Monday 16th March
By Monday morning some of the reality of quarantine was beginning to sink in and brought with it feelings of frustration and disempowerment. Anyone who knows me can attest that I am perfectly happy in my own company and I would normally consider a week or two ensconced at home with only my computer for company a luxury of the highest order! But take away my option to go out and it turns out I don’t like it at all.
No point fancying a beer in the sunshine or a lovely lunch. No coffee with friends. I can’t even go on a vanity trip to the nearby shopping mall to see whether I can fasten the next dress size down yet. All bars, restaurants and clothes shops are classed as non-essential and are closed for the next two weeks. I briefly considered going out for a short drive to the petrol station to feel the wind in my hair, but I filled up my tank on Friday…
Only on Friday I joined my first gym class, paid my subs and booked myself into one class every day this week as part of my mission to tone up and perhaps finally hit my weight loss goal. Well, that wasn’t going to happen this week! I decided to take a walk to the local greengrocer, which, as a food provider, is permitted to remain open and a justified reason to leave the house.
I passed two young women in my own complex and each exchanged “good morning” salutations as we stepped aside to let each other pass with the minimum one metre separation. Outside on the access road there was no-one to be seen but as I crossed the main street to the greengrocer there were a few more people around, all apparently going about their business. I met a friend who greeted me with an upbeat reminder to “keep your distance” and we chatted briefly about a likely extension to the quarantine from about two metres apart before going our separate ways.
Yes, that’s right! Monday morning’s news advised that the two weeks announced for the quarantine was not a “two weeks then it’s done”. Rather it’s two weeks until new guidance and the quarantine is expected to be extended far longer! I don’t think that knowledge helped my mood.
The greengrocer did, however. We exchanged friendly greetings and I was directed to a bottle of hand sanitiser at the front of the shop for customer use. I was able to get a few things I wanted and a fresh “buddha bowl” to take home for lunch. On the walk home, however, it became clear that still not everyone was taking the quarantine rules seriously. One couple, swinging their empty shopping bags as they disregarded the one person rule, walked side by side such that they occupied nearly the whole width of the pavement and showed no sign of making room for me as they approached. I had to tuck myself practically into the bushes to try to maintain separation as they passed by, oblivious. One thing I noticed about everyone I passed in the street was that nobody seemed to want to acknowledge each other. No “hello” or “good morning”, not even eye contact!
I wanted to call into the supermarket on the corner to pick up a bottle of water. I had six eight-litre bottles at home already but figured it was easier to carry home if I replaced one bottle at a time. I always get my water delivered with my shopping so I don’t have to carry all those heavy bottles but the only supermarket that does home delivery has suspended the service due to high demand. As I approached I could see half a dozen people or so congregated on the pavement outside the supermarket and it quickly became clear that they were waiting to go in since the store has implemented a policy of twelve people maximum in the store at any one time, and most of the entrance door was barricaded with baskets to ensure only one person could pass through at a time. Not that there was any point avoiding crowds within the store, of course, when customers were quite happily cramping each other’s space on the pavement outside! Again respecting the minimum separation rule, I positioned myself slightly apart from the waiting cluster but it wasn’t long before new people joined the queue and assumed I wasn’t in it as they squished in as close to the cluster as possible. At that point two children with no obvious parent in sight began weaving in and out of the waiting customers, poorly mimicking “a-choo” sounds for fun. At that point I decided to abort the water plan and go home, I didn’t need any yet. It was actually quite a relief to get home and hunker down!
Later that day I was told that a woman out with two children had been fined for not keeping them at home and that a military vehicle had been patrolling the main street with a loudspeaker sending people home. From the news I learned that Spain has now closed its land borders and the Canarian government is seeking to reduce flights to and from the islands.
The best news was a message from the trainer who runs my gym classes to say she had figured out a way to do the classes online! She talked me through setting up the app and gave me the times of the upcoming classes. I finished the second and final season of “Utopia” and went to bed feeling rather more at ease with my confinement.