Quarantine Diaries: Life in Confinement in Spain

Life in Confinement in Spain, or What It’s Like to Live Under Lockdown in Spain.

Includes the popular description of Why I Need to Run Down Alleyways and Hide in Pedestrian Streets Every Time I Go Grocery Shopping.

Todo Saldrá Bien Poster

I’ve heard that many people feel a curiosity to know, or have no idea, what living in quarantine due to the coronavirus was like in Spain. What were the conditions like? What were we allowed to do?

Today we are in the process of coming out of lockdown. That means that little by little we are seeing restrictions to our movements being removed and little by little, they are allowing us to leave our homes.

But during the time of quarantine, coronavirus lockdown in Spain was the strictest in the world.

From March 14 till May 4, 2020, we were in complete lockdown due to the coronavirus emergency. This is what confinement looked like in Spain.

Only the most essential services were open and running. Essential services meant, basically, large food stores, mostly supermarkets. But any establishment that sold food, such as smaller grocery stores and corner shops were allowed to open as well.

Also specialty food shops such as bakeries, greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers could also stay open.

Large department stores similar to Target or Walmart were allowed to open if they offered food or sported a food section. Here in Spain we don’t have Target or Walmart, but we have similar businesses such as Carrefour and Alcampo.

However, these department stores could only open the FOOD section of their stores. Any sections not selling food items, such as household goods sections or clothing sections, were required to remain closed. A simple ribbon cutting these sections off to keep them closed to the public sufficed.

Pharmacies (chemists) and drugstores were the other type of establishment that were allowed to remain open.

In Spain, pharmacies and drugstores are two different types of shops. Pharmacies sell medication, as well as some specialty types of cosmetics (Avène, La Roche Posay, that sort of thing).

Drugstores, on the other hand, are where you go to acquire hygiene products such as bleach, detergent and soap. Fortunately the government considered cleaning products a basic necessity — after all, we needed to disinfect our homes and clothes — and drugstores could remain open.

People were allowed to leave their homes ONLY in order to go shopping at these establishments.

You could also go out for the following reasons:

  • to visit your doctor or any clinic, health care centre or hospital for any medical reason
  • to go to work, if you worked in a sector that was allowed to work and where working from home was not possible
  • to visit a person who was dependent upon your care, such as an elderly relative who was ill or if you were babysitting for a child while their parents worked
  • to return home, for example in the case that the sudden declaration of the state of alarm should have happened to catch you travelling far from home

Going for a walk, to go jogging or bike riding or to practise any form of sport was NOT allowed.

I was amazed when I saw news reports where people in countries under lockdown were calmly strolling through parks, riding bikes down the street or jogging along the seaside. These activities were NOT permitted here in Spain during lockdown.

In fact, parks and beaches were closed during the whole of the quarantine period.

Another activity which I observed a good deal of on TV in other countries was the celebration of protest marches. Protest marches were NOT permitted here in Spain.

However, you were allowed to go to your windows or out on your balconies to protest. Popular forms of protest here in Spain during quarantine included pot-banging on your balconies.

If you violated any of these rules, you could and would expect to be fined. A typical fine could start anywhere from 600€ upwards.

Needless to say, get-togethers and parties were totally forbidden and if you were caught attending one, you would definitely receive a fine.

You couldn’t go to visit your family members or friends. You couldn’t go grocery shopping — which was the only type of shopping permitted — with other people. Grocery shopping had to be carried out singly. So you couldn’t, say, arrange to meet up with your friend at the supermarket.

Another condition which was striking was the prohibition of going grocery shopping far away from your home. In theory, you were limited to doing your shopping at the grocery store or supermarket nearest your home.

So you couldn’t, for example, grab your car to drive to Carrefour (the Spanish version of Target or Walmart) if you already happened to enjoy the presence of a grocery store on the corner of your own street. If caught by the police doing that — and police controls were ubiquitous and frequent — you could and would receive a fine.

In my case, one of my favourite supermarkets is Mercadona. It’s the national supermarket par excellence and just about everyone loves it.

However, in spite of Mercadona sporting a heavy presence in the entire country, the nearest establishment is about 1 km from my house. Whereas on the other hand, there are 2 smaller grocery stores right across the street from me.

So by law, I was only allowed to do my shopping at either one of the 2 grocery stores across the street. I was not supposed to walk 1 km to Mercadona.

But like most people, I like Mercadona. It sports the greatest variety of products and unlike many grocery stores, it also offers non-food items which, since they are mixed in with the food products rather than separated in a separate section of the store, they were allowed to sell these non-food items as well.

With all other non-food shops closed, oftentimes our only option for obtaining non-food items was at Mercadona. So you can understand why we all wanted to go there.

In addition to food, at Mercadona you could buy plastic food containers, cosmetics, personal hygiene items (shampoo, shower gel etc), all products related to your pet needs, ice-cube makers and even candles and incense.

I might add other department stores also sold these items. But in other shops, they would have been displayed in a different section from the food section and therefore unavailable to the public.

But as I mentioned, the nearest Mercadona was 1 km from my home. That meant that every time I wanted to go to this particular supermarket, I had to duck into some narrow alleyways that lead in the general direction towards Mercadona. I also made good use of pedestrian streets as much as I could on my way to this favourite supermarket of mine.

The reason for this was in order to not get caught by the police walking to a supermarket so far away from my home. Since the police patrolled in cars you could sneak down alleyways and pedestrian thoroughfares in order to not get caught.

This turned every mundane, routine grocery shopping trip into an exciting grocery shopping adventure that made me feel like a spy every time I went shopping!

If your nerves are not up to so much excitement and reading a good chiller thriller in the safety of your armchair is more your cup of tea, I’ve got a few I’d lurrve you to check out. You can have a look at them over here in Thrillers by Moi.

So, how have you been enjoying your time in quarantine? What is life under confinement like in your country? Tell tell.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

The New Mask-Filled World to Come

Back to Granada Again (Because who knows when we will be able to go back to Granada again)

Pies (Because everyone is still at home cooking)

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

The New Mask-Filled World to Come

Do you think from now on we will always have to wear masks? New generations will consider putting on a mask before going out as essential as putting on shoes or trousers to go out.

Young kids would be unable to even conceive of a time when people could still go out without masks.

Mask Carnaval Venice

Well who knows, it could happen. Millenia ago people didn’t wear trousers. They just wore a tiny piece of loincloth. But life on earth has developed and today no one would think of going outside without their trousers on.

Generations of the future will design masks with all different shapes and colours. There will be designer masks with paintings by Picasso and Velazquez as well as paintings by contemporary famous artists on them.

There will be a new type of business. Alongside graphic designers who dedicate their businesses to designing only book covers, posters or publicity flyers there will be artists who only paint pictures for masks.

There will be masks with sequins. Decorated nose and mouth masks that form a set with decorated eye masks, for people to wear to balls where you have to wear a mask to cover your eyes.

There will be new types of hijabs that at the same time serve to prevent the spread of viruses.

The lipstick industry will be threatened.

But people love lipsticks and red mouths. So I’m sure industry leaders, or even just everyday women — because we loooveee our lipsticks and lip glosses so much — will strive to invent a way to continue using lipstick even though we have masks on.

So maybe they will come up with some sort of clear masks that prevent the spread of viruses but at the same time allow your lips to be seen. So then you will still need lipstick.

They will need to invent new formulas so your lipstick doesn’t rub off on the mask.

Ingenious designers and engineers will contrive new ways to eat and drink outdoors or at restaurants and cafés, so you can eat and drink outside without catching the virus.

Mona Lisa and mask

And if you’d like to check out some new book covers (or just grab some more reading material) have a look over my thrillers.

So how are you getting on with your masks? What do you think of the new mask-filled world to come? Leave me a comment below. I lurrrve to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Quarantine Diaries: Fines Fines Fines

Spanish Beaches

Harira Makin’ (Because it’s Ramadan, even if you can only break your fast this year all alone at home…… but at least if you read this post you’ll have homemade harira)

Homemade Soap

Reminiscing On…… Magno Soap

Magno soap is the famous classic Spanish black soap. It is completely black like our cat haha.

It’s supposed to smell like patchouli although to me it smells more like sulphur haha.

Magno Soap

It was a real revolution when it first came out 100 years ago because in those days, from what I’ve read, patchouli was virtually unknown in Spain. Also making it black really attracted attention. It immediately sold out everywhere. So you can see it is a Spanish classic.

Even though it smells like sulphur (to me, or patchouli, depending on your olfactive preference) the smell really grows on you and when you don’t use it for a time you miss it. I always have a few boxes of it stored around the house, so I never run out.

It always brings me back to big lofty mansion-sized historic apartments in the luxurious central neighbourhoods of Madrid. Around the Paseo del Prado where the apartments are gigantic and sport many wings and the ceilings are high and lofty and made of marble. The walls and furnishings are also made of marble and everything is gold gilded.

Usually elegant elderly people live in these apartments. Everything they use is classic and elegant. They own classic shiny metal soap holders with intricate decorations on them. And they always boast a bar of Magno soap in their powder rooms.

And mmmhh how the scent wafts out of these art-déco powder rooms!

The scent of patchouli (or sulphur, whichever way you prefer to see it hehe).

And now if you find you’ve got more time on your hands than you know what to do with and you’re bored of watching yet another film on TV, yet one more video, why not grab some reading material? I’ve got a neat collection of creepy, scary horror tales for you. Check out my thrillers here: Thrillers by MoiYou can get them for Kindle so they’re not expensive.

What soaps do YOU like? Drop me a note in Comments down below. I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments.

And as I mentioned earlier, our cat is black. Completely, midnight-shaded black. Just like Magno soap.

Black Kitty Cat
If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

DIY Catio or Sun Window / Sun Balcony for Cats (Another home DIY project you can nibble on now that you can’t go out)

Walking in the Rain (Now that we can’t go out for walks in the rain or in the sunshine or in anything)

Pies (Because I’ve noticed a huge boom in recipes sites lately, I wonder why……)

Castile Soap and Coconut Milk for Hair

Quarantine Diaries: Fines Fines Fines

Well I do agree it has been a while since I’ve been on this blog. But now with everyone in quarantine due to the coronavirus here, I find myself with a little extra time — and a TON of things I’d like to comment about.

So hopefully I’ll be dropping back every once in a while with these comments on these little things that I observe during these uncertain times.

Fines

In general I praise the police for their exemplary performance at a difficult job in what are undeniably difficult times. But personally I also think some of them are going fine crazy over here. They fined a guy for buying a fridge and picking it up. They argued that fridges are not essential items for survival.

Well I disagree! If you don’t have a fridge you will need to go shopping every day because many foods don’t last without a fridge. So you need to buy them every day. And I thought the idea was that people NOT go shopping every day.

And also if you have no fridge food will go bad. And then you will be tempted to eat bad food. And then you will get sick and need to go to the hospital.

Although if you DO go to the hospital you might get turned away because you don’t have coronavirus. It’s not the hospital’s fault, I do want to add. I know all the health-care workers are doing their absolute utmost and putting their lives out on the line to take care of everyone.

But hospitals everywhere are overwhelmed. And just entering a hospital these days is pretty much akin to catching COVID-19, where the virus is floating freely around the very air and so many hospital workers aren’t even provided with even the most basic protective equipment.

So as I said you probably wouldn’t get admitted to hospital. You ONLY have salmonellosis, or listeriosis or botulism, which can also kill you without treatment.

But that’s ok, as far as the powers that be are concerned. Because at least you didn’t die from coronavirus. So you wouldn’t enter into the statistics anyway, so no one will know that you died or what you died from.

After all if you die in your home from salmonellosis no one will know you died from salmonellosis, right? Because you didn’t get into the hospital so you never received an official diagnosis.

And I doubt they’re going to do an autopsy, because although I’m not too well-versed on the subject (ie. disclaimer: I have no idea) I get the impression that nowadays not too many autopsies can be carried out right now. So in most likelihood no one will ever know what you really died from, so your death will most likely be attributed to the virus.

So then you can’t even claim compensation because you will have no proof of any sort that you didn’t die from the virus. (Well obviously I meant your family hehe.)

But at any rate, from what I’ve read it’s still better than in the States where if you can’t pay your medical bills you will get turned away even if you have the virus.

I couldn’t understand why thousands of people are dying in their homes of the virus every day in the States. But turns out it’s because they can’t pay the medical bills so they don’t go to the hospital.

So you see, you should let people buy fridges and showers and hot water heaters. Hot showers are also essential because they are necessary for hygiene and hygiene is necessary to prevent illnesses such as getting coronavirus or any other viruses.

Well just my two cents’ worth of comments and completely my own humble but biased opinion for the day.

Take care everyone. DON’T go out unless it’s really necessary. Remember that if you #stayhome you’re much less likely to get the dreaded coronavirus.

And wash your hands with soap A LOT, especially if you just went outside or picked up something that you just brought in from outside. For at least 20 seconds. Count them. I actually do count them: one thousand one, one thousand 2……

In fact, for that matter, ever since my kids were babies I instilled in them the habit of WASHING THEIR HANDS with soap and water the minute they walked in the door.

As soon as we walk in, the first thing we do: take off our shoes and leave them at the door. We have slippers for inside the house.

The next thing we do, we take off our jackets.

And then, straight away, it’s off to the bathroom for our routine HAND WASHING!

Only after they have done all that are they allowed to do anything else, whatever they want to / have to do: unpack the food, go play, watch TV, whatever.

My kids have rarely ever been sick in their lives. They do get illnesses, but most are not of an infectious nature. One of my sons has asthma, but he was born with that.

So once again, remember: #stayathomesavelives.

And spend all your extra time reading blogs like mine haha.

Or if you’re in the mood for some creepy, scary horror tales, check out my thrillers here: Thrillers by MoiYou can get them for Kindle so they’re not expensive.

So how are you spending your quarantine? Let me know what you’re up to in Comments down below. I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments.

Black Kitty Cat
If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

A Month at the Gym: Is the Gym Really Worth It? (Now that we can’t go to the gym at all……)

Frankincense — Or How You Can Make Your House Smell Like Holy Week (So at least you have the illusion you are celebrating Holy Week hehe)

Pizza Makin’ (Because what else are we gonna do now that we’re stuck at home, except cook lotsa goodies?)

Soapmaking, How to Make Soap At Home

Remembering — Lucie Silvas

I love music. So thought maybe I’d occasionally write a post dedicated to my favourite artists.

So many of the best unfortunately disappear, without having deserved it, in my opinion.

Here is another singer who has just simply disappeared.

Lucie Silvas – Nothing Else Matters

Lucie Silvas – Nothing Else Matters
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She came here to Spain once and she was in a dance competition show, Fame! Let’s Dance. That was a show that was popular for a few years, every year they had a bunch of dancers and they trained the dancers over a period of months and every week a pair of dancers was eliminated.

Lucie Silvas came and performed at that show. I really really liked her. And then she disappeared. Her first CD was a super hit but her second CD flopped so her record company simply dropped her and she was unable to find a recording contract since then.

She was so talented. But even so, her record company just dropped her.

This is, I think, the best song on her CD, although “What You’re Made Of” was also a very famous and popular hit from that CD.

I thought she had written “Nothing Else Matters” but turns out it’s a cover of someone else’s song, Metallica’s.

Yes it is really really sad, I wish Lucie Silvas would find another recording contract. She is an AMAZE performer, just incredible. It’s amazing how this business (or any other business for that matter) works. She had 2 incredible years, with gigs just about every day as she herself says, and then…… Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Her second CD flopped so her recording company simply dropped her and since then she hasn’t been able to find a single thing. Not one recording contract. Not one gig. Nothing.

She has written songs for a third CD and recorded tons of demos of these songs but still, nothing.

And in contrast, they kept dragging a drug addicted and spaced out Whitney Houston out for more and more gigs even though she wasn’t even able to produce any sounds or keep her eyes open she was so conked out.

You can check out Lucie Silvas’ website, where she sometimes posts demos, new music and recordings, here: http://luciesilvas.com

And if you’d like to read some exciting thrillers, I’ve written a few so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Poetry by Hermenegildo

The Sounds of Holy Week

Thrillers by Moi

DIY Catio or Sun Window / Sun Balcony for Cats

Why have a cat like this? (Squished onto your tiny window ledge.)

Catio Cat Sun Balcony

When you can have a cat like this? (Hanging out in all spaciousness out on your exterior window sill.)

Catio Cat Sun Window

Fun DIY projects (not!) for people like me who are lumps at DIY.

You can’t see it too well (it does reflect the flash slightly, I think) but it’s a DIY catio that provides your cat with his own sun window.

Of course it’s night so not much sun.

And of course there are plenty of things I’d prefer to be doing rather than constructing a sun terrace for my cat. But he is just going CRAZY to get out there, clawing and scratching at the window, and we can’t keep the windows shut in the hot Spanish summer.

So now, even if, like us, you live in a high-rise apartment building, your cat can still enjoy a piece of the lovely outdoors and sun himself in his very own sun window / sun balcony.

Here’s how I made our DIY catio.

I went to the hardware store and got some wire mesh. You don’t need to ride all the way out to Bricomart or Leroy Merlin, our own neighbourhood hardware store (ferretería if you’re here in Spain) also carried them. We’re very lucky we have thick iron bars outside our windows, to keep thieves out!

We also have wide window sills, whose original purpose was to hold plants, not cats.

But the bars are set wide enough apart for a nimble cat to slip through them and fall to his death on the pavement below. And the window sill is not wide enough to prevent the cat from slipping off and falling to his death on the pavement below.

Hence the need for an enclosed cat space or catio.

So all I had to do was line the wire mesh on the inside of the iron bars. I made tiny holes in the mesh and fixed the mesh to the iron bars using plastic ties.

And that’s it!

The cat, whose nickname is Mr Bitey because he’s always biting and gnawing away at objects — all objects — of course at first he had to have his stint of trying to bite his way through the wire mesh.

But fortunately it did occur to me to leave one of the plastic ties uncut. I cut off the rest so they wouldn’t stick into my poochie moggie. So he entertained himself happily chewing away at the uncut plastic tie while he lounged around in his new catio.

He loves his own solitary space. He can catch cool breezes there in the evening, getting some relief from the scorching Spanish sun. He can watch the neighbours going about their affairs, and match the sounds that he hears through the window with the actions that he can now observe and which up till now had always been rather a mystery for him.

Catio Cat Sun Balcony

Happy cat in his sun window

In the light of day you can’t really see the wire mesh. But it’s there keeping the cat safe from falling through the iron bars.

He spends hours lounging away up there. He’s a happy cat, and we’re relaxed and at ease knowing that he’s safe while he enjoys himself.

Of course, I do have to check the wire mesh frequently to make sure that there aren’t any holes that the cat could slip through. I’d bought a piece of mesh that was 1,5x2m (European metric, in the UK or the US you’d probably measure it differently) for each window. I used up most of it, and a bit was left over which I’ve saved in case I ever need to do any patch-up work.

As a side benefit, it also serves to keep mosquitos, flies and other flying nasties out!

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So, how about you? Do you have any cat tips you’d like to share? Have you built your own catio, or covered your balconies and windows to make them safe for cats and dogs? Do share. You know I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Black Kitty Cat

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Soapmaking, How to Make Soap At Home

Frankincense — Or How You Can Make Your House Smell Like Holy Week

Harira Makin’

Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

Conversation with My Son

Ermenegildo: Should I shave my sideburns?

Me: If you want, most men shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

Me: Then don’t shave them.

Ermenegildo: But they are very noticeable.

Me: Then shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

Me: Then don’t shave them.

Ermenegildo: But they are very noticeable.

Me: Then shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

A Month at the Gym: Is the Gym Really Worth It?

I was sooo lucky that my boss gifted me with a month’s free pass to…… not just any gym, but THE BEST, the most expensive gym in Malaga.

And was it worth it?

Well, here is my experience.

I’d never signed up to a gym before. I might have tried out a month here or there at some point in my life, but always at cheap gyms that didn’t have very much to offer, maybe a couple of classes, lots of weight lifting apparatuses and that was pretty much it. So I got bored very quickly.

But the gym my boss gifted me to was, not just any gym, but the O2 Gym, or Oxygen Wellness Centre gym chain, which was started in India over a decade ago and is, in my opinion, the best gym I have ever seen.

O2 Wellness Centre

O2 gyms combine traditional gym equipment and activities, such as weightlifting apparatuses, static bikes, running machines etc., with more alternative options such as yoga, pilates and TRX.

The gym in my city, in particular, offers a greater variety of classes than any other fitness centre that I’ve ever visited. Here is just a selection of some of the activities you can take part in:

  • aerolatin dance
  • zumba
  • step
  • aerobics
  • TRX
  • cycling
  • calisthenics
  • body balance
  • combat
  • boxing
  • circuit training
  • fitball
  • abs-gluts-legs
  • Spartans
  • Tai-Chi
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • crosstraining

As well as a whole bunch of water sports, and not just the typical swim classes you would expect, either.

In fact, O2 Gym is one of the very few sports centres in Malaga that even offer a swimming pool at all.

My ex just happened to sign my youngest son up to this gym for swim classes, because he has scoliosis (a twisted backbone) and the doctor recommended it. The centre is quite close to my ex’s home, but it’s a bit of a walk from my house.

If you happen to live in Malaga, the O2 Wellness Centre is near the Vialia shopping centre, which also houses the train station.

In addition to ALL those marvellous and exciting activities, the gym also offers a full and complete spa centre and jacuzzi.

The spa centre includes 4 different pools with varying water temperatures, water massages, a sauna and a Turkish bath.

I tried out most of the apparatuses, except the running machine. As I watched people working out on the running machines, I thought, gee your lives must be pretty pathetic if you have to come to the gym in order to get the chance to run haha!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit mean of me. But, I mean, I’m running the whole day long every day. I do NOT need a machine to get all worn out running just living my life every day.

I thought the machines were just fine. They were state-of-the-art, with plasma screens in front of you telling you all different stats like how fast your heart is beating or how many minutes you’ve been running/rowing/cycling or how far you’ve run/walked/cycled/rowed. But, let’s face it. These are fairly boring, redundant, monotonous activities.

Fortunately, there is a huge panel with a row of plasma TV screens in front of you, where you can watch every public TV channel available.

I took part in a few classes. The classes are very well spaced out, and most activities are offered 3 times a day during various time periods, morning, noon and evening so, unlike in most other gyms, they are well adapted to most people no matter what their work/study schedule is like.

I enjoyed classes such as zumba and step. However, since I’m anaemic, I don’t really feel I was able to get the most out of these activities.

In addition to which, most of them consisted of choreographies that had already been set up at the beginning of the school year, and which students had been learning for several months already. So if you arrive new in December, like me, everyone already knows the steps except you.

Which makes you get left behind. Since, of course, they are not going to teach all the steps again just for you.

I would have perhaps preferred it if in every class they invented new, easy to learn choreographies, since these are classes where new people are always joining. But since that was not the case, well, I felt a bit left behind.

In the end I ended up going mostly to pilates and yoga classes.

I’d practised yoga pretty much most of my life, ever since I discovered a yoga book when I was just 12 years old and set to work learning all the exercises and routines in the book. However, I’d never actually been to a yoga class before.

I found that, perhaps thanks to the fact that I’ve practised yoga at home all my life, I found myself adapting easily to the yoga and pilates exercises, and taking to them like a fish to water, even though I’d never gone to a yoga class before and had never taken pilates.

And of course, as always happens when you find something easy enough to do that you don’t get discouraged or tired, but with just that added amount of difficulty to keep you challenged, these were the classes I ended up relishing the most.

There were still a ton of activities I didn’t try out. Some because they simply didn’t appeal to me, such as boxing or weightlifting.

And others because the hours when these classes took place simply didn’t combine well with other classes that I was interested in. Because, after all, I wasn’t going to spend the whole day at the gym, just so I could try out more classes, was I?

In addition to which, going to the gym is tiring!

So it’s not like it’s something you want to be doing the whole day long!

But I do have to admit that I LOVE going to the gym. I don’t feel lazy at all about working out. I love it.

What I did feel lazy about was having to put up with the excess of walking I had to carry out every day in order to get to the gym. I felt I got more aerobic exercise just walking to the sports centre than I could have at any class there.

My life changed the day I checked out the spa.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I am a person who LOVES, LOVES LOVES bathing in water.

And it’s true, during the summertime we do get to go to the swimming pool.

But it’s not the same. The swimming pool, even on the hottest day, is never quite hot enough for always freezing cold little me.

Nope. I’m the kind who only enjoys almost scalding hot water. Like the kind you can get in your bathtub. But we don’t have a bathtub.

So the spa is pretty much the only place I can go to get a truly HOT bath.

The spa at the gym includes 4 pools with different water temperatures. I enjoy using the one that is 32ºC to chill out in. It has several different types of water massages and waterfalls.

I don’t particularly like the water massages. I think they’re too hard. And I’m soft and delicate haha.

But I do like that it has steps at different depths, so you can sit with the water at the level that you like. This would have been a great pool to bring my kiddies to, except I couldn’t because they don’t have an entrance ticket to the gym.

My favourite pool is the one heated to 35º. For me it’s a most comfortable temperature. Relaxing, but at the same time not cool enough to give you shivers. Apparently, most people seem to agree with me, because this appears to be the most popular pool and there are always a bunch of people hanging out in it.

There’s a tiny “frigidarium” whose water is only 18º. I don’t know how anyone can have a good time in it. For me, personally, freezing to death is not my idea of a good time but at any rate, to each his own. A few people do actually seem to enjoy it.

For me, the most awesome pool is the hot pool at 37º. If it were up to me, I’d spend my whole life in that pool! Seriously. It is THAT. GOOD!

I would prefer it over the 35º pool, but after I’ve been in it for a while, it makes me sleepy. Which, I suppose, on the other hand, is probably its objective anyway.

But since I later have a long trek home, I don’t want to fall asleep haha.

So, have I noticed any effects or improvements after a month of going to the gym almost every day?

Well, I didn’t weigh myself before beginning. I cringe at the idea of even coming close to a scale anyway.

I don’t think I look any fitter, more toned or more slender now than I did one month ago.

However, I do feel stronger and more flexible. I can do things I couldn’t do before, such as stand up from a lying position without using my hands. Or climb up several flights of stairs without getting tired and breathless.

And speaking of stairs, in this gym in particular, as soon as you enter, there is an enormous flight of stairs that covers one and a half storeys from the ground floor to the first floor. There is also an elevator you can take, if climbing stairs is not your thing.

And it did make me wonder, how is everyone supposed to be able to negotiate such a tall flight of stairs without getting tired?

But then, I thought. You probably wouldn’t expect to find a lot of unfit, unhealthy couch potatoes at a gym. Most people who frequent a sports centre would probably have no difficulties climbing one and a half floors without getting winded.

So there you have it, couch potatoes. If you’d like to be able to climb stairs as if you weighed the same as a feather, sign up to a gym!

So after one month, do I think a gym is worth it?

You bet!

And even if outdoors activities is more your cup of tea, if you’re a weekend athlete, going to the gym on weekdays will still help you be able to carry out your weekend hiking, biking or marathon activities with greater ease.

So, here are a couple of factual facts. If you are in Malaga, you can find the O2 Wellness Centre at calle Plaza de Toros Vieja, number 5.

It’s just a couple of blocks from the Vialia shopping centre. Walk down calle Salitre and turn to your right at the second street after leaving Vialia.

The all-inclusive pass costs (as of this writing) 59.40 euros if you pay monthly, but they do offer special prices and discounted rates.

And while you’re here, could I beguile you with a few book ideas? It’s great to improve your health, but just as fantastic to cultivate your mind. And what better way to do it than with a few psychological thrillers? If you like reading (or even if you don’t usually read, but you do like something that gets your heart rate going), why don’t you check out my creepy, scary, suspenseful novels here, at: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever been to a gym or a spa? What has been your experience? Do share. I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Rant About Lambs

I am not vegetarian. But I refuse to eat lambs.

Lamb

Photo Credit: Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons

I used to love lamb. But I swore I would never touch lamb again after having babies. Remember that lambs are BABIES! They’re innocent little baby things that the only thing they have ever tasted in their lives is their mother’s milk. And the only thing they have ever known is a mother’s love.

And the lamb you are eating never had the chance to run around in a field and enjoy life. And it was taken away from its mother, who like all mothers probably misses it a lot.

If we all chose to never eat lamb again, people who slaughter lambs for food would have to stop doing it.

Now, I realize that a beef cow or a chicken is also an animal, who used to run around. But I dunno, grown cows and chickens don’t really speak to me as lambs do, I guess. I don’t like beef at all, but it’s because I really hate the taste and feel of the meat, not because I really care anything about the cow, hehe.

End of rant.

Hiring Expats and Immigrants in Spain

I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more work in Marbella than in Malaga, even though Marbella is much smaller. So of course that set me a-pondering. I wondered why a place that’s a tenth of the size of Malaga would have more work.

And I thought, Marbella is richer than Malaga. It might be small, but it’s where all the rich foreigners settle, bringing with them their money and their boost for the local economy.

And it also made me observe, places that are richer have more jobs. How many jobs there are doesn’t really seem to depend so much on the SIZE of the place as it does how rich the place is.

Which I suppose is one obvious reason why unemployment is so high in Spain, and even more so here in the deep south.

Canada, by contrast, has a prosperous economy. (Okay maybe not so much as the US, it isn’t on the list of the top 10 richest countries in the world but it’s doing well.)

And I personally feel (and keep in mind that these are only my own observations, opinions and experiences, not hard facts) that maybe one of the main reasons why the Canadian economy is doing so much better than the Spanish one, is perhaps because of how Canadian society ALLOWS FOREIGNERS AND IMMIGRANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY.

Here in Spain, the mentality (in my opinion) is just so backwards with regards to how they treat foreigners, expats and immigrants. Here, everyone congregates in little segregated colonies based on their country of origin.

You’ve got little English conclaves. Little German colonies. Moroccan and Arab immigrants only socialize with other Moroccan and Arab immigrants and Chinese immigrants only socialize with other Chinese immigrants. Ditto the Africans. To the point that many members of these groups even refuse to learn Spanish, even though they are living in Spain.

Maybe 100 years ago, Italian immigrants in the US and Canada could ONLY own pizzerias. (Or maybe work in the mafia haha.) Chinese immigrants HAD TO own laundromats or Chinese restaurants. Blacks were only allowed to sing, but no one was willing to hire a Black banker or financier.

Today, fortunately, things are different. But that was the mentality that existed back then. And that is the mentality still here in Spain, today — where things always seem to be about a century behind the rest of the world.

In contrast, in Canada today, immigrants participate fully in the world. Canadian society makes room for them. And most importantly, CANADIAN COMPANIES HIRE IMMIGRANTS!

I think so many people overlook and ignore the fact that IMMIGRANTS ARE PROBABLY ONE OF A COUNTRY’S GREATEST TREASURES.

People from other cultures bring so much knowledge that is unknown in their new country.

And more than anything, immigrants bring the desire to work and contribute to their new society.

Immigrants contribute so much to the companies that are willing to hire them. Proof of this is how in Canada, Canadian companies routinely hire immigrants, and these companies prosper and are doing stupendously.

On the other hand, in Spain, as a general rule Spanish companies never hire immigrants or expats. For a job that requires high-level negotiations with English-speaking Americans or EU companies, they would rather hire a local Spaniard who can barely stutter out “My name is José” rather than an American, Canadian or Brit who would, of course, have no difficulty in carrying out these negotiations in English.

Even for tourism jobs, such as hotel employees in hotels whose clientele are mainly British and American tourists, Spaniards whose knowledge of English is limited to “What is your name?” are preferred over American, Canadian or British job candidates.

(Or perhaps “preferred” is an understatement. Okay, what I mean is that hotels outright WILL NOT hire any American, Canadian or British candidate, no matter what, if there is so much as one Spanish candidate in the line-up, because they simply won’t hire foreigners, period.)

Well, if you were going on holiday abroad, which would you prefer? To stay at a hotel where you can understand the staff and they can understand you, even if the staff consists mainly of immigrants / expats? Or to stay at a hotel where all the employees are local people, but none of them can talk to you?

Well, if I went to Moscow or Athens for my summer holidays, I know what I would prefer. (Taking into account that unfortunately I don’t know a single word of Greek and my knowledge of Russian is limited to “da” hehe.)

Okay, I’m not saying that companies should never hire locals. I’m just suggesting that it’s just as unfair for a company to ignore, exclude, reject and discriminate against a qualified job candidate just because that candidate is foreign-born.

On the other hand, it just makes me so mad when I see people from rich countries going to poor countries and not doing anything to help the locals.

I don’t mean that you have to set up a charity or an NGO. But you could get out there and try to meet local people. If you have a blog, you could feature local businesses that you’ve become familiar with. If you went to a hotel or a restaurant, or hired a service, you could talk about them on your blog.

You could make friends in your new country and talk about them on your blog.

Here in Spain I’ve observed that most British expats ONLY socialize with other British expats. They don’t even try to make friends with Spanish people. They don’t show any interest in learning Spanish, and they only participate in the most stereotypical Spanish events such as going to watch Holy Week processions or frequenting flamenco shows.

Now, I’m not trying to single out British expats and put them down as opposed to expats from other countries. It’s just simply that, at least in my part of the world, British expats are more plentiful than people from other countries.

But as I mentioned earlier, my observation is that immigrants and expats from other countries around here, such as Moroccans, Chinese, Germans and Africans also don’t cultivate the custom of socializing with local Spanish people either.

And in part, I suppose it could be because Spanish people don’t show any particular interest in getting to know the foreigners and immigrants who live in their midst.

But couldn’t it also be because the immigrants and expats themselves also don’t possess even the smallest iota of interest in getting to know the local people in the country that they themselves have chosen to live in?

I mean, you LIVE here now, for crying out loud. You CHOSE to live here. I understand that it’s sometimes hard to make new friends, especially after a certain age.

Marbella Street With Flowers

It’s true that from what I’ve observed, once people finish their schooling, they seem to lose all interest in making new friends. So I suppose it really is a two-way street, and oftentimes adult Spaniards are just about as blasé about making new friends — be it with foreigners or with other Spanish people outside of their extended families — as foreigners and expats are.

But if you’re a foreigner / immigrant and you’re now living in a new country, could it really be that hard for you to go to a language class and pick up a few notions of the local language (which is probably also the official language of your new country, unless you just happen to be living with a small ethnic minority tribe)?

You could chat with shop assistants when you go shopping. Maybe take a course or sign up for something at a cultural association. If you’re not shy, you could even shoot the breeze with the people around you while you’re in a line-up or someplace else waiting for something.

I’m very shy about speaking with strangers, but I know people who aren’t, and they make friends everywhere — with bakers, with the people sitting next to them at restaurants, with other people waiting in line at the bank. I envy them. I’m too shy and bashful to do that sort of thing.

But if you’re not as shy and bashful as me, and you’re an expat living in a country that you weren’t born and raised in, why can’t you make an effort to make friends with the local people around you?

And if you’d like to read some exciting thrillers and recommend them to your friends, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few, so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

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