The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 18

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 18

Tuesday March 31, 2020.

“Well, Isn’t that fucking special !?”

Who else had that reaction upon hearing that China – where the coronavirus all began – decided to close its doors to all foreigners? It happened late last week.

However you feel about China, you have to applaud the Chinese for the manner they’ve controlled the virus. It’s the most populated country on earth and they managed to limit the spread to 81,000 cases and 3,300 dead. That’s less than many European countries as well as the United States. Life is returning to normal in China which should give everyone else a bit of hope…

Here in Spain the latest numbers are 94,417 infected and 8,189 dead. The only good news is that the number of people infected has decreased over the last few days. The government on Saturday decided to toughen rules even more, allowing people with only essential jobs (health care workers, food suppliers, people who work in Pharmacies) to continue working. Everyone else has to stay home. You can only go out to get groceries, go to the pharmacy…or to go to the hospital.

We noticed the difference yesterday. We’ve had an active construction site in front of our window the last 2 weeks. It was shut down. That’s great. But in a way it increases our sense of isolation. It’s eerie how quiet everything is. The only thing we hear are the occasional footsteps of our upstairs neighbour.

Abandoned tractor behind our building

On Saturday the Canadian consulate advised us that there were 2 remaining flights (on Air Transat) back to Canada. The last one was today, March 31st.

We had family members urging us to get back to Canada before flights shut down. I thought about it for a second…but it just doesn’t make sense for us. We have a great apartment here in Leon. We also have Spanish health insurance. The last thing we want to do right now is go to the epicentre of the virus here in Spain (Madrid), get on a plane…and then be subjected to a mandatory 14 days of self-isolation once we arrive in Canada. As much as being in lockdown is no fun, who knows what the situation will be in Canada in a week or two? A week ago the US was just getting a few cases. Now suddenly everyone is in full crisis mode.

The lockdown is supposed to end April 12th in Spain but we’re pretty sure (considering the numbers) that it will be extended. So this weekend we extended our booking until May 5th, our host charging us 550 Euros for a month’s rent. She’s a sweet woman and when we’re through with our stay I’ll give everyone the link to the apartment. We’ve been very lucky.

As far as the Schengen rules limiting our stay here (you’re normally allowed 90 days in the Schengen zone within a 180 day period), that was frozen when the lockdown came into effect. So we in theory have 47 days to stay in the Schengen zone once the lockdown is lifted.

All to say we have it really good compared to other people out there, whether they be locals cramped up with family members or tourists in exotic locales that haven’t been able to get back to their home countries. There’s a lot of them.

Having said that we really hope that by May 5th the lockdown will be over here in Spain. Air Transat, according to their website, will be going back to a regular Madrid – Montreal schedule the 1st week of May…We’ll see.



My first lockdown diary focused on our apartment here in Leon. The second on what it’s like to go grocery shopping in Spain during these times. Now, week 3, the novelty of being in lockdown has kind of faded (we’d love to be able to go for a walk). So the focus this week is on what we’re doing to keep ourselves busy during this time.


Keeping busy during Coronavirus

I’m thankful for having this blog. I mentioned last week that with the coronavirus nobody is thinking of travelling right now. Traffic has plummeted. But the time off has allowed me to work on some things like SEO and Pinterest. So I’ve kept busy. I think I’d be depressed otherwise.

Lissette has found it a bit more difficult. She’s reached out to friends on facebook. Last week she decided that she felt like drawing, inspired by the many paintings and photos in this apartment (our host is an artist).

She drew herself, inspired by Picasso.


I drew myself, inspired by da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.


We’ve also worked out once. We found some Bob Harper videos on the internet (we switched out the weights for some bands). We plan on being more regular this week.


Other than that, we’d watched a lot of stuff on TV, some good, some bad…

What About Bob? A 1991 movie with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. It’s a comedy. I love it, my kind of humor. Lissette didn’t. I found it on the pirate site that I’ve mentioned previously (if you email me privately I’ll give it to you…)

Gate of Thrones. We’ve made it to the middle of season 3 but it’s getting a bit slow and the pirate site sometimes gives us issues. We’re kind of struggling through it…but I’m told it gets better and with all the hype we’ll persevere. We were in Dubrovnik just 2 months ago (it feels like years right now) so it’s interesting seeing how they filmed many of the scenes there.

Love is Blind. I really like trashy reality shows. Love is Blind is on Netflix and if you like trashy reality shows you’ll enjoy this one.

Unorthodox. Excellent German-made mini-series on Netflix about a girl who rejects the Hasidic Jew lifestyle. Very, very well done.

Molly’s Game. A pretty good movie I found on Netflix. Based on a true story of a US Skier who gets injured and somehow ends up being the queen of an underground poker empire. More exciting than I’ve described…good entertainment (although it could have been better I think, the casting was at times weak and the 2nd half of the movie dragged).

We’ve at times watched a few of our favorites: Big Bang (on Netflix), Chopped (the cooking show, on our pirate site), Veep (a comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in which she plays vice president. Not bad. Found it on the pirate site). We re-watched the Bourne series of movies on Netflix (the Bourne Identify is one of my favorite movies). We’ve also found The Office (US version) on the pirate channel and will start watching that this week. Best comedy series ever in my opinion. Worst series of the week: Freud which is a German-made crime series somehow having something to do with Sigmund Freud…


For some other ideas, have a look at the post we previously wrote on all our favorite Netflix series. It’s a huge post, travelling full-time over the last 5 years we’ve really counted on Netflix. Now with the virus it might give you some ideas on things to watch while bored at home.


So what have you been doing to keep busy? (assuming you’re in lockdown as we are)



Ok. The “lockdown” beard.


I know I promised not to shave during the lockdown but I’m getting sick of the beard. It’s itchy and scratchy. I’m feeling pressure to keep it but don’t be surprised if I shave it off by next week. Besides which Lissette told me that if I’m not shaving she’s not either. I’m getting sick of her hairy armpits.


Around the world. Well, basically everyone is in lockdown. Even Russia. Often “lockdown” isn’t the same as we have here in Spain. I was speaking to my son in Toronto this weekend and “lockdown” there seems pretty relaxed. Anyone reading these posts should prepare themselves for our version of a lockdown because I think it’s coming to you in North America. Again, not to panic anyone. It’s all about prevention and “lockdown” seems to be the only agreed upon method to stop the virus from spreading. Even idiots who claimed weeks ago that the virus was a “hoax” are coming to grips with the reality of it.

All the best to everyone, especially if you’re a health care worker. You deserve a world of gratitude from everyone.


  1. It is a new world … never thought I would be employing a thought process of where am I going to be safer. Spain or Canada? USA or Thailand?

    Glad you are keeping busy. I have fallen into a groove, consuming a lot of content and doing a bit of work.

  2. Hi Frank. Glad to see you are doing well (if not bored)! Here in NB, Canada, there are now 81 cases of COVID-19, but that will undoubtedly increase, as they’ve only just started allowing medical professionals exhibiting symptoms to be tested (eyeroll). The authorities are getting more strict on the “lockdown” rules. Grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores (thank God) are still open, but they are saying to “only go out if it’s absolutely essential”. Most if not all offices are now closed and people working from home. All shops, hair salons, medical offices, etc. are closed. They’ve closed the parks, playgrounds, etc., as well as the US border and also borders to Quebec, PEI and Nova Scotia (with guards at the borders, questioning your reason to cross). People are mostly getting it finally — but not all. My husband works for a building supplies chain (also deemed essential) and he said there are people still showing up to browse! They are being given a 15 minute window to pick up what they need and leave. Our premier said that last weekend they stopped 250 vehicles at the border containing people who had traveled and were supposed to be self-quarantining at home for 14 days. There were reports of people gathering at parks and beaches last weekend (nice weekend weather — today it’s snowing) and they say if that happens again, people will be fined. I work in healthcare IT and am busy in my home office — although quite distracted by the news. My youngest daughter is in grade 12 and supposed to graduate this year, but no online learning has not been set up yet (week 3 of schools being closed) and no communication on whether or not school will even start up again. My oldest daughter was exposed so self-isolated for 14 days, but now she can’t really go anywhere, anyway! One positive: a lot of local shops, restaurants and food producers (bakers, farmers, etc.) are offering take-out and home delivery, and businesses that were slow to offer work from home options have now scrambled to make this available to their employees. With our high-speed internet, there’s really no reason not to — it’s 2020 after all! If you’re looking for a good home workout, search for “Leslie Sansone – Walk from Home”. It’s more than it sounds — a great overall aerobics workout — many videos available for free on YouTube. We have just finished “Breaking Bad” for the second time (Netflix), and I love Better Call Saul. Tiger King (Netflix) is what everyone is talking about here. You have to see it to believe it. Stay safe!

    1. Thanks so much for the update Stephanie. I received an email yesterday from my dad in Quebec mentioning that anyone over 70 can’t go out at all. I found that surprising. So, you’re right – they’re really getting stricter. Ha, yes – thank god for liquor stores. They’d be a revolt otherwise.
      I just don’t understand people breaking the rules, it’s just being selfish. It’s also not fair to everyone else. Here the fines are quite heavy but it doesn’t stop some people. I mentioned in another update that some people actually renting their dogs out for walks.
      Tiger King huh? Ok, we’ll check it out tonight, you’re the 2nd person who’s mentioned it. And thank you for the workout recommendation. We have to get on a schedule…
      Do they have a timeframe for the lockdown Stephanie?
      Thanks for the great comment and stay safe!

      1. Hi again. No official timeframe for lockdown yet, but rumours are that it will peak here the week of April 21st. Time will tell!

        1. Thanks Stephanie. We’re planning a Canada trip once our Spanish lockdown is over, keeping in mind that North America a few weeks behind…but we’ll see how it all turns out.

  3. Good post and update Frank. It’s great to get news of what life is really like for people hunkered down like we are and how they’re coping. We have a travel blog and have written a couple of posts on the impact of the pandemic on travelers, but that topic has probably run its course. We have a pretty global audience and one of our ideas was to get a sampling of what day-to-day life is really like for people in lockdown who are scattered around the world. We have lots of time to think about it. 🙂 In the meantime, hang in there and stay healthy. ~James

  4. I think the world could use a round of Soft Kitty.

    Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty
    Little ball of fur…
    Happy Kitty, Sleepy Kitty
    Purr, purr, purr…

  5. Funny about the chinese, I do not believe for a second the official numbers they have reported. Unofficial sources say they probably are at least 3 times higher.
    And regarding the chinese closing the borders for foreigners, I remember some weeks ago they were accusing Italy for being racist when they closed their borders for the chinese.
    Take care and keep yourselves occupied and soon things will go back to normal.

    1. Thanks Per Erik. I missed that piece of news about the Chinese being upset with Italy. Again, precious!
      Where are you located?
      Take care!

      1. Hi Frank andPer, so right about China. Consider that the one place that has very good reasons to mistrust China and has no relation to their mouthpiece the WHO,
        is the one place that handled this virus quickly and effectively. I speak of Taiwan who, at the first inkling from a Chinese dr with a conscience, ( who has since passed from the disease) sent a task force to Wuhan in December And started taking serious precautions in January, including shutting down flights from Hubei. Here in Canada our ministers ( without any medical training by the way ) were still telling us in late Feb, it was very rare, nothing to worry about bla bla bla, stopping flights is racist. They were mimicking what the WHO was saying, which is basically what the PRC was telling them. If measures had been taken by the world even in mid – late January , this whole thing would be over my now. Here’s a link from the Edmonton journal (I’m actually in Vancouver ) stay safe all

  6. Love your drawings! I might just have to try drawing Picasso-style as well. 🙂
    I’ve just spent some time this morning catching up on your recent posts and was struck by the stark contrast of before and after life in the time of the novel coronavirus. The only comparison I can make with what’s happening now is the time before and after 9-11 and its not hard to imagine that there will be lasting effects following this pandemic. Luckily for the residents of my adopted country, Portugal lagged in virus transmission by a couple of weeks behind France, Italy and Spain and took the proactive steps of declaring a national emergency on March 19th closing borders and issuing strict rules although many of us started limiting our time away from home several days before that. These are good times to practice gratitude and fortunately, I’m a bit of a hermit anyway with many solo past times as well as fantastic housemates and a large house. Like you, I never thought about going back “home” to the US and watching things spiral out of control there while the government seems to be doing its best to impede any coordinated efforts as well as spread misinformation and lies is grim and extremely disheartening. I’d been wondering how your visa situation was under lockdown and was glad to see that the Schengen rules have been relaxed. Keep well my friends and, when this is over, let’s get together and compare Portuguese and Spanish wines!

    1. Thanks for info on what’s going on in Portugal Anita.
      Don’t get me started on what’s going on in the US. I just don’t understand how Trump as well as some Republican governors resist doing the right thing. Trump at least now is listening to the scientists, of course it’s now about how he’s being saying this all along and that the US is making great things happen (yawn..). Then you have governors like the one in Florida not closing the state down – one of the most at risk states because of all the seniors. It’s just irresponsible. And you know when this is all over with XXX dead fingers will be pointed elsewhere…
      Anyway, another post for another time. I think, even if it’s Trump, people WANT the best for everyone. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as the numbers being thrown around in yesterday’s press conference.
      Yes! One day we met up and compare wines Anita 🙂

  7. nice work on the beard! I should be doing some sort of workout. still working – in disability care so still got most of my shifts and its really stressful too cos the clients are going a bit stir crazy. take care of yourselves.

    1. Must be tough Andy. All the best!
      We have it easy, people like you are what is getting everyone through this.

  8. I am for one am getting sick of propaganda from China.
    Anyway, don’t trust any news coming from China or their creeping Chinese communities, seeing how much filth, abuse and chaos that they tend to spread from their China.

  9. Hi from Australia
    I look forward to your blog arriving each week – especially now that you are in Spain during this pandemic. I have always considered Spain pretty similar to Australia geographically – so it has been a surprise seeing how quickly it has spread throughout your country.
    I blog and travel a bit with my partner and have just returned from a 4 month trip. I am keeping busy now whilst we are in self-isolation – yet to get to the extent of lockdown you are under – by turning our travels into a book. Maybe an idea for you!

    Keep the blogs coming and stay safe.

    1. Thanks for the comment Emma. I haven’t heard much from Australia except about the toilet paper fights! 🙂 Are you in hard-core self-isolation or do you guys get to go for walks?
      I’ll make sure to check out your blog in more detail. Had a quick look and see you’ve been to some of the Pacific islands. It’s a region of the world we haven’t visited yet and would like to see so I’m interested.

  10. Hi to both,
    From Fl. USA. I read your first post and this one, sorry didn’t have time to comment earlier. I agree with you that they were very late and still are, responding to this calamity. Look how fast and what happened in NY. Have friends there and within one day the world turned upside down. Now if you didn’t hear, in the northern eastern board states, people escaped to FL. where I live and caused a downward spiral right now. My county had one case last week, now out Governor declared yesterday state of emergency. I was screaming for them to shut the state border(as difficult as it is to implement, at least try). I am livid with anger at this lack of seriousness of the problem. However, I disagree with you regarding US and the west now surpassing China. THEY ARE LYING! and we don’t believe their numbers. If they didn’t lie from the beginning, it might not have gotten so bad.
    I hope Spain does see a relief, we see and hear how bad it is. Myself and My husband locked ourselves down voluntarily (he unfortunately within this mess, had three surgeries this month) but we still needed to be out, medically speaking. The rest of the population is still not taking this as catastrophic as they should……..but they do worry about hoarding TP, that can’t be found anywhere. If all this was not so sad, it will make a good comedy.
    Please, stay well and healthy.

    1. I was saying to Lissette this week that it must be terrible for people who have to go to the hospital for other types of medical attention. Hope Moishe is doing well. But wouldn’t want to go to the hospital with a broken leg or anything else…
      Yes, heard about people escaping to Florida. I also saw news reports of the kids going down for Spring Break…just before the governor closed down the beaches. Very suspect isn’t it, waiting until right after a big money-making event? Some governors are looking really good right now the way they’ve been on top of it, others not so much.
      Just saw this Forbes article today on China. I don’t really believe anyone’s numbers to be honest, many people are asymptoticmatic and have never been tested. And yes, the Chinese did lie in the beginning. We might never know the real numbers… but I don’t think they would have reopened Wuhan if the virus wasn’t under control. To have done that in under 3 months is still quite the feat.
      But yes, I don’t think people are very happy with the Chinese. I know they’ve been many anti-Chinese incidents in the capital. And I wonder how welcoming people will be when economies finally get back up and running? There might be a lot of backlash, a lot of locals barely tolerate them as it is…
      Will someone explain the whole TP thing to me? Jesus. When I was a kid we sometimes ran out of toilet paper and used newspaper. Obviously those idiots never took a survival class…
      Take care Sara and pass on greetings to Moishe.

      1. Have to apologize again for a belated reply/comment. Moshe thanks you for your wishes, he is doing much better, just need to get back some stamina and exercise. I read above about exercising at home and yes, I love it that U-tube exists. As a ballet dancer I found some classes given by professionals, one from the Dutch National Ballet, it is great to keep up even at home.
        Anyway, TP is still an unbelievable issue. It’s been a month in which I was chasing to get some and unable to because the same people in my area line up early morning and snap up whatever the stores get, but I refused to do it to get up so early. But today Easter Sunday I gave in and decided to do it…i.e: get there early. Guess…no TP. What a “pisser”. People during WWII behaved better (to my knowledge). In my past country of Israel, complete shutdown of the entire country, but TP is not an issue….eggs are, people fighting over them (big item, because it is Passover).
        Knowing how you feel about Trump, still have to give him some credit in how he has been handling the situation the last 3-4 weeks. Even his Democratic namesis are giving him compliments, including but not limited to Governor Cuomo, where NY is a total disaster.
        Would like to hear more about the situation in Spain from you people, not the media. Is the projected April 12th lockdown lifted?
        Aside from the Corona, when you are free to travel, hope you get to Cordoba Jewish small enclave where the ancient synagogue was unearthed and the statue of the “Rambam (Maimonides)” is displayed, was incredible for me to finally see. And if you are back to Sivilla, you must make the effort to see a particular flamenco show that is not a touristy trap but a true incredible professional show.
        Lastly, curious if you regret not getting back to Canada when you could?
        Stay healthy and resolute……
        Sara Y.

        1. Hi Sara!
          I honestly don’t understand the toilet paper thing. That’s stupid people. WHY??? Yes: eggs, chicken, beans, rice, pasta…you know, the staples. But toilet paper? I imagine none of these people ever took a survival training class.

          Yes, Youtube has some practical purposes. Sometimes when the news gets too much we enjoy watching funny dog videos. Always makes the heart feel better.

          The US now has the highest infections and deaths in the world Sara. And you’re only a few weeks in. There are obvious reasons but I’m not going to go into that now. Besides which I think I would alienate you. You’re a sweet lady and I always appreciate hearing from you but when it comes to Trump we’re in different universes.

          Here in Spain numbers are going down but they’re playing it very safe. Lockdown was previously extended to April 26 but I heard this week that that may be extended into May. So we’ve been in “strict” lockdown (not the “easy” lockdown of many places) for over a month now and probably have 3-4 weeks to go. But as I say, the numbers going down and not up.

          No, no regrets going back to Canada because we have it good here. No advantage to being in Canada where they are also in strict lockdown (my dad is over 70 and can’t even leave the house. All groceries have to be delivered) plus we wouldn’t have the cheap apartment and equally cheap (and excellent) wine we have here. Besides which we’re insured here – and not in Canada.

          By the time we’re out of lockdown (hopefully early May), we’ll see a bit more of Spain and probably head to Canada in June when hopefully the worst of the virus will have passed and people will be out of lockdown. Again, remember that Canada and the US are behind Europe by 2-3 weeks…

          Stay safe and careful Sara!

          1. Frank, I don’t think we are on different universe and not to get too much into politics here, but just to respond to your comment, by no means will you alienate me (re: Trump) and I never understood people here in the states who can’t accept others opinion as it happened here during the election. So please feel free to say anything, I don’t take it personal at all. I have my subjective reasons to choose the better of two evils (as a graduate student of PSc, I delved into politics for many years) but ALWAYS appreciate others viewpoint. ….and again still want to hear your opinions. It’s true that the US is 2-3 weeks behind and I hope that we are receiving the truthful data regarding the scope of the problem. As of today April 15, the numbers seem to level off and hope they continue so.
            I also entered now a comment on your latest report.
            Please stay healthy!

  11. Amigo , you kind of look like Jack in The Shining LOL…thanks for the post and what we have to look forward to in Canada….on Netflix try Tiger King, Seven Seconds and a weird Swedish number called The Break

  12. Here in Montpellier, France, we’re on tight lockdown, too. Our “roaming range” during the one-hour we are allowed to exercise each day has been reduced to 1 km from home. But within that range we did find a park in the city with flowerbeds that are just exploding with tulips and other blooms.

    I feel a great lassitude; while not really bored, nothing seems particularly interesting. Maybe I’ll take up drawing; with some practice, I might get as good as you!

    When you’ve had enough of GoT (we’re keen fans, but I found the last season worthless), research where it was filmed. Dubrovnik, Split, the Klis Fortress, the Alcazar in Seville… Just by chance we’ve visited many of those sites.

    Our Netflix choices include Outlander, Better Call Saul, and the dark drama Ozark. We watched the first episode of Freud; maybe we’ll leave that at the bottom of the list.

    Oh, someone sent us a video taken from a car driving through Seville–empty streets. Really empty. Montpellier is pretty deserted, but Seville is… weird!

    Meanwhile, there is a well-stocked Carrefour market right below us and a great boulangerie a block away. When it’s closed, there’s another a half-block away; the wine stores are all open. We’re just hunkered down, waiting it out.

    1. Looks like we’re in the same boat Paul.
      Question is: how do they monitor an hour out? I’m guessing they’re putting a lot of faith in people. Here they’ve fined a lot of people. Lissette tells me she saw something on facebook that people are now only allowed to take their dogs within 200m of home. First week people were renting out their dogs to people who wanted to abuse the dog walking rule…

      Yes, agree not much seems interesting. Being stuck at home wears thin. Like your list of shows, I think they’re all in my Netflix post. I don’t remember how Ozark finished or if they even had a final season…will have to check. Also Better Call Saul which ended up being one of our favorite series. I think there’s another season in the works…

      Didn’t realize Seville was in GoT. Maybe we haven’t gotten there yet. Will keep my eyes open. Any idea where the winter images are from? I was thinking Scottish highlands or Wales but don’t know if they would have that much snow.

      Thanks for the comment Paul. Take care!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.