147 – The C-word

Disclaimer 1: If you are here just to read about the hike, scroll down. 

Disclaimer 2: Don’t get your hopes too high. This is not a recount of any same sex sexual experience, that may or may not have happened. The title is not meant literally. Besides, I only ever use that word when talking about Nigel Farage (and the likes), never to refer to what is between a woman’s legs. Funny still how the worst possible offence for a man is to be called female genitalia. 

Disclaimer 3: Do not expect any conspiracy theories here. This entry is about my personal experience with Covid-19. I am young(ish), healthy, physically active woman, so the mild course of the disease was expected. However, for many people with (and some without) prior health conditions this is not the case, and the collapsed healthcare system in spring was very real, which is what we are trying to avoid this time around. It is far from over and it will not be over for another year at least. So keep wearing the fucking mask and stick to the rules of whichever country you happen to be in. And if you must break the rules, at least break them sensibly and with people consentient to the danger they’re exposing themselves to. While on human level I may be able to relate to the boredom and exasperation we all now find ourselves in, it stops being “just a flu” when it’s your grandparents, or your friends who cannot get access to cancer cure or routine operations because hospitals are overflowing. And it’s not like your government is asking you to embrace a shotgun and pay a visit to the neighbouring country. They’re asking you to sit on your arse and binge Netflix, or YouPorn, or whatever. Try reading a bloody book. 

Siete Picos, Navacerrada, Spain

Who would have thought that a drop of blood on a chinese wet market would consequently result in me putting my sex life on ice. Speak about butterfly effect. Also, let’s talk about my perhaps exaggerated civic responsibility. Yes, there is going to be some amount of virtue signalling, but really, refer to the first sentence of this paragraph. I am self-isolating and horny. It’s not a good combination. The least I deserve is a little “well done” pat on the shoulder (albeit self-delivered as well). 

Ok, about the C-word. I was among the couple dozens lucky people who won the Covid lottery in the office three weeks ago. Before this was even a common knowledge, we were all sent into home office rather abruptly. I mean, I can put two and two together, and anyway why on earth would a company allow people to work from home amid pandemics, especially if they can work from home without any issues, and why would they communicate to the employees (let alone the authorities) that there is a cluster in the office, right? Why would they do something as outrageous as reaching out and having everybody tested? Why indeed?

Siete Picos, Navacerrada

I have always been fine. All I had was the mildest cold that lasted 2 days, one that I would totally ignore in normal times. Never any fever (but then my normal temperature hovers around 35.5), no cough, I have always (unfortunately) been able to smell everything people in my building were frying. I could always taste wine. Thank God for small mercies. Nonetheless, given the times are not quite normal and taking into account the little “situation” in the office, I cancelled all my social engagements straightaway and booked a PCR. Which came back positive. The Spanish guidelines say that if you have no symptoms, you are supposed to isolate for 15 days from the last contact and then are considered healthy and are free to go in peace (without the obligation to have any control test). Upon completion of my 15 days of celibacy by force majeure, I had another PCR to be certain that am not spreading the plague, and guess what, I was still positive. I consulted with a friend of mine who’s a Covid researcher, and he said I was probably a statistical exception (although I am not completely sure how can they ascertain that, given no one collects the exit data) and he performed the antibodies blood test. I already showed a timid presence of antibodies, which should be confirmed by another test in a couple of days, and after that, hopefully, I will get the scientific blessing to terminate my involuntary chastity. 

The complimentary rant: what exactly is the governments’ intention of addressing the pandemics? Tudor period drama seems to be handling the plague epidemics more sensibly than modern day politicians, maybe they should invite the Spanish Princess screenwriters to Cobra meetings or something, they could bring in some valuable insight. (I admit I have been watching a lot of shite on streaming platforms lately…) I mean, locking up people at home clearly isn’t the only available option. I understand the need for restraining the freedom of movement or limiting public and private gatherings to a certain number to prevent hospitals from collapsing. I also understand the growing taste of many governments for ruling under state of emergency without too much annoying intervention of the houses of representatives in the name of public health crisis. Power is intoxicating, after all. This was all understandable, necessary even, the first time around. But this second wave was largely avoidable, or at least it was at some point possible to contain it in a state manageable by track and trace.

About that. Has anyone (except for Germany, because Germany is a serious country and Angela is awesome) actually managed to develop a working app? Surely if you pay a bunch of virgin geeks holed up in some basement, they’d have it ready in a week for much lower cost than the £35M or €20M the Brits or the Germans respectively paid. There are dating apps operating on the basis of who you crossed paths with. OK, the dating apps use GPS, while most track and trace apps exchange data via bluetooth, therefore (apart from draining your cellphone’s battery) they take into account proximity, but not geographical location. Which is great, because when you use a commercial application, you willingly and knowingly (if you bother to read the terms of use) give up your data in exchange of a service, but no one is actually forcing you to get on Tinder, except for your libido (which I can totally relate to, unaddressed sexual needs can be really persuasive, I’d  tell my darkest secrets to Google if it meant I’m getting laid). But when your government asks you to use an application to know who you were in contact with, anonymity is paramount. Covid or no Covid, we live in democratic countries, and in a democracy, we respect individual privacy. Simple as that. Why do you think China had the app up and running already in spring? 

Siete Picos, Navacerrada

But even with the working app, then what? Take my case. I was sensible enough to self-isolate the moment I started feeling a little rough (mainly because I was suspicious after people started disappearing from the office) and I paid for the PCR to be certain that it was “just a cold”. Which it wasn’t. Now, how do you expect to contain the epidemics if over 50% of people are supposedly asymptomatic. This, too, I suppose is someone’s hopefully educated guess, because how do you know how many people are asymptomatic if you don’t test people who don’t show symptoms, or at least those who had been in close contact with confirmed cases. Most people are quite capable of picking up the phone and calling those they may have infected, even without a mobile application, but simply because it’s the decent thing to do. Same as I did with my yoga teacher, the last person I have been face to face with three long weeks ago. She tested negative, by the way. And again, then what? You call the health services, they tell you to stay at home for 15 days, and if you don’t develop symptoms, then you are free to go. I can comply with that, I’m in home office, but many people simply cannot afford to not work for two weeks. More importantly, these days most people don’t have spare 600 euro to have the entire family tested privately just because someone appears to have caught a common cold, so they don’t get the PCR and hope for the best. Understandably. But let’s not dwell on this, let’s assume for the sake of argument, that you already tested positive and don’t show symptoms. The official advice is to isolate for 15 days since the last contact. Then, if you arbitrarily assess your condition as fine, you can go in peace on the assumption that most people are not contagious anymore after 10 days, no exit test required. I still tested positive after 15 days of confinement, so again, had I not been overly cautious, I would have gone fencing, drinking and exchanging bodily fluids, thus spreading the virus among unsuspecting public (and I would have been legally allowed to do so). Again, most people cannot afford the time and money to retest “just to be sure”, so they don’t (and I don’t blame them). And so it spreads. 

Siete Picos, Navacerrada

You will rightly object that there is no personnel available to perform non-essential tests, and you will be right. Now there is none. Because now everything turned into a massive shit show, again. But the number of cases was low in summer, the contagion rate was on a level where the disease was manageable. Not by an app, but by an actual track and trace operation, where contacts and suspected cases could have been tested and if necessary confined, new clusters could have been contained. The situation would not have gotten completely out of control (again) and it would not have reached a level where many countries ponder second hard lockdown, in case they haven’t imposed one yet. The economy would not have closed and I would be leading a fully satisfying intimate life. 


The hike: The photos have been taken on the last weekend in September, just before Madrid was put in peripheral lockdown. Which is a mock lockdown, because everything still works, you only have to stay inside Madrid (this has now been extended to the entire region, so it’s even less annoying). By everything I mean restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, theatres, sport clubs, until 11 pm for groups of six. Recently, they added a curfew at midnight, which is really not an issue, it simply means that if I have someone over for dinner, he’s forced to stay until breakfast. Everybody wins, and he get’s a coffee. Strictly speaking, overnight private reunions are illegal, but hey, I like to live on the edge. 

Puerto de Navacerrada – Siete Picos – Collado Ventoso – Camino Schmidt – Puerto de Navacerrada (circular)

Difficulty: low

Length: 9 km / 280 m vertical climb

Description: take 691 bus from Moncloa to Cotos, get off at Puerto de Navacerrada (which is also where you park if you are using your own car). The bus ride takes about an hour, so consider getting on an early one in summer to avoid the heat. This was not an issue as the temperature on the day of my hike was around 3°C. On the other hand, I was walking on the edge of clouds, so the photos came out quite well. From the bus stop, follow signs for Cerro del Telegrafo, after which you will clearly see the path, that will take you over all seven peaks (well, six, the seventh is Majalasna, which is I ascended earlier this year). From Pico 2 you will have to descend to Collado Ventoso, where you take Camino Schmidt that leads back to Puerto de Navacerrada. It is an extremely popular hike, you cannot get lost. Wikiloc for your convenience here.

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