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My Covid-19 Diary - March 2020 to date

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world hard, with over 120 million global victims. I am British, married to a German and we live in Andalucía in the Serranía de Ronda. This blog contains articles I've written over the last 14 months which are about a weird life of curfews, lockdowns, masks, hand gel, rules and regulations and, for those of us who have been affected directly, the vicious after-effects of the virus, long-Covid, bereavement and financial ruin.

Love in the time of Coronavirus
Sunday, August 8, 2021 @ 6:34 AM

Pablo de Ronda has fallen in love nine times in the year since March 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world with a bang. Here’s what happened to him.

My wife Rita, a German, is fond of saying: “Alle gute Dinge sind drei”, which means “All good things come in threes”.

I can fully endorse this sentiment, as I’ve fallen in love all over again during the time of Coronavirus – literally three times in the last year. With “people”, places and “things”. And each of these, also three times!

Three places

Let’s start with the three places: Spain, Ronda and Montejaque. Although it was love at first site in each case - Spain in 1971, and Ronda and Montejaque in 2000 - I’d sort of fallen out of love with all three during the second decade of the 21st century. Our relationship had become jaded. Spain was too corrupt, too noisy, too bureaucratic, parking was a nightmare, there was litter everywhere and the beer was c**p.

As for Ronda, in addition to the above gripes, the town was too full of tourists from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm, the andaluz accent was getting on my nerves and prices seemed to keep on climbing.

My dream village of Montejaque had lost its erstwhile charm, the steep climb up to Casa Rita, our house there, seemed to get ever more challenging and the guiris had become clique-y. In addition, until fairly recently, there was nowhere decent to eat in the village.

That all changed during the course of 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world with a hell of a bang.

I learned to deal with the issues I had with Spain. The pluses far outweigh the handful of negatives, which will probably never change, so I found ways to not let them bother me too much.

Ronda is of course one of the most stunning towns in the whole of Andalucía, and I began to appreciate once again what it had to offer: scenery, architecture, heritage, cuisine, culture, ambience and friendship. A very comfortable place to be.

Rita and I started spending more time in Montejaque in 2020. We decided to use the lockdown period, when our bookings were cancelled and there were no foreign tourists, to carry out some major renovations to Casa Rita.

We started living in the village again and we re-kindled our erstwhile friendships and made new ones. I got into the habit of going for an early morning coffee in Bar Peruco with the local working men and pensioners, which was immensely enjoyable and hugely informative! [Note: Andrés, the owner of Bar Peruco, sadly died of Covid-19 in early 2021. RIP. A nice man – he is sorely missed. The bar is alas no more as it is being converted into two apartments.]

Using some of the funds from the sale of Piso Blanco, my apartment in Ronda, I bought an old house in Montejaque to renovate and put on the holiday rental market as a vivienda rural. I needed a project to get my teeth into and this was it!

The house will be called Casa Real, in honour of the previous owners who had owned the house for three generations - their surname was/is Real. Although work was paused for three months because of the Covid-19 lockdown rules, work has recommenced. I hope to get it finished, registered and on the rental market this summer.


Three things

The three things I have fallen in love with all over again are, to describe them more accurately, activities. They are gardening, DIY and writing.

I began to garden again during the first lockdown, a year ago. What else was I to do? I couldn’t go anywhere and all you could get on TV was Covid-19 and repeats of old programmes. I enjoyed being out in the fresh air, getting some exercise and seeing the fruits of my labours.

I created some raised beds and planted some vegetables; I pruned the shrubs, bushes and small trees and I’ve had several larger trees severely lopped, which has given parts of the garden light for the first time in a decade or longer. I’ve acquired a lot of plant pots from Facebook Marketplace on the Internet and planted them up with flowers, plants and climbers. In my field next door I’ve planted a dozen or so fruit trees, although yesterday I noticed that the severe frosts we get here in the valley have done a few of them in! That’s a real shame.

Between my gardener, Rafael, my odd-job man, Jorge, and me, we’ve transformed the garden into a place to enjoy.

As for the DIY, as soon we could go shopping again last Spring for paint, tools, materials, etc, I renovated all the garden furniture, both metal and wooden, made a table and sun lounger out of old bits, built a carport with the help of two friends, and created three new patios/terraces with dividing screens for privacy.

Not to mention the work we’ve been doing on Casa Real in Montejaque. Oh, and on Rita’s house, Casa Rita, also in Montejaque.

I’ve found a few things at various rubbish dumps, which I’ve “upcycled”. These include a couple of coffee tables, a set of dining chairs, a beaded curtain, a child’s cot and a large rug – the latter just needed cleaning (with ozonised water, of course).

Partly through all this activity I found I wanted to write again. I approached Karl Smallman of Secret Serranía and offered to turn out some blogs for the website. He was delighted and so was I. Now I can’t stop. There are four blogs in English, namely A View from the Mountains, Living in Spain and Spanish Matters, plus I also contribute to the Recipes blog. In Spanish there are two, Una vista desde la montaña and Recetas. You can check them out by clicking

I’ve also got a couple of books in preparation, on Ronda and on Montejaque. Karl is providing the photographs for both. There will hopefully be versions in English and in Spanish. I’m just looking for a publisher and a sponsor. Any suggestions?

Three people

Firstly I fell in love with Pablo de Ronda, me, again. The Covid-19 lockdown kicked me out of the slough of despond I’d descended into for some years. A period of time when I didn’t really like myself at all.

However, with millions of people dying randomly of this deadly Coronavirus, including local people we know; with my nephew-in-law, the husband of my niece, perishing in a plane crash in Australia; and me and the missus heading for our 70s, I realised how mortal we all are and that we could pass away at any moment.

I decided I needed to make the most of the time I have left on this earth. I needed to be more active, more positive about people and life in general, and more constructive.

I got new specs and some much needed dental work, and I took steps regarding my health (prostate, high blood pressure, a possible melanoma, thickened ankles and, since having Covid-19, breathing difficulties and lack of energy - long-Covid as they call it in the UK.)

I threw myself into various projects, such as upgrading the house and its contents, improving my “wardrobe”, restoring the garden furniture and building a car port with pals Michael and Kevin.

I got a rescue dog, Berti, bought a house to do up in Montejaque, as I mentioned above, and started to write again. I’ve worked hard on the garden and created some new spaces outside. I’ve even started growing things again, planting several fruit trees and sowing vegetables.

I bought a nearly-new Peugeot 2008, sold a pretty old and battered SEAT León and purchased a VW Transporter camper van.

Also, in the course of the last year, I’ve done a number of things I’ve never done before. And there are a few more things I plan to do – a sort of bucket-list.

And in doing all this I’ve begun to enjoy life again and started to like (no, love) myself once more.

The second object of my affection is Berti. It was love at first sight. When we went to see him at his foster home, I fell for him straightaway. He’s not, of course, a person, although he is definitely part of the family.

What a beautiful and good-natured dog. A pedigree, a German pointer, no less. How could his previous owner just dump him at the rubbish tip? Anyway we agreed to take him.

Berti settled in with us straightaway. He has issues, of course, as many rescue dogs have; he suffers from leishmaniosis and he has separation anxiety. We treat his leishmaniosis, a potentially fatal disease rife in Andalucía, with a human gout drug, Alupurinol, and we’re working on his fear of being abandoned - not very successfully, according to our friends.

Sadly, Berti was killed by a hit-and-run driver a month ago. He is sorely missed. RIP Berti.

Finally, I fell in love again with my wife Rita. In January, when the ambulance brought her home after a hellish 10-day stay in hospital with a really bad dose of Covid-19, I thought she was going to die on me. She was really poorly, she’d lost 10 kilos (that’s a kilo a day, by the way!) She had no strength, she was hallucinating, she couldn’t sleep and she had pains throughout her body.

I became her full-time carer. She was so dependent on me for everything. The poor thing couldn’t think straight and she became almost childlike. Actually, I don’t think I fell in love with her again. I simply realised how much I really did love this woman that I bumped into by chance at a fairground in Ronda in September 2008 and married in 2010 at the age of 60.

Rita has been in hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany, following an operation. She went to the country of her birth to get some decent Covid after-care, not available here in Ronda, and they discovered something else that needed dealing with quickly. We are “grateful” to Covid-19 for bringing about the discovery of this other, potentially deadlier, health issue.

After a further 10 days in hospital recovering from this operation, she is now staying at her daughter’s while she waits for a place on a residential re-habilitation programme. After that a period of convalescence, when I hope to fly over and join her. [Stop press: Rita’s rehabilitation programme has been denied for some inexplicable reason, so plans have been changed. She has gone to her niece in north Germany, who is a physiotherapist, for treatment for a week or so, followed by a bit more convalescence to build up her strength before flying back home to Spain. She is now back. High time; she was in Germany for two and a half months.]

So, Coronavirus has undoubtedly rocked the entire world and has been a terrible thing, causing sadness and grief to many millions of people all over the globe, not to mention suicides, mental health problems, financial ruin and the “lost generation” of students and schoolchildren.

Yet in our case, bizarrely, it has brought a number of positives. No doubt it has to others too.

Apologies to the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) for corrupting the title of his best-known work “Love in the Time of Cholera”, published in 1985, for the title of this article. It just seemed so appropriate to the situation.

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