1. It must be nice to be described as the fast rangy guy with an active stick by your wife, I’m typically viewed as the one taking a dump in the corner – but I digress.

    Seems like the clock is ticking in earnest for you both, and we can sense the angst there in wanting to get out the place you find yourself trapped and moving on with life again.

    We really hope that Spanish visa comes through for you soon so that you can go and get settled.

    It is interesting the difference Covid-19 has made to active life – we certainly have reduced our outings massively as well, having gone out 3 times in 6 months when in the UK and Croatia. But now in Porto we have found ourselves being drawn out more frequently from the great food and amazing prices (we only sit outside or we get take away to have at home). But each time we do we stress a bit when someone sits a bit too close, or the guy in the corner sneezes. I guess we are all on edge and as a result have a certain amount of anxiety.

    The online shopping is something we haven’t ever really embraced – but we also haven’t had to endure a quarantine proper. We love strolling the aisles of supermarkets in different countries and cities. Part of the fun of travel I guess – and since it is still early days for us the gloss hasn’t worn off!

    Fingers crossed from us that you’ll be in your way to Granada soon!!

  2. Frank, lovely to get this update. I got the sense that you are counting the days to return to Spain and with winter coming I can understand why. I agree with Lissette that it is better not discuss the move to Spain too much until everything is sorted out. Brian and I are traveling again with our motorhome, it feels great to be on the move again. We are being very careful to keep with social distance, wear face masks when out and about and hand sanitizer regularly. Having our own home-on-wheels feels like a safe way to travel. But we are not taking anything for granted and just keeping an eye on the infection rate here in Italy. Good luck with your Visa application and take care.

    1. Great that you’re travelling despite everything Gilda!
      Isn’t it funny how well Italy is doing right now with it’s infection numbers? Been keeping an eye on the news and it has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe (vs Spain which has taken off. A bit worrying for us…)

  3. Hi Frank,
    I’m loving your updates…..good luck with getting your Visa and returning to Spain! Did I miss the big reveal of your choice of your home base in Spain or are you still deciding?

    I thought I would share this link to incomparable Rick Jeanneret, the long time play by play announcer for the Buffalo Sabres for Lissette. I particularly loved his “top shelf where Mama hides the cookies” call! Enjoy! https://youtu.be/NYWgVS5CiX4

    1. Hi Randy,
      It might be Granada but we’re not finished looking. It’ll be in that area though.
      Ha! Are you a Sabres fan? He gets pretty excited…

      1. Hi Frank,
        I’m not much of a hockey fan any more. I lived in Buffalo for a few years and it’s pretty much mandatory that you are a Sabres / Bills fan when you live there. 🙂

        I’m curious whether its mandatory to specify an address when you apply for residency in Spain. Here in Portugal, they are very strict about requiring an address when you apply for your Visa and residency. They wouldn’t even accept long term AirBnB listings without a conversion to a “legal” rental agreement.
        All the best,


        1. Hi Randy,
          We didn’t have to specify an address for Residency. BUT that depends on where you apply from. I’ve heard Americans do have to fill out an address (we had an Australian friend who offered to use hers but as I say we didn’t need it). Citizens of some other countries actually need a notarized lease. So it depends where you are applying from (ie. your home). So it’s best to ask the consulate that you’ll be applying at. That’s what we did just to confirm…
          Hope that helps 🙂

  4. hope it happens soon Frank. Must be a worry waiting as you head into September. I was in Toronto in sept many years ago and it was blazing hot, but I know Montreal is not so warm. I agree that I found there was something unlikeable about Hillary. I feel sorry for the States as once again I feel like they have barely a choice in this election, I wouldnt be comfortable with either Biden or Trump as my President. Having said that, if I had that choice it would be an easy one for me. but I fear somehow we are going to see Trump win again. Michael Moore points out how energised Trump supporters are compared to those of Biden. And thats a very fair call and hard to argue with. The hope this time around is I guess that more people would be against a second Trump term which will take them to the ballot box to vote Biden regardless of how little he inspires.

    1. In September it can go both ways in Eastern Canada Andy and can change one day to the next. By Oct 15 though it’s a one way road to shit town and we’re praying to have resolution by then at the latest.
      I have no issues with Biden. He’ll be responsible, he won’t be burning the US down. As I say to Lissette, it’s just about getting Trump out, having a transition, and hopefully next election have somebody younger and more dynamic there.
      I saw the Michael Moore piece and I agree. It’s incredible that Trump’s support has never gone below 40% with everything over the past 4 years and that says a lot…

  5. Such an interesting post again, Frank.

    I totally get becoming antisocial during this pandemic because we’re experiencing the same. Maybe it’s because Spain had one of the strictest lockdowns, like us here, that we were scared out of our minds? Almost everything here has opened up now but our numbers are still rising and we have the highest infection rate in the world so we’re still scared to do anything normal outside the home.

    There’s another reason in our case though. The removal of distractions from the outside world. Our daughter picked up new hobbies that she didn’t have time for before and the hubby and I are laser-focused on work and one or two new common interests. It sometimes feels like our bubble is cozy. The only thing we really do miss is travel.

    I’ve always wondered why so many people found Hillary so unlikeable. I do see some of her faults, but when she was campaigning it felt like she was almost forced to stake out a moderate position. I also felt that a lot of the criticism she got was unfair and that she shouldn’t have had to be likeable. I watched her Howard Stern interview from last year and she was quite likeable in that. This time, I’m less enthusiastic about the Democratic ticket and not at all convinced that Biden has it in the bag. It feels like too many people will vote for him just because he’s not Trump.

    Netflix here in India doesn’t have Oliver Stone’s documentary. I would’ve liked to watch it.

    I’m eagerly awaiting your move back to Spain as the date gets nearer! I hope it’ll happen as planned 🙂

    1. Nice to hear from you Claudine. India keeps coming up in the news – I read about 80,000 new infections/day. How many people dying a day? What’s the mood in India?

      I totally understand about the bubble feeling cozy. We felt that in the beginning in Spain. Then at a certain point we just started getting depressed. Being locked down that long, I mean severe lockdown (ie. not North American style lockdown), just got to be too much.

      You’re right, we feel the same about Biden. But getting rid of Trump has to be the goal. And although Biden is a few years older than Trump (I think 77 compared to 73) he’s in better shape and I think more there mentally as well. But I’m glad he’s got a younger and very competent running mate (Kamala Harris). I really like her. I think America has to move on to a younger generation of politicians, too many old white people in politics.

      Hillary felt forced to me. Everything that came out of her mouth felt a little forced and staged. I think that’s why people just didn’t really warm to her. She’s definitely a capable and an impressive woman – it’s unfortunate that politics is a popularity contest.

      Thanks for the wishes Claudine. Stay safe!!

      1. Thanks Franks, yes we’re staying safe!
        The death rate here is low about 1000-1100 a day. But that’s due to many reasons. Higher immunity and weaker strain of virus, very very low testing rates. You can only get a test here if you have a fever of above 99.5C or very obvious symptoms or if you’ve come in contact with a known +ve person. There’s no general private insurance to cover the cost of tests so only the rich and the middle class can afford them.

        The morale is low because of the pandemic and the world’s worse economy. The economy was already on a downward slide before but now it’s scary. BUT, the current incompetent government still enjoys broad support. Just yesterday our finance minister blamed the gods for our current state of affairs. There is no concrete plan to get us out of this hole.

        As an example of how dire things are, it’s been almost 6 months since most children from poor homes have had ANY education whatsoever. Many never attend school anyway and more than 50% of the youth attend government schools where there is no safety net for a pandemic. These families can’t afford gadgets for online learning, especially since so many parents are barely earning anything now. So even if a few government schools do carry out online classes, they’re not effective. Meanwhile, the rich tax-dodging citizens have benefited immensely and the small middle class is propping up what’s left of the economy.

        I’ve always said that our prime minister is a mini Trump with all the enablers surrounding him. We had the first right wing nationalist party come into power much before the UK, US, Hungary, etc. The racists, bigots, and the rest have become emboldened. I have a fervent hope that America will see sense and get rid of Trump and then maybe some of that sense will come our way!

        How’s this for a bit of ridiculousness – the law here says everyone has to wear a mask in any public space. That means indoors and outdoors. Driving or sitting in your own car means you’re in a public space so we have to wear masks even when we’re inside our own car or we get fined!!! Meanwhile, the festival season has kicked off here and there are crowds of gatherings in the streets with people dancing and yelling and no masks. Indoor group pujas take place with no social distancing. The reasoning by some is that god will take care of them. I think that all this is why I like my cozy bubble at home. It’s too stressful for me out there!

        1. Religion will save everything. Same everywhere isn’t it?
          Thanks for this Claudine, interesting hearing what’s going on in India.

  6. Love your writing, Frank, appreciate the update, especially remember the early autumns of Montreal. Nothing like it. Expo ’67 was perfect for that. Curious about the comments of city folks when you do go out. Are there dissenters? I mean, a nod, a smile, smirk, any indication that any people do not follow the media lead, perhaps even doubt the veracity of ‘all of it’ since January, worldwide or locally, nationally? Any dissent?

    (Our experience is unique to our area, rural Japan -Tokyo is another country – almost no change, any rules quietly, softly dodged, same as always, almost. Don’t push people too far, they’ll wake up. Restaurant building owners shutter, take a break, bars that rent space are open, apologizing, waving masks, comply, comply but come in, schmooze. Everyone understands, cause money is the yardstick of everything, not sickness scares or anything else.)

    Here, on the other side of the fence, it’s real lonely. This side – folks who just don’t believe in the narrative media is feeding – it’s no fun. Takes patience. I comply in my own home, extremely, dousing the welcome mat with bleach every time entering, as if the house is infested with gnats. I don’t argue. Not even a teeny bit. A person’s mind changes from their own experience, not external pressure.

    Out there, in darkened rooms of home video-conferencing monitors, have a chance to rendezvous with similar souls. Aren’t many, and all are feeling the strain. Makes you want to drink, dull your mind. Start digging into the alternative side, lost there. For some, it began months, years after Sept. 11, others after a bad hospital visit, still others way before that. Me? Has always been that way. Hard to explain. But kids who blossom at Montessori or Steiner schools, who home school, who explore their own interests, they are more or less this way. It’s healthy. But it’s lonely.

    So, am fishing today, querying about aberrant behaviour, tips, hints, cracks in the social fabric. Spice up the topic, add a bit of flavour.

    All the best, Frank!

    1. Hi Duncan!
      I’ve heard of some protests in the news. But as far as everyday life here, I don’t see it. You don’t see people fighting clerks and bus drivers about wearing a mask. People do it, even if they may think it’s all a bit overblown (the average number of people getting infected is about 500/day, countrywide). I think generally people are good and that businesses here have been very strict. Bars/restaurants have been complying and most have configured their spaces in inventive ways. It’s going to be tougher though when the weather gets cold.

      Dousing the welcome mat with bleach?! You are taking it seriously. Maybe your wife forces you, like mine does 🙂 I’ll wear a mask in indoor spaces, I have no issue with that and people who complain about losing their freedoms over that piss me off because they’re being selfish. But there’s only so far I’ll go. We HAD to wear one outdoors when coming out of lockdown in Spain and I absolutely hated it. 30C and couldn’t breath with the mask on. That’s no way of living…

      It’s a dark, depressing time Duncan…

      1. Hey Frank,
        Thank you! Je vous remercie! You are such a courteous gentleman, giving the virtual time of day to an aberrant abhorrent schmuck. Hats off!
        But even in the dead of night, surprisingly not dark at all, not suffocating. Au contraire. From the 1st of January, the feeling has been 2020 will be fabulous, a year of all years, the best of one’s life. I tell you, this feeling has never waned. And I reached out to similar thinkers, they felt the same. It’s getting easier to see through the nonsense this time.
        As you often do, just observing what’s going on in the local area, here’s what we see:
        * The skies are clear, and the air is fresh
        * Streets have been almost empty daytime, but after dusk, maskless families stroll the neighbourhoods, walk dogs, and they’re laughing, cheery. It was a looong spring holiday.
        * Police have no part of this, hospitals are officially closed-doored, but unofficially
        side-doored open to known clients, regular paying patient doctor feeds. They know this will pass, must keep relations smooth.
        * It is almost impossible to get tested, and you must pay dearly for the pleasure, even if insured. Everyone is told, “Stay away! Don’t go to the hospital or doctor! Shut up! Stay away!” And they do, and they’re fine.
        * Forces a person to research, experiment, find solutions. Had a fever, 38.3C, edging upward, dear wife freaked, calling the Currona testing centre, certain I had the plague, ready to sell the house, move to a bomb shelter. Had 5 hours. A ton of herbs, way too much cayenne, lots of water, a steady prayer, and a specific tincture later – absolute river of sweat burst through. Down to 36.3C. Did it. Had to show temperature readings every 15 minutes, ‘me no mai’ (in front of eyes), to calm the hysteria, wake up, let reality in, cancel the test. (And that took about 12 hours.) Lesson: Never give up.
        * Universities have been unprepared, leadership absent. Glorious opportunity for publishers like us to step up, act quickly, adapt to online everything ’cause the fuddy-duddy local publishing houses are staffed with uncreative low-paid clerks.
        * Foreign companies and foreign chambers of commerce can’t send their own people in now, so we local foreign residents now have higher value, can consult. Working my tail off on that now, since materials, goods still flowing in and out.
        * And the chance to explore the local areas, hot springs, farms – roads not crowded, rates lower, very easy driving, relaxing and fun.

        And take notes on the surreal. I mean, everyone dons a mask. I gotta do the deed, too. Go out to a big neighbourhood communal bathhouse/spa. Discount day. A hundred men in the men’s section, washing, soaking, saunaing, glaring as always. More in the women’s, with all the kids. Ice cream afterward, children running around. And not a mask in sight. Not one, not a single one. But driving away from the parking lot, momma driver has a mask on. Hear later, “Oh. yeah, well. See, here’s the thing. When it’s extremely humid, and hot, like in the sauna, no problem. Case closed.” Right.
        They tried to shutter these popular bathhouses/spas, but met too much resistance. They have stayed open throughout. Silent, no announcement, advertising off, but lights on, dim, 60% capacity steady.

        Very very interested to hear from any other of your kind readers, Frank, on what they see on the ground, in local areas, as there is a ton of variety in this game. Make sense? No. Amusing? Yes.

  7. thanks for the update. I am really looking forward to the next – more from Spain installment. As ever – best of luck and auspiciousness on finishing up the application/visa project! I am just a few days away from picking up my new camper top and heading out to wild parts unknown for back woods or desert camping. Hoping to get far enough back on back roads that there are no other people. I’m now in southern CO and headed tomorrow for Flagstaff where the little pop-up camper has been built. – best to you guys – Jan

    1. Thank you Jan.
      Good luck to you! It sounds exciting. I’ve never been to that part of the US but have seen lots of photos of the wonderful geography. You’re going to have a great adventure!

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