Assessment as We Start Year Two

Madrid abides.

No fancy prose here, just documentation. We’re only 25 days into 2021 but so far, Madrid has experienced:

  • Snow that in places was up to my knees (and over a week’s worth of trash stored on our balcony until garbage service was restored).
  • The explosion of a city building making international news.
  • A fireball (in reality, a meteor) streaking across the sky and disintegrating over the city.
  • COVID restrictions, ever stricter and stricter. This time, the 16 current perimetral confinements will be monitored by drones and checkpoints.

Our health zone isn’t confined — not yet — but the one a few blocks above ours is. Will I be able to pass through it on my way to the park? The frutería?

I can only walk the sidewalk outside the park anyway, looking longingly toward its green spaces. One of the saddest repercussions of the snow is that parks are closed for the next 2 months. Too much danger from still-dangling tree limbs.

Holland already required a PCR test if a traveler passed through its airports: a government decree on Friday night added a rapid test no more than 4 hours before the flight. Since just about the only flight left between Madrid and Amsterdam (and then, on to the U.S.) departs at 6 a.m., travel through Amsterdam is effectively impossible.

Somehow I get the feeling Holland doesn’t want us there at this point.

On a more micro level, in the past year, I’ve walked 1027 miles — half the length of the Appalachian Trail and twice the length of the Camino de Santiago — mostly without leaving Madrid. I’ve explored the city far more than I ever planned to in pre-pandemic times. My yardstick has changed: I used to think distances that meant a 40-minute walk required a train or bus ride instead, to make them quicker. Now any destination less than an hour away feels like a walk in the park (pun intended).

The swifts will start their annual migration back from Africa soon.