Jessica León, 34, moved to Madrid, Spain late last year with the hopes to pursue a better life outside of her home country of Venezuela. What she didn’t expect is to spend her first year in Spain in the middle of a pandemic without knowing where her next check will come from.
León says what’s happening to her is “minor” in comparison to the thousands of lives COVID-19 has taken away. Her work in advertising consists mostly of casting people but due to the outbreak, her projects got cancelled. She left Venezuela because of the economic instability of that country, but with Spain’s economy in free fall, León says she is feeling as anxious as she did back home.
“Having to pay rent, services and groceries with little money saved for two months of quarantine generates a lot of anxiety,” she said.
Next to her building is a mall with an ice rink that has been repurposed as a morgue. León said it’s hard to sleep at night, as her evenings are filled with sadness and thoughts of people’s suffering.
“Sometimes I wake up and I forget what’s happening,” she said. “But when I remember, I feel like I’m in an apocalyptic TV show.”
The police in Spain are always driving around the neighborhood making sure people are following the strict guidelines the government has implemented. People who are found roaming around the streets can get a fine up to €600. Only one person per family can go get groceries, some shops give people hand sanitizer and new gloves to enter the premises. The floors have arrows to indicate social distancing and masks are mandatory.
A few activities have helped León manage her anxiety like working out, praying, cleaning and taking online courses.
“My least productive days are spent watching Netflix and on social media,” she said. “To be honest, Instagram memes have helped me a lot.”
Full disclosure: León is the writer’s sister.