask, using hand sanitizer and not touching anything outside our house -- we have really drilled it in to her.  We are explaining things in a way that makes sense for her (and often taking her lead when she comes up with reasons why we have to wear masks or gloves), but also teaching her that this may be the new normal for awhile so she needs to learn the new way of life.  We have been really impressed with her abilities to adapt but we can also see the toll it is taking on her, not being in school, not being around kids each day and figuring out how all of these new changes affect her and more...  
Each phase  lasts a minimum of two weeks, so moving into next week we won't have any new things loosening or whatnot.  We are hoping to get to the beach as a family one of these days if the weather cooperates (it has not been cooperating -- so SO windy).  So now it is just getting used to this new normal and hoping things keep going in the right direction of lower and lower case numbers each day...

Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 10)

Well I decided to finally switch to weekly updates, especially now that we have some more freedoms and our lock down looks like how it is in much of the world.  Things here are slowly opening (some places opened last week with Phase 1) with massive precautions and regulations put into place -- such as everyone entering must wear a mask + gloves and only a certain number of people in the store at a time and only outdoor seating at restaurants.  It is this bizarre taste of normalcy without actually things going back to normal...  And in a very weird sense, it almost seems harder because now we all want things to go back to before COVID decided to ruin 2020.  

And now that we are on the other side (hopefully forever) of living through the strictest lock down in the entire world, I can say that we came out stronger -- maybe not better in some places but definitely stronger as a family, as a community, even as a country.  I feel closer to my friends here than I ever have before; we spent 45+ days entertaining our children inside without any sort of break or escape and we survived.  But I will say I don't ever (EVER) need to do that again.  It still feels like a bad dream but it also feels like just yesterday was day one, so I am thankful it went by fast.  Now hopefully we can keep moving forward... 

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here and week nine here.

So as our first week of loosened restrictions came to a close, we settled into yet another (new) routine to navigate this crazy new normal.  We are still doing mom school each weekday morning -- both in English and Spanish (obviously I am preparing the English stuff and the Spanish stuff is coming from Serafina's actual teacher).  Serafina continues to love school and learning, making her the easiest student I have ever taught!  Trevor is now going into the office each morning and then home in the afternoons which is usually when Serafina and I have meet ups/playdates with her friends, allowing Trevor to continue work if needed.  I am still getting in workouts most days as well as walks with Serafina on days we don't have a playdate lined up -- and then walks/runs by myself in the evenings just to get some alone time.

This week has felt almost normal -- minus the mandatory masks we have to wear whenever we leave the house.  The Spanish government announced masks are mandatory for all people in Spain (there are some exceptions, but as healthy able-bodied people, we have to wear masks).  But more and more things are opening up.  We had to change the tires on our car this week so we were able to get that done fairly easily and quickly.  I was able to get a pedicure and go back to my amazing massage lady this week too.  People are out and about enjoying walks or sitting with family/friends for a coffee or meal.  It is really refreshing to see people outside of our immediate family.  Of course, COVID is always in the back of our heads but it has been nice to feel a little return to normal.  

Serafina had a follow up appointment for her asthma.  We were able to see a doctor in person and not in the COVID tent so that was nice.  Sadly, she was given a more specific diagnosis of moderate/persistent asthma.  She is now on a maintenance inhaler for the foreseeable future with a rescue inhaler as needed.  Whenever school starts again, we will need to create an asthma action plan for her and provide a rescue inhaler at school as well.  She hasn't had any sort of asthmatic episode/attack in well over a month, even with running around and playing more with other kids -- so I am hopeful she can grow out of it or it was/is related to whatever she had in early March that started her whole asthma thing and in time it'll also go away.  
I went out to dinner with friends as well and it was... well, weird.  It was really fun seeing friends but also very weird having to wear masks (we didn't while we ate) and seeing SO many places open for outdoor seating.  It was wonderful seeing people out and seeing our town alive again, but also worried us all because social distancing was not happening at a lot of places.  It was almost like a reverse culture shock being around people again.  

We are hoping to move into Phase 2 on Monday as numbers keep going down (in our region, in our territory and within Spain).  Phase 2 will mean more places will open, we could eat inside a restaurant and we can gather in larger groups (up to 15) while still keeping social distancing (and now masks) in place -- which is also next to impossible with kids so we are still only seeing people within Trevor's command.  We are washing hands frequently and staying safe and being smart about it all.  We are all fully aware the threat of COVID is still present.  But we are slowly getting there...  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 9)

And here we are starting another week... I cannot believe we are going into week nine of all this.  I understand why we are still in lock down but I also never ever thought it would last this long.  While our province gets to move into phase one this Monday we are still learning about what that all means...

If you need a refresher on our past weeks -- week one here and week two here and week three here and week four here and week five here and week six here and week seven here and week eight here.

May 9, 2020 (Day 57)
I had a hair appointment today at a salon in Jerez (closest bigger city but within our province, about a thirty minute drive away).  Know the rumors of places opening up soon, I had messaged the salon to see when I could get an appointment when they were able to open up an to my surprise they had opened this week!  So away I went to get pampered, spend some time out of the house and get a much needed haircut (my hair was SO long and heavy it was giving me headaches).  The appointment itself was wonderful, it was really weird seeing everyone in masks -- although I did have to take mine off at one point so the stylist could cut and color my hair properly (and also to see my face shape to figure out a good haircut).  I saw other clients have to do the same thing, so sort of defeats the purpose but oh well. I never felt unsafe, everything was being cleaned constantly.  And other than the stylist, I never came close to other people.  

At home, Serafina and Trevor just hung out.  Serafina really hates change and has a hard time whenever either of us get a haircut so she was pretty upset most of the day knowing I was getting my hair cut and then hating it when I got home.  So needless to say it was a really lazy day and no pictures (because I was gone most of the day)!  I got in a walk tonight between the rain storms, not looking forward to a week of rain. 

No update on what moving to phase one means for us (as Americans associated with a military base)… So hopefully some information comes tomorrow.

May 10. 2020 (Day 58)
Mother's Day -- looked a little different this year since we were limited to things around the house but still a good day.  I got to sleep in and Trevor took Serafina for a bike ride so I had some time in the house by myself which is always nice.  Other than that we had a pretty low-key day -- the rain started yesterday so we have been doing things outdoors between the rain storms. 
While we learned that we can gather in small groups of 10 or less, we still don't quite understand what that all means -- do we have to keep with the same 10 people, do children count, do we have to wear masks, and more... But we do know things are slowly starting to open up, like retail stores and restaurants but will limited patrons and must still keep social distancing.  But it looks like we are actually start seeing friends tomorrow which is HUGE and so needed and will be amazing.     

May 11, 2020 (Day 59)
Today was a HUGE day.  WE GOT TO HAVE A PLAYDATE AND SEE FRIENDS.  We have been encouraged to keep our gatherings within our command (meaning the group of people Trevor works with) so that is what we will be doing for these first few weeks, but it works out great because we LOVE a lot of the families in our command -- and Serafina loves their kids.  So today we got together with two other families (keeping it under 10 people); it was just the moms and kids but it was SO nice to have other human contact outside of Trevor and Serafina.  AND I got to meet my friend's new baby that was born the first week of lock down.  It took awhile for the kids to get into a groove but overall they played well.  Serafina had SO many questions on our way to our friend's house because for so long we have told her it wasn't safe to see other people because of the germs.  Today felt like the first semi normal day is a very long time and it was so very welcome.  Of course COVID was always in the back of our minds, making kids wash their hands so often, all of us sitting far apart and not hugging each other on arrival, but still -- face to face conversation and interaction was SO wonderful.  

Another low day of numbers (but that is to be expected on a Monday as new cases have always been under reported on Sunday and Mondays throughout this whole thing).  I went to the store this morning and it was nice walking past a few places that had opened up and it was fun seeing store doors open.  And tonight on my walk, I saw a few restaurants open with patio only seating but it was amazing hearing people out and enjoying time with friends.  Brought tears to my eyes to see things oh so slowly returning to normal.  Hopefully we can keep moving forward...

May 12, 2020 (Day 60)
No playdates today -- we figured we would do one every few days or so as to not overwhelm the kiddos.  Serafina didn't even ask to see friends today so I think we made the right decision.  I did bravely take her to base to run errands this morning.  Trevor had a meeting and we had to get to base to check on a few things which meant I had to take Serafina with me.  She did SO well, was SO well behaved but was also SO nervous -- on base we have to wear masks everywhere (in town we are encouraged but it isn't 100% mandatory like it is on base).  But this was the first time she had been out on errands with me and so it was hard for her to see people in masks, gloves, distancing, me telling her to not even think about touching anything...  It was a lot of her to handle so we had a low-key afternoon with lots of snuggles.  She and I also took a short walk looking for painted rocks that some of our American friends have left around the town.  It was really fun and we of course gathered some plain rocks to paint and go leave out as well.  

Still lower case numbers being reported which is still really good news.  We are all hoping the downward trend keeps going...  Sadly (or maybe its a good thing), the 8PM clapping seems to have stopped -- especially since we are all allowed out of the house now and since things are relaxing...  I am not even sure we can call what we are doing a true quarantine, especially how it all was even just two weeks ago.  The release is slow and deliberate and while it can be really frustrating at times, it is needed.  There have been rumors that summer camps will open up and I am just crossing my fingers -- we have done great with Serafina at home but she needs socialization and more Spanish than we can even come close to at home!

May 13, 2020 (Day 61)
Another big day for us -- our house cleaners came back :)  Now I missed having my house clean but I missed them as our friends more.  They have been cleaning our house since we moved in, so over 4 years ago and they have become a part of our family, helping us do anything that requires extensive Spanish, bringing us food when we are sick, checking in on me whenever Trevor travels, loving on our sweet Serafina like she was their own.  Plus as an added bonus we all got to practice our Spanish this morning!  And we painted rocks and did mom school (including some assignments from her actual school teacher).  We had another playdate, again only seeing people within Trevor's command (co-workers).  We know the importance of keeping the number of people we have closer/prolonged contact with at a small number so that is what we are doing.  

Numbers continue to go down (even continuing to stay low after the usual low numbers that always happen on Sundays and Mondays), so hopefully things keep going in the right direction.  We also learned that our territory has really ramped up testing for people with antibodies so that is also good news.

May 14, 2020 (Day 62)
Today was low key because there was SO much rain, SO much.  We did mom school, played with the puppy -- Trevor had to go into the office today but got mail and my Dyson arrived so I was really excited.  Serafina and I took a walk in the rain to put out the rocks we had painted -- I had fun getting caught in the downpour, Serafina not so much :)

May 15, 2020 (Day 63)
And here we are, another week gone -- and it feels so weird to be in this "new normal" where we can see friends in small groups, but nothing is actually back to normal....  It is a weird time we are living in, that is for sure.  We had a long day -- Fridays are the day that Trevor spends most of the day in the office and while our usually fairly decent at going potty outside dog decided that today was the day he forgot ALL his training and went inside constantly.  It was rough.  We had friends over (again with the same families we have been seeing all week) which was really fun for the kids -- but made for a rough evening for Serafina when she was SO sad her friends had to leave.  

snuggling with my friends baby
Numbers are still looking fairly good with things trending downward with new cases.  Sadly the Spanish are starting to plan and hold protests nationwide which will result in large gatherings -- which of course has us all nervous.  Really hoping it does not result in a spike of new cases or a backtrack into the extremely restrictive lock down.  

Also I decided to start doing weekly updates on life in Spain during COVID-19 -- especially since our lock down is no longer the strictest in the world and we aren't even truly in lock down/quarantine anymore.  Obviously if something big happens, I will update more frequently but for now we are chilling in Phase 1 for the foreseeable future!

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