Spain is one of the hardest hit countries in total number of cases of Covid-19. Ranking second in the world, after the US, it has the highest number of coronavirus deaths relative to population. More health care workers have been infected in Spain than anywhere else in the world. Amid the complications of autonomous national and regional decision-making, the federal government has been criticised for not acting fast enough. Now, in an effort to flatten the curve faster, authorities are looking at ways of isolating asymptomatic patients. This implies a massive increase in testing (unlikely) and building facilities (called “Noah’s Ark hospitals”) to house the potentially infectious (legally problematic).
The Easter holidays brought more rumours of people trying to sneak down to the coasts, where the situation is much better than Madrid. Local newspapers printed photos of side roads blocked by piles of dirt and concrete in an effort to keep non-residents out of the area. Police roadblocks are set up, but tragically, the dire situation might get worse.
Two weeks ago the marina’s first suspected case of Covid-19 was confirmed. Two ambulances arrived, along with the police, and took the patient to the hospital. It was a sad and sobering sight watching the potentially worst-case scenario played out steps off our bow. It was even more distressing seeing health care providers wearing garbage bags because they lack proper protective gear. The marina’s collective mood grew darker. There is genuine fear here. Especially among the more vulnerable. For the first time I started worrying about Mike when he ventures out to do our shopping.
The police have maintained a strong presence. Their visits to the marina have stepped up and they are here several times a day now. Both the Guardia Civil and Marine Police slowly patrol up and down the docks, boat by boat.
We get regular updates from the few boats that left here right before the lockdown. Many are trapped at anchor, unable to come into a marina or land anywhere. One of them reported yesterday that they’d spent two days cruising up the coastline asking permission at each port along the way to come in and provision. All they got were repeated refusals. Thankfully, one marina finally relented and they tied up to the fuel dock long enough to refill their water tanks.
Knowing what’s happening beyond our gate is a little surreal. Living, as we do, behind a glass wall separating us from the promenade, and the rest of Spain, our community still feels isolated. Our marineros* (dock staff) are without exception great! Friendly, helpful, and unflappable, since the lockdown began they have run a skeleton crew. That means one marinero on duty for a 12-hour shift. If we need anything, we call the office or flag them down as they pass by in their golf cart, delivering the occasional package or checking on the facilities.
After a visit from the police the other day, one of the marineros drove up as I was walking Marlon. He apologized and told me there had been complaints from locals whose balconies face the marina. Apparently, they had voiced concerns to the police that the marina residents were technically breaking lockdown by walking up and down the quay for long periods of time. Unfortunately, that meant we could no longer take our long daily walks. If we did, we risked a fine of 600 euros each. He quietly suggested that Marlon probably needed to go out frequently and if I took him in 10-minute increments that would be okay. Marlon now goes out much more frequently than he wants. We all adapt.
I haven’t baked on Aleta much, other than loaves of bread. Mostly because I don’t generally bake sweets for the two of us, we don’t have a mixer, and the oven is tiny. But, after successfully making apple turnovers, crusts and all, I decided I’d bake cookies for the marineros. Luckily, I found a couple of bags of chocolate chips left over from when Tai was with us.
With Aleta’s limitations, and my lack of practice, the whole process took twice as long as it would have at home. Not that I don’t have plenty of time! And while not as good looking as I hoped, the cookies were very tasty. Being very careful not breathe, or touch anything with my bare hands after they came out of the oven, I made several packets of treats and delivered them to each marinero as they came on shift. Seeing the corners of their eyes crinkle up was as warm as the smile behind the masks. To avoid stuffing ourselves, I distributed the rest to our neighbours. I had no idea they’d be such a hit.
Two days later we made the rounds with Mike’s banana bread and followed up with my brownies yesterday. I thought I could do some sort of regular meal delivery to a couple of the older, single liveaboards. But my first offer of chicken lentil soup was declined. Undaunted, we’ve stocked up on baking supplies and plan to deliver regular sweet-tooth fixes along with smiles.
The beginning of week five has brought some happy news. Our neighbor’s Covid-19 induced pneumonia has improved, and he’ll be released from the hospital soon.
We will keep cheering and be grateful for all we have.
* (Marinero is Spanish for dock staff. The literal translation means sailor.)