Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Spanish Excursion

 For some reason, I started going to an English-speaking dentist in Spain. He was recommended by several people on a Facebook page for expats. I've gone to see him three or four times as he tried to fix a problem I have with a front tooth with bone loss that was getting infected. I'll skip the grisly details, but suffice it to say that in October, we made a plan to fix it. 

Then Catalonia, Spain, an area that includes everything from the French border to Barcelona, closed to visitors. France went into lockdown, too. The dentist and I emailed occasionally, but it always seemed that we would risk a fine if we drove to Spain.

Finally, as my local doctor gave me an antibiotic for an abscess of the tooth, I figured we needed to get it resolved. We would drive to Spain.

But France had recently passed a rule that anyone entering France needed a negative Covid test. This entire time, going on a year with Covid rules, I had never needed a Covid test. 

I made an appointment with the local lab. It's just around the corner from us. I dreaded it because my friend Derrick, who has been back and forth to England several times warned me that the lab specialist here was "a butcher." He said a man in front of him came away bleeding after his Covid test. 

So with trepidation, we went on Monday afternoon. Earl went first, pulling down his mask under his nose while the lab tech swabbed with a long handled cotton swab. I went next, telling him it was "my first time." The swab was smaller than I had pictured, and he might have twirled it around my right nostril longer than I thought necessary, but I walked away with only some stinging in my eyes. Not nearly as bad as I had dreaded. 

Ironically, Monday evening, I had a fever. The next morning, it was gone, and my test results came back negative by email. Earl didn't receive his so Wednesday morning, before we drove to Spain, we walked over to the lab to get a copy of Earl's negative results. 

The drive to Spain was sunny and beautiful. Two hours and 15 minutes to Girona with a view of snow-topped Canigou.

Canigou, part of the Pyrenees between France and Spain

We drove on the turnpike in France, and when we stopped to pay before we entered Spain, we expected to see Gendarmes asking why we were leaving France. But no one was there. Next, when we halted to take a ticket from the Spanish toll highway, we weren't asked for paperwork or test results either. 

We did see a few Spanish police officers standing along the side of the road near the toll booths, but they weren't stopping people.

The busy outlet mall that people from France frequently visit was closed, no cars in the parking lot. But groceries and small stores were open in Spain. 

Girona in the sunshine

When we pulled into Girona, we looked for a grocery store. Things are generally cheaper in Spain so we had decided to do some shopping before my appointment, thinking I might not feel like it afterward. We found a Lidl and definitely came away with some bargains. 6 Euros for a 12-pack of Spanish beer. 1,49 euros for a large jar of Hellman's mayonnaise (mayo in France has mustard added). Amaretto for 4,59 euros. Yeah, it was an off brand, but the DiSaronno amaretto costs 20 euros in France. 

The dental work was over quickly and the outcome was the best we could have hoped for. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink for three hours.

But the restaurants and bars were open in Girona. In France, all restaurants and bars have been closed since October 30th. I know it's a small sacrifice, but I just miss sitting outside with my friends having coffee or wine. 

So when Earl said we didn't have to get lunch (for him, obviously, not me) I insisted that we would sit down and have lunch even if I couldn't eat or drink anything. The temperature was in the mid-60s (17 celsius) and it felt so nice to enjoy the weather and the privileges we didn't have in France. 

Enjoying lunch outdoors

We found a restaurant with an 11 euro menu for two courses and a drink. Earl, knowing he had to drive home, chose a Coke to drink. His primo course was a spinach crepe. His segundo was pork and fried potatoes. He turned down dessert, but I wanted him to keep eating so we could continue to sit in the sun. 

Shops close in Spain from 2-4 for lunch hour, so we walked past the closed shops and found another square filled with tables and umbrellas to block the sun. 

We found a courtyard filled with outdoor restaurants

We made our way back to the parking garage, paid the 5,20 we owed for the few hours of parking, and made our way back to the highway. 

When we entered France, the gendarmes stopped us and asked to see our Covid tests. 

I told the man that we had been to the dentist. "I'm afraid of the dentist," the officer told me. "Moi, j'ai peur du dentiste." 

"Oui," I agreed with him, although not so much afraid as in pain by that point. I was still counting the hours until I could drink something so I could take some Advil. 

We arrived home before the 6 p.m. curfew that continues in France. 

Now, I don't mind planning another trip to the dentist, thinking we'll make sure to get there early enough to at least have coffee outside before my appointment. 


Kiwi said...

If I were close to Spain, I might make a trip just for the Hellmann's mayonnaise! A very small squeeze bottle in Paris costs around 5 euros, so we only use it for BLTs and as a condiment for cold poached salmon. Regular sandwiches get the French mustardy mayonnaise. Very smart of you to get your Covid tests in France before the one day trip. Praying that this will all be behind us soon.

Paulita said...

Kiwi, Yes, I agree. A small squeeze bottle of Hellman's in the grocery here is more than 5 euros. These larger sizes are 1,49 euros. Quite the bargain. I've already given away the two extra jars I brought back.

Kiwi said...

You are more generous than I am. :-) Then again, it sounds like a nice excursion - minus the dentist part!


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