I spoke to a student today who has spent the quarantine back at her parent’s house in the beautiful province of Galicia in north-west Spain. Like almost everywhere in the country apart from here, this region has already been in phase 1 for a week and so she gloated about the luxuries of their freedoms that those of us in Madrid are longing for; having a beer in a plaza, meeting friends and driving to go for walks in her favourite nature spots.
Although in Madrid we have edged into what they are calling phase 0.5, we couldn’t feel further away from the freedoms of phase 1. The police are still brutally enforcing the times we are allowed out with huge fines and the verdant parks remain locked for the time being. Smells arising from freshly cut grass and trees heavy with flowers refuse to remain confined to these luscious oases, drifting out on the summer breeze as if to torment the countless numbers of runners circling them. Neither the signs on their steely gates nor official websites give any indication of when they will open, so for now we must be content to stroll on tarmac like ants diligently making their way from A to B.
To be allowed out at all is a blessing that we didn’t have a couple of weeks ago. However, this doesn’t ease the torture of being so close to nature yet not being allowed to actually enter it. Satisfied that they have provided enough space for Madrileños to roam with the road closures, the local government are likely to keep the parks closed for a while longer. Although temperatures have soared in the last couple of days, summer won’t feel like it is upon us until we can lie in El Retiro, absent-mindedly picking blades of grass and lazily throwing them towards the endless blue of Madrid’s skies.