And so it goes on. Coming up to a year, now. Facebook “Memories” each morning highlight the last of those crowded events we went to back when doing that was normal – a concert, a street party, a packed bar. Last week Facebook reminded me that this time last year I was on a mini-break in Seville, and heard on the Spanish television news that Spain’s first patient with the virus had been admitted to hospital, right there in Seville. I turned off the telly and went out to eat in a cozy bar, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, before going out to photograph the magnificent Plaza de España.
On Lockdown Day One in Spain, on March 14th, my blog post mentioned that “I am beginning to wonder what a sofa-fortnight will look like”. We had no idea it would be a sofa year, that our generation’s “war” would be fought wearing floppy house-clothes and watching Netflix.
For so many people it has been so much harder than that. Deaths, counted in the tens of thousands. Last March I mentioned the hospitalisation of a dear friend’s brother in Madrid. He didn’t make it, she hadn’t been able to visit him, and she couldn’t attend his funeral. It has meant she can’t move on adequately, she feels misplaced stabs of guilt, whatever we say to comfort her. Other friends are struggling financially. Spain is supporting some, but (as in the UK) others slip through the net. Nobody is saying this is easy.
But for some of us, it has been a year of nesting, baking, touching up the paintwork and the grouting, studying, and walking. Oh yes, the walking! On a lazy day, just around the village, popping into a shop or two, waving to neighbours across the square. Most days, around the edge of the village and into the campo, past the horse and the chickens and admiring the new baby goats, watching the changing seasons from the familiar paths. If breath allows and it’s not too sunny, up to the top, to the Ermita, and out a little on the Solano road.
Best of all, the longer walk, el Camino de Gonzalo. Olive groves, big views, and now the end of the almond blossom and the explosion of yellow weeds that cover the ground and brighten the photos. Mostly empty so the mask can be under the chin (kept handy in case someone is coming the other way) and the fresh air can be gratefully breathed.
They are all familiar paths now. A new habit that deserves to be kept even once this is all over. Will it ever be all over? Hard to say. But for the time being we walk on, grateful not to be one of the statistics, grateful to not be watching a business dying on its feet, grateful to have food to eat and countryside to walk through, grateful for the things that really matter, the simple things.
© Tamara Essex 2021 http://www.twocampos.com