Interesting Times – Valencia and Week 3 of the Coronavirus

*Update – Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain has declared a State of Alarm an hour ago. Rationing, travel within the country and emergency procurement of assets to fight the virus are in immediate effect. We now have more cases in Europe than any country other than Italy. May we not suffer the same fate. 🙏

The only beer you can buy at the store in Benimachlet. But we figured if you can’t beat-’em – join-’em

While attributed the the Chinese as an ancient curse, the wish ‘May you live in interesting times’ was actually coined by Lord Chamberlin and repeated by JFK – the American President. There are no more interesting times than uncharted territory. And the pandemic we’re all living in now certainly qualifies as uncharted territory. Few of us on the planet have been through something like this before.

Sure, we had the HIV virus in the 80’s and 90’s. But if you weren’t gay or hemophiliac it was easy to view that from your peripheral vision. It was there, but it just wasn’t top of mind. It happened to other people. And there was SARS and MERS and Ebola. I’ll admit, the first two barely registered with me. Ebola got my attention as I was in London during it’s peak. I remember looking around at who was boarding my flight back to the US in Heathrow – where the world intersects – hoping none of the people in the lounge was carrying the virus. The prospect of sharing the same air in a metal tube for 10+ hours made me take notice.

This one feels very different. I was up at 3 am. I’ve gotten myself a bad chest cold and upper respiratory infection. So I decided to get up in the middle of the night to cough in the living room and give Jeff some peace. I was asleep on the chaise when Jeff went to the store this morning. We know they stock shelve in the middle of the night so Jeff headed out to get the last of what we need when they opened – hoping they weren’t just out of everything.

The way he described it was total chaos. Mayhem. He went to 5 stores – no bread, eggs, meat. He finally found a store – completely packed – that had some of what he was looking for. He quickly gathered his purchases and turned down an aisle toward check out. The scene stopped him in his tracks.

‘One of the women who works there brought out a large box of toilet paper. The shelves were empty. They attacked her like The Walking Dead. Zombies grabbing at the packages. An old man got pushed back. No toilet paper for him. He spotted some napkins and greedily grabbed them like he was afraid someone would steal them from him. I hope that guy has hemorrhoid cream at home cause that’s not gonna be pretty after a week or so of using that. But I guess it’s better than paper towels or the newspaper.’

On his morning jaunt, Jeff got all of our prescriptions refilled so we are good for 90 days, then came home and I was awake. We reorganized the pantry and made a plan for how we’ll make it all last and not have to go out unless it’s to a Dr. or hospital – if absolutely necessary.

‘We have a car now. So I figure that if we had to, we could drive to a less populated area to get supplies. If this gets worse and goes on for too long.’

Yup, we’re starting to talk like that. Watching the scenes in the grocery store last night and today will do that to you. The schools are closed but there are no kids on the street. Not one. Like that child snatcher promising candy in the movie ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ when we were kids. Scaring them all enough to keep them behind closed doors. We’re in for the duration too. It feels like all of Valencia is preparing for a war against an enemy we can not see. We view each other on the street suspiciously. I’ve watched people, who clearly know each other, stop and say Hola from a distance. No double cheek kiss. No handshake. I guess when the government is in quarantine and they’re testing the King and Queen, it’s time to adjust your personal interaction habits. We all cross the street on the narrow passage ways in the old city – avoiding passing face to face. Stepping in front of a car rather than passing a person with a cough.

People in Europe understand wars. There are plenty of citizens alive here that either remember war themselves or are just one generation away. It leaves a mark. Certainly, that old man with the napkins knows what deprivation feels like. Doing without. Without food security or personal security, or safety for those in your family. Living with the ultimate uncertainty – our very survival. Maybe it is a curse after all – Interesting Times, indeed. After this, I will never be bored again.