Summarizing the first half of 2020
Greetings from Montreal.
I haven’t done one of these Newsletters in almost 6 months. So this newsletter will cover a lot of topics.
We arrived in Montreal a few days ago. As I write this we’re in 2-week self-isolation, a requirement for all Canadians returning from overseas. So back to lockdown after more than 3 months under lockdown in Spain. And we can’t go out at all, we have to order in all our groceries etc.
But you know what this means right? I get to grow my lockdown beard again…
That’s me looking Unabomber-ish towards the end of lockdown in Spain
Spain: lockdown and re-openings
When I wrote the last Newsletter on February 26th we were nearing the end of our first month in Spain. There was increasing news of the virus hitting Northern Italy…but it seemed far away from Spain and life was continuing as usual: bars were full, festivals were being planned, public transport was full of mask-less people who (if you had asked them at the time) never thought that wearing a mask would soon become an everyday requirement.
2 weeks later we were in lockdown in León. We had arrived from Valencia with plans to stay a week. The next day the Spanish government imposed a State of Alarm. We ended up spending almost 4 months in León, including 3 months where the only allowable reasons for leaving the apartment were grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy or hospital.
It’s funny the cycle of emotions you go through. At first lockdown was almost a reprieve, a chance to rest from travelling and catch up on things. Then we got anxious and claustrophobic as the routine started to get old. After about 2 months of lockdown I think we got a little depressed. Was this how things were going to be going forward? Is that it?
In May we were finally allowed out for walks for 1 hour a day. It actually depressed us more. Hours were co-ordinated so that we were out at the same time everyone else was out. It was actually stressful and we found ourselves secretly looking forward to getting home.
In June things finally started to open up. We were allowed unlimited time outside and took advantage to finally see León. Because there were no time limitations we weren’t walking outside at the same time as the rest of the populace and could finally enjoy being out.
We had our first outing in late June, going out with our lovely host Mariateresa and her boyfriend Nacho. We sat on Plaza de Grano and enjoyed a few glasses of wine and Tapas (which come free in León). Bars were jam-packed, there were tons of people. There was no social distancing going on, people were eating and drinking with no masks on. Nacho said it: “Spanish like to live on the street, you can’t change that. It is going to be a problem”.
A few days ago, just before leaving Spain, I remembered that when we started hearing about the regions of Catalonia and Aragon being put back under lockdown because of new coronavirus outbreaks.
It’s different in Montreal
I wrote about what it is like flying during Coronavirus times. That was early last week.
They’ve contained the virus well in Canada. Unlike other places that had advance notice, Canada was pro-active (taking their cues from Europe) and got ahead of it. The death count is 8,750, 80% of which are in long-care homes. The economy has re-opened and (at least for now) seems to be rebounding to a certain degree.
Children’s drawings in Spain. People were hugely supportive of the government and health care workers
It was a bit of a shock driving in from the airport. Maybe 3 in 10 people were wearing masks outdoors. The only mandatory mask laws are on public transport although they are talking about making the use of masks mandatory in all public indoor spaces.
I had a couple of surprising mask encounters having food and groceries delivered. The first guy, delivering our food, looked at me as if I were a ghost when opening the door with my mask on. “Are you infected”? he asked me, as if I was one of those zombies from Bird Box ( we’ve been watching a few post-apocalyptic horror movies recently). I told him that we had come back from Europe the previous day and that it was mandatory for us to wear a mask. The 2nd person delivering food had the same reaction: almost falling backwards off the porch when I came to the door with my mask on.
Across the street from our apartment we have a park where we see everyone without masks.
That’s a big change from Europe where everyone is wearing a mask.
We’ve learned through the above experiences to wear our cloth masks when opening the door, not our medical masks which seem to scare people.
Plans in Montreal
There’s ONE reason we are in Montreal: that’s to apply for a Spanish non-lucrative Residence Visa at the Spanish Consulate here in Montreal.
We’ve already arranged the necessary Spanish documents. In 2 weeks, once our confinement is done, we’ll be working on the Canadian documents. We’ll get them apostilled and translated and send them to the Consulate (because of Covid, they temporarily have a mail-in process). We hope, all going well, to be going back to Spain in mid-October. That would be perfect: Summer and Autumn (especially Autumn, the most beautiful season in Montreal) are good times to be here. Anything after mid-October is pretty much crap.
I’ll have much more on the Spanish non-lucrative Visa in future posts.
One thing I’m really looking forward to is the resumption of the hockey season. That will start in early August and go until October. I haven’t seen live hockey in 6 years. I can’t wait.
Getting back in shape. The last 4 months in lockdown meant we’ve gotten out of shape. We’ve got “lockdown belly”. Once we get out of self-isolation we’ll be getting back in shape in the park across the street.
Above: lockdown belly
We originally had a cross-Canada road trip planned but with everything going on we have to put that one the backburner. Maybe one day. Instead we’re going to keep quiet and to ourselves on this trip.
I don’t mind being back in Montreal for a little while. Lissette isn’t though. And unlike me she hasn’t been back in 5 years. It reminds her of work and the people she worked with. Being back in Montreal has brought up certain memories.
Shit going down
Someone asked me my opinion on where things are going. My answer is “nowhere good”.
Never mind the US which is so f*cked up. You couldn’t f*ck up the US more if you had planned it. All you need now is earthquakes, volcanoes, a plague of locusts, a war with a foreign nation, a civil war, an alien invasion, and Kanye West becoming US president (which might be an improvement over the current incumbent idiot).
Is it just me or is William Barr a dead ringer for a skinnier John Goodman?
Until there’s a vaccine (which is no means a certainty) the virus will rule our lives, economies, and political events around the world. I mentioned earlier that Spain has had to lockdown 2 regions just weeks after re-opening from lockdown. Yesterday marked their highest number of infections (257) since May. Flareups seem to be happening everywhere. Melbourne, Australia’s 2nd largest city, is now back into lockdown. In Serbia talk of a new lockdown has sparked violent protests. In the 3rd world, the virus is having a huge impact on places that don’t have the infrastructure to handle it (Brazil, Mexico, Brazil…). It’s only getting worse.
I’ve mentioned the state of the aviation industry in my last few posts. I’ve mentioned that air traffic is down 75% over this time last year. Despite this, our plane was about 35% full. Nobody is flying and the airlines are BLEEDING money. Lufthansa, KLM and Air France have all needed huge bailouts. Or they would right now be on the verge of bankruptcy. And we’re only months into the lockdown. Where will we be 6 months from now? And how about all other companies in the travel or the services industry?
Stock markets have been up and are almost back where they were pre-Covid. That’s the one bright light but there’s a huge disconnect between the stock markets and what’s going on in the real economy. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I totally don’t get it. In my mind there’s a huge correction due.
And what happens in the Autumn when Covid is supposed to come back stronger than ever?
Maybe I’m being too pessimistic.
Who would ever have expected this to happen?
It’s made us really, really thankful for the last 6 years of full-time travel. I always said I didn’t want any regrets. I’m sure we’ll be travelling once more in the future…but if for some reason that doesn’t happen at least we won’t have any regrets.
Plaza Mayor, in Leon
So our plans?
We’d like to get back to Spain (as I say, we’re hoping for mid-October) and work on getting a base. Where? We’re not sure yet. Valencia was our top contender but Covid changed all that. We don’t want to be in a major city. Our priorities have changed. I’ll write about that in the next little while.
Once we do have a base, we’ll be sticking to local travel. We might even look at leasing a car long term.
There are many things we’ll change going forward. Another subject for a future post. But that’s why I allude to a “Reset” in the title of this post. Going forward there will be changes to the way we live and travel.
Thanks for Reading!
(and as always, always appreciate your thoughts)
Ps. See all our Newsletters here.