Returning to Granada, roaming the Albaycín and once again frequenting the tapas bars I used to before COVID-19 struck, I received the same statement everywhere I went.
Bienvenido familia. Welcome back family.
!Tú eres morena! Wow, you are brown!
A confused statement.
I know what they meant, how on earth are you so tanned? Were you one of the lucky ones that had access to a terrace or garden during lock down?
And then further confusion, when noticing the colour of my husband. He’s white. But they don’t know that he’s always white, even in blistering sun. His English/Irish roots mean he goes white, then red, then white again. But, we look out of place and it doesn’t make sense for me to be so brown, when the rest of Spain, and he is so white.
But yes, I left my husband in Granada and was that dickhead that spent cuarentena en el Caribe. Muy bien they said as they served up my tinto verano. !Que suerte! Yes, I was lucky indeed.
Lock down means different things in different countries, but in Spain, lock down was hard, harsh and long. For 10 weeks at least, the only time people could leave the house was to go to the supermarket or pharmacy. When finally lock down was eased again it was done gently in phases, during phase 1, healthy adults were allowed outside for just a few hours in the morning 6-10am and in the evening 8-11. Phase 2 bars and restaurants opened slowly at reduced capacity. Phase 3, once again people could travel between provinces, it was the cue I needed to come home as I’d be able to travel between my entry point in Madrid to our place in Granada.
Kids didn’t leave the house and were literally stuck indoors for 10 weeks or more – chatting to a mum of a 7 year old boy, I usually see running around outside with abandon, playing with his paper planes, I hear how it was beyond difficult to be cooped up for so long.
Many of the Spanish, a country famed for its sun, are as white as they have perhaps ever been. And here I am brown as a button, I stick out as abundantly privileged.
I look at the waiter in one of my local spots, for someone who is usually on his feet working the tables outdoors, his legs are skinnier and whiter than I’ve ever seen them.
I remember seeing him just before lockdown as he welcomed a new baby into the world. Looking at his legs, he clearly didn’t have access to any outdoor space. I try to imagine quite what it must be like to be literally stuck indoors almost 24 hours a day with a young family and to see your livelihood closed down.
Spain doesn’t have much of a tipping culture, but I tip hard that night. These guys have been through a lot and are thankful to be healthy and be able to work again.
We have our first BBQ in 15 weeks. My husband has had access to this beautiful terrace the entire time but said it didn’t feel right to be outdoors firing up a BBQ, playing music and having beers, when so many of our neighbours were shut indoors with no escape. I’m not sure I could have been so selfless to resist. But my husband is a better person than me.