First Long Walk After The Lockdown

Wednesday 22nd April – Walking 14kms for the first time in a month a half.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a hyperactive man and that I am always moving. It is simply my nature. So as COVID-19 took over our lives so it did prohibited me from going for a run. That in short is the same as putting a monkey in the Zoo ( I hate zoos because of that, wild animals should be in the wild full stop). Thus today is a very special day as it was the day I was going to go for a long walk in a long time.

Waking Up

The very first strange thing that happened this morning was that I woke up for no reason at 5:39am. I tried to go back to sleep but I had this feeling that prevented me from falling back to sleep. As my colleague told me later on today “You behaved as if you were gonna catch a flight. You knew you could get there ahead of time but not later” and indeed that is how I felt.

I turned and turned side from left to right and vice versa many times but I did not find the way to fall back to sleep so at 6:05 I got up and went to the living room and I look outside the window. Luckily it had stopped raining after three straight days o rain. I was thankful that in Barcelona things didn’t get as bad as in the rest of Catalonia where some places got flooded due to the increase of the river. I thought about the farmers in the countryside “This year is not the year to be a farmer and especially not in the plains”. 

With that thought in mind, I proceeded to open the window because the house air was a bit stuffy. One good thing about having had so much rain is the fact that pollen pollution had decreased considerably and so I was able to smell everything effortlessly and enjoy the silence of the early morning.

I stretched my back up and downwards and once I was done with it I went to the kitchen got some muesli with fruits and sat down and started reading this great book about money.

This money book has made think a lot lately about my life and how I have approached it up until now, but somehow all what the author was saying did not stop me thinking about walking to the office after a month a half, even though a day before I wanted to jump on my motorbike and ride there to get done with it quickly and also move it a bit so the battery wouldn’t drain after almost a week without moving it.

Getting Ready to Leave

I was done with breakfast in twenty minutes and I immediately went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I was literally ready in 20 minutes and it was just 7:40. I was impatient, anxious, excited, stressed, scared, happy. But then I reminded myself that I had to print to things: the police walking certificate and the work permit that certified I was on my way to work to collect office material. 8:00 shoes on, keys in hand, I’m by the door. I’m off!!

The Way to Work

Just like a happy dog I stepped out of the building and I was on route to the beach. Yes I know I said I was going to the office, but I am blessed because I can walk along the beach to go to the office. Yes, I am lucky. Anyway, I put on the headphones and played a podcast. I decided to played an episode from James Altucher that was about life in a post-covid19 world” and I found that quite appropriate for the journey, mainly because his episodes are over an hour long and the topic was spot on.

Crossing the empty street

Everything felt weird, different, quiet, lonely, apocalyptical. The fact that some business were opened and that some cars passed by did not make any difference because the number of humans I met in the first 20 minutes of the journey were at most 10 people, when in any normal day it should be over 100. 

I kept walking, I was excited as I was approaching the promenade, I was happy because after so many days the contrast of the sea, the sand and the cloudy sky was going to be epic. But then, I hit the reality as I was getting closer. The promanade had been fenced off by the police. Tragedy! 

Dog Owners

I am a dog lover without a dog. Yes, I know. I shouldn’t say I am one without owning one, but trust me I am a dog lover and a dog-type-of-person. Regretting not being able to walk next to the beach I kept walking in a nearby street and then they started coming out from nowhere. Dog owners with their dogs. It was surreal, as they kept jumping on the street I was walking as I walked it. The one thing that surprised me the most is that I might have come across at least 20 people with their dogs and only one person was wearing a mask. There were two men with dogs, that took were talking and getting very close (fuck social distancing), laughing, not wearing the masks and looking at me (who was wearing a mask) like a weirdo. Perhaps it is me who only thought how inconsiderate these guys were, but certainly they did not see it that way.

Empty Beach

As I came closer to the office so I did to the beach and to be able to see a bit of it. The view reminded me that of the post-Gloria storm days. The beached was empty and a lot of sand had been washed away due to the rain. The sea was choppy and murky due to the rain that fell over the last three days.

Barcelona beach during Covid-19 Lockdown
Yes, it does feel different

The big difference now was that human presence was non-existent. Every looked like the remains of a multimillion film set that was left to rot over the years. Still, I was grateful for seeing the sea and its magnificent power so close. It seemed like years since I was so close to it and with it I was getting to the end of it and I was just 5 minutes away from the office.

The Office

I left home according to what I thought would be a good time to get to the office on time. However, when I got to the entrance I realised that it was 8:47am. Crap! I got there quite early way earlier than I had expected. But as my colleague told me “it was better to get there ahead of time and not later”.

I sat down outside in a street bench that is just opposite the entrance. Once again, this eerie landscape of loneliness. Nobody could be seen around, expect for the security guards inside the building who looked at me suspiciously. I was chatting with my team and the IT guy (David) arrived. He saw me and recognised me even though I was wearing the mask. I waved at him and he started talking for far but I couldn’t hear him because I was wearing the headphones. So I stood up, walking towards him and as I was taking my headphones off we both said hi and how are you but without getting close. I wonder if he felt the same way I felt, but I felt weird. Like it was the first time I saw this guy after almost two months. Let me repeat that again:

“It was the first time I saw someone I know in real-life, not a screen.” But then I was scared of getting too close. It was almost as if my eyes were trying to measure with my x-ray vision the 2 metres distance we are supposed to keep between each other. 

The one thing I did notice immediately was that his mask was hanging from one ear only, the other loop was off his ear, so basically he wasn’t wearing the mask at all. Ok, I said to myself, he’s another of those ones. I just told them Hey David! How are you? To which he replied: all good man. Let’s catch up later.

Then another colleague arrived and again this “do not get too close to me” vibe that was almost impossible to avoid. She was wearing all mask and gloves. Finally someone, and yes it had to be a woman. Then the HR guy came out of the building carrying a big IKEA bag and he wasn’t wearing a mask. He didn’t seem to care if I would get closer to this and somehow the more people I started to meet this “keep the distance” feeling started to fade away. 

By the time it was my turn, I got into the building and the guards looked at my funnily and I just said good morning. I walked to the lift and there was a big signed that now said “max people per lift 2” when the actual capacity is 16 people. Still the building was empty.

I got to the office floor and entered the office. Everything is dark and only the outside natural light comes in. Where’s David? Oh there he is, already packing stuff. We chatted a bit and I told him I think I got Covid-19 couple of weeks ago and so he told me the same but with a sad extra information. His grandma passed away a week after we were sent home. She was eighty-four, he said, so it’s normal she would have died, but it took her just two days and she was done for. I gave him my condolences. I  literally forgot were I was sitting, but eventually I found my desk, my cables and he helped me to move the desk so I could pull out the cable. Packed the cables, my job’s done here, but before I left I took a selfie and also a couple of shots from my office.

The Way Back

On the way back and knowing by know that the promenade was fenced off, going the same way didn’t make sense hence I took a different way back. 

I went through a park were you can see a lot of pine trees and even eucalyptus trees. And once again there they were, the dog owners, having a party, getting very close, no wearing masks or gloves. I wonder if any of their relatives have died, certainly not, otherwise they would behaved differently. Yet, the dogs were super happy. I wish I could be a dog or at least one of them. They don’t seem to be bothered with all these mask, gloves, virus. Well, that’s what I say but for sure dogs must feel deep inside of them that something is not 100% right, especially if your dog owner has lost a family member or her job. Moving forward thirty minutes I was back home. I was grateful for such a great opportunity, for not being stopped by the police, for meeting some of my workmates, for going up to the office and taking pictures of Barcelona and for seeing that despite the emptiness felt in the streets the nature around the city is getting more beautiful and the air we all breath is way cleaner and fresher than before Covid-19.

Can you see how crowded it is?

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