In the Ballesol Parque Almansa nursing home in Madrid, as in all of Spain, they have been locked up for 10 months , and the door was a border.
Passing it meant entering danger, everything that entered could bring death, but this Sunday morning, at 12:56, it has opened for the first time to let hope in: a man named Ángel Díaz, dressed in a blue and orange jumpsuit, carrying a 15-kilo box on his shoulder, the vaccine!
This Logista Pharma employee who had gotten up at six in the morning in Leganés, had just stopped his Renault Master van in front of the building, and had never been seen in one like it.
Escorted with sirens by two vans of the National Police, from which agents got off with submachine guns, who took the four journalists away and presented themselves to the director of the residence, who was waiting at the door.
In fact, they had been waiting since nine in the morning, all nervous in the center, to see when they called them saying they were going there. The van, which had already finished the delivery, came from another residence in Vallecas: “It has been very exciting how they have received us there,” says Ángel.
This center is one of the three in Madrid chosen for the first vaccines against the coronavirus. They have only had two asymptomatic positives in the second wave, and some workers, that is why they have chosen them.
“If it goes well, well, and if not, then too,” said Rosario Martín-Sanz, 99, the first to be vaccinated. “I trust you,” he confessed to the nurse that he had the syringe. “I’ve put many, so let’s see how you put it on me.” She was a nurse.
He injects her with the vaccine and she asks when she gets it, he tells her it’s done and she looks astonished: “Is it possible?” But he gives the impression that he does it as a joke, because he pats the boy, as if to cheer him up because he has done well and make him believe that he has not even found out. Then wait 15 minutes, to see if there is any reaction, and that’s it.
Rosario Martín-Sanz, 99, gets vaccinated this Sunday at the Ballesol Parque Almansa residence in Madrid.
Older people de-dramatize a lot. For example, Asun Ojeda, 89, the second to be vaccinated, also a nurse. How have these months been? She thinks about it and says: “Ten months locked up here, the truth is, it’s been a bit boring.”
Asun would go down to the garden at the back and turn, from one end to the other. “I already know all the leaves on the trees by heart.” In the afternoons, a game of rummywith the friends of the residence. Monday, Wednesday and Friday they have an entertainer.
But the rest of the activities were suspended. They have, for example, some fascinating names: a reminiscence workshop. To help them remember. But in this center everyone is very independent, it is an apartment building, like a hotel, even married couples live. There are 55 residents – this Sunday there were 50, the others have left for the holidays – and 30 employees.
All the older people here, and all those who appear on TV this Sunday from all over Europe , show a sporty, lively and easy-going disposition. They are generations that have gone through hard times, at least one war, and they have a long history.
Asun, for example, was born in Villa Sanjurjo in 1933, which is now called Alhucemas and is Morocco, but then it was the province of Malaga. He has taken many turns until he came to live here more than three years ago.
“The first thing I’m going to do? Getting scared, seeing people, and then walking, seeing life, I have already seen this very much ”. Her nails are painted pink. It annoys him not to go out to museums anymore, or the bus ride every year to see the Christmas lights of the city.
One of his salvations in recent months has been the buildings across the street, which overlook the garden. Until the pandemic began, they were buildings where no one was ever seen. But like everywhere else, when confinement was decreed, at eight o’clock in the afternoon the neighbors began to appear with their children.
Then they met. “We applauded, we sang songs to them every day, it was very nice,” he says. For Christmas the residents made some dolls, some gnomes, and gave them to them on the 21st through the gate at the entrance.
On Christmas Eve they were the ones who had the surprise. His family members slipped into the garden and they were seated in the living room, staring at the windows. Suddenly the curtains were opened and they were found.
They saw each other at least through the glass. “It was very exciting,” remembers Laura, one of the caregivers. For the workers it has also been hard, “always thinking that you could bring the virus from the street.” And hiding on bad days: “Always smiling.”
There are people who have had a very bad time, they admit, they had to encourage each other. And they have also been the ones who have encouraged the neighbors. Now they have sent them letters with Christmas pictures, they have put them at the birth.
Gabriel, 12 years old, has written this to them: “I have loved the time we have been with you, there are times when to realize how important you are you would have to have a pandemic (like now). And a kiss for all of you ”. And his mother: “You have been a gift in this time. We no longer feel so alone in this big city ”.
The worst, besides the boredom, says Asun, has been that “everything, by far.” “We always say that when this is over we will hug each other. It will not be that tomorrow the joyful life begins, you have to give time to time.
Also in 21 days I have to get the vaccine again, on January 17 it seems to me, that I have looked at it on the calendar. But now I am hopeful that this is going to end . “