Tag Archive | life

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

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.

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

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

Best Friends

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

I Wish!

I Wish

I just received a letter from a company I’d applied to work for. They told me they’d be happy to consider me for one of their positions if my circumstances changed and I acquired my own means of transport (a car, motorcycle or motorbike). But I know I won’t be able to get a car, not at any time in the foreseeable future (and the way things are going, probably not as long as I live either).

I’m really really really sad I couldn’t work for that company. I really liked that company. But I guess you have to work with what you have, not think of all the things that you want that you can’t have.

Like a friend of mine, Maria*. She also wanted a hotel job and they told her, the job is yours if you had a car. But she didn’t have a car and she couldn’t get that job. In the end she had to resign herself to working at jobs she could get around the city. Well today she still doesn’t have a car, but she has a much better job. Maybe it wasn’t the hotel job she wanted but it’s still a good job, today she manages a tearoom.

So what she did was she just decided she’d do the things that she COULD do where the lack of a car wouldn’t be an impediment. So I guess I just have to do the same thing. There’s no point in even talking about something that’s not going to happen.

I guess that would be a bit like saying: “Oh I wish I would grow 5 more inches so I could become a flight attendant”, because you’re 5 feet tall and you need to be at least 5 feet 2 to be a flight attendant, but you’re an adult now and you’re never going to grow anymore.

Or saying, like I do: Oh I wish I’d grown up with a whole bunch of brothers and sisters (I’m an only child). That’s something that’s just not going to happen. It’s not! Not ever as long as you live. So there’s no point in even thinking about it.

BUT OH I STILL WISH……….!!!

And if you’d wish to read some exciting thrillers before bed tonight, 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.

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

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Everyday Scenes From Everyday Life in Spain

Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

*not her real name

Rain

I love rain.

Rain

And there is no better time for a night-time walk than when it’s raining.

The streets are sooo quiet. Even on a Friday night there’s room at the bars and restaurants, unlike a normal Friday night, so you don’t have to wait for a table or fight with other hungry people hehe.

Rain

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

…And It’s a Rainy Night In Malaga

Walking in the Rain

A Hike in the Rain in the Montes of Malaga

The Orange Trees

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

I’ve always had a lot more difficulties making friends here in southern Spain than in Barcelona or Madrid. Everyone thinks it must be easy to make friends here because southern Spaniards appear very friendly and open. But that is only superficial appearance. In fact my impression is that southern Spaniards are much more closed minded (in general and also when it comes to making friends) than people from Madrid or Barcelona. Or maybe it’s just cultural differences, but I’m from a place where you don’t make friends the same way people do here.

Red Flowers for Friendships in a Field

I made a ton of friends when I lived in Madrid, unfortunately I didn’t keep in touch with most of them when I left. Those were the days before email and Facebook, and people’s phone numbers (landlines, because those were also the days before mobile phones) change and they move. But I’m still really good friends with some friends from Barcelona. I found it easier to make friends in Barcelona than here in southern Spain.

Once someone who had lived in France, who said she’d lived in France for many years (she was American), said that in France people have 3 groups of friends: childhood friends, usually from the same elementary school they went to, high school friends and university friends. Once people got out of university, they lost interest in making friends and if you wanted to be their friend, they didn’t. I find here in southern Spain it’s very similar.

Most people here have lived here all their lives and they only hang out with people they’ve known all their lives and grown up with. They are very friendly, they’ll chat with you for a long time. But then after that they are not interested in taking the relationship any further. They don’t want to hang out with you, they want to hang out with the kids who went to grade 2 with them. They don’t want to go to the bar with you, they want to go to the bar with their circle of friends from university.

Some people are very open and not in the least bit shy, like my friend Maria*. And even she can’t make new friends. All her friends are people she’s known in elementary and high school. Which is a major problem for her, because in high school she hung out with the drug addict crowd, and most of them are still on drugs today. She is not on drugs but you know what it’s like to have a friendship with someone who is on drugs: violent behaviour, unreliability (they say they’ll meet her tomorrow at 11 and they don’t show), you can’t count on them (they say they’ll introduce her to someone who is looking for a receptionist and then they forget and the person hires someone else) and worst of all they pressure her to take drugs again.

She’s tried over and over again to get away from them, because she knows they are no good for her and she knows they only use her. As in, let’s go out tonight. But then they only wanted to go out with her to try and get her to take drugs. But when she really needs someone, for example she needs someone to pick her son up from school, all of a sudden they are not available.

She can’t live in Marbella, her hometown, because every time she is in Marbella all her old druggie friends drop by and try to turn her house into a drug den. So she keeps moving away. But then she can’t find a job anywhere else, or she has a family emergency and needs to return to her family in Marbella, and she just can’t get away. But when she does move away, she can’t make any new friends. And she’s the least shy person I know. I mean, she could sell air conditioners to an Inuit person.

Marbella Street With Flowers

In Barcelona, there are a lot of outsiders, it’s a big city, new people are constantly going there for different reasons. For work, or to go to the university or to study something else (not university). Or for personal reasons. So there are tons of people who didn’t grow up in Barcelona and don’t have a circle of childhood friends there, so there are tons of clubs there to meet people. So it’s easy to meet people and make friends in Barcelona.

But here in Malaga there are hardly any clubs. I asked someone once, let’s say you want to make a hiking club, or a sewing club, how do you do it here? And they told me, you ask your childhood friends if they know someone or if they know someone who knows someone who likes to go hiking, and you go hiking together. In Barcelona, you join a hiking club. Here, you ask your childhood friends if they want to go hiking with you. That’s just the way it works here.

Which really sucks for those of us who didn’t spend our childhood here!!!

I met a lot of people in Barcelona by going to meetings of things that I was interested in, or even just with classified ads. That’s how I met my great friend Pippi* and my friend Morche* and my former friend Enid* (we fought because she became a radical vegetarian and stopped having any contact with people who were not vegetarian).

But I just can’t seem to meet anyone this way here in Malaga. In fact I couldn’t meet anyone in Almeria either, things work there the same way as here, as Almeria is also southern Spain.

I met my friend Jessica* at a secretarial course we took together once. During the course many of us hung out together but once the course ended most just simply kept making excuses for not meeting up again, and finally they just simply stopped having contact with other people from the course. Only Jessica continues to be my friend. I met a few people at a hotel entertainers’ course too, but I’ve changed a great deal since taking that course and we just drifted apart due to having very different interests.

Also people who have never worked before are hard to make friends with, which was the majority of the people at the hotel entertainers’ course. It’s just impossible to get on with people who have never worked before. My friend Lucinda*, from the course, who had never worked before, told me things like, why are you so worried about being able to pay the water/electricity/phone bill? It’s only a few cents, right? And if you can’t pay them, just go back and live with your mami and daddy like I do, or get them to pay your bills for you.

Lucinda is over 30, has never had a job and has lived with her mother all her life. Now, I’m in favour of kids living with their parents, I want my kids to live with me. But I still also want them to work. And to know what life is like and that you have to pay the bills and that mami and daddy aren’t always going to bail you out. Or at least not at age 30.

And I’m just finding it a bit hard to jive with someone who at the age of thirty-something has never paid a bill in her life or had to run to get to work on time. I dunno, somehow I just can’t.

Oh by the way Lucinda is not disabled in any way, neither physically nor mentally.

Another example: one year I subscribed to the blog of a makeup blogger, and I also joined her Facebook group. So I chatted on the group for a while, and commented on her blog for a while. But then one day she organized what was supposedly an open party at her house (she lives in Malaga) and on her Facebook she said, Hey girls come on come join the fun, come to my party! Bring some drinks and your bikini cos we’re all gonna jump into my pool. Leave a comment below if you want to come. So of course I commented too and said I’d like to go. She answered my comment (on Facebook) and said, I’m sorry Serena but this party is only for my personal friends, that is, followers of my blog who are also my personal friends, I thought it was clear and understood. I wanted to say, well if it was only for your personal friends why did you announce it on your open, public Facebook group that I’m a member of?

So you see, here people make a very clear distinction between FRIENDS (ie. people they have known all their lives and probably went to the nursery with) and friends with tiny little letters (ie. people they’ve chatted to online or maybe even met in person, but meeting someone in person and having a good time with them doesn’t make you their friend).

I dunno maybe it’s that way everywhere, I’m not like that though. For me, you are my friend if I have met you a few times and we got on great. I don’t need to have known you for 30 years to admit you into my circle of friends. You don’t have to save my life to prove your loyalty and honesty to me before I will admit you into my circle of friends. But other people don’t agree with me. And I’ll admit there aren’t too many people in my life whom I’ve known for 30 years or whose life I have saved haha.

I always think it’s so hard for me to make friends cos I’m so shy, I’m too shy to just come right out with someone I just met and just say, hey I really enjoyed chatting with you, you wanna meet up again for coffee sometime?

But Maria is the least shy person I know and she can’t make new friends either, only her old druggie ones. (Although I admit she would probably not be pleased with me referring to her old lifelong friends as “druggies”.)

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? Got any suggestions as to how a shy, wall violet like me might make new friends? Please leave me a comment. As you know I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

*not their real names

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

Best Friends

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Thrillers by Moi

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

Thought I’d digress a little from this recent spate of posts on natural hair care and going no ‘poo that I’ve been on lately, and chit-chat about something else for a minute.

Here downtown there are people on the street selling huge vats of frankincense at little stands. It’s quite cheap. I bought a packet, and this is the amount it came out to:

Frankincense Natural Incense

No, it didn’t come in this plastic tub. The tub is from an ice-cream shop. It just happened to be the right size to hold our frankincense in.

Holy Week with all its processions is a major event here in southern Spain. I’ve written a few posts on that subject, and you can see them here: Holy Week in Malaga.

If you’ve ever been on a Holy Week procession, you might have noticed that they carry silver incense burners that smell—absolutely divine!

In addition, incense has the property of being able to clear negative energy from the space around it. One of the reasons why churches and other holy places have always used it to purify the temples.

Now, you can enjoy that sacred fragrance every day of the year in your own home by burning your own frankincense. This is how we do it. (But of course, this method will work for any natural incense stones or powder that you might have.)

The ideal way is to possess your very own decorative incense burner, preferably with lots of artwork engraved all around. I was too impatient to try this out to run out and stalk souvenir shops, so I just grabbed an old heat-resistant glass candle holder.

I filled the candle holder with sand. Now, living right next to the sea, you would think I would have a ready-made source of sand whenever I want—and I do. But I was too impatient to go down to the beach to get some. So I just used the kitty litter.

No, not the sand from inside his litter, of course. Phew! Nope, I grabbed some clean, unused sand from the bag.

(In case you are wondering what the owner of our kitty litter looks like, here’s a mug of him.)

Black Kitty Cat

I’d previously bought incense charcoal from a health food store, so I took one chunk and held it with a pair of metal tweezers, of the sort you’d use for barbecues.

If you don’t have one, I imagine you could use any metal cooking utensil. But we happened to be lucky enough to possess a pair of tweezers.

I held the chunk of charcoal with the tweezers and lit a match (ie. my son lit a match) and held the match underneath the charcoal. It’s best to use natural charcoal, and not the ones with toxic chemical additives to help it ignite faster. But I couldn’t find any natural ones and I used what I was able to get.

You can tell if your charcoal has chemicals if it sizzles and crackles. Lately, I have been on a mission to reduce the chemicals we use in our natural skin and hair care routine to a minimum. But using all natural charcoal hasn’t quite made it into our litany yet.

It only took a few seconds for the charcoal to ignite. Then I took the match away (put it out, of course, so you won’t burn anything!) and just held onto the charcoal with the tweezers for a while.

The first time I tried it, I don’t know why, the charcoal smoked a lot. The next time, I laid it gently down on the sand and it didn’t smoke.

I blew on it to make it burn faster. You have to wait until the entire thing is red hot. It will be an ashy grey all around. That’s when you know it is ready.

With a small teaspoon I pushed it around in the sand a bit so it was half buried (don’t bury it completely or it will go out). Then I sprinkled the frankincense on the sand all around it. It will be hot, so use the spoon.

If you sprinkle the frankincense directly on it, it will burn too quickly and smoke a lot. Sprinkling the incense close to, but not touching, the coal makes it last longer.

And that’s it.

Frankincense Natural Incense

And of course, although it should be obvious but I ought to say it anyway, do take the utmost care to make sure the whole incense contraption (burner, spoon, tweezers, matches etc.) is out of the reach of babies, small children, pets, violent people and anyone else who shouldn’t touch it. It’s hot, after all!

And after you’ve put it out, or it’s all burnt up, do wait a long time for it to cool down before touching it and putting it away, or it can and will burn you!

Waiting till the next day, for example, is good.

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? Have you ever tried natural incense? Or wondered how they used frankincense during the Holy Week processions? Don’t hesitate to share. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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

Going No ‘Poo

The Sounds of Holy Week

Preparing for Holy Week

Thrillers by Moi

A Hike in the Rain in the Montes of Malaga

A few weeks back I mentioned in a post about rain how sometimes we go for a hike in the rain. So here’s our latest rainy weather adventure.

Montes de Malaga Spain

This is a short and easy walk in the Montes of Malaga that’s accessible to anyone in good walking condition. There are practically no climbs or descents at all. And you don’t need a car to get there. The city bus can take you there.

So since we have no car, the city bus is precisely our only means to reach it. We take the number 2 bus upwards to Ciudad Jardin all the way to the end and get off at the last stop.

Right in front of us, the street veers left and heads out of town towards the countryside. We grab that street. It’s a residential street full of beautiful single family homes.

A lovely place to live, in fact, and so near the countryside—if only it weren’t so d*** far away from everything! Basically, you do need a car if you live here.

We continue walking down the street. It crosses an overpass that goes over some sort of major freeway out of Malaga. You can catch glimpses of the Botanical Garden on the other side.

We still continue walking and it’s not long before urban concrete gives way to countryside and greenery. Here’s a pic from a few years back of this part of the way.

Montes de Malaga Spain

Yes it is foggy there. Don’t ask. Sometimes it’s foggy here. This might be Malaga but sometimes we have fog too. All the same it was 30 degrees that day (Celsius). Doesn’t seem that way but it was.

Soon we reach an intersection. The left turn dives under a tunnel and leads to the door of the Botanical Garden. We don’t want to go to the Botanical Garden, so we veer right.

The right-hand road climbs upwards for a while. But not to worry, it’s not a steep incline. When we get to the top of it we find a cluster of country homes. Just before these houses begin, there’s a fenced-off area. The path to the Roman aqueduct begins just beyond the fence.

Bridge

But please don’t go there or if you do, and you still insist on crossing the Roman aqueduct anyways and you fall off about 10 or 12 4 or 5 storeys to the terrible ground below and break a few bones, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you! (You can see there is no railing, and plenty of vertigo-inducing places.)

Anyways. Long story short. Don’t cross the Roman aqueduct.

Nope. The proper way to get onto the trail is to just keep walking up the road, past all the lovely country homes and haciendas and ranches. (We didn’t know that the first time we went this way so we rather pigheadedly insisted on crossing the Roman aqueduct. Don’t cross the Roman aqueduct!)

Roman Aqueduct Malaga

(The way back, incidentally, that first time, before I learnt about the proper way to access the trail, since I was adamant that we would nevermore cross the Roman aqueduct again, in the end the only means we could find to return to civilization required us to, of all things, plunge our feet into the coldest, iciest, shiveringest water you will ever find and cross a watering canal instead. And, you know, this being Spain and not merry ole England and all that, we don’t go for country walks with wellies.

But I preferred frozen shins to broken bones.)

Well, as I was saying. Soon you’ll come to a gate which indicates that that is where the trail begins. You can follow the indications on the sign at the gate. Or you can just angle downwards towards the stream. There’s a path that’s easy to see, before you enter through the gate.

Once you reach the stream, you can have the time of your life. If you’ve got kids they can go mad jumping in the water and trying to build log bridges and whatever else it is that kiddies do in streams.

Kids Playing in a Stream Malaga Spain

My kids look pretty tame, don’t they?

The first time I went there with the kids that is what they did. But the last time I went, I only managed to drag the eldest, “Ermenegildo”, along. The little one, “Lucrecio”, was convalescent at home.

Convalescent from what, you might be wondering? Well, from his PE teacher’s vain attempt to turn the whole class into parkour ninjas and instead of flying up a wall, Lucrecio crashed down on his ankle instead.

We just followed the stream up a ways as long as the daylight allowed. We’d left home after lunch (we’re not particularly inclined to catching the early worms nor, for that matter, the late worms either, we don’t like worms very much) so that wasn’t a long time.

Even though it was raining (okay sort of raining) it wasn’t the least bit cold. So no raincoats (not that I have any), parkas or anoraks required.

Ermenegildo in the Rainy Forest

We chanced upon a pack of wild dogs so kept a prudent distance from them. Luckily they chose to grapple their way up the mountainside and disappear. Didn’t occur to me to snap a few Polaroids. Dawggonit.

In all reality, the river goes on and on and on, I have no idea how far it reaches but probably too far for anyone except a seasoned hiker (ie. not us) to walk. One day, when we have the whole day free and manage to crawl out of bed before sunset, we might actually decide to tackle it and follow it down a significant length before turning back.

And since I’ve written a few books I’m not going to deny that I’d feel real chuffed if you’d check them out. As someone I know once told me, trying to urge me to check out some books: They’re thrillers! Grab all the deets here.

Rainbow After the Storm

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

Walking in the Rain

Kayaking in a Storm in Nerja

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