Category Archives: Covid-19

My Covid Experience (2nd time around and Omicron). And an important note about Antigen tests.

It’s hard to believe that almost two years have passed since this whole pandemic began. And personally, it’s hard to believe I’m now going through Covid again here in Madrid. Fortunately, at least so far, it seems much more mild, and I haven’t lost my sense of smell and taste which would have been the icing on the cake.

First, an important note about Antigen tests. At least here in Madrid everyone and their mother is running to buy them like candy to see if they’re positive and to know if they can continue with xmas plans, dinners, etc. for the holidays. They’re sold out all over the place. In a matter of weeks here we’ve gone from overall a positive feeling of things still not 100%, but more or less getting back to normal to crisis mode, long lines at the health center and positives all around. What happened?

Anyway, back to the antigen tests: if you get a negative result that doesn’t mean that you don’t have Covid!! This is probably my biggest message here, more than anything because it’s not a secret, but it’s not at all something that’s clear to the public, and it wasn’t really clear to me (and I consider myself more or less an intelligent person). You can have covid in your system and you can even have symptoms, but an antigen test will only show up positive for sure if it’s been three days since the start of your symptoms (or lack of if you’re not showing any symptoms but still have it). So if you buy a test at the pharmacy and it comes back negative it either means you don’t have covid or it’s too early to show up on the antigen test. If you had a PCR, which is not rapid, it would show up. If the antigen test comes back positive you’re definitely positive (no false positives). What seems crazy to me is the rush of people buying antigen tests that could very likely be getting false negatives without realizing it. Should they even be selling antigen tests if this is the case??

Omicron. It looks pretty in the pictures

In my case my husband was feeling pretty sick for a few days. After requesting a Covid appointment through the public health system and never even getting a phone call, he decided to buy one of the saliva antigen tests through the pharmacy. It came back positive. Since we weren’t sure whether to believe it not, and since I wanted to check myself as well, we bought two more antigen tests (this time the nose swab ones): both of tests came back negative. It’s tough to understand any of this really. Since there was no response from the health center and no clear answer he decided to do the PCR privately – 99€ and a day later it was confirmed he was positive. Everyone quarantined.

Then I came down with a fever and chills, and my older son had the same thing. This passed in a day, but given the situation I decided to take both of my sons to the public health center to see if we could get tested. They did, but they told me that since it was a Friday afternoon it was too late to send the test to the laboratory for a PCR (definite results), so they did the antigen tests instead – all negative.

Three days later, with cold-like symptoms, I went back to the health center (where I thought I was going to get a PCR as per a conversation that morning with a doctor) only to be told I was getting an antigen test again. I was not very happy since even the doctor told me that morning that the antigens aren’t reliable, but – surprise surprise, it came back positive immediately. This is when they explained that it didn’t “work” the first time since it had only been a day since I had started symptoms. Talk about confusing messages – I was told I was negative on Friday, when really I wasn’t.

The question everyone has been asking me is if we were vaccinated – yes! Fully vaccinated (two shots in his case and one in mine since I had Covid in early 2020 and one shot was all they would give me to be fully vaccinated here). And yes, I’m still planning to go for the booster shot when all of this is over. So far Omicron seems more mild, thank goodness, maybe since I already was in touch with his brother a year and a half ago.

Bottom line – be careful with the antigen tests and negative results!

Let’s just hope this last wave passes by quickly and without as much damage.

Happy early holidays to all. Santa will be magically crossing our quarantine line to deliver presents in a few days. I hope he’s wearing a mask 🙂

A word of caution when purchasing direct US-Spain Iberia flights

Everyone is anxious to get back to traveling and to see family, friends and loved ones that we haven’t seen for so long due to Covid. Finally it seems like things are opening up as it’s been announced that vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer. Good news!

Just be cautious when purchasing flights with such good offers. The airlines are a bit all over the place these days with things changing by the minute. Recently I helped my mom purchase direct flights from Boston to Barcelona. The prices were definitely less than pre-covid, especially with direct flights. Less than a week after purchasing the tickets I received two emails, one almost right after the other, to let us know that the direct flights had been changed to flights with layovers. No reason, just an announcement. Apart from the fact that it’s more uncomfortable with layovers (which is why we jumped on the direct flights), we also ended up losing more than a days worth of the trip due to the time changes.

I called Iberia to try to change the flights to another day with direct ones only to find out that they have cancelled the Boston-Barcelona direct route. Again, as with everything in life these days, airline plans are changing by the day with Covid. What I was able to do was change the flight dates with no charge to make up for the lost overall time due to timetable differences, but there was no compensation for the change from direct.

I just wanted to share this experience for people who are looking to buy tickets these days. Good luck!

When a “puente” means a lot more than a bridge

This weekend we have a “puente”, literally translating to a bridge, but it’s much better than that. A “puente” is basically a long holiday weekend, some longer than others depending upon the holiday and the number of days. We always have the “puente of December” which includes Constitution Day on the 6th and the Day of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th. This year we have next Monday and Tuesday off since one of the holidays falls on a Sunday.

Due to Covid restrictions Madrid has a perimetral confinement in place from the 4th until the 14th, so we can’t leave the community of Madrid. However, since the restriction in my town was lifted on Monday I’m not complaining – we can finally cross the frontier to another town!

Happy holidays (weekend)!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow? Good thing the pre-packed turkey at Supercor reminded me.

With all the Covid craziness these days I’ve almost forgotten that Turkey day is tomorrow. Although I’ll admit that the endless amount of Black Friday offers coming my way these days are a hint (by the way offers all in Spanish and with no mention of nor relation to Thanksgiving). Given all the restrictions we have with meeting in groups of up to 6 and curfews, and actually not even being able to leave our town at the moment, we won’t be having much of a celebration this year.

In any case I was pleasantly surprised to see a large selection and display of ready-made stuffed turkey options at the Supercor supermarket today. Granted the idea of throwing a pre-made turkey in the microwave isn’t the same, but it’s something. Actually the brand that they have at Supercor is one from which you can order online and receive a fully-cooked Thanksgiving meal. I had it a few years ago at a friend’s place, and it was actually pretty good. But not cheap – almost 100€ for an 8/10 portion box

In case anyone’s interested it’s Cascajares –

Apparently they also have Black Friday…with Thanksgiving Turkeys.

Still in lockdown in Majadahonda, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

I haven’t written a post recently since there hasn’t really been much to tell. Since a week and a half ago my town has been in perimetral lockdown, meaning that we can’t leave the town and no one can enter (unless for justifiable reasons like work or medical appointments). Supposedly these restrictions will continue until Nov. 22nd (just in time to hopefully buy a turkey for Thanksgiving).

To be honest, this isn’t something that’s really too much of a hassle, especially during the week since you usually just work and then are at home. And these days a lot of people are working from home anyway. In my case my office is fully open as it’s a campus and we have courses fully running (with strict security precautions), but my weeks are a mix of WFH/office. Where it’s more noticeable is on the weekends since we can’t go very far or to the Sierra for example. All I have to say is thank goodness we have a great mountain/forest area near where we live. So lucky to have our Monte de Pilar so close by! The best discoveries have been the amazing views (according to my kids) of the cercanĂ­as trains that pass by and this cool tree hut that my husband found on a bike ride one day. Hours of entertainment 🙂

On a positive note it seems like things may be working as cases in our town have gone down from 700+ /100,000 habitants to less than 500. Slow and steady wins the race? But on a more positive note there’s this news about the upcoming vaccine of course. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but since it’s already being hyped all over the news I will. I’m hoping that by late next spring/early summer we can really be starting to see big changes here. I’m already looking forward to going home to Boston and going to the beach (without masks). Ojalá (Let’s hope!)