In early March of 2020, my family and I had to make a difficult decision. With an assignment line up in neighbouring Portugal and the coronavirus pandemic beginning to take hold in Spain, should I travel to do the work, or cancel? I’d never dropped out of a job before, yet it was becoming obvious that this situation was quite unique, so pulling out would have been justified. Equally, I didn’t want to risk getting isolated from my family if I was unable to travel home.
My wife and I decided that I should take the job, but we also figured it was best to travel as a family unit. We live in a quite remote town in the mountains north of Madrid, and had already been isolating, so we felt confident that we weren’t carrying the virus. Nevertheless, we kept ourselves isolated from others. Midway through my job, the border between Spain and Portugal was closed.
We ended up isolated in Portugal for a further 9 weeks, splitting our time between two remote mountain cabins Serra of Açor and the Serra da Estrella, two mountain ranges in Portugal’s interior that felt like stepping back in time. Looking back, we know that we were extremely fortunate to spend our lockdown in such a wile and remote place, but equally we were striving to do our bit – staying away from others and keeping social interactions to a minimum.