Sunday, March 15, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine Updates (Week 1)

While traveling in Turkey we had heard about a new virus -- called a novel coronavirus (COVID).  We didn't think much of it, but definitely noticed quite a few people wearing masks, especially throughout the airports.  As we returned back to Spain cases were popping up slowly over the world but again no one was thinking it could possibly affect us.  We were quite wrong and because this is something I still can't wrap my head around, I figured I would document it day by day...

To start, we knew cases were increasing in Spain throughout the month of March, we knew COVID had come to Europe, hitting Italy especially hard.  There were precautions for anyone who had traveled to Italy recently, but nothing outside of the usual precautions for everyone -- to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneeze...  But then the numbers started growing in Spain, specifically in Madrid and the Basque Country.  Those regions were put into quarantine and schools closed; we would follow the numbers and the news and be diligent about hand washing and starting social distancing, but we were all blissfully unaware of what was to come our way...

March 12, 2020
We woke up to news that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID a pandemic, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared Spain (and most of Europe) a Level 3 Warning which means avoid non-essential travel AND that the president had issued a travel ban on Europe.  We realized right then and there that this was more serious than anyone could have ever imagined and that it would be affecting us, we just weren't sure how yet.

By mid-morning we had learned the Department of Defense had issued a travel ban for all civilian and military members (including the recall of all members on leave traveling outside of our small province).  I cannot even tell you how many text messages went flying back and forth between Trevor and I that morning, same with friends -- and in addition, so many messages from the school group chat about closing schools.  I was glued to my phone while also doing some grocery and necessity shopping as a just in case (no I did not stock up on toilet paper, we have bidets!).

Throughout the afternoon we learned of more things being canceled or closed and the severity of the situation in Madrid -- my half marathon was postponed which was such a disappointment as I had been training and working so hard.  I had my first good cry/breakdown of the whole thing...  It was so much to process in such little time.  By 8:30PM we had learned that school was closing for the next two weeks minimum and that the Spanish government was encouraging all citizens to stay inside to help stop the spread of COVID.  But we still had more questions than answers and it was all very unsettling.

March 13, 2020
School closures weren't starting until the following Monday so I sent Serafina but most of her class did not go.  Our girl thrives on routines and I knew that her routine and life was about to flip upside down, all of our lives were.  So I sent her to school so I could have one more day to prepare and to keep things as normal as possible.  I went to the gym (my way of staying sane) and ran some last minute errands....

By the time I got home around 12PM, more places were being closed (mostly on base) and activities were being canceled.  We got notice that we were not to travel outside our small province of Cadiz (confining us to roughly a 40 mile radius).  Trevor learned he would be working less hours in an effort to limit contact with others, but we had no idea what days or hours he would be working.  We learned that many in Madrid had ignored the requests to self-quarantine and were fleeing the city in a mass exodus to their summer homes -- located of course all along our coast and the Mediterranean coast, taking the virus with them.  We learned that the government would be issuing an estado de alarma or a state of alarm which would limit our movements and be a forced lock down/quarantine, but we didn't know when it would be happening or what exactly it would look like.  Again bringing more questions than answers and again bringing a breakdown for me.

Trevor came home a little early and as a family we went out to dinner knowing it would be one of the last times we would be able to leave our house easily.  We went to a restaurant close to our home and sat away from other patrons.  It was nice to keep the day as normal as possible and not think about what would happen tomorrow...

March 14, 2020 (Day 1)
We woke up to news that the case numbers had skyrocketed, further angering so many people that those from Madrid had not stayed put like they had been asked.  The messages in the school group chat were quite colorful and I learned some new inappropriate words :)  The estado de alarma was officially issued which allowed a ban on the movement of citizens as well as officially put the country on lock down.  This is a good article explaining what we can and cannot do (but it has since been even more limiting).

I attempted to go to Jerez to try and get a few last minute things since we knew we wouldn't be able to leave the house for at least 15 days... The stores I needed were actually closed so I just came home but the electronic signs on the freeways were telling everyone to stay in their house.  Trevor did a quick grocery store run for some produce -- he went during Spanish lunch time to avoid a busy grocery store.  While both of us were out, we noticed that most people were not following the lock down -- people were still out and about, even with most restaurants and other stores closed.

At home we did chores around the house and I spent a lot of hours getting things ready for Monday -- to start some sort of home school/mom school with Serafina to keep our days as normal as possible.  We kept getting messages from friends trying to figure out what exactly the estado de alarma meant as originally it was not very clear.  Can we go for a run by ourselves outside?  Can we take dogs for a walk?  Can we be outside in our patios or yards?  So many unknowns...  Police were out and about telling people to go home or to get off the closed beaches.

But at around 10PM I heard a huge commotion outside with people clapping and cheering -- I went outside to find ALL of my neighbors out on their front porches clapping, cheering, waving at each other.  I learned later that the whole country went out on their balconies and porches to applaud the health care workers.

Overall today was hard, more closures and things cancelled, more unknowns.  Serafina not understanding why she can't leave our property.  Trevor and I figuring out our new normal with everyone home...

March 15, 2020 (Day 2)
Again we woke up to more bad news -- the case numbers in Spain had TRIPLED with over 2,000 new cases of COVID in ONE day.  We learned that the government had cracked down even further due to people still not following the estado de alarma lock down.  You could only be out of your house ALONE to go to essential activities (work, grocery store, pharmacy/doctor and that is pretty much it).  You will be fined and even imprisoned for breaking the rules; highways are closed and the police and government have absolute control.  It is eerily quiet outside, especially given the nice weather.

We mostly stayed home and did our normal Sunday activities, except for leaving the house as a family.  I did go to base to grab a few things we wanted/needed and to get some things for a friend.  I was shocked at how many families were shopping on base -- didn't they know we were required to do things alone and not bring the whole family out and about?!  (Yes I understand many people here don't have a choice and have to bring their kids with them, but I saw more families with both parents + kids than I did single parents + kids). 
signs on the floor at the stores on base to promote social distancing
We learned that the whole country would be applauding health care workers again, but now at 8PM so the kids could join in!  Children are being encouraged to make posters of rainbows and put them in the windows letting everyone know we are doing well and staying home -- Serafina's classmates are sending each other videos through our group chat.  The loneliness is real but the sense of community even being confined to our houses is quite amazing.

Overall, today was better -- Trevor and I are slowly getting into a grove.  Serafina had a harder day and we are doing the best we can at explaining to her what is going on without freaking her out.  But still, it's hard.  We are healthy and safe, but we are surviving one day at a time.

March 16, 2020 (Day 3)
We had a lazy start to the morning -- Serafina slept like shit (excuse the language) so Trevor and I got her set up with a movie when she woke up and we kept sleeping.  Not ideal but it was needed to get through today.

Once we were all up and functioning, Serafina and I started mom school.  We started with the Story Bots episode on How People Catch a Cold -- made it so much easier to explain to her why we are locked inside our homes to keep ourselves and more importantly other people safe (don't worry, still healthy over here).  Mom school went well, Serafina was excited and ready to learn.  It sounds crazy but I am not quite sure of her abilities in English so we started pretty basic and easy.  She definitely prefers math over literacy!
Then we just kind of passed the time -- working out as a family (Trevor had the smarts to get Ring Fit Adventure for our Switch so we have a fun way to workout), playing so many Barbie and Lego games and trying to avoid the TV if we could help it...  But by 3/4PM she is usually over it, desperately wanting to go outside our property.  Poor girl asked today if "school was sick" wondering if that is why she had to stay inside and not play with her friends.  

Of course today we learned of more restrictions and closures -- pretty much everything on base is closed.  We can't go within 3 kilometers of our houses (there are exceptions but it is mainly just to get to work); police are out and stopping people or escorting them home if needed.  We must carry receipts with us in case we are stopped, to prove we were out doing necessary errands.  In fact, we have a legal paper allowing Trevor to go to and from work.  It is absolutely silent outside except for the birds which is so weird and kind of creepy.    

But it isn't all bad, we are getting things done around the house that we have put off forever.  We are spending time as a family and of course looking forward to 8PM every night when we go out onto our front porch and clap for all the healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this crisis.  And then all the reports of Spaniards having fun and keeping in good spirits despite being quarantined.  My friends and I had a virtual happy hour tonight and we are constantly checking in on others to make sure we are still doing okay. So while we aren't too fond of our new normal just yet, we aren't going totally crazy!

March 17, 2020 (Day 4)
Today was slightly harder than the past few days.  The day was rainy and cold so we couldn't even get outside to our patio/car port for some fresh air.  Trevor also had to work today (his one day a week) so it was just me and Serafina all day -- and it has been a long while since we have stayed home ALL day when both of us were healthy, so it was LONG.  Still trying (and feel like I/we are failing) at explaining to Serafina why we can't go outside our property, why we can't go to school, why we can't go see friends.... And worse, Trevor gets to go to work one day a week, I will probably go to the grocery store one day a week -- but poor Serafina cannot go anywhere.  We are not allowed to go out together or we will be fined or jailed.  It is 100% necessary and I fully support this lock down, but today it was hard to deal with.

Mom school went well, Sera was ready to learn and did great -- she for sure struggles with letter sounds in English but that is okay because she sure knows them in Spanish!  And my favorite was that she "fixed" all the ones so they looked like European ones.  And she kept using little sayings in Spanish to show me how to write the numbers and letters; it was so cute!  And I got a great workout in while Sera cheered me on or colored.  I cleaned out the closet in the play room (a chore I have been putting off forever), then we just kind of hung out.  Of course we all went outside and clapped at 8PM again tonight and it was SO loud with music playing and everything -- lifted my spirits and just what I had needed.

March 18, 2020 (Day 5)
Today was better.  Trevor was back home which helped a lot -- we could bounce Serafina around between us and get some breaks.  Serafina was also less over it today, I think we are all starting to accept this as our new normal for the next while.  Shockingly no new restrictions today, that we know of -- but rumors are that grocery stores and pharmacies will move to a rotating schedule to reduce the number of people going and such.

I had a great schedule all lined up for us which we have been following VERY loosely (so basically not following it).  We do mom school daily and then it is just kind of winging for the rest of the day -- I have activities planned and ready for when we absolutely need them but for now, we haven't needed them.  Serafina usually helps us make lunch and dinner and works out with me and lots of dance parties.  And today we had a big fun surprise with a video from Serafina's teacher -- oh she was SO excited.  Every day we are finding joy in the little things.

And today our 8PM applauding was extra special tonight -- the local and national police drove through the towns blaring their sirens in support of US staying home, following the state of alarm rules and just overall showing the most amazing sense of community.  Our neighbors were blasting music and we all had a dance party on our own porches.  If I had to be locked down anywhere in the world, I am so thankful it is in Spain.

March 19, 2020 (Day 6)
Today was shitty, sorry no other nice words for it.  The morning was extremely rough.  During mom school Serafina had a HUGE meltdown -- crying and pleading and begging to go back to school and crying that she hated our house... And to be honest, I am right there with her.  So we snuggled and cried and just took it easy.  And finally after a long time, Serafina calmed down and we enjoyed the afternoon -- even doing some hands on learning activities (one that Serafina's teacher sent us and another from Busy Toddler -- seriously a lifesaver if you are quarantined).

All of these emotions for all of us right now are normal.  What we are going through is not normal, what is happening in the world is not normal.  Our lives were flipped upside down in a matter of days -- and it freaking sucks.  But I also fully 100% support that this lock down needs to happen to keep us and everyone else safe.  And I am so thankful that we have the technology to keep in touch with friends -- constant texting, voice messages, scheduled video chats that keep us going throughout our day.  Serafina and her classmates are sending voice messages back and forth and we recently started emailing with her teacher.  It keeps us all connected and reminded that we are not alone in this crazy time. 

While we didn't have an new restrictions today, the police really started to crack down -- fining people for taking walks outside, questioning more people who are out (asking where they are going, what they are doing out, asking to provide proof you are telling the truth).  The Spanish military also arrived in town today to support the local police.  We haven't gone out yet but I do need to get to the grocery store tomorrow for produce and to be quite honest, I am a little scared...  But I will keep everyone posted as to how it all goes tomorrow.

March 20, 2020 (Day 7)
I didn't update last night -- I needed a break.

We woke up to Trevor having some sort of nasty stomach bug so he was out of commission all day (which was rough for all of us since Serafina wanted to hang out with Trevor and I needed a break).  Also can't wait for this to pass around the whole house (fingers crossed for us).

I went to the Spanish grocery store shortly after they opened and well, it resulted in breakdown #3 for me of this whole situation.  I walked to the store to get some fresh air and made sure to keep my reusable bags on my arm in case I was stopped (I wasn't).  I passed one person on the way and we each moved very far away from each other to pass -- a very weird experience when the Spanish are notoriously known for their lack of personal space.  The store was quiet (which is practically silent by Spain standards), no families shopping, no kids running around, no traffic jams throughout the aisles.  Everyone was wearing masks and gloves, not just the workers.  I ran into a parent from Serafina's class and we stood 6+ feet apart and talked, no hugs, no dos besos which was so hard -- all I wanted to do was greet this parent in the Spanish way and we could not.  I walked home fighting tears and the new normal we have to get used to for however long and just lost it when I got home.
So the day was easy, we all needed it.  We did mom school and I got my workout in (to help me mentally) but Serafina also spent a long time using ABC Mouse on the tablet (thankfully it is learning based).  I am counting down the days when Disney+ is released in Spain!
Well we have survived a week.  It still doesn't feel real and I don't think it ever will.  I know this lock down will last a lot longer than the original two weeks.  The weather has been crap (rainy and windy) so that hasn't really helped our moods -- we can't even get outside on our patios.  I have been trying to do two workouts a day to keep myself busy and moving.  My goal is still mom school five days a week but I am also not pushing it.  We have projects around the house (mostly organizing) that we are working on slowly -- no point in doing it all at once since we have plenty of time.  The number of new cases being reported each day just keeps rising (over 3, 500 the other day).  I keep thinking it HAS to start to go down at some point and soon, right?

I still believe this is 100% the right thing to do and I wish Spain had locked down sooner to be honest.  I hate it, no point in sugar coating it -- being locked inside our property is awful, not seeing friends is awful.  It all sucks.  BUT I know that this is needed and we are doing the right thing and I look forward to the day when we can go out with friends and hug and laugh and play together.

1 comment :

  1. I cannot even imagine!!! Good on your for your home school prep!!!!!!
    I love you all!


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