Much has happened throughout the world since my last blogpost a week ago. The COVID-19 virus is an ever present feature of everyone’s lives. Spain went into a ‘lock-down’ situation the day after we arrived in Úbeda. France followed suit two days later and a similar situation is fast approaching in the UK. It’s unchartered territory at the moment.
The announcement came last Sunday that Spain would be effectively closed for business from Monday. In light of this announcement, and the fact that we’d heard that campsites were closed to new arrivals, we deemed it prudent to pitch up at the aire in Úbeda where we’d have access to all the services we’d need and isolate ourselves as much as possible. As I mentioned in my last blog post the normally popular aire was uncannily quiet when we arrived. There were just five of us with five nations represented. French, Belgian, Spanish, German and English. Chatting to our neighbours we were all in agreement that we would hunkerdown and wait out at least the first two weeks to see how things developed.
We collectively visited the police station around the corner on Tuesday to ask about the possibility of hooking up to some electric as a couple of the vans don’t have solar panels. On Wednesday afternoon a friendly electrician arrived, asked us how many outlets were required and sorted us all out with electric which we are all extremely grateful for.
From what we’d read we would be able to go out for necessary trips to the supermarket, pharmacy or doctor. Everything on Saturday had been calm in the supermarkets with just the obvious difference that most people were wearing gloves and one or two had a mask on. We’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t seen any of the panic buying situations that other areas have experienced. The local Lidl and Carrefour supermarkets are well stocked and quiet. We walked up to Lidl yesterday and all was quiet. We couldn’t go in together and had to maintain our distance between other shoppers but it was so quiet it wasn’t a problem. It’s the new normal now. They’ve also moved out all the other crap useful things they sell like tools, clothes, stationery and the like to allow more space to move around. Personally I’d like to see that rolled out in every Lidl throughout Europe but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Meanwhile back at the van we’ve been keeping ourselves busy. We’ve likened it to being in the Big Brother House except without all the egocentric wannabes. Unlike the Big Brother House we also have books, internet, music, and our own space……..all seven metres of it. We’re used to living in a small space though but it will be the first time we’ve been confined in one position for more than a week without being able to do our daily walks, work, volunteer or other normal things we take for granted. So far, so good. I’ve been able to do my exercises with my dumbbells outside the van everyday which always makes a difference to me mentally. Tim has been putting his electronic saxophone through its paces. I’ve been able to practice my French with our neighbours, although I try not to burden them too much! I have plenty of downloaded language learning material to get through and have a plan to follow to help keep me focussed.
Friends of ours, who were staying on a campsite near Seville, were told on Wednesday that the campsite would be closing and to make alternative plans. In other words to get themselves back to the UK. The Gov.uk website was stating on Wednesday that all hotels and short term accommodation in Spain would be closed by the 24th March so travellers were being advised to start planning their journeys to their home countries. By Thursday the information had changed slightly in that it was now saying that the Spanish Government was expected to order that hotels and short stay accommodation (such as short-stay campsites or caravan parks) must close in the coming days. So we’re still not sure if we’ll be moved on.
After hearing the news from our friends and reading the Gov.uk website, I fell into the trap of having a mooch around on a few news sites and forums. Normally I don’t follow news sites, social media or message boards for a reason as I find that things can, quite often, get blown out of proportion. I’m not disputing the seriousness of this challenge we are all facing but, for me, I prefer to turn the volume down on the amount of media I consume so as to try keep things in perspective. I’m being more vigilant with myself and trying to avoid anything but the necessary information we need to make decisions over the coming days.
Two Dutch vans arrived on the aire last night who were on their way home. I didn’t speak to them myself but they were under the impression that all campsites were closing and so had decided to call it a day and return home. Our Belgian and German neighbours have decided to do the same and left this morning. So we’re down to three vans here now. For us, we’d prefer to stay where we are as the longer we’ve isolated ourselves the less of a risk we are to other people. And it’s warm here! If we are asked to move on and return to the UK then we will move onto Plan B. So far this situation hasn’t happened but I’ve a feeling it might be on the way. The police have swung by a couple of times this morning but have just given all of us a wave of acknowledgement.
Despite the stories of panic buying there are signs that lots of people are working together, checking on neighbours, setting up online support groups, keeping in touch, shopping for those that can’t etc which is heartening to see. Here in Spain, a call went out on social media several days ago asking for all Spaniards to come to their windows and show their thanks with caceroladas (the bashing of pots and pans) in appreciation for all the hard work that health care staff are doing to care for their patients and contain the virus.
Three Spanish flags have appeared this week on the balconies of the flats opposite the aire presumably to show solidarity.
So there we have it, that’s our situation at the moment.
Please take care wherever you are.
Hasta luego y cuídese!