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The Shutdown in Spain

Travel plans, smavel plans.  Our flight to on April 1st to Egypt went through Bergamo, one of two airports serving Milan, a region infected with Covid-19 and the area first shut down by the Italian government.  I had already started drawing some of the sculptures and wall paintings.  Latest update on the situation at end of post.

 

Head of Amenhotep, conte crayon

Our issues are as nothing compared to those who have become ill or those whose family members have died, but is part of the economic devastation the virus spread has caused.  Here in Spain all non-essential activities are prohibited.  The police can stop and question those whose activities might not be in compliance. Bars and restaurants can not make a centavo for the next two weeks at least as the government attempts to reduce and spread out the stress on the health care system.  The biggie is the cancelatin of Fallas, the annual festival that brings some 800,000 people into the city each March. It was rescheduled to July, creating economic hardship for thousands of workers. 

Before the Valencian government canceled we attended the first night’s fireworks at the port.   The crowds were a bit less than the usual huge but it was far from vacant.  The display was terrific!  

They had installed street lights and transported some of the sculptures.  We took a walk through an area known for its fantastic and large works.  

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The venders were set up, selling buñuelos (donuts made with pumpkin) and porras (deep fried cones stuffed with sweet creaminess) on street corners throughout the closer in areas of the city. After the closure they left.

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Bus routes had already been changed to deal with the streets being converted to pedestrian only. The trash containers, recycling bins (separate for paper, glass, metal-plastic being combined) had already been moved. City workers had delivered the barricades that the casals (the local groups that organize and fund the sculptures, street paellas and the like) use when they have paella (they make small fires on the pavement to make the rice dish) and to cordon off music and other events. In the main plaza the huge fence was set up to contain the magnificent daily mascletas, one each day at 2 p.m. from March 1-19. They managed to do ten before the cancellation. In the video you can hear the Fallera Mayor order the commencement of the display.

The enormous fallas’ (sculpture) for city hall was in place awaiting assembly. I can not find a photo. Below is a photo of the crowd. Perfect place to pass along an infectious disease!

Fallas 2020, las fallas de Valencia 2020 | Las Provincias
40-50,000 people squeeze into Plaza de Ayuntamiento

Falleras (the lady members of the casals) had prepared their fabulous gowns for the many parties and the major event called La Ofrenda (the Offer), where they walk from their casal to the Plaza de la Virgin each with a bouquet that is placed on the 25 meter (80′) tall rendition of Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms and two children at her feet.

Un protocolo exige a las falleras recato en escotes y ...
The Ofrenda

Dresses are back in the closets. I suppose those who make the bouquets will get their paychecks and those who deliver them will have this job again in July if in fact Fallas makes it back.

In the meantime people panic buy toilet paper, meat, pasta and jarred beans while standing in long lines to check out. I hope they are all being careful as they stand there. In our trips for groceries they were, and everyone was respectful and orderly. The supermarkets in some cases were not able to fully replenish supplies each night of the several that have passed since the lock down was announced.

Last night at 10 PM we heard clapping and cheering. We went out to the balcony. Friends from across the street were out there too – they’d had lunch with us that day. It turns out to have been a gigantic applause for the health care workers in the clinics and hospitals. It was a heart warming gesture in the midst of so much gloom.

LATEST UPDATE: I’ll keep you updated on the situation here. Deaths have skyrocketed overnight to near 200, from just 1 on March 3rd, doubling overnight. Number of cases doubled from 2 days ago to 8000.

By Gary Kirkpatrick

Artist and travel blogger.

2 replies on “The Shutdown in Spain”

Wow, from super-festive to eerie silence in a matter of a few days. Don’t know if it’ll be similar here; the main difference so far has been the disappeance of Atlanta’s famous traffic snarls! Randy and I are hunkering down to do house and garden projects we’d put off for a long time. Randy’s being much more productive than I am (his art classes for the public schools got cancelled, by the way; the public libraries are closed, etc.) There are more children around the neighborhood during the days than usual. Empty shelves at ye local Kroger. Luckily, y’all have a functioning government – who knows what uses Mr. Trump will put this “emergency” to. Thanks for writing this post (LOVE the photos!), and sorry about the aborting of the Egypt trip – but I am also very relieved you are NOT going there just now. The ancient monuments will keep a few months longer, surely!

Happy painting! Regards to Peg.

It’s quiet here. The Spanish are not a quiet people. They seem to love hubbub, firecrackers, sound and light shows with gigantic speakers. So now there an additional activity in the neighborhoods – pot banging at 9 PM following the clapping at 8 P. It’s quite cheery! We’ll reschedule the Egypt trip.

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