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Personal coronavirus anecdotes from Valencia

With the strictest confinement measures slowly coming to an end in Spain, I would like to share a few personal experiences that I had during these odd last six weeks.

To date, almost 236,000 infections have been reported in the whole of Spain, and yesterday the death toll surpassed 24,000 people. In the Valencia region where I live, 10.180 persons have contracted the virus so far and 1,189 died of it.

However, as the numbers seem to have somehow stabilized, the Spanish government is slowly relaxing the restrictions. Last Sunday, after six long weeks, children up to 14 years old were allowed to go outside with their parents. The old Turia river bed was filled with people, and most didn’t give a damn about social distancing. Did that come as a surprise to me? Of course not! At least on social media there was a strong reaction, as such irresponsible behavior made set us back weeks!

Thank God, the constant jingling sound, which reminded me of an old railroad crossing, and the neighborhood had to endure for the last couple of weeks, finally stopped. Strangely enough, this annoying noise made me think of a Monthy Python’s Flying Circus sketch, in which dreaded Heinrich Himmler’s last name is changed to “Bimmler”, which means Mr. Jingler. I decided to watch that episode again!

I was never a heavy smoker. Therefore, I don’t need to go to a tobacco shop very often. Still, I witnessed how a policewoman ignored the sign outside stating that the current maximum capacity is only two customers. I reacted too slowly, because I should have reminded her of the restriction indirectly by leaving myself. What a shining example!

On another occasion, a North African, waiting in line with me, said that his sister in Barcelona allegedly had been fined 2,000 euros when she went to buy cigarettes together with her husband. Two persons were, and I guess still are, not allowed to be on the street together!

Standing on my balcony, I had witnessed something similar myself: a man coming out of the port was stopped by policeman, who obviously weren’t impressed by his story. After arguing and gesticulating for ten minutes, he left with a ticket in his hand. At the time, the minimum fine was supposed to be 300 euros.

Another guy was luckier! Last week, during one of my express “shopping tours”, I saw how a worker, apparently disinfecting an entrance, was actually urinating at another door located just opposite. Police stopped and reprimanded him. The policeman who was driving even told him not to get close to the car, but he didn’t fine him. That really astonished me!

One late afternoon, we had a helicopter checking if people didn’t gather on the rooftop terraces to party, like it had happened in Madrid. I have heard that they still control the nearby beach, to avoid that people enjoy a swim. Anyhow, from the 2nd of May on we will allowed to walk and exercise outside again, and I can’t wait to take my first bath of the year in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that is also included.

Speaking of physical exercise, a very sporty neighbor spends an hour every day running up and down the stairs! He mentioned to me that he will go for a run outside the very moment they let him, and I honestly believe it!

The couple that owns the kiosk downstairs started using basic surgical masks (for 2,50 euros a piece, as the owner told me yesterday) weeks ago, though neither of them bothered to protect themselves more effectively by covering their noses. Now that they at last got much better masks through the local kiosk operator association, he uses them both as his wife can’t stand them! This morning I saw her using an old one, with her nose sticking out… It’s her decision!

Today I saw the usual suspects drinking in the park behind my building, including two Gypsies brothers that contracted Aids by sharing needles. As they had disappeared for a while, I wasn’t sure if they were still alive. Well, bad weds grow tall!

Supermarkets have shortened their opening hours. It’s interesting that the German chains Aldi and Lidl keep their normal opening hours, yet the nearest regional Consum chain store starts later. So their advertising slogan “It’s great to be different” is indeed very accurate!

When I went into one of the two Pakistani fruit shops close to my place, where the owner due to special anti-pandemic regulations has to keep all his goods inside, the stench of rotting fruit got into my nose immediately. To sell fruits and vegetables that are going off much cheaper isn’t a bad idea at all, and I have been benefitting from that business policy. Though this gentleman often overdoes it, and sometimes I have been wondering when the hygiene inspector will finally do his job.

Last, but no least: I have been storing in my freezer four boxes of bread crumbs, leftovers from the lousy bread that I keep buying. Usually I feed it to pigeons, sea gulls and fish of different size, while sitting in the harbor. One of these days it will be such a treat! By the way: I have been told that only grandpas do such things. But who cares? I find it very relaxing and soon will be 53 years old anyway!

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