Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Long Walk...

On May 2nd, in the year of our Lord 2020, the Government of Spain finally allowed us to leave our homes for walks and exercise. It was a day of glory for [almost] everyone involved. This was a part of our introduction to Spain's de-escalation plan, which has four phases. The Day of the Walks came as a part of Phase 0, or as I like to call it: "Y'all can go out but you better act right, or else!" for truly what Pablo Sànchez (Mr. Sánchez, if you're nasty) giveth, he can taketh away. (Note from 2021 - they ain't acting right... but we can get into that later)

So I left early in the morning (not too early, though) to walk through my neighborhood and see what I couldn't see for almost three months. Turns out that with two hours, one kilometer, and Jill Scott on repeat, you can cover a lot of ground. Here's the song I listened to that also titled this post [for me, there really was no other option]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuCZv6rNuc0

Enjoy: 

Oh, come on! You know I was going to take a selfie!

Plaza Nelson Mandela

Also Plaza Nelson Mandela

The playgrounds were blocked off all over the city.  

The streets were so empty... if you know Madrid, you know how weird this was.

Random dogs chillin'

Waiting to order the first coffee in 3 months that I didn't make myself.

YES. CARBS. These thighs didn't make themselves, you know. 

Chillin in Plaza Cascorro









Y'all had no idea, huh?? 



I never wanted a bike so bad in my life. 









The way home...



What was wild to me was that there were hardly any people on the street. It was nice though, I had more time to enjoy myself without worrying about crowds or avoiding people (We ARE in a pandemic, so...). I noticed more people starting to come out around 9AM (we had to go back inside at 10AM), so I went home. I was so shocked by how tired I was! Turns out when you don't do much walking for almost 3 months, then go on a 2 hours adventure... that shit takes a toll! No regrets, though. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Day 50 in Quarantine...

So here we are: still in Spain, still in Madrid, still in quarantine. The 15th will make 2 full months, but it looks like things may be easing up a little. First, let me explain the rules of our lockdown, if I haven't already:

We are only allowed out for trips to the supermarket, pharmacy, bank, and doctor's office. That's it. NO exceptions. And it's amazing that no matter how many times I say "no exceptions", people still asked: "Not even for an hour?" "Not even for exercise?" "Not even to take a walk?" "Not even for fresh air?" No, not even for (insert thing here). NO. EXCEPTIONS. It's been interesting how many times people told me to "Just take a walk." when I expressed a desire to go somewhere or said that I was getting a little tired of staying inside. It's like people can't understand the concept of lockdown. Or that we face a heavy fine if we were caught outside for no reason. When I leave the house, I carry my ID card and my registration that shows that I live at my current place - because there's a different address on my ID. Yes, if you have a different address on your ID you have to prove that you live where you say you do. If the police stop you and you say "Oh, I'm going to the market/pharmacy/bank/doctor, you have to show a receipt for what you bought. If you're going to the doctor, you must show proof of an appointment, etc. They will check. They're not playing.

I've been going to the market once every week or two. I could order things to be delivered but the wait is super long, plus now that it's the only way to go out I want to be able to walk and get air. I'll post some pictures here from my outings in the next few days, as well as showing y'all what I'm up to in the kitchen (Quarantine Kitchen, challahhhhh!) over here. Because with great times come great recipes!

Last week, children were allowed for the first time since lockdown started. I hear it was nice... for them. It was interesting, the news was flooded with pictures of people standing in groups, no one social distancing, and kids playing soccer, wrestling, all kinds of shit. I must note that the kids I saw in the center were alone with their parents, playing one at a time, and minding their own business. I'm in the center of Madrid and there are (usually) tons of people, so I honestly expected to see more kids playing outside.

Tomorrow will be my first day out since quarantine began. The government has started the de-escalation phases for ending the quarantine. So entering Phase 0, adults without children will (finally) be allowed out for a walk, or for exercise. It's supposed to be highly regulated, though. There are rules, and time slots: I can go out from 6am - 10am OR 8pm - 11pm. We will have an hour though I'm sure people will find a reason to get around that one. I'm just relieved that I can actually walk around without fear of being stopped... okay, well as much fear as I had of being stopped before the quarantine. But with these freedoms, I have several thoughts, hopes, and feelings. I mostly hope that people will actually follow the rules, stay the fuck away from each other (especially me), and just do what we need to do to help make this virus spread less, and to help us get back to normal... whatever normal is now. I hope that the curve continues to flatten, and things feel less and less dangerous as time goes by. I hope that someday soon, I can hug my damn friends again.

I'll most likely spend Saturday sleeping. I'm not sure how safe I'll feel walking around from 8-11pm... Few people may be on the streets, and I'm sure the criminals are dying for some practice. But I'll be out, and I'll be walking.

 Hey, I got to stunt on you heauxs somehow...
So when you see the woman with the 'farm animals' mask: wave. Just wave. Stay away from me. Enjoy your walks, runs, and bikes tomorrow, and in the words of the great Negro poet RuPaul Andre Charles: "Good luck, and don't fuck it up."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Article about that Quarantine Life!

Soooo I wrote an article on day 3 of quarantine (Ahhhh, memories. Good times... greetings from Day 26, by the way.) and forgot to post it, so here you go:

https://www.thelocal.es/20200319/spain-lockdown-a-guide-to-surviving-quarantine

I hope it can give some of y'all ideas of things to do in these troubling times. Here in Spain, we're almost one month into lockdown. So many people are out of work, out of business, out of homes, and just trying to figure out how to make things work. The government has suspended rent collections but not bills, as far as I know. Feel free to comment and correct me. They also haven't given any relief to the workers who are autonomo, or self-employed. So they're making (high AF) tax and social security payments with no income because no one is making money. Freelance workers are seriously getting the shaft here. Big time.

Some of you haven't gone into lockdown yet... but you will. Honestly, it's just a matter of time. I've seen many of my friends back in the USA being laid off, closing their businesses, and losing their insurance... and it hurts. New Orleans is completely shut down. It's wild watching the videos of the empty streets, of a tranquil and quiet Bourbon Street, and the coyotes roaming through the CBD, tryna get some lunch. Crazy times, man. If my messages seem unclear lately, I guess it's because I don't really HAVE a message. My days are okay. Mostly as good as it can get. My neighbors upstairs and across the hall have moved out, so #ClubQuarantine has officially closed. Damn shame, our dance parties and Quarantine Karaoke were LIT. I teach online during the day so I'm able to speak with people. Though we mostly talk about COVID-19 stuff because, like me, they're in quarantine! It is pretty cool to talk about the differences in quarantine procedures, though. We compare and contrast the policies in our respective countries. I've noticed that my Saudi Arabian students have disappeared, though. I hope they're okay.

Anyway, just writing a quick thing here because I went to bed early and woke up in the middle of the night. Y'all take it light. I'll try to upload my posts and pictures from the times I went outside... before and after lockdown. Goodnight.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quarantine Chronicles: Day 13

Greetings and salutations, dear readers!

I'm still here in the house after 13 days of the Madrid Quarantine (Shout out to COVID-19). What's new? Well, not much I'm afraid! But I'll try to give you some news anyway.

So you probably know that COVID-19 has spread all over Spain. Italy has been closed down for over a month and Spain shut down 2 weeks ago. The days are long sometimes, and I haven't been the best at times, I'm not going to lie. I'm not completely okay. I spent a few days in bed, just processing every day.

My neighbors left today to go back to Croatia. Zagreb to be exact, had an earthquake a few days ago. They were super nice, but this was supposed to be their Erasmus trip and it turned out to be hell for them. I know they sacrificed a lot to be here, and they ended up having to cancel all their plans to sit around quarantined in a foreign country. They gave me some wine and food from their fridge before they left, which I'm thankful for. I hope they have a safe trip home, and that we meet again sometime in the future.

It hasn't been all bad, don't get me wrong. I had a dance party on the terrace with my neighbors and I've started teaching online again. It's been great talking with my old students. Some are quarantined in other parts of the world, and it's been fascinating to hear their stories. I've made two new friends for language exchanges, so I can practice speaking in Spanish more. I'm also watching new shows and, as you can see here, writing a bit more.

I'm watching concerts, drag shows, and dance parties on different forms of social media. I've used Skype, Zoom, and Instagram more in the last 2 weeks than I have all year. I've been planning to work out more, I've done bellydance and Zumba but I haven't had the heart to do it the last couple of days. It'll come back to me, I'm sure. My goals are to make more plans to get things done while I'm here.

Today is bittersweet. When they originally announced on March 9th that schools were going to close, we were supposed to be out for 2 weeks. But on Sunday (March 22) they announced that it would be another 2 weeks on top of that. Had the original timetable happened, I would have returned to school yesterday, March 26th. I had the feeling that it wouldn't be just 2 weeks, but watching the date go by and knowing we won't return to normal has me feeling some type of way.

I'm not struggling like others but yeah... morale is low. So is energy. I'm not returning messages and calls like I normally would. I'm struggling a bit. I miss my friends and I miss normal interactions. Even so, I know that others have it much worse. New Orleans is completely shut down, as are many places in the United States. 7 of my friends have tested positive for COVID-19. It's a tough time for so many people. I know that. But I truly feel that a lot of us will be okay. We don't really have a choice. I know we'll get through this and I'm putting on the bravest face that I can. It's not easy but as long as I can just... be quiet at times... I know I'll work through this. My thoughts are with all of you. Now, I'll go to bed and wake up tomorrow. Hopefully, my mood will be lifted a bit so I can record a video message for my students. I miss them too. I hope they're all well and handling everything okay. Good night, and take care of yourselves. We're all in this together. Thank you for reading. Be well.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quarantine Chronicles: Day 3

Note: I originally posted this on my Facebook on March 16, 2020, but I didn't want to lose it as I fill up my timeline. Since I decided to start the Quarantine Chronicles here, this should be my first post. I can't say I'll update this every day but I'll try to be more active as the days go on. Take care, everyone. 


Quarantine Day 3: Just getting started but hopefully it will be as productive as yesterday. I cleaned and rearranged my living room, to make space for working out and yoga. Did an online Zumba session and made dinner. My neighbors and I are all having coffee on the terraces outside our doors. We're rolling our chairs out and just chatting over/across the balcony. Some people are playing music and we're getting to know each other (I got a shout out from my upstairs neighbors for my Prince Dance party - they said they want to join me when this is all over!). It's kind of nice seeing the people around me for once. We've also made a list of our numbers for the elderly people living in the building, so they can call us if they need anything. I haven't left the building for 48 hours and counting, so I have no idea what's really going on out there. I know that there are heavy fines for being caught on the street if you're not going to the supermarket, pharmacy, doctor, or work. I also learned that you can't have anyone over or have anyone stay with you - you can't break quarantine in any way. I get that.
It's disheartening to still see posts with people claiming that this is "just the flu", that people are overreacting, or even questioning that this is even real - saying it's a hoax or a "distraction"... Y'all, this is real. This is happening. And it's spreading fast.
Thanks to those who have checked on me, sent me messages, cat pictures/videos, funny videos/memes, and even called me. Family: I'm trying to get through but still having trouble. I'm working on it. But just know that I am safe, I have food, and I have friends and support. Mom and Dad: I will be fine. You did not raise a stupid child.
To my friends that are trying to get home: Be well and be safe. To those that are just starting to hunker down: My thoughts are with you. We will get through this. Or not. Whatever, you grown. #yomequedoencasa

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Greetings from Quarantine!

Funny how that last one was posted days before my 40th birthday... So let's start there: Hi. I'm Khephra White, and I'm 40 now. It's wild how I started this blog at 34 years old when I was getting ready to leave the United States and move to Madrid, Spain. So let's catch up, shall we?

Two years ago, my maternal Grandmother, Rosemarie Robinson died. I had to fly home for her funeral. I only got to be home for 5 days but I was able to go. That was the only time I went to the US in 2018. When I was home last year, in August 2019, I got an entire month to be home with my family and friends. I turned 40, partied, had king cake for the first time in 6 years (there may have been tears), and lost myself in love, Lizzo, and karaoke. It was good to be home.

After the turning of 40 I returned to Madrid for the new school year, and ... damn, it's been a doozy! I moved apartments, changed schools (thank God), started hosting a local comedy show, and even joined a gym. I was getting settled in my new routine, and though I was busy and tired, I was doing pretty well. Going on under the surface was something we'd heard about, but weren't really paying attention to. COVID-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus. By now there's no one who hasn't heard of it, but back then it was something that I don't even remember hearing about until December 2019. More and more stories came out about the toll it was taking on China and the quarantines that were happening, but again: No one really paid attention. It seemed so far away. Then Japan started getting cases, then S. Korea... then Italy. I feel like that's when Spain's ears perked up. Especially when Italy started shutting down entire cities, and the first case popped up in Spain. I live in Madrid, where most cases are. We heard there were 200 cases of COVID-19 here... that was last week, Tuesday to be exact. That was the night they announced that all classes in the city of Madrid were shut down. I'd just gotten home from the supermarket, so I'd already done my shopping for the week. And it's a good thing I did because the next thing I know, my Facebook and Whatsapp feed is filled with pictures of people emptying the shelves at the store. There were lines going to the back of the building, snaking through the aisles. They were buying anything that wasn't nailed down.I saw this myself the next day when I went to the Mercadona near my school (bad day to forget lunch at home)... I took some pictures of the empty shelves, helped an elderly woman reach some things on the top shelves, then left and went to KFC. It was all too familiar.

I got home from work super early, so I went back to the supermarket. One thing about growing up in New Orleans, you're used to shopping during hurricane season. For me, this was no different. I went back over the next few days, with a list, picking up what I needed. Closing the schools was the first step. The next day, I was sent home early by my school and told I could return when the kids did (two weeks). The day after that, all the theatres, music halls, museums were ordered closed. My comedy show was canceled along with the rest. I went to meet a friend who'd just arrived in Madrid for her birthday, and everywhere we went: Nothing and no one. Practically every restaurant was empty. The bars and clubs: Ghost towns. We walked down Gran Vía pretty much alone... just the three of us and I said: "Man, this is some Vanilla Sky shit." I knew quarantine was coming, I could just tell. I mean, it was the next logical step! I told M, my friend: "I give it days. I doubt it will take a week." That was Thursday night. Sure enough, the President of Spain was there Sunday night giving us the details of the quarantine and what it meant. No going out on the street unless you're going to the doctor, the pharmacy, the supermarket, or work. There's a steep ass fine if you're caught, too: 600€ minimum.

So here I am... in Madrid, Spain. On Day 5 of quarantine. COVID-19 is alllllll over the United States now, by the way. New Orleans has closed all its bars and restaurants, so have NYC and other major cities. The UK announced today they're closing schools. They're going to learn the hard way, just like we did over here. NOLA breaks my heart too because it's home (you too, Atlanta) and it's a service industry city. The industry is tourism, and this is supposed to be the busy season over there. What d you do when you put pretty much an entire city out of work? So many of my friends are hurting right now. They're being laid off, closing their businesses, and no one... not ONE of us knows what lies ahead. But I have faith that we will make it. I have faith that somehow, we will be okay. I have no idea how but after the shit some of us have been through, this is just one more hurdle. If nothing else: we can never say that we lived in boring times. Quite the opposite, my friends. What a time to be alive!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Treat Yo Self at MThai

So in an attempt to keep the blog going, I will also be sharing things I've written in other places. This was my first piece for Las Morenas de España, waaaay back in 2015 (March 22, to be exact).
It's about my visit to MThai Massage School in the center of Madrid. I love this place so much, as a matter of fact,I still go there! I hope you enjoy it: 


Treat Yourself: A Day at MTHAI Spa