We will be sharing stories from Airdrie residents now abroad as we receive them. Today we feature Josée Glen, who grew up in Airdrie and now lives in Madrid, Spain.
To read Sarah Schulz’s letter from Munich Germany click here
Hola a todos!
It is Friday evening in Madrid – the streets are usually buzzing with people drinking and enjoying tapas with friends. Tonight, however, is nothing but an eerie silence and isolation.
My name is Josée Glen. I am an English Assistant, teaching at a bilingual Elementary school. Originally, I planned to be here for one year, but within a few short months, I had fallen in love with the Spanish culture, music and food. Three years later, I am still working and living in the cutest loft, in the heart of Madrid.
Coronavirus (COVID-19), the silent enemy, has become a global pandemic. Spain has seen confirmed cases spiraling upwards every day. With more than 17,000 diagnosed cases, we are now the second worst hit country in Europe. Every morning we wake to news regarding the ever-spreading outbreak. In an attempt to control the spread, Spain closed their school doors on March 5th, for a two week period. However, due to people not taking self isolation and social distancing seriously, the restaurants and bars were instructed to close as well. With a two day notice, we prepared for a strict quarantine lockdown, following the footsteps of Italy and China.
Quarantine in Spain means that we are only permitted to leave our homes for a quick visit to our neighbourhood grocery store or pharmacy, allowing one customer in at a time. The larger grocery stores constantly remind us over the intercoms to keep our distance from one another, especially in the check-out lines. Police are patrolling the streets issuing fines to those who chose to roam or even walk their dog too far from home. Thankfully, we have not experienced a shortage of food or essentials items and grocery stores are continuously being stocked – no one is hoarding toilet paper here! People only purchase what’s needed and what can be carried back to their tiny apartments.
As we count down the lockdown days, staying busy has helped my peace of mind. I am thankful for live virtual exercise, yoga and zumba classes, reading and even creating spa days for one. But most importantly are the long facetime conversations with family and friends back home in Canada, assuring them I am safe, self-isolating and making the best of the situation. Needless to say, I can’t count the times I’ve heard them pleading for me to come home.
As days pass by, we are all learning to adjust our habits and lifestyles. Please find positivity in your day. Mine comes every night at 8 p.m. when the city of Madrid meets on their balconies to applaud the front line healthcare professionals and grocery store workers. This touches my heart and I’m so proud to be a part of this community’s spirit. Let’s get through this together, country to country!