Letters From the Front: Slowtwitchers in Spain

Spain and Italy are among the countries hardest hit by Covid-19 pandemic. I spoke with a number of those in our community who live there, and below is life through the apertures of these people.

The image below is from downtown Barcelona, just after the stay-at-home order was enacted in Spain.

These cyclists were stopped, questioned, perhaps ticketed (we don’t know). From Pepe Navarro, who runs HED Cycling in Europe, “In the first days of the lockdown some [cyclists] tried and got big tickets. Also for running. Now, nobody,” runs or rides outside.

Slowtwitch Forum user Juanillo is in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, about a half-hour from the hometown of Javier Gomez. Below is a shot he took out his apartment window. “We cannot do any kind of sport outside, nothing, and this applies for the whole country. Pros are training at home.”

Juanillo, like everyone in his triathlon club, is training at home, stationary, on his bike, and is also doing strength training work for the swim and run. He trains about an hour a day which was his normal volume before the lockdown. “I have no treadmill,” he says, and he, “cannot go outside to run as I said, so, most of people are just cycling at home.”

Below is the Sands Beach Resort Lanzarote. As with all other training resorts in Spain, like Mallorca and Girona, it’s closed.

In Barcelona, according to Pepe, “wild pigs are coming down to town now this days since it seems for them that humans are gone.” The images below are pics from his iPhone as he walked to the supermarket. Streets like this are full during any typical time.

“We've been locked down for the last 8 days,” said Pepe, “and will be at least 20 so you can only go to the nearest supermarket or pharmacy, the police can check your receipt and if they think you've [gone out of your way] you get a nice fine.” When you’re in the store only there's a limit to the number of shoppers inside, and people waiting in line must be separated from each other by 2 meters. Everyone must wear gloves. If you have a dog that you must take outside, you have 10 minutes.

“If you drive your car – only one person per car – you might be stopped several times to explain where are you going and why,” said Pepe. He takes a list of where he’s going, an itinerary, that he writes up before he leaves the house, to show the police.” It’s a government form called the Autoresponsability Driving Certificate.

Also services like couriers who deliver for Amazon or other online retailers are allowed, but the government tells its citizens to limit their order to essentials. Take-out food deliveries are allowed.

“In Spain Hospitals are at their max with the virus curve still going up,” said Pepe, and they, “will collapse totally in the next few days. It's happening now: At hospitals they decide who’ll survive.” Most [patients] will be sent home, he said, and “many will pass there.” Pepe has a friend whose father passed at home three days ago, the body was removed and transported, but the family doesn’t know where or by whom. “Then their mother came down with a fever and, “was sent to the hospital, and they don't know anything more, they can’t visit, they must stay at home in quarantine, each in his own room, their kids in a separate room.

“So sad, and these things will happen a lot in the next few days.” In two weeks cases should start abating, Pepe said, since the lock down will means most folks will have been isolated from others for 3 weeks. He says there are very few problems, but there’s a chance, “of a total lockdown if things don't go better.” What is there left to lock down?