Sunday, March 22, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 22.3.20

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain [A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.]
The Coronavirus
  • According to the president of the Madrid region, with the country now reporting the second-highest number of infections in Europe, most people (80%) in the city will get the coronavirus. But this is a bit down from warnings of 100% a week or 2 ago.
  • I commented to my sister a few days ago that the police had become very evident and officious because - in the absence of crime - they were probably bored stiff. So. I wasn't surprised to read this last night.
Life in the Time of Something Like Cholera
  • My sister and I arrived back in Pontevedra last night, after 18 days in Madrid(4) and Jávea (14) and 11 hours on the road.  My sister had planned to stay in the Valencia region until at least 31 March but her reserved flight is from Oporto. So, with the border closed . . .
  • Aspects of the trip, some surprising:-
- We were not stopped by the police or Guardia Civil, either when leaving Jávea or when entering Pontevedra.
- We were approached by a GC car when stopped for a mid-morning break. Appropriately, they were very civil and wished us a good journey after being told we were on our way back to my home in Galicia. The civility was a pleasant surprise after our experience on the streets of Jávea and as reported by others along the Costas.
- No papers were sought. Perhaps contact is kept to verbal exchanges even when you're stopped. A couple of young GC officers have died, after all.
- There were GC officers checking drivers as they entered the Madrid region via the toll booths on the A6 but none when leaving it further on.
- As my sister has a weak bladder, it was fortunate that reports of petrol station toilets being closed to normal drivers proved inaccurate.
- It was also fortunate that at least one petrol station attendant was willing to sell chocolate, biscuits and cakes. And he didn't have a metre-wide barrier between him and the customers  - or a huge, thick plastic sheet hanging from the ceiling as in one pharmacy in Jávea.
  • A couple of accounts from around Spain:-
  1. María's Chronicle, Day 7
  2. Madrid madness
  3. Lockdown in a pueblo(village)
  • Taking some rubbish to the bins yesterday morning, it occurred to me that it's not entirely unusual to see deserted streets in Spain. In Pontevedra, at least,  it happens every feast day/public holiday. Of which there are a lot here. I've given up asking what exactly people do on these days, as the answer is always: Lie in, have a big lunch with the family and watch the TV. Well, the populace certainly has plenty of time for these activities now. And for at least another 3 weeks. If not 3 months.
  • Some of them might be well benefit from this. But, that said, it's more relevant for foreigners resident (or stuck) here.
  • Having gained 2 kilos since I left home on 2nd March, I can appreciate the accuracy of this prediction.  Summer 2020:-

  • I think everyone outside the country - and many inside - are struggling to understand the government's softly-softly approach, even making allowance for the standard level of citizen cooperation in the country. Perhaps there's some semi-mystical belief in the integrity of Brits on the part of politicians who've never read any of Rupert Murdoch's rags.
 Finally . . .  
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of pied wagtails in my garden this morning, for the first time ever.
  • Here and here are are wonderful films taken in England around the start of the 19th century.  We really shouldn't be as surprised as we usually are to see that - ignoring the finery and the bushy whiskers - people look and act exactly as they do nowadays. Sobering to think that many of them will have died in the 'Spanish' flu epidemic that killed millions in and after 1918. Now that was a pandemic.

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