In order to make these blog posts slightly more aesthetically pleasing, I have enlisted the help of a friend called Maria Madrigal, who has been documenting the quarantine through a series of eerie photos from her walk to the pharmacy where she works. They have all been taken not far from our respective homes in the very centre of Madrid throughout the last couple of weeks. They show how unbelievably empty the city has become as most people comply with social distancing, either because they believe it is the right thing to do or are scared of the police checkpoints found all over the centre. Like all of the workers who are keeping the city running while the rest of us are told to hide away, Maria has to venture into the bleak, ghostly atmosphere of the streets on a daily basis.
A sense of fear pervades in the streets that I believe isn’t felt when we are enclosed in our flats, where we are able to distract ourselves by going deep into projects or focusing on things that allow us to escape. Like the opening sequence of 28 Days Later, you can’t help feeling deeply unsettled by seeing a city centre in almost total silence. My friend in China has reported that although shops and businesses there are beginning to open as restrictions are gently lifted, very few people have been confident enough to resume their lives as normal because of this unsettled feeling.
In Spain however I imagine it will be different. Absolutely everyone is imagining a dreamlike scenario where the government announces that we are free and people run into the streets to celebrate like headless chickens. In reality this will unfortunately never happen like we wish it would, but I am certain that as soon as bars open their doors for the first time in months, the Spanish won’t be poking their heads out like timid animals, waiting for others to prove it is safe. Instead they will all sprint to the nearest plaza and order the most deliciously, anticipated cerveza that money can buy.