Life in Covid-ravaged Spain: Spring 2021 update

April 1, 2021

Hey hey!

I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are.

It’s been a pretty quiet week here in Spain.

Usually, we’d have our typical Holy Week schedule of processions and more at this point, but all that’s been cancelled.

You know. The ravages of Covid-19, still a thing – even now, in Spring 2021.

But quiet doesn’t mean uneventful. There are some things happening behind the scenes.

Spoiler alert: it’s mostly stupid.

So grab your barf bags…

Here’s a general update on the goings-on in Spain.

Travel restrictions, unless you’re German

There’s been a lot of back and forth among governments and about the continuing travel restrictions in Spain.

Finally, we seem to have settled on “stay in your Communidad Autónoma” for Holy Week. Normally, a lot of people would travel back to their hometowns or go to the beach. Or just have fun in some other city.

But not this year. Locals are prohibited from leaving their Comunidad.

Catalans rioting, back in October 2019.

On the other hand, the government has made it clear that Germans are welcome to come and spend money. Nobody’s happy about this – except perhaps the Germans – but in any event, that’s how things are.

Angela Merkel’s government quickly moved to discourage international travel, so in the end not too many people are coming down. The tourism industry in Mallorca is underwhelmed by the arrivals.

But a lot of people are seriously questioning the Spanish government’s priorities – nobody’s too excited about the “Germans-first” policy.

Another issue that some find upsetting is street parties in Madrid and Barcelona in the evenings.

A lot of French and Italian tourists have been coming to Spain in recent weeks because here, things are actually open – at least partially.

I see it most nights here in Born, in the center of Barcelona. Bars are open for takeout, serving booze in coffee cups. I go down to get a beer or a negroni, and it’s quite a scene – at least compared to the general lockdown feel in the rest of the city.

Can’t have the New Roaring 20s without speakeasies serving illegal booze, amirite?

But every night, the police try to disperse the street party, and sometimes they’re successful. Sometimes they send the street sweepers down the main streets to hose things down, and that moves everyone for a bit. Sometimes they just walk a line of cops down the street to disperse the groups that form.

Generally, you get the idea that the cops are following orders that are completely improvised, and change multiple times a week. Oh well.

My favorite moment that I’ve seen was a few days ago.

A police car stopped next to a group of Italian kids, and the driver told them (in Spanish) to move along. The kids switched to speaking English, pretended not to understand, and just ignored the cop.

He gave up and drove off.

Anything to avoid having to use those 20 words of English he remembers from high school.

Next topic for the day…

Elections in Madrid and… the end of Pablo Iglesias?

My caveat for this section is that I think politicians are mostly useless human beings, and I don’t really care about their careers at all.

But the situation in Madrid is worth mentioning these days.

A couple of weeks ago, in Murcia, the Ciudadanos Party – unofficial slogan: “only God knows who votes for us” – and the PSOE organized a vote of no confidence (moción de censura in Spanish) which rapidly failed, as a couple of members of Ciudadanos jumped ship and joined the Partido Popular.

Are you bored yet?

If so, skip ahead to the next section.

Still here? I promise this is going somewhere…

Okay, so this all happened in Murcia, a region which, in general, nobody ever talks about.

Up in Madrid, though, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the President of the Comunidad, declared she was dissolving her legislature and called a new election for May 4th. Ayuso is from the PP, and the PP basically always wins in Madrid.

Suddenly, Ciudadanos look like they’ve fucked up bad.

Social Distancing Lifestyles.

And then, Pablo Iglesias, everyone’s favorite pony-tailed leftist, announced he was leaving his role as Vice President in order to run in the Madrid election.

I don’t think he has much chance of winning: Madrid the city is pretty leftist, but many of the other cities and towns in the region are not left-leaning at all.

So it’s at least possible we’ll soon be seeing the end of the Ciudadanos party AND Pablo Iglesias.

Neither of which would bother me at all, honestly.

In other news, I can’t believe I just wasted half an hour of my life writing about Spanish politics.

Moving on…

Catalonia sucks hind tit, vaccine-wise

Does anyone still say “sucking hind tit”?

I hope so… because that’s exactly how you’d describe Catalonia’s vaccine rollout.

We were all hopeful about the vaccination campaign starting on 27 December of last year, and many – myself included – thought we’d be done with this whole thing by now.

Instead, most parts of Spain are involved in an elaborate circle-jerk of incompetence – worst of all, Catalonia, which is in LAST PLACE as far as vaccinating people over 80 goes.

In case you’re not followning Catalan politics, there are many more important issues up here than ending the pandemic.

For example: trolling the monarchy, rioting over the arrest of some awful musician, and deciding which independence party gets to ruin [sic] the place for the next several years.

And so we wait.

Personally, I’m just hoping to live long enough to be able to sit in a bar after 5pm, or – gasp! – go out to dinner.

We’ll see.


Masks here, masks there, masks and more masks everywhere

I honestly don’t care that much about masks.

But this week the government decided that the mask mandate (which so far hasn’t prevented the second or third wave of Coronavirus… just sayin’) also extends to beaches and swimming pools, and other socially distanced outdoor activities.

Of course, many people believe that masks have some almost-magical ability to prevent spread in the open air.

I’m personally unconvinced.

landscape in trujillo spain
Landscape outside Trujillo, Spain, years ago.

But what I really don’t like is the constantly-changing and moronic nature of most of these laws. Wearing masks outdoors, even while alone, seems pretty arbitrary – almost like they’re just trying to give the police carte blanche to stop people for nearly any “offense”.

My personal opinion is: you can force me to wear a mask, but you can’t force me to believe it’s an effective policy. And the more you annoy people with stupid and ineffective laws, the more they’re going to get sick of it all and just do whatever they want.

Telling people they can’t do their jobs, can’t travel, can’t socialize, and can’t go anywhere without a piece of paper over their faces is kind of a lot at this point. Maybe they could just focus on fucking vaccinating people so that we can go back to living our lives.

But as always, that’s just my opinion.

What do you think?

Hit me up, right here in the comments.

Fed uppedly yours,

Mr Chorizo (AKA Mr Daniel).

P.S. One of my main takeaways from the past year is that the people who were screaming FASCIST! at every one of ol’ Trump’s tweets are actually fine with governments taking arbitrary draconian measures… as long as they’re “friendly” leftists governments. I’ve never had a high tolerance for hypocrites, so you can guess how I feel about that. Anyway, that’s a story for another day. Happy Easter!

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. As someone who has lived in the region of Murcia for the last 10+ years we talk about what happens here a lot more than what happens in Barcelona lol. Totally agree with your comments on the balls up that is the vaccine rollout though, can’t see an end to it.

    1. Hey Dave, yes, I’m sure that in Murcia you talk about Murcia quite a bit. Here in the “other” provinces Murcia doesn’t get a ton of attention, but maybe it should. Catalonia could do with paying a bit less attention to Catalonia, in my opinion…

  2. Hello Daniel, I’m a fan of your writing for more than 1 year now, having the same vision than you have most of the time.
    About the masks, yeah for sure, it has been proven that it is not effective. When we eat in the restaurant, we have to remove the mask and this is as if the Covid stops circulating only the moment you eat..and then spreads again when you put it back.. what a joke.. does that make sense at all??
    Well, let’s hope the end of the tunnel is there in 2021, so we can be humans again!

  3. Hey Daniel,

    My wife and I eloped to Barcelona two years ago and I was awe struck by the city. The jamon, the cortados, the vermut at night before we wander back to the hotel, Parc de la Ciutadella…I miss them all the time.
    We visited last year and even took the Renfe to Madrid for a few days. Is Spain the one? Or the one to spend the occasional short beautiful time with? I’m trying to convince my wife to take the leap and move there, but I do that knowing she won’t and so I’m safe in my yearning. Maybe someday she’ll surprise me.
    I’m not too concerned about the shitty politics of Spain. We are both born and bred in New Jersey, in the top ten of Most Corrupt US States every year. At the very least it won’t be something new.
    We would’ve been there this past February also, but…well…we’re not allowed. Mask or no mask.

    Anyway, we have a few places that we frequented often when we were there and I was just wondering at their status? If you happen to wander by any of these places could you let me know if they’re doing okay?

    The places are: La Masia restaurant on Carrer d’Elisabets in El Raval. The staff remembered us a year later. And not in a bad “loud mouth JO from NJ” way. They made us feel like we go there everyday. Tears, it brings tears to my eyes. I gave the bartender our left over metro passes when we left the last time. I hope she got to use them.
    Elisabets Restaurant on Carrer de les Ramelleres. Possibly the best pa amb tomaquet I had there. I know it’s just bread and tomatoes, but…yea. The rest of the food was on the same level.
    Cafe Caracas on Ronda de Sant Antoni. Despite the place being incredibly busy every time we went there, the woman behind the counter remembered our order as if we knew the owners.

    Hmph…thanks for letting me reminisce.


    1. Hey Mike, if I swing by those places I’ll let you know what’s up. I don’t know any of them off the top of my head, but there are a few Café Caracas in my neighborhood and they’re apparently doing well. Hope you manage to get back here soon!

  4. Frustrating, yes.
    Me, I am special, my mum told me,😂
    Here in Valencia they are currently jabbing the 80+
    Now the are jabbing those born in 1956, 1957 and younger with Astra Zeneca, as they have some (AZ)
    Me born 1955,😱
    They say they will jab up to 65 year olds, that’s me,✋ but wait, that’s 1955 for me and you said 1965, 1957….😷😷😷😷.

    This is starting to feel personal, it’s like picking the queue in the supermarket.

    OK, it will happen, NOW, would be good; yesterday, better; tomorrow, I’ll wait then,😎.

    P.S. Masks, hate them but know they have a place when close up, on the beach, nope!

  5. Hi, well masks do work – not so much by creating a barrier stopping the mask wearer from catching Covid but moreso from stopping someone with the virus from coughing or sneezing it all over everyone else – the virus gets caught in the mask of the infected person and hence doesn’t spread via aerosol droplets so much. There is evidence out there and with the new variants being so much more transmissible the lockdown measures used last year aren’t having as much of an effect in lowering the R-number. In the UK we’ve been in lockdown for ages, but I think Europe is just starting to realise the full force of the new more infectious variants (UK was ahead of the rest of Europe) – they are a real game changer, and not in a good way. We really need to do as much as possible to control infections – the less circulating will reduce the likelihood of vaccines becoming ineffective as fewer variants develop.

    It’s rubbish, isn’t it?

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