• Countries Visited: 37
  • Travel Wishlist: Home (Australia), Aurora borealis, Egypt, Jordan.
  • Locked down in: Málaga, Spain

If we were aware that our life could end at any moment, we would stop wasting time”

It is now February 2021.  Almost a year has passed since this COVID nightmare began.  After all we have been through, it’s intensely frustrating to say that we are still in lockdown!  So much has happened and equally not happened in that time that I could write a book about it.  But it is the last words of a dear friend of mine who sadly passed away just 2 weeks ago at the age of 44, that hits me most profoundly and yet simply says it all…

Si fuéramos conscientes de que nuestra vida puede terminar en cualquier momento, dejaríamos de perder el tiempo”

If we were aware that our life could end at any moment, we would stop wasting time”

Reeling from Madrid’s announcement that schools would close, I remember saying to my kids “That has never happened in my life!  Not even when the mercury hit 40 did we ever get off school… bloody hell this is serious!”.

That initial shock of this deadly virus and losing our freedom overnight.  One day life was normal and the next never to be the same again.

The vivid memory of the first time I went to the supermarket after the shit hit the fan.  I was driving in my car, it’s only about 5 minutes away but it felt like I was having an out of body experience. Like I was watching myself in a sci-fi movie.  It was the most surreal moment of my life.

The streets usually busy and active were deserted, not a soul in sight.  The eerie silence was very unsettling (shitting myself basically).  Then in the distance I saw another car with a lone man driving.  I held my breath as he got closer, at first I was worried that it was the Police and I would be in trouble for leaving the house, but to my horror was the sight of him wearing a proper full on gas mask!  And there I was with my kids’ play mask that my daughter had dug out of her old ‘doctors kit’ and mended the night before for me to wear to the supermarket.  No-one could get hold of a mask nor gloves for love or money.

The whole personal protection process before entering the supermarket added to the terrifying uncertainty of all that lay ahead.  You had to get in and out as fast as you could following strict rules like wearing the crap plastic gloves which made it impossible to do anything with your hands.   Between my hair falling in my face that I couldn’t touch and the mask kind of blocking my vision, it took forever to open the plastic bags to put your fruit & veg in.  All I could think of was I don’t know how the hell the doctors and nurses can work in all that PPE when I couldn’t even get a few apples in a bag!  It was very overwhelming.

Then the complete decontamination on arrival at home was yet another reminder of how life had radically changed.

It was really scary back then.  It still is now but in a very different way.  Lockdowns, masks, curfews, quarantine, pcr’s, restrictions, social distancing, lack of human contact, the death of a loved one, are all unnervingly common norms these days.

I have always felt rather blessed living here in Malaga for the past 14 years.  A sun drenched Mediterranean city with warm friendly people for whom gathering en masse and simply enjoying good food and wine together is at the heart of every Spaniard.

COVID has hit us hard right from the start.  National health system collapse, mass unemployment, half the country furloughed, mental health in crisis, economic meltdown, the next recession, massive tax increases, schools in total chaos, I’m not even going to start on the rotten politicians… all as we continue in the throws of the third and most ferocious wave.

Life has never felt more uncertain.

I am a single mother with two beautiful teenage girls who have lived here all their lives.  It has been the most difficult year.  Deeply affecting each of us in our own way.  It has been tough maintaining normal when nothing in our lives is normal.  We have for the most part been in these 4 walls.  It’s hard to remain upbeat and positive when some days I’ve just fallen in a heap or cried until the tears stop falling.  Through the darkest of days, the lowest of lows, I hear my beautiful Nan’s words, “One day at a time Marina, one day at a time”… and yet I am truly one of the lucky ones, safe at home and still with a job!  Ironically I’ve never felt so isolated in all my life (in that I come from the most isolated city in the world – Perth).  Epitomised by, for the first time ever, spending Christmas 2020 alone.

If it wasn’t for a few golden treasures that I have, my sister in law Paula, my best mate from home Amanda and my Spanish sista Eva, I don’t know how I would have coped with all that life has thrown at us this last year.  I love them more than words can say!

It’s pretty cliche, but having survived 2020 relatively in one piece, it urgently reminded me to love all that I have, not want for what I don’t have and to see the beautiful in every day.  That is in the end, all that we really have. 

I no longer plan for the future, not even for tomorrow…  Just LIVE today!

Si fuéramos conscientes de que nuestra vida puede terminar en cualquier momento, dejaríamos de perder el tiempo”

~ Jordi Ortega Rodriguez

   DEP querido amigo

When were the first cases in Spain? 31st of January, 2020

How bad has the country been affected? Where do you begin to answer this question?

Healthcare, employment, tourism, education, economy, finance, cyber crime, austerity, mental health… EU bailout.

What restricitions have you had to live under? Full lockdown for 3 months then further partial lockdowns meaning only essential services open and the kids can go to school.

How has it affected your work life? I have not been affected at all in respect to working from home as I have taught onlinen for many years so I was already set up for it.. However the company I work for has lost 40% of their clients due to the economic crisis here.

Did you consider flying back to Aus at any point?  No, it wasn’t an option.  The country was shut down in 24 hours. No-one was going anywhere.

What are the current restricitions in place? Here in Andalucia we are locked down. We cannot leave our town. Essential workers can move about with justification from their employer. Schools are open but right now both of my children are in quarantine because of close contact with a COVID positive person (the boy they sit next to in class) although their PCR test was negative, they still have to isolate for 10 days. Curfew at 10pm. All non essential shops and businesses are closed.

What does 2021 look like for Spanish residents?! Worryingly uncertain.  Praying for that vaccine!