Uherské Hradiště’s train tracks. Photo: Isabel Gallego Nieto
CELIA PÉREZ CARRASCOSA
The time passes slowly over these days. I came back to the flat almost a month ago. However, it seems like an eternity has gone by since my last days at the guesthouse. Days in which I followed- and I continue to follow- the information on COVID-19 in both the Spanish and Czech press.
Days in the guesthouse were very weird. Despite being a big guesthouse, my colleague and I were the only guests in “Pensión Loli” during those two weeks, excepting some unusual days when someone stayed. Any strange noise worried us which was one of the reasons we did not like our new home too much.
In spite of that, I loved the views from my room’s window. The guesthouse was very close to the train station; so when I put my head out the window, I saw the tracks. I enjoyed seeing the trains and it could be appreciated that there were barely any people on the trains due to quarantine’s measures.
Extra work during quarantine
On Monday 23rd March the Czech government extended the quarantine until April 1st. That day I was still in the guesthouse. Despite Akropolis being closed, I kept on – and I keep on – giving Spanish lessons via Skype.
In addition to my usual classes, my coordinator found a new task for me. On Sunday 22nd my boss asked me if I could give her son English conversation lessons via Skype on Monday and Thursday. I didn’t honestly feel like it too much, but I thought it would be a new form of entertainment during quarantine.
As soon as the first lesson started, the 15 year old boy’s face showed complete lack of interest. I understood quickly that the decision had been made entirely by his mother. In fact, the young man explained me that my coordinator did not want him to only do schoolwork during quarantine. She thought of these conversation lessons for this reason. I must say I was quite amused by his frankness.
I did not stop teaching Spanish because I very much enjoy my lessons. In addition to be really cheerful and lively, I learn a lot about Czech culture thanks to my students. There is no day when we do not share laughter together. I can say these lessons make quarantine much more pleasant for me.
In one of the lessons in the guesthouse, a student asked if I could hear Velehrad’s bells – in the village where he lives – through Skype. I said I could. My student said that meant it was 17:30, so it was time to have some wine. Me and the rest of the students were really surprised by this unexpected declaration.
In spite of missing the flat, I had got used to living in the guesthouse. It was very close to the shops and supermarkets; so in that sense it was very comfortable to stay there. The worst thing was that there was not washing machine. For this reason my colleague and I had to go to Akropolis to do our laundry. That short walk was a mixture of laziness and enthusiasm to go outside and see the sun.
During that week I suggested that my friend watch one of the few TV series I have seen. My colleague was captivated by it. We watched two episodes every night while drinking wine or beer and we finished it in four days.
We did not forget our friend in isolation. Sometimes we made video calls to let each other know how we were. He communicated us he was all right and very bored alone at home. He wished the lockdown was over.
Back to Mařatice
The day after the series ended, Friday 27th March, we returned to our longed-for flat on the hill in Mařatice – the neighbourhood where I live – saying goodbye to “Pensión Loli”. We were finally going home! Our colleague, who was feeling well and had not shown any symptoms for 15 days, was very happy to have us back.
Just as we were about to open the lobby door, our friend saw us through the window and happily came out to welcome us. My companions hugged each other. I, who do not usually give hugs, did not even consider it. But, finally, I said: “OK, the situation requires it”. And I hugged my friend while everyone laughed at how unloving I am.
Again I unpacked and put my things away. I may have been a bit lazy because it is a boring task, but I felt fine. I was in my bedroom. I had come back home.
Quarantine is prolonged
On Monday 30th March the Czech Government decided to extend the quarantine measures once more until 11th April. No one was taken by surprise. Prague was considering it, and it was not the first time that these restrictions had been extended.
One of the topics of my classes is the coronavirus outbreak and the measures being taken to stop it. Although I try to talk about something else, it seems to be inevitable to talk about this and what we do during quarantine.
Conversations with the 15-year-old have improved quite a bit. He seems more enthusiastic now than before. At least I am not the only person asking questions and we can have a more natural conversation.
His opinion about COVID-19 has changed a lot. He remembers that the day the secondary school closed – Tuesday March 10th – he was very happy and thought it would be nothing serious. But now, hard as it is to believe, he misses school and wants to go back! He says that his mother forces him to do things – like these classes, or talks, with me – so that he does not have too much time on his hands.
I am happy to be with my colleagues at this time. I like going into the kitchen, having one of them there and talking about anything. I also often speak to my Russian colleague about her country and how things are there. Obviously we cannot stop talking about Spain. In our get-togethers, it is usually the main topic.
Recently my colleague, who was with me in the guesthouse, and I went for a walk in the woods -as in the Czech Republic you are allowed to go into the countryside as long as you wear a face mask and no more than two people go together-. We enjoyed the landscape and the walk very much.
At night there is usually some plan. If we do not play cards, we watch a film in our own cinema – a projector – or simply chat. On Sunday, April 5th, we made a special meal for us four. We had never had lunch together at the same time, much less prepared anything together. And, of course, we also drank some wine. It was the closest thing to a family meal I have had since I arrived in the Czech Republic. Actually, we have been eating lunch together on Sundays lately. Last Sunday my Russian friend prepared typical dishes from her country.
The good weather is coming
The sunny and warm days seem to be coming to Czechia. The temperature has been between 15 and 20 degrees since the beginning of April. The Czechs, used to the cold, find it difficult not to enjoy this good weather.
That is why when I go shopping I come across many more people on the street than at the beginning of the quarantine. I do not know if it is because of the good weather or that we are slowly returning to normal.
On Monday 6th April the Czech Government approved the lifting of some restrictions as of Tuesday 7th April. These measures are related to sport and outdoor activities.
Shortly afterwards, on Thursday 9th April, the Czech Government again extended the quarantine until the 30th of the same month; although it is true that at the same time the restrictions will continue to be gradually lifted.
Easter was not so long ago. I would have very much liked to see how the Czechs celebrate this holiday. However, I have had to be content- very gratefully – with what my students have told me, students who are some of the protagonists of this chronicle and who make this quarantine more bearable.
Esta obra está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 4.0 Internacional.