The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

Tuesday March 17, 2020.  #YoMeQuedoEnCasa (Translated: #I’mStayingHome)

I wrote about Spain declaring a State of Alert last Friday. Over the last 4 days we’ve been under official lockdown.

Readers in North America should be prepared: you’ll soon be in the same situation. People in charge are holding off on the inevitable but the longer they wait the more the coronavirus will spread. The lockdown is all about prevention, however scary the concept of being in lockdown seems.

What blows the mind is how quickly it’s all happened.

As I mentioned in the last post, we had gone from talking about festivals last Wednesday to an official State of Alert on Friday March 13th.

On Saturday the young Spanish Prime Minister came on TV and spoke for a few hours, describing the rules of the lockdown. People can only leave home for essential outings: getting groceries, going to the pharmacy, walking their dogs…(full article). If you do go out (for these essential reasons), you have to space yourself 1.5 meters from other people.

On Saturday night there were emotional scenes of people on their balconies in various Spanish cities, applauding the healthcare workers that are taking care of patients. News is that hospitals are overrun. It seems that every night in Madrid, at 8 pm, people get on their balconies to applaud the healthcare workers.

Watching the TV on Sunday morning the police are everywhere: blocking roads, patrolling streets and sending people home. Joggers were being stopped and told that as of Monday there would be heavy fines if caught outdoors. Beaches (like everything else) have been closed. There was footage of a guy lying on the beach, a police car blasting him with a speaker “Go home! You are not on vacation!”.

On Sunday night I read that the Army is out on the street patrolling and making sure people follow the rules.

If it all sounds like an end-of-world movie. Well, it kind of is.

Monday we went shopping. Streets are dead, grocery stores quiet. Mostly fully stocked, only thing I had hard time finding was chicken. We’ve stocked up on staples: Rice, beans, meat, veggie patties for Lissette, eggs, bread, cheese, fruits, wine…

Leon is not a big city but we saw a few police patrolling the street.

Some people always insist on breaking the rules. Our neighbour had a party last night and one of them had a nasty cough.

On the news today is that some people are renting their dogs out for walks (one of the “essential” reasons for going out is dog walking). Police are authorized to ask for your dog registration papers if suspicious…

Leon in lockdown

Quiet square in Leon

But again, it’s about stopping the spread orFlattening the curve”.

For those in Spain, the National newspaper El Pais has good coverage.

The hashtag that you see on the top left hand corner of your TV here is #YoMeQuedoEnCasa (Translated: #I’mStayingHome). It’s as simple as that.


With all that’s going on, we’re under the absolute best of circumstances. Our host is simply fabulous and has cleared the whole month of April for us because, honestly, there’s no telling how long this will all last. And when lockdown is over in Spain, what will the situation be in Canada? North America seems to be trailing a few weeks behind on the coronavirus so will we even want to come back under whatever circumstances will be required? It’s all pretty much in the air. But I think we might be here for a while…

A few photos of our apartment

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

our apartment in Leon Spain

our apartment in Leon Spain

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

Our apartment in Leon Spain

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

They call the below a “Bidet”for those who don’t know. No need to fight over toilet paper in Spain.

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 4

essentials for the lockdown

We’re paying 35 Euros/day, or $50 Canadian/day for the apartment. It has everything we need and we feel very comfortable.


growing beard in lockdown. Leon SpainThat’s me. I’ve never grown a beard in my life but I’ve decided to let it grow until the lockdown is officially over. 


It’s only been 4 days but in a way it feels much longer. It all feels very weird, our schedules are out of sync. With no going out, there’s no schedule of any kind. The last 2 days we’ve gotten out of bed just after noon. We’re going to work on that, including trying to work out from home (we have some workout disks that we’ve been travelling with the last few years).

We see neighbors looking out of their apartment windows, often just sitting there. I think it’s weird for everyone.

And this is only Day 4.

How to keep busy? We’ve watched Game of Thrones, lots of news, have reconnected with people on Facebook. Last night we watched Awakenings (a 1990 movie with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. Good movie).

I’m thinking about our plans but right now there’s too much up in the air. It’ll have to wait until things become clearer.


In the news, we hear about havoc in US airports over the weekend, with people waiting hours in cramped conditions to go through immigration. We’re so glad that we decided to stay put. Yesterday France locked down just as we did in Spain and Canada announced that its doors were only open to returning Canadians and Americans. I mentioned in my last post that anyone in the same situation as us should register with their governments – we’ve been getting email updates on the latest developments.

The UK seems a mess and I really wonder about their strategy. In Australia they’re fighting over toilet paper. I read that Pornhub (Canadian company as I found out) is giving Italians free membership to help them get through lockdown. Canadians are always generous when it comes to international aid.

Interesting times.

In any case, we’re happy to be where we are doing this time. The Spanish government is being proactive and the Spanish people are  united behind the lockdown efforts. Personally, people have been very nice to us. Our host checks in on us every 2nd day to see how we are doing. She doesn’t have to do that, she’s got a mother in her 90’s with Alzheimer’s. She got much bigger problems than we do.

With all that’s going on –  and with all the hardships different people are going through – we’re doing as well as anyone can possibly be.

I think however this is only the beginning.



  1. Hi Frank! Glad to see you are well during the lock down there. Isn’t this a crazy time? Here in Atlantic Canada (NB) we are a few weeks behind you, but I would say the majority of people are finally taking heed and doing all they can to “Flatten the curve.” Schools, day cares, malls, non-essential businesses, bars and restaurants have mostly all shut down, with some restaurants still offering take-out options. Many offices offering work from home options for employees (I already work from home FT, so no change for me). Toilet paper and hand sanitizer are hot commodities here as well! You may have heard that the Federal Government has stepped up to help both individuals and small businesses who are suffering. I would say the majority of people are listening to the warnings coming out of Europe. Many provinces have declared states of emergency. In my province, we have 11 cases (I think only two of those confirmed so far), but there was only one case a week ago, so I think unfortunately it will get worse before it gets better. Stay safe, and thanks for the update! It’s good to have a bit of a respite from the news these days. 🙂

    1. Hi Stephanie! Love hearing from Canadians.
      My son works in Toronto and is now working from home. I guess many are now and it DOES seem that businesses and government have thought ahead.
      We still have flights going to Canada (I got an email from the Canadian embassy today saying Air Transat doing flights for Canadians) but our situation a bit different than most, especially since we don’t have a “home”in Canada. So we’d come back to probably the same situation…might as well stay here and wait out the worst of it.
      Thanks for the update of your situation 🙂

  2. Same thing here in the South of France. I just hate that situation with a vengeance, although I consider myself privileged because I can still roam the countryside nearby, I don’t think there are enough cops here to be on Watch in in the fields in every nook and cranny!

  3. Hi Frank and Lissette.
    I am glad for you. You have a place for living, wine, food, the Internet, etc. You are a witness for history like a real reporter.
    I don’t wach TV and don’t listen news. I just read your posts. They are more interesting. Just write!
    And take care of yourselves.
    A good idea about the beard by the way. I afraid it will exist about a month.

  4. Frank, how surreal is this whole situation? It is fascinating to hear about your experience and sounds like you got a really nice place o hunker down and wait. I can see you managed to get hold of some essential items e.g. wine. We are still in Thailand, waiting for our flight home on Saturday and getting more and more anxious about all the possibilities…but still we are keeping positive. Tourist numbers are down in here, but nothing has shut down, there is no panic buying and we have been able to walk freely, eat out etc. We are both looking forward to going home, even if our home country right now is a total mess. The new beard growing efforts are looking good…keep it up. Stay safe and look after each other.

    1. We were talking about you last night Gilda and figured you’d be on the plane home. So waiting until Saturday huh? We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for you.

  5. well the world could do with time to slow down for a while.. Down here we are heading that way. I honestly think we should lock down asap. The earlier it starts surely the more effective it will be. my mum’s been in hospital the last couple of weeks it was pretty serious but she seems to have come through it so it’s all very surreal for me. On top of that I am watching the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’… not exactly light viewing… take care Frank

    1. Your mom has/had the coronavirus Andy? That’s scary. I know we all talk about numbers but when we see images of people and imagine loved ones being infected it becomes very real. I’m worried for my own family members in other places, I think we’re in good shape here and I don’t know what I would do if something happens to them and I cant go back…

  6. Your assessment of the US is spot on, Frank. The “president” spent weeks downplaying the virus calling it a Democratic hoax. Now all of a sudden he’s taking claim for having everything under control. Fortunately, state governors and mayors are bypassing him and doing what needs to be done. Anything coming out of the White House is useless at this point. On top of that, we’re in an election cycle with campaigns, primaries and a probable looming recession. Holy crap, it’s all too much.

    I saw an interesting graph this morning showing a comparison between US and Italy and the progression of the virus. These next two weeks are predictably when we will get hit the hardest. Our state of Maryland has closed all public schools, bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters. We are hoping the governor will soon call for “shelter in place” which is a fancy way of saying, lock down. In the mean time Abi and I, are self-isolating. When the lock down comes, we’ll be well-practiced.

    Your apartment looks so nice and comfortable, very homey. And, how fortunate you have such a lovely host. I always say everything happens for a reason, you were meant to be there.

    Can’t help but wonder how Lissette feels about the beard?! 🙂

    1. Hmm, she doesn’t care for it Patti but with the stock market going to shit imagine how much I’ll be saving on razors?

  7. Hi,
    To tell you the truth Frank, I think you are in a better nation to weather this out than the US or Canada. We just flew home from Barcelona on Sunday 3/15. We were supposed to set sail on the MSC Grandiosa on 3/12. We boarded and 2 hours later were practically thrown off the ship. Because the government of Spain told MSC they could not come back to Barcelona. We would have never left the US, had we been able to cancel this trip without penalty. MSC did start allowing passengers to reschedule on March 10th. But we were already in Spain. So we spent Thurs. and Fri. nights in our hotel while trying to change our flights. Gave up and purchased new return tickets. Spain is organized. In the US, half of the people still say this is a political stunt. Very little testing has happened, so we don’t know how bad the infection rate is.
    Anyways, we loved Barcelona and Spain. It is a nice country. People were so nice to us.

    1. Hi John.
      I agree with everything you say 100%. We feel that the government here is competent and although it’s an inconvenience I think it’s the right thing to do. Despite everything we feel safe here.
      In the US people are so split politically that nobody believes anything anymore and this president was too focused on trying to make light of what is going on. Now it’s too late. I don’t know if you’ve seen the graph of infections in Spain and Italy…that’s what is coming to the US and they’ll wake up one morning very soon to a situation that’s totally out of control. Very, very scary.

  8. We’re on sort of semi-lock down in the UK at the moment. Fortunately we live on the very outskirts of London and not in the center, so it’s nowhere near as bad.

    Like your apartment Frank

  9. Good to hear you guys are doing okay, and more importantly, loving the facial hair (just hope lockdown doesn’t last months)! Looks like a lovely apartment to hole up in too, so kind of the owner to let you stay longer. It’s nice to hear about the community camaraderie, you’d never get Brits doing the balcony thing. We’ll just all scuttle indoors and not even see our neighbours for months (nothing new there). You’re right about the UK being a mess, honestly it’s embarrassing. There’s an obvious pattern to follow from those countries who are ‘ahead’ of us in the process, but our powers that be are dithering about, not making any definite decisions, and only giving conflicting half-arsed advice rather than must-follow rules or a decisive strategy. So no-one really knows what we should be doing. Personally we’ve cancelled all our travel (including around the UK) and social engagements, as we feel it’s the responsible thing to do. Hubbie has to go out to work (he can’t work from home), and I’m at home, pretending to work (I’ve lost most of my freelance contracts since they were travel industry ones), and binge-watching tv shows on Amazon Prime to get through the day, hoping something will ping up in my inbox. Don’t tell the other half! The panic buying here is ridiculous too, shelves are bare of pasta, loo roll and soap, but we’ve managed to stock up on pak choi, lemongrass and gin (our essentials) so think we’ll survive. For some reason no-one seems to be going for them! Incredible about the dog renting…some very ‘enterprising’ people out there! Stay safe and keep us updated, really interesting to hear about how everyone is coping.

    1. Thanks for the great comment Heather. Travel industry – I wonder what the future is there and if this will change that forever. I think everyone’s traffic has crashed. Nobody is going to think of travelling for a while.

      You guys are in a small town, right? I think that’s good. If you have a farm even better, I’d love to have a large farm right now so I could walk around my property.
      Ha about your essentials. Gin is good for malaria, can’t hurt for coronavirus right? I’ve got Dominican rum and wine (4 Euro wine. Great stuff).

      Take care Heather and keep in touch. Would love to know how it evolves in the UK.

      1. We’re in a village on the edge of the Lake District, so definitely in one of the best places geographically, and can walk right out the door for some fresh countryside air. Yeah, no idea what the future holds for the travel industry, although hoping that people will be searching for hols like crazy once this thing has passed, I know I will! Our schools are now closing tomorrow, finally they’re making progress. Will def. keep in touch. I’m off to rustle some chickens from the local farm 😉 Enjoy your rum!

    2. Great to read that you are well. The applause is not only in Madrid, it’s everywhere in Spain: in every street in every town of Spain at… so I’m sure in Leon as well. It’s every day.

      1. Thank you Marziano. We have windows facing a back courtyard with no balconies so haven’t noticed anything. Will open our windows tonight and see if we hear anything. It’s a beautiful thing and warms our hearts that people would do that.

    1. Thanks Jan. I know it all sounds crazy, I think wrapping our head around the possibilities is hard for everyone and only starts to sink in when surrounded by it. I think a lot of people also cynical of governments with all the overreaction of previous crises.
      I think for us seeing images of people being transported in respirators this morning was a shock and made it real.

  10. We just got locked down here in San Francisco Bay Area starting at midnight this morning! 3 weeks! People over 65 supposed to stay home. Funny thing is we were supposed to be enjoying a lovely Vrbo overlooking the beach in Torremolimos (sp?) this week and just had a bad feeling about everything and so we cut our 3 weeks short and left Luxembourg and flew home a week ago Monday before trump started closing borders! It felt great to be home and now it feels like sh__! To be locked up almost! At least we are allowed to go out and hike! Still no toilet paper in the grocery store. Still not sure why we r overreacting when the plain old regular flu kills 10 times more in a year every year! Stay healthy!

    1. The coronavirus is both more contagious and more deadly than the flu, that’s why everyone’s going crazy. If the same number of people get coronavirus as get the flu, the death rate will be much, much higher. The death rate of the flu is 1/10th of 1%, the death rate of coronavirus is 3-6% depending on the demographics (lots of old people in Italy. That’s why their death rate about 6%).

      They’re talking potentially millions dead in the US alone. That’s hard to fathom based on the numbers so far but that’s why most governments are 1) testing, 2) trying to stop the spread.

  11. Boy, how right you are – a lot can change rapidly!!

    It looks like you scored a nice pad in Leon, so settle in!

    Like you, we have no home to go to in Australia (and there is no toilet paper left), so we also made the decision that we continue our travels.

    With the announcement of the EU travel lock down we are trying to work out next steps, we have 2 months in Croatia starting April 1. We’d rather get there now if we can so we can just settle in for the duration.

    What’s your reading of movement within the Eurozone with the new 30 days rule? One of us has a UK passport, so we keep seeing that there is the ability for UK citizens to still be able to travel (but be forced to self isolate in Croatia for 2 weeks on arrival).

    Stay sane, and see if you can use a VPN to trick Pornhub into thinking you’re in Italy! 😇

    1. Are you guys still in Seville?

      Like you say, the trouble is getting there.

      Here is what I received from the Canadian consulate this morning with part that affects you bolded:


      Dear Canadian,

      Your are receiving this message because you are registered as a Canadian in Spain.
      This message is intended to provide an update on Spain’s recent border measures. Based on the information received from the Spanish authorities, we can confirm that Spanish airports continue to operate and travellers are allowed to exit Spain. Travellers are allowed to go to the airports if they are leaving Spain to return to their countries of residence; therefore, please ensure that you carry your flight itinerary/proof of travel with you.

      Beginning March 18, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, the Government of Canada will bar foreign nationals from all countries except the United States from entering Canada. The measure will not apply in designated exceptional circumstances, including to air crews, travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, Canadian citizens or permanent residents, diplomats, or immediate family members of Canadian citizens. International flights flying into Canada will only be flying into the following airports: Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The Government of Canada is requesting that Canadians who have travelled outside of Canada self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

      The Government of Canada advises against non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. Please contact your airline or tour operator for any issues and/or to determine options for your return flights.

      Embassy of Canada to Spain


      Have you booked your flight? You should check your airline, many have cancelled flights. I’m sure you guys are on top of that…

      For now it seems you can leave your residence (hotel, Airbnb) in Spain to go to the airport although they indicate “to go to your country of residence” in many of the articles I’ve read. I think the bigger issue seems to be the cancellation of flights..

      Let me know how you get on. Very curious myself.


      1. Thanks for the details. Yes, pretty much on the same page as the Aussie gov and their advice.

        Unfortunately the news came through today that Croatia is shutting borders for all no residents, so that rules us foreigners out.

        We had already booked flights via London (Vueling cancelled their Madrid to Zagreb flights). So we have decided to just head on over to the UK for a month and see what happens. We have part 2 of Croatia (a month in Rovinj) starting on May 1, so hopefully will be clear to enter by then.

        At this stage at least there is still free movement in the UK. We can catch up with some family & friends.

        Stay well.

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