Part One: How to Survive a Quarantine in Another Country
Updated: Feb 22
This is the first part of a blog series written by one of our European Solidarity Corps Volunteers, María de Villalba, which chronicles her two week quarantine upon arriving in Ireland from Spain. Edited by Peter Hussey and Charlie Farrell.
I am María, I am 18 years old and together with my friend Koldo we travelled from Spain to become volunteers at Crooked House Theatre Company with the ESC [European Solidarity Corps] programme.
We arrived in Ireland on the 16th of October. We were to start a new phase in our lives, but first we had to self-isolate for two weeks as we came from Spain. We were very lucky since we got to quarantine in Dublin instead of Newbridge, which is the town we are volunteering in. I use the word "lucky" because, although we only went out for buying groceries and exercise, we were still able to see a little bit of the city this way.
We left our town, Logroño, at 4.00 am, in order to take a flight from Madrid to Dublin. We were both a little bit concerned about travelling to Madrid because the Coronavirus situation was dangerous at that moment in the city.
My travel companion was very excited because it was his first time travelling by plane. We were trying to identify the cities and mountains we were flying above.
Arriving in Ireland, we were surprised by the landscape because everything seemed very flat, and without any mountains, compared to Spain which is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe.
At the airport (12:00 pm) we waited for Peter Hussey, who is the Artistic Director of Crooked House Theatre; he collected us and drove us to the place we were going to self-isolate in Dublin.
Koldo and I were starving. We hadn’t eaten anything since the night before, and we couldn’t buy any food at the airport, so we ended up having “lunch” at 5 p.m.
In Peter’s car, I experienced my first culture shock, as I didn't think Ireland is left-handed traffic, and I’m still trying to get used to it!
Our first days of self-isolation were easy. We went to shop groceries and we noticed the differences between Irish and the Spanish prices. Some friends warned us that food would be more expensive in Ireland, but I personally didn’t find a big difference apart from the price of the wine and oil.
For example, we saw a red wine bottle of €27 that back in Spain costs less than €5. We already knew that wine is very expensive here, but we were still shocked, as in Spain the cheapest wine costs less than a euro, and you can get a very good quality wine for 3 or 4 euro, while in Ireland the cheapest ones cost around 7 and 9 euro.
One of the greatest contrasts was the lack of products we were used to have and love in Spain, such as cocoa powder, chestnuts, fuet, chorizo etc. However, we found a shop named “A taste of Spain” and we bought traditional Spanish sweets. In addition, the saleswoman gave us Spanish Apples, garlic and onions for free.
The first days we were impressed by plenty of things such as the number of cathedrals, the fact that people were allowed not to wear a mask in the streets (in Spain is mandatory everywhere, even during exercise), and even the management of waste and the garbage bins. I assure you it is easier to find a Cathedral than a public bin in Dublin!
We were also surprised by the number of Spaniards we heard when we were shopping or doing exercise. We even found posters written in Spanish...
Part two coming soon....