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Hiking Mindfulness

The Lockdown : One Month

Today is officially a month since I have been in lockdown. I wish I could just say “I’d sum it up with…” but unfortunately this is not the case since to do that would be to skip the journey I have been walking or rather standing for the days 30 days of my life.

I honestly did not know how to divide this or rather how to divide all the things I would like to say so in the end I came up with just dividing it by weeks and in the end I will write some more about some special topics.

First Week

The very first week everything was knew, even though the first day I stayed at home was a Thursday. I must say me and me workmates saw it coming since Italy had been badly impacted with the virus almost two weeks before we were told to stay home. 

Work

Working from home was something I was really looking forward mainly because the company I work for everything could have been doing it for a long time but due to internal policies this was not allowed. 

I was so happy, not having to go to the office, even though I knew back then that I was going to miss my cycle commute along the beach and after all it was not that far. I guess I just wanted two or three days to be able to work from home. Finally this was possible.

I can consider myself lucky because the company and industry I work for has been impacted by COVID19 and there has not been any furlough within the company.

COVID-19

That same week I lost my sense of smell and taste and even though I first linked to pollen allergy, eventually I would found out that I had contracted COVI-19.

It first started as a cold, a bit of a headache, a bit of fever and also had to two days were I honestly did not feel like doing anything, simply because I felt drained. I didn’t know I had contracted (of course this just an assumption) the virus until I read an article in the local media saying that losing smell and taste senses were two symptoms overlooked in most countries outside of South Korea.

I made a video about it and I described what I had been going through and a couple of 24h after posting I got a lot of messages of people in the US and elsewhere suffering of loss of smell and taste senses. 

Life carried on as normal and I had been using mask, gloves, lenses since the start because I decided to pay more attention to the South Korea media and researchers than European ones.

Shopping (for Groceries)

One aspect is that people still didn’t understand the importance of keeping the minimum distance. Old people were pilling up in the entrance and skipping me without keeping a distance, coughing without covering their mouths. I just thought “If only they could be more careful. But then again, if they haven’t been all their lives why would they be now?”

I just wished I did not pass them COVID-19. Still I think ignorance, ego, arrogance and impatience among old people is quiet common at least here. Let’s keep in mind that all Latin countries (Spain, Italy, France, Portugal) are very touchy. I am very touchy myself. I like contact and shake hands, and hugging. I believe that you transmit the positive energy within to others and vice versa (although also the negative). I only went once out to buy groceries in the first week, because I had done some big shopping once things starting going bad in Italy.

Going for a Walk/Hike/Ride

The weekend before I went for a ride with my friends on Saturday and for a short hike on Sunday and I must say that it felt good and I am very happy I pushed myself to go out on Sunday morning. Both days that weekend were very sunny and the temperature couldn’t have been better to enjoy outdoor activities.

Friends

Some of my friends living abroad were luckily free to walk around and go anywhere. My local friends started making comments about going for a ride on the weekend even though were told that we could not do it.

Other friends actually did it completely neglecting the government order to stay at home. Although I went to visit a friend, I consider not without guilt, simply because I should have stayed home but I didn’t it, I went one kilometre away to visit a friend to change my motorbike tyres.

Now I think how stupid I was. I could have left the old tyres on and the new ones in another moment, but that is what being human means. We do not pay attention to what we are told.

I still remember that evening I had a running nose but luckily my friend didn’t get sick which means that either my running nose was just an allergy and or my friend immunology system is very strong. 

Neighbourhood

People at this point still didn’t realise the magnitude of the things. People and kids were still going around, shops were opened and so were restaurants. Many people were not wearing any protection, mainly because the government stated that the use of masks were not compulsory. People were rushing to the supermarket to get everything. Of course we had a bit of toilet paper crisis but it just lasted a couple of days. 

Personal Level

As many people who went through the first week of lockdown I reckon I felt overwhelmed, excited, confused, anxious, stressed, worried.

The worst I could have been done was to keep checking the news every couple of hours. On the bright side, I’ve got a habit of starting my day with a book rather than accusing news.

I copied a friend who once told me “oh really I didn’t know because I don’t check the news in the morning, I just read a book whilst having breakfast” I was shocked when he told me that.

It’s been over a year now since I’ve changed that habit and I am happy I did it. On this last week, I did yoga twice and I also did three sessions of HIIT which eventually led to hurting my right elbow so I had to let it rest. I also tried to meditate, but it was hard since my mind was all over the place and relaxing, focusing and  slow down my thoughts and anxiety wasn’t easy. 

Second Week

Work

Just like I said a week earlier for me it was BAU (Business As Usual); things were moving as they should. But this week we had our first slack video meeting and it was fun. Indeed, we were describing how we felt and talked about business.

Some of us were wishing to be outside, while another ones were saying “just hold on tight cos this will last a bit longer”. In fairness, my team and everyone in the company are young, energetic and most of us have worked remotely in the past so being able to do it was a bless even though by now I was really wishing I could commute to the office just to be able to see the beach and do some sport.

COVID-19

My smell and taste wasn’t back yet but my body felt ok. By the end, of that week I had a zoom session with a guy (Austin) from New York who left me a message on youtube and instagram. We invited people to join us and two more joined a guy from the UK and another one from the US. We were four guys from different parts all sharing the same questions and suffering the same symptoms, loss of smell and taste senses.

We suggested to each other what to try and also exchanged the information we got and were we got it from. That video session was later posted on my youtube channel and a lot of people found it helpful which made me very happy.

In the end we were all going to go through this and the feeling to supporting and encouraging each other was something I had never experienced before, because this time it was virtually. And virtual seemed the new way forward.

Shopping

I mentally understood that spending money on things that were not necessary was not the wisest thing to do, so shopping for groceries were and have been the only things I have purchased so far. 

In the second week was the moment when I could see that supermarkets (corner shops, owned mainly by Pakistani people had been wearing mask and gloves since a week before) finally were a bit more strict.

They changed the opening times, had signs outside of the shops indicating people to keep a 2 Mts distance when queuing up whilst waiting to enter the supermarket (even though I find this a bit pointless because people inside the shop do not keep distance or avoid people trying to keep distance but well..), ask people to use hand gel, provide disposable gloves.

The shopping experience in that week opened my eyes and I understood that supply was met and that there was no reason to panic or buying more than you actually consume. Moreover, you didn’t have to rush because there a limit of customers inside the shop was imposed (the max of people depends on shop size). But now going to the cashier was more pleasant since I didn’t have to give a look at the person behind me who normally tries to put his or her stuff on the counter whilst I am been attended.

In general I prefer it this way so I was and have been happy about this change. I honestly, don’t mind having to wait outside for 30 minutes even if it rains (like it happened to me once, although I went on purpose thinking the queue was going to be shorter, just to the get to the supermarket and realise that the queue was actually longer).

On other hand, I understood, that there is no point in being the first in the morning because the elderly would be there first in the queue. Also midday was terrible because people wait till before lunch to go and do shopping. 

Going Out

This was the first week that I started feeling weird for not been able to go farther away than the supermarket. However, I managed to find a way to get on the motorbike and go for a ride and that was to go to a farther away supermarket that actually sells buckwheat and since that cannot be found around where I live that gave me a good excuse.

However, I must say that after not jumping on the motorbike for two weeks, the moment I tried to move the motorbike I almost fell down.

Now here is the interesting or rather weird moment, because the streets were quite quiet and since my motorbike makes a lot of noise I felt a bit guilty of starting up the engine. Leaving the guilty feeling behind I embarked to the supermarket and oh boy what I weird feeling. Not a single car, no people, no dogs, no traffic, silence, silence and more silence. I honestly felt like in the Will Smith movie “I am Legend” with the only difference that people were not dead and I don’t have a dog (although that’d be nice).

I promise I didn’t go farther away from the supermarket. Once I parked the motorbike and went into the supermarket which happens to be inside a big shopping centre I realised that things have changed a lot. The lights inside the shopping centre were off and only the natural light coming down from the window ceiling shined. The corridors of the shopping centre that did not lead to the supermarket were fenced off by the police (yes, the police) and yes there were people but not many and definitely not like in the past.

The good thing is that I didn’t have to wait to get in, because it is a big supermarket, although once again people weren’t keeping the minimum distance and not many were wearing masks. 

On my way back home with the motorbike, again, empty streets, nothingness was the norm. 

Friends

I chatted with friends as well as my ex and we were all trying our best to be positive, happy without falling in the blackhole of despair and sadness. Thanks to the Meme gods for its existence because those funny little clips, pictures and jokes have cast some funny spell when most needed. 

But not everyone was happy, for example some of my motorbike friends are not as lucky as I am to work remotely and they were furloughed and have been ever since. I’ve tried to make them feel better but the truth is that it is not easy when overnight you don’t have job and you don’t know when you are gonna get it back and when you’re going to get any money into your bank account. 

Neighbourhood

20:00 was the time for clapping and show your support to the actual action heroes, the doctors and nurses who are the frontline soldiers.

You could hear people from every angle clapping, with smiles, some with vuvuzelas, others with pots, other whistling, others being more creative and lighting up a disco bowl from the terraced.

What started in China, moved to Italy and now it was our turn. It was on the second week when you could start feeling the real street emptiness and this feeling has been feeling more and more as days were passing during the week.

You couldn’t hear anything, apart from the occasional bus, the ambulance or police car but people have now understood that we all need to stay at home and it is for the common good.

Personal Level

This week I decided to make use of the free time I have available. I started reading a book about money (something I am very bad at) and hopefully it will start helping me in the future. I have also listened to some podcasts and what the host and guests were saying about the global pandemic.

I’ve also managed to sit down do nothing and meditate about life and how things will change for the better and how much good were are doing to nature in general by not visiting mountains and the sea.

I’ve understood that this is global phenomena that had to happen to make us all realise of how lucky and spoiled we were. Yes, a lot of people have and will continue dying but death is just natural and it is not different than when a tree fall down during a storm. The tree dies, but its remains are used by bugs and another tree might grow from a branch next to it and the whole process starts again. In this second week, I understood that this is a way for nature to tell humanity “slow down and rethink how you live otherwise the consequences will not be nice”.

Let’s see if we change…for the better, only time will tell. 

On other hand, this week I focused more on yoga and abs exercise since my right elbow was still injured and resting was compulsory.

I also tried to eat less and I managed to start skipping dinners and some days I would have an apple or pear around 19:30 and I found that to be the best. 

Third & Fourth Weeks 

I’ve decided to combined these two weeks before nothing much has changed between them and both of them have been very similar so instead of repeating myself it’s better just to combined them.

Work

On the third week things were a bit shaky due to the US and India starting to enter the contagion stage and many people being left without job and logistics (delivery of items) being affected.

However, on the fourth week things came back to normal and things are moving forward.

There is no guarantee that things can change at any moment but so far so good. People in the company keep working and we’ve been running some contests and challenges like the funniest picture and I’ve been coaching people and leading them while stretching our bodies and moving our bodies every two hours.

That’s been good fun and it has kept everyone’s spirit up.

Now I can say that things happen because they have to happen, perhaps Lao Tse is not so crazy after all, and we must let live follow its own course and things will take the right course.

Let me tell you a story why I say what I’ve just said: Six weeks ago I started a new role within the company. It was a role that I’ve got no experience in but I said to everyone that I was quite happy to be offered and to be considered to take this role and that I was going to give my best.

One of the biggest difference between the last and my current role is that in the former one I didn’t have a team. I was alone riding the wave. I didn’t have anyone to ask for help, change course, even make a joke or say anything. Moving forwards six weeks now I belong to a team, I’ve got people I can chat with.

We have slack video chats and it’s great to see people smile, complain, share day-to-day experiences and joke about silly things. We are social animals in the end and even though I consider myself a lone wolf, wolves as social, they have packs and pack means everything, it means survival.

Now during the confinement I can tell that working from home, alone and not having a team to share anything good or bad would be a bit hard. Perhaps if I would live with someone things would be different, but since I live alone, and while loneliness is good to clear your mind and come up with new ideas, too much of it is not good either.

In the end, there must be a balance. 

COVID-19

After 15 days I could finally say that I recovered my senses. First taste came back and then smell took a bit longer. I also believe that smell didn’t come sooner since I am prone to suffer from pollen allergy and since the platanus orientalis are spreading their pollen and that’s floating in the air and there’s no rain to wash it off I am still struggling but I can smell, because somedays it is better than others. I don’t have any other symptoms, but I don’t want to take any risks so every time I leave the flat for any reason I wear mask, gloves and glasses.

I think I don’t have it anymore or at least my immunology system managed to counter attack the virus but that does not mean that I could not be an asymptomatic patient but since they are not testing people in Spain I must do my bit towards society and take care the elderly by covering myself, especially since the elderly do not protect themselves.

Shopping

By the end of the second week I got used the new way of shopping. Many people complain that they have to do this and that, but there is no other way.

You must take as many precautions are possible before, during and when getting back home. I only go the strictly necessary and it’s not too different from before COVID-19 started.

Before and now I’ve been going once a week to the shops to get my groceries, of course, that’s mainly because I live alone. Would I have a family I guess I would be going more regularly or simple my shopping would be bigger. 

Going Out

Well yes, the longer I stay inside the more I am feeling like I loosing my skills, like my body is losing shape (even though I do work out every three days.

Somehow I know understand how a bird or any animal feels inside a cage or in the zoo. Not that I support animals in the zoo or that I liked birdcages but this defo puts it in perspective.

Recently I saw an article about how astronauts cope living inside a spaceship for months and I’ve got to say they are superhuman and no wonder they come back with so many physical and mental problems, at least we’re not exposed to lack of gravity and oxygen so we should be grateful for that. 

I’ve been also meditating and visualising as well as thanking for all the past hikes and walks in the mountain.

After seeing how many animals have been spotted around the cities and dolphins have been around Venice and Barcelona I guess it’s fair to say that we humans are a sickness.

Yes, sure we have a brain and we are the most intelligent beings, but then what? Look at the state of our home (Earth).

Of course I see this event as an eye opener. I do think this will make us reconsider all this long-haul travelling and over consumption.

I reckon every day I’ve been at my photos and I look at details I haven’t seen in the past in places I’ve visited.

I accept that in the past when I went hiking I was always rushing, trying to get to the top quickly, eat something and then rush back down.

For what? Honestly, that’s why I started this blog because I realised that I need to be more mindful of the things I do, especially when hiking or walking outdoors. I know the coming weeks and months will be hard and only a healthy body and mind will be able to overcome this successfully.

Friends

I guess my friends are not different than me in the sense that we are all trying to come by this period of humanity in the best way possible. Some of us are more capable than others, some are going through this with a family, partners and dogs and other ones are alone. It doesn’t really matter we are trying to enjoying the time we’re together the best we can. 

Over the last two weeks I had two zoom session with the motorbike friends and it’s been fun but I can sense the frustration of not being able to go out. On top, most of them were furloughed and don’t really know when they’re going back and that’s proper shite. We of course try to make fun, but we have fun riding, being outdoor, enjoying a beer together, talking about this or that so doing it virtually is a bit weird.

I reckon if we were all 100% geeks, e-sport players or console game players (hardcore ones) we could overcome this easily because being without four walls and locked in front of a screen is part of what you love doing but since what we enjoy doing is being outdoors it’s a bit harder.

I’ve tried to be philosophical once and only two out of 8 of my friends made a comment, meaning that talking about non-motorbike related topics is not the best. Perhaps I’m judging without knowing, and most likely I am.

I must understand that the situation at home is different for each of us, so being understanding is quiet important as well as give support to each other. 

However, I am happy I made the comment. At least I tried and tested the waters. 

Four of us had planned a trip to Morocco but for obvious reasons it was cancelled. We are not the only ones in this situation but of course it sucks. One of my friends, actually got his bike a month before the confinement started and he didn’t have a chance to even go off-road even though he has a Tenere T7. I’m sure he’ll have a chance to try it and enjoy it.

One thing that I realised during this confinement period is that I don’t have hiking friends. I guess because I enjoy or at least I don’t mind going hiking alone.

Going alone helps me a lot to calm down, to enjoy nature at my pace. That’s the beauty of hiking it can be done alone or together with one or more people and the experience will be great any way.

Neighbourhood

These past two weeks can be summed up as quiet. I honestly never thought this neighbourhood could be so quiet and silent. I guess we all feel the same and we respect the silence.

There are moments were I actually feel like I am living in the countryside which I long so much. I guess it’s as they say “Be careful what you wish for”.

If there’s anything I must say is to apologise to my neighbour below for the noise I make when I work out. I try to keep it to 30 mins and I do it in an ok time. So far she hasn’t complained but I will get her a present for her patient because I understand that it might not be nice to have someone banging your head for 30 minutes.

Funny thing though, I’ve realised that since the third week someone living very close to me is also doing HIIT exercises for also 30 minutes. I haven’t seen some people for so long now that I wonder if they are ok. Thanks god, this part of the city hasn’t been particularly affected by the virus (even though it’s not the poshest hood in the city) and i’ve seen old people walking their dogs when I through the rubbish. Yet, I only through the rubbish once a week so my perception might be a bit off.

Personal

  • As an individual that has gone through confinement for a month I’ve got to say that I consider myself lucky and I am very grateful because I have all my basic needs covered. I’ve got everything I need. When I see people in India, China, Africa, South America and the US and I put my life in perspective I realise how lucky I am. 
  • Another thing that I am really enjoying is the silence of my neighbourhood. To be able to go to the terrace, lay down, read a book, have lunch and just stare onto the horizon and listen to the birds and sometimes someone talking that is truly a bless.
  • I’ve also realised and confirmed a theory I had about certain dogs that live around here and that’s the fact that they are stressed or they were treated badly as they were raised. There’s this particular old grumpy dog that barks for not apparent reason breaking the peaceful silence of the neighbourhood.
  • Last time I could hear birds waking me up or even just in the background was when I lived in Malta almost ten years ago and it is such a nice thing to hear in the morning. It really makes you feel at peace and happy for living.
  • I think I have never slept as much and as long as I have done so far and it feel nice not to set up an alarm in the evening and let your body wake up when it wants.
  • I was born to be outdoors and my future life, my career, my profession is directly linked with being outdoors. I am not desperate so far, but I do realise that not running, walking, hiking, climbing, making use of all my body parts is a waste of time.
  • I’ve understood that this period of humanity came at a time that all of us including myself are waking up into a new era and I am excited about it. I am positive that it will be good for the planet.
  • I started watching anime and j-drama again. Why? Well I guess it was there, just like my passion or motorbikes before I got my Africa Twin. 
  • I started looking how to help the local business recover once society goes back to normal.
  • I’ve never been healthier in my whole life. I cute junk food and I am only eating healthy and I am trying to eat less as much as possible.
  • I think I am very close to finally understand what is that my life purpose is and I am very happy about that. It’s been 37 years of wandering aimlessly and time to aim purposely.
  • I also believe more in myself than in the past.
  • I have embraced yoga and meditation more profoundly.
Motorbike writer during lockdown
Actual picture of me writing this post

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