Well, that’s it. The crisis is over. Perhaps you don’t believe me but it’s totally true. And I know this because the yard sticks that measure a pandemic are flashing red. It’s definitely over.
The first sign is that we are down to one roll of toilet paper. I won’t say I was one of those hoarders at the beginning of lock down, but we did have a healthy Costco-sized supply in el baño. And I just put the last roll on the holder. So lock down is pretty much over. It’s the rules. I don’t make the rules.
The next indicator is that the teenagers who have historically gathered on the bench across the street in the evenings are back. Like brightly colored birds returning after the winter – and there are dozens of them. They primp. They preen. There’s a mating dance. And you can tell the girls from the boys, not just by their hair or clothing, but because the boys wear the masks and the girls don’t. It’s weird, but across the board it’s a universal truth. I guess masks just aren’t cute – until a Kardashian or a Cardi B tells them that it is. When they go to depart, the boys take off their masks to double cheek kiss the maskless girls. So the pandemic is completely over because everyone knows that teenager are the best barometers for health and safety.
Vandalism is up – another message scrawled on the wall screaming ‘Let’s get this over with!!’ We watched a group of teenagers completely destroy the Valenbici bikes on the corner (a different group than our usual bench sitters). This group of all boys are ones we have passed on our walks at night. They’re rowdy and they kick cars too. I understand pent up energy after months inside, but destroying public property goes too far.
I saw in the news that historical sites are being spray painted with graffiti. Not something you would have seen before and is alarming to the authorities. When we first got here we noticed there seemed to be a code for ‘street art’. Roll down shutters that weren’t already professionally painted – OK. But rarely on buildings themselves. Never, ever on historical landmarks that define the city. Now that has changed during the crisis and the protests, and a line has been crossed. Graffiti is worse than ever before.
Things will change after this. For us all. But the mood outside seems different now. More fraught. And with the easing of restrictions the police seem to have lost control. As the cafes and bars have opened with terrace tables, the crowded streets have given way to packed tables with no legal social distancing. And diners are not required to wear mask – or so it seems. We can see a cafe just across the tram tracks from our window. Tables for 4 had 10 people each. Those trying to pass on the sidewalk had no where to put their feet to run the gauntlet.
So while we wait for Phase 2 to be approved for next Monday – the citizens of the city have already moved themselves forward. Our R (# of people a single person with the virus can infect) has gone from a .66 three weeks ago to .88 last week. Today it sits at 1.1 – not a good trend. In March it was at 4.33. We’re going in the wrong direction.
Maybe everyone else in Valencia is using the same yard stick we are in El Compartimiento. Maybe they all got down to their last roll of toilet paper and thought ‘What the Hell! Let’s roll the dice. What’s the worst that could happen.’ I guess we’re about to find out.