In your locality – what’s it really like? (Full Version)

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flyeogh -> In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 8:01:57)

Just to get a feel for everyday life I'd be interested to know what your experiences in recent days are in your locality.

Of course some live in cities, some in lower populated areas (like me [:D])
Some live in a flat with no balcony, some have a garden.
Some work, some do not.
Some live with the vulnerable person (like me [:o])
And for sure life for my family in Madrid is very different to us here in Cadiz.

But I'd be interested to know what your lives are really like as opposed to the view given on TV and the internet, if anyone would like to share. Cheers

flyeogh -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 8:04:47)

Cadiz, Spain. We live in a residential zone with an enormous sandy beach within one kilometer. That attracts largely Spanish tourists. From the start of lock-down, the two supermarkets have been open and pretty well stocked. Chemists, bakers, fruit and veg shops, butchers, fishmongers all open and stocked. No queues anywhere.

No real sign of any police, authority or military presence. On the first day of lock-down a few police patrolled the beach promenade but if you had a plastic bag or anything that inferred you might be shopping they ignored you. The local bus is running. Very few people about but you still see people walking dogs and shopping.

Of course all bars and restaurants closed but in truth there would be very little trade for them as we have had 4 days with heavy rain and strong winds – not beach weather.

My in 80s MIL is doing great. She is still tended by two helpers for up to 8 hours a day. We cannot maintain hygiene without their help so whatever happens we cannot isolate. If the helpers didn’t come my MIL’s and my wife’s lives would be hell .

We know of no one locally who has the virus or has been tested. The locals including me are very concerned for the local old people’s residency, but we cannot visit and we have heard nothing official. We do know from our helpers that the residency is trying to recruit but they are having little success.

We haven’t heard in four days any emergency vehicle sirens. As normal, jet fighters occasionally fly in and out of the Rota military base – which has now become a rather reassuring sound that life goes on at least for them.

edguerin -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 9:51:32)

The situation here, in a mid-sized German town (43,5K inhabitants) is similar:
all restaurants closed, groceries, market-stalls, chemists open, all other shops closed. Fewer people. A couple of queues here and there (due to recommended distance of 2 m). The only missing stock seems to be toilet-paper. This has become a running gag; i.e. "The French are running short on condoms and red wine, we here on toilet-paper."
My wife and I (72 and 67) are doing fine in our flat (with balconies). We go out to shop and for a walk, but don't meet friends, and can't visit museums, shows or the cinema of course.
I'm worried more about the mid to long term effects of this crisis on the economy and public finances than about the actual health situation.

Goldwinghai -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 12:43:50)

We live in a development where our neighbors are about 200 yards from us. In fact we rarely see them. The only interaction we have with the outside is when we go to the grocery stores for food or visit my MIL who lives by herself 45 minutes by car from us. With the large field outside our house we have space to unwind and don’t feel claustrophobic. Our gym is now closed so we exercise at home. My wife does her Yoga and tends her flower garden. I practice my golf swing then walk the field picking up balls. My daughter works from home. We are very fortunate to have the space for ourselves - self isolation by default.

I went to Costco last week and bought enough canned and frozen food to feed us for 3-4 weeks. The lines were very long but orderly. I went to the Giant grocery store this morning when they opened between 6-7 am for seniors. There were plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables but the meat shelves were mostly empty. My parents who live with my brother’s family is single home about an hour from us, are basically staying inside but can come outside when it’s warm.

Yesterday my sister in law messaged us that her husband came home very tired with a fever. He is a doctor in London. She said he feels better today with a fever on and off. With the current virus crisis in the UK, we are really worried for them. They and their three school aged children live in a small penthouse apartment in a very busy area of London.

I hope everyone stay safe.

Escribano -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 15:40:30)

In the countryside. Not many people live here, so it's kind of normal. In town, it is quiet but no panic shopping. People are civil and friendly though clearly afraid. We are losing nearly 1000 people nationwide [:(]

Not too many infections in my area and just one death in a couple of weeks. We are pretty isolated in the mountains, so I consider myself very lucky to own my own house, no serious debt, money in the bank a little work coming in that I can do remotely.

pbekkerh -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 15:53:30)

Here in Denmark all events are cancelled, many shops, museums closed, max. 10 people are allow to assemble in or out. Shops have everything except masks and alcogel. Even the yeast is back on the shelves.

We can move freely but supermarkets have gloves and alcohol and queue lines on the floor.

I wear a mask inside in shops but I'm almost the only one.

We are not yet hit by mass infection, 226 people in hospital, 36 in intensive, 11 dead.

I have food for 4 months and water 20 days, 60 in emergencies but this is because I always buy everyday food products with long shelflives when they are cheap and also freezedried food for travels, so I always have a lot of food.

I'm practising new pieces on the guitar and am restoring a romantic guitar from 1860 and a baroque replica from 1969

Neil -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 15:55:54)

Our village is close to the mountains (Granada province) has no cases but we have a lot of older people so they are quite worried about it getting here. There is a one in, one out policy in the local shops and they give you gloves/sanitizer when you go in. Every few days, in the afternoon, they drive a tractor around the whole village spraying disinfectant! I walk the dogs to the river about three times a day and never see anyone. I drove to a bigger supermarket nearly an hour away last week and it was fully-stocked, not crowded at all and everyone was calm and following the new rules.

I normally spend six months of the year in Granada city as well but that probably won't happen this year but a couple of my friends in the city have been stopped by police on the way to the supermarkets to ask where they are going etc. They are being really strict and the whole city is like a ghost town.

Overall, Andalucia is doing very well compared to the rest of Spain

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Ricardo -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 16:27:33)

I’m not working except for Skype lessons. Only go to the store... we have grocery and liquor store separate in Maryland. Both stores always been completely packed with lines as of last night. They Run out of lots of stuff mainly toilet paper and paper towels. My friends in Virginia and DC keep inviting me out to drink at their places (bars are mostly closed) and bring the guitar but I’ve got the old father in law to care for who is in poor health so it’s really about me going out (I’m the only one going out) that is the risk because if the old man catches it from me than he’s a goner. I’m supposed to fly out in May to austin TX (probably gonna cancel that gig) and LA for elite guitar video, but not sure how things will be by then. People ask how I’m doing stuck at home, I say remember the shining? It’s like that but no snow, 2 extra kids, father in law, roommate, less food and booze. Thank god for Internet (until I run out of money of course).

BarkellWH -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 22 2020 17:51:48)

As our tennis and squash club is closed indefinitely, we will not be engaging in sports, and we certainly will not be out socializing. We plan to just stay in "lock-down" mode and have laid in some books to read. I wrote the following below in another thread but am repeating it here

The books I plan to read are listed below.

I have currently begun to re-read "At Dawn We Slept," by Professor Gordon Prange, who was the chief historian on MacArthur's staff in Japan. Published in 1982, Prange's book is probably the most detailed effort to describe the decisions and actions on both the Japanese and American sides in the planning, lead-up to, and execution of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I am re-reading it with as much interest as I did on the first go-round. It is really a classic.

I have also laid in the following three just-published books.

"Operation Chastise," by the British military historian Max Hastings. It details the planning and execution of the most audacious Royal Air Force raid of World War II, the extremely low-level bombings and breaching of the Moene and Eder dams in order to flood and cripple the German Ruhr industrial area. The development of the special bomb required for the operation is as interesting as the actual raid.

"Eight Days at Yalta," by Diana Preston is, as noted in the title, the story of the Yalta Conference with the Big Three--Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin--and their staffs. It promises to be very interesting, as much of it is gleaned from diaries, notes, and recently opened archives in Russia.

"The Mirror and the Light," by Hilary Mantel, is historical fiction at its best. It is the third in a trilogy (the first two were "Wolf Hall" and "Bringing Up the Bodies") about the life of Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's Chief Minister, who was involved in Henry's annulment of marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, and many other events with a cast including Sir Thomas More and others. In the end, Cromwell falls victim to Henry's impetuous personality and is himself executed. In any case, Mantel brings them all to life.

During our recent sojourn in Arizona I read two books I highly recommend.

"Land of Tears," by Yale Professor of History and African Studies Robert Harms, about the exploration and exploitation of Equatorial Africa. It goes into great detail of the exploration, by Henry Morton Stanley, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, and others, of the Congo River Basin and the establishment of the Congo Free State and the French Congo.

"On the Plain of Snakes," by Paul Theroux. If you like Theroux and his travel pieces, you will like this latest recounting of a journey along the US-Mexican border and his travels into the interior all the way to Chiapas. Great stuff.

Stay hunkered down, safe, and healthy.


JasonM -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 1:23:50)

Here in the city, all the young millennials are out and about having neighborhood rooftop parties, drinking and spreading the Corona. They all work from home so it’s like spring break for them. Also a lot of Johns Hopkins hospital workers live here. Don’t envy them right now. I know of one doctor who has all the symptoms of the virus and has a history of lung problems. Elsewhere in the city, folks are up to their usual thug warfare, shooting and killing each other and adding to the congestion at the hospitals.

rombsix -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 7:32:18)

I'm in Nashville, as y'all know. They issued this today effective immediately:

I'm a medical doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which is the largest healthcare facility in all of Tennessee and a major referral center for Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, etc. In psychiatry, we've transitioned most of our operations to tele-health, but I work mostly in the psychiatric and medical emergency departments these days, so I've been going to work in-person still (though it sounds like they'll allow me to start doing things by video conferencing now). I single-handedly am covering 50% of the emergency psychiatry shifts for all of Vanderbilt in the months of April, May, and June, so I will be absorbing all of the acute psychiatric cases that come in (many of which will need to be ruled out for COVID-19 or will have COVID-19). The interesting bit is that the emergency physicians and pulmonologists usually have to manage medically ill patients with COVID-19, but I will (and have already started to have to) manage agitated, violent, psychotic patients who spit, smear blood, smear feces, attack, scratch, etc. all while potentially or actually having COVID-19, so it's hard to avoid infection in that situation if I'm having to physically restrain a patient who is trying to kill me. If I get removed from the rotation of emergency psychiatry shifts whether temporarily or indefinitely for whatever reason, Vanderbilt will suffer significantly, so I'm starting to find ways to protect myself and to attempt training others very fast to fill in should I need to be away.

Nashville is more like a ghost town now. I live close to the medical center which is right by the university and normally flooded with college students, young people (there are tons of bars, shops, restaurants, etc.), but now it is totally deserted. The city in the day is like how it normally looks like at midnight. Emergency vehicles don't have to sound their sirens because there are no cars that need to move out of the way. The restaurants are still allowing pick-up and delivery. Many of the college students skipped town because they were all forced to leave their dorms last weekend. The grocery stores often don't have meat. There is never toilet paper, very rarely facial tissues, and stuff runs out super early (so I have to go to the grocery store at 6 AM and wait at the door to be one of the first to enter and get my stuff).

We've created new emergency department "units" in the parking garages that are dedicated to COVID-19. We've created floors at the hospital dedicated to COVID-19. Today my chairman sent an email to the younger psychiatrists saying that we should get ready to be pulled into the internal medicine department so that we can take care of general medical teams, retrain on placing central lines, retrain to operate ventilators, etc. because they anticipate a surge of patients that will flood all the ICU doctors which means the general internal medicine doctors will have to function as ICU doctors and the psychiatry doctors will have to replace the general medical doctors. That sort of thing...

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Escribano -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 8:44:54)

Keep it going Ramzi and thanks for all you can do. I am working with doctors in the UK on a form of telemedicine for home consultations whilst they are in isolation, myself.

flyeogh -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 9:11:13)


I'm in Nashville
And from my view point you were already doing the impossible. Now they want miracles.

You can only do your best man. Suerte in bucket loads being willed in your direction.

gerundino63 -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 10:34:58)

Thanks for everyone to share their story, it is somewhat inspiring to see you all carry on.

Here in Holland, it is nearly a lock down. The people are pretty liberal, so it is difficult to do wat the government wants us to do.
So, it is getting stricter and stricter.
My wife is working at home, so we live like pensionados[:)] walking with the dog is very nice now, and a treat when you stay at home as much as possible.
Shopping once a week, and trying new stuff to cook. The hospitals are prepairing for the worst and this week we will see if we have enough IC beds.

Reading a lot, calling frends, and for the first time in my life I dare to do a Solea from Paco de Lucia. A mix from Gitanos Trianeros, and Cuando canta el gallo. That will keep me busy for a while.

Heads up guys, things will be normal or we getting used to a new normal. One way or the other, we will feel happy and save again. Time is our friend.

BarkellWH -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 14:43:16)

You are doing great work, Ramzi, under almost intolerable conditions dealing with the psychotic patients who may be carrying the Coronavirus. Our medical people, such as yourself, are on the front lines of what can only compare, metaphorically, with trench warfare. Stay safe and healthy.


JasonM -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 15:00:17)

Vaaat!? Only two Psychiatrist for Emergency consult and the entire hospital? Lookin good, doctor

Mark2 -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 17:05:10)


I single-handedly am covering 50% of the emergency psychiatry shifts

Well heck Ramzi,

Does that include us flamenco crazies? Seriously I am so impressed by you. Solid guitar player, suave dancer, great forumite, and uh, a little day gig. You are among the best of us Sir. Thank you!

Mark2 -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 17:14:28)

I'm in San Francisco. I own a small flooring company and am at my desk. None of my crews are working today, but I have a job at SFO tomorrow, and another at a commercial facility this weekend. I'm going to look at a job later today at a government facility. It is an empty building. No one at my warehouse now but me. Went to the gas station, pulled out some latex gloves before exiting my truck. No toilet paper to be had anywhere so I ordered a bidet-it's back ordered.

Both my wife and I are over 60 and she has some medical issues so we are mostly at home. Took her out for a walk Saturday and there were so many people everywhere we cut it short. Thought about surfing Saturday but after seeing a hundred people in the water on the beach cam, declined to add to the mayhem. So, the long and short of it is in SF, restaurants are dying, lots of folks can't pay their rent, stores have lot of stuff, but are out of key items, plenty of people staying home, lots of others ignoring it all. Gained 5 lbs so far......guitar chops improving slightly.

kitarist -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 18:30:34)

Wow, Ramzi, keep save, brother.

RobF -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 19:00:52)

Stay strong, Ramzi, and if you have any time to check in once and a while, we’re all sending best thoughts.

ernandez R -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 19:01:17)

I live in a drinking town with a climbing problem. We are the base for accessing Denali the tallest mountain in North America. Our national park just closed the mountain and a few others to climbers because they couldn't process permitting safely. We are also a year round tourist destination with visitors from around the globe most of whom arrive in the summer via a cruise ship and the Alaska Railroad. Not any more.

My partner and I own what is called a Roadhouse and some historical cabin rentals. The Roadhouse has been open every single day for seventy six years: bakery, deli, restaurant, fireplace, showers, bunks, rooms, laundry, piano, Internet, cold beer and wine. The core of our town. The doors are closed and locked for the first time.

Ninety nine percent of our bookings have canceled.

All of our local businesses struggle to get through the winter paying key dedicated employees on monies saved over the summer. Spring break is usually our first infusion of income. Not this time. More painful then closing our doors was letting go of twenty hard working friends with families and bills to pay.

There will be no summer income for our village and no means to get our small village of nine hundred souls through the following winter.

To be honest we have it good up here. Compared to most it's like living a dream I suppose.

The hard part: I am high risk. It's my lungs: chemical pneumonia nine years ago. I contracted a viral infection almost five weeks ago, it then turned into a bacterial infection. I'm sick and weak and feel vulnerable. Both physically and emotionally. Emotionally because I can offer little support to my partner and my community.

It is sad watching our epidemic unfold on ways it didn't need to. In America I feel our federal government is failing us and the world. I'll just leave it at that.

Alaska is a state of a political/ social strata populated by both poorly and misinformed. We will all pay.

Those who will pay the most will be our health care workers...
They will pay for the ignorant
They will pay for the selfish
They will pay for the greedy

My hat off and even a tear for Ramzi and his like and kind. Those soldiers fighting in the long grass, their foe unseen, some fallen by silent bullets.

And damn those without a care, suicide bombers spewing their deadly biccilli...


RobF -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 19:25:23)


My hat off and even a tear for Ramzi and his like and kind. Those soldiers fighting in the long grass, their foe unseen, some fallen by silent bullets.
And damn those without a care, suicide bombers spewing their deadly biccilli...

Well said, HR. Hang in there.

El Burdo -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 20:42:09)


And damn those without a care, suicide bombers spewing their deadly biccilli...

As I walked through the playground of a school where I work as a peripatetic guitar teacher on my way out to my car, a little runt jumped up at me and coughed theatrically before running off with his friends, laughing. There was an other example of this weaponised age differential in the news today (though they have at least ended up in discussions with the Police). I just let it go as I didn't want to explain that, although physically absolutely superb and impressive, I am in fact 67 (today, thanks) with chronic asthma, and my lungs' blood will be on his hands. I'd guess that this is probably happening all over the world along the lines of 'Hey, Boomer', but it struck me as a particular British problem at the time, pointlessly aggressive, irresponsible and ignorant. I think I'm fit, but always suffer from chest infections if I catch a cold over Winter, so am marginally more alert.

Where I live, in South London, things are exactly as described above. It's almost as if it could have been predicted. I'm actually more interested in what any analysis post hoc comes up with on the effect of 24 hour news and the role of social media (beyond considerations of 'fake' news).

I caught Swine flu in 2009 and there was some home-working etc but not quite as hysterical as it is now.

This is an interesting read.

"A major difference in response is that we were better prepared for a pandemic (at least in the U.S.) years ago," Strathdee said.

All the very best to you Ramzi.

El Burdo -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 20:48:13)


enormous sandy beach
I love the beach in Cadiz. This is one of my favourite personal Cadiz photos. Look after yourselves.

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Richard Jernigan -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 22:03:50)

Ramzi I have known a couple of heroes in my day. I add you at the top of the list. I hope you stay safe.

Here in Austin there is a public health order closing schools, bars, limiting restaurants to takeout, etc. In fact all but essential businesses are closed. "Essential" includes groceries, pharmacies, some government offices, etc. I live in a suburb at the edge of the city. There are relatively spacious individual houses, separated by lawns now turning green, shaded by lovely evergreen live oak trees. The leaves and acorns are dropping, promptly replaced by new leaves and blossoms, and the squirrels are busy. The median sale price of houses here is probably twice the city wide median, so the people here are generally prosperous with adults holding university degrees.

On my daily walks in the neighborhood I have actually been seeing more people than usual. I attribute it to children being home from school, and people working from home. Everybody I meet keeps their distance, but they wave, smile and make positive comments about the weather.

There is a crowd sourced thread on the /r/Austin subreddit reporting supermarket situations throughout the city. They vary considerably, from sizable crowds and "panic" stocking up, to pretty normal except for the absence of a few items. No toilet paper anywhere. "What fools these mortals be."

Austin based, Amazon owned Whole Foods opens an hour early exclusively for people over the age of sixty. I went yesterday. There was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk. Prices are higher than where I usually shop, but they always have been, they're not specially jacked up. I bought everything I thought I needed, with a few substitutions from my usual purchases.

There are 79 cases of COVID-19 reported in Travis County out of a population of a couple million, but testing has just begun. Public health officials do not state specifically that there is community spread, but act on the assumption that there is. Testing is expected to ramp up sharply by the end of the week, now that private companies are beginning to supply test kits and guidelines for eligibility are being loosened. We are told to expect a surge in the number of confirmed cases.

Just this morning the local newspaper reported that city and county officials are formulating "shelter in place" orders and health officials are studying whether or when to ask authorities to issue them.

The Austin Police Department has announced that it will not deploy forces to enforce the present health orders, but will depend upon citizen cooperation. Emergency Medical Service personnel are being trained in the use of protective equipment, and are being supplied with it. One physician at one of the largest local hospitals has COVID-19.

I only go out to get groceries and drive-up prescriptions, but videos of empty streets, the local newspaper and posts on local internet fora indicate that people are generally complying with public health directives.

I'm 82, in good health for that age, but I have given my lawyer directions to update my will, living trust and other documents. We're supposed to get together for signing and notarizing this coming Friday.

I talked to the dealer I bought my Romanillos from. He thinks it's worth a surprising amount more than I thought it was. My son has said he would like to have my guitars when I'm gone, but I'm reluctant to have their valuation eat into his financial share. Who knows what prices will be when the pandemic is past? As far as that goes, what will my house, which I own debt free, be worth?

My ancestor Thomas was Escheator of Suffolk in 1348, the first year of the Black Death in England. The Escheator's job was to see that the estates of people who died without heirs went back to the King. He was already the third biggest landowner in East Anglia, else he would not have held such a royal office. He employed assayers and accountants at standard wages, who no doubt had to go out to dangerous places. No doubt Thomas remained hunkered down at Somerleyton Hall, but he got a commission on the assets delivered to the treasury. He survived the Plague years, having kept the pandemic away from the manor. It made him even more wealthy and powerful. He was not the only one in a similar situation by happenstance.

After the Plague died out there was a labor shortage and a surplus of unoccupied land and real estate. Wages went up, real estate values went down. Most of Thomas’s “employees” were tied to the land by debt peonage. Outright slavery had pretty much ebbed away, as people like Thomas Jefferson hoped it would in the USA 4 1/2 centuries later. Feudal pledges among the knights and the land they held from him kept them in place. He made sure there were no nearby free cities that might attract laborers by their higher wages: he owned the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Though the post-plague economy had some negative impact on Thomas's situation, he was still better off than before.

Since the only presently viable strategies against COVID-19 severely disrupt economies, I wonder what things will be like after it's over with?

I have ordered 25 pounds of beans and an equal amount of rice from businesses previously unknown to me, advertised on the internet at seemingly reasonable prices. We'll see what happens. Edit: they showed up this afternoon.

Of course there will be a few exceptions to obeying the rules. A friend who lives in Santa Barbara, California posted a cartoon on Facebook shaming people on spring break from colleges in other states who were crowding Florida beaches. I replied with something I heard years ago.

(Background: John Paul Jones was an American Revolutionary naval hero. In battle with superior British forces on one of the Great Lakes the enemy demanded Jones's surrender.)

John Paul Jones's reply: "We have not yet begun to fight!"
Fictitious Marine on the gun deck: "There's always that ten percent who don't get the word."

But Jones won.


Andy Culpepper -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 22:50:19)

Ramzi, I am worried about you man. Please, please stay safe and healthy. You are shouldering a burden now that you probably never imagined before. But you are one of the strongest people I know and and you're facing this challenge like a firefighter on 9/11. On a lighter note, I'm loving the new look amigo.

For my part I am super thankful to be able to work from home, and in a pretty rural area where I don't even go out all that often anyway. Although I have lost 80% of my guitar order book due to coronavirus concerns. We've already been home schooling our 5 year old so life hasn't changed all that much besides stocking up on necessities, and not being able to see our families as much.

Richard Jernigan -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 23 2020 23:16:22)

ernandez R--

Wish I had run into you when I was in Talkeetna for ten days December before last. I was waiting for the weather to clear up so I could take a flight around Denali. It didn't, but I got on one flight in that direction.

The Mountain showed itself a couple of times in Talkeetna for spectacular sunsets.

I enjoyed meeting a few residents when I went out for walks every day--even when it snowed all day. I loved the snow. Reminded me of when I lived in Anchorage in junior high school 1949-51. Most of the people I met liked to talk story.

...and I ate breakfast at the Roadhouse every morning. Great staff and good food!


ernandez R -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 24 2020 20:55:26)


I had seen in your comments here and there that you had visited Talkeetna in the winter recently.

The first of December of 2018, after a few years of searching for a new Spanish guitar, I decided to build one. I spent countless hours reading years and years of both the Foro and Delcamp luthery forums. Starting on the third making a set of pegs to stringing her up the morning of the fourteenth; think more backyard Poracho then Southern Spain.

While I'm not sure it was you, there was day when someone had left a guitar case behind the desk counter at the Roadhouse and I recall asking the Boss who it belonged to. I also recall making a joke wether it was ok to open the case and take a peek. I knew better.

What a small world. We had planed a trip down south to Spring Branch there on the Guadalupe River to visit family and I had hoped to contact both you and Tom to see if I could arrange a visit. In May we had a trip planed to to visit more family and had loosely arranged with Brian Burns for a few day wood testing tutorial as well as a stop in Seattle to visit Ethan D. I jokingly refer the my Flamenco luthery as being in the wilderness and was looking forward to gaining some real world experience. I'm working on a plan to send one of my guitars around America in the mail and have a few players and builders critic her so I can flatten my building curve.

I feel my post up thread is a little too defeatist but I was feeling it. All things considered we have it much better than the rest of the world being in a small remote village with room to get out as the sun has began to share her warmth. I'll never be a flamenco guitar star but I'm getting some serious practice in and all this inactivity has allowed my nails to grow! Simple things; keeping in mind we all have today to live; this moment.

How good? Photo is me and my #2, AKA the shop guitar, yesterday in the yard letting my body make some natural Vitamin D while serenading the neighborhood moose. Living the dream.

It so quite in town now the moose are moving in...


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Richard Jernigan -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 24 2020 23:08:57)

ernandez R-

I stayed at Talkeetna Cabins, just across the street from the Roadhouse, but ate breakfast at the Roadhouse every morning. Loved the raspberry butter. When I lived in Anchorage as a 12-13 year old, my favorite of the treats you could come across in the woods was wild raspberries.

Speaking of Paracho, I had a Paracho guitar with me in Talkeetna. There is at least one world class luthier in Paracho, Abel Garcia Lopez. He grew up in an upper scale guitar making family in Paracho. He studied with Jose Romanillos at his summer course in Spain. Twice Romanillos invited him back to be his assistant at the course.

I bought my first guitar in Paracho in 1957 when I was 19. It cost 300 pesos, $24 at the time, one of the better guitars in town. It was not the world's greatest guitar, but the neck was straight, it was pretty loud and it played in tune. It got me started.

The city of Uruapan, 30 km south of Paracho was small and poor. Paracho was fairly down at the heel, except for a few guitar dealers. There was one business, Monroy, which was downright prosperous, selling guitars to the big music stores in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

I stayed in a lovely small hotel in Uruapan. It had nine rooms opening onto a courtyard. Under the wide eaves beside the door of each room was a cage of jilgueros (linnets) whose songs beguiled the day. There was a beautiful Indian maid, maybe a year younger than I, whom I flirted with--nothing serious. I hired a taxi to take me to Paracho, wait around most of the day while I hit the guitar shops, then take me back to Uruapan: 20 pesos = $1.60.

In those days the train from Mexico City to Uruapan was still pulled by a steam locomotive. The trip was pretty interesting, but that's another story.

Forty-nine years later in December, 2006 I went to Patzcuaro, a beautiful small city on the lake of the same name. I decided to rent a car and head to Paracho for old time's sake. Not to buy any guitars, just to look around. I only bought two.

At the 2003 Guitar Foundation of America convention in Merida, Yucatan, one of the featured guitarists, a Mexican who lives in Switzerland and teaches at a conservatory there, played a concert I went to. I happened to be staying at the same hotel where the concert players all stayed. At breakfast with a table full of guitar people one morning I said something about Paracho. The concert player said his guitar was from Paracho, "Proudly 100% Mexican." He showed it to me.

It was a fully world class instrument made by Abel Garcia.

In 2006 I stayed at the deluxe Mansion Cupatitzio in Uruapan, maybe $65/night. Uruapan has prospered mightily. Its hinterland stretches from the 8,000-foot foothills of the mountains down to the tierra caliente toward the Pacific. They grow everything from apples, peaches and macadamia nuts to tropical fruit, and NAFTA has provided them a market in the USA.

Across the parking lot from the hotel is a restaurant cantilevered over the clear, swift, spring fed Rio Cupatitzio. The featured dish is rainbow trout from the river, empanizada. It comes with salad, French fries, and a dish with 4 different kinds of salsa picante, a different four kinds each day. The waitress pointed out the owner at the cash register, saying she was Mexico's leading expert on chili peppers, had a garden with dozens of varieties, and had published the authoritative book on the subject.

The road to Paracho is only 30 km, but it is very steep and very crooked, packed with death-defying Mexican drivers and huge trucks. A gringo takes his life in his hands--but it adds a little excitement.

Four makers besides Garcia had been recommended to me. The first two were a little disappointing. Salvador Castillo on the main drag looked pretty good, but he said he had no first class guitar to show me. Then a gringo from Chicago showed up to pick up the flamenco guitar he had ordered. He generously let me play it. It was good, but I was still on my no buying kick. We had fun swapping back and forth. He was a pretty good player, said he gigged professionally in Chicago. His pal traveling with him played cajon.

Arturo Huipe was a personable young man, just back from the Music Fair at Frankfurt, Germany, where he said he had sold some guitars. I spent an hour or so in his big workshop in a 2-story building at the back of the family compound. There were more than a dozen unfinished guitars hanging in a big humidity controlled room, and several finished, ready to go. The French polished cedar/cocobolo "Fleta" model was perfect in construction and cosmetics, the best sounding guitar I had played so far that day, by a fair margin. I liked Huipe, he made me a good price, and I went away with the guitar.

I had the wrong address for Garcia, but a man painting the house there knew the right one. I went there and knocked on the door. After a good while his wife answered. I introduced myself. She didn't invite me in. I asked to see a guitar. She said her husband was busy. I mentioned the name of the Mexican at Merida. She said she would check, closed the door and left me standing in the street. I was decently dressed in a leather jacket, button-down shirt and slacks, good shoes. It was cold in the street. Paracho is around 8,000 feet, and it was December. I couldn't recall having ever been treated so rudely by a "civilized" person in Mexico.

Eventually she returned and said her husband would see me. I was ushered into the well furnished living room, and left to my own devices, never offered a drink or a snack. By and by Garcia arrived. He said the only playable guitar he had on the premises was a small Torres copy he had made for his daughter. It was just a little bigger than a tercerola. I asked to play it.

After a little while Garcia began to show a little more interest, and engaged in conversation. I told him the guitar had one of the best third strings I had ever played, and demonstrated. Still, I told myself, no buying. After complimenting the guitar some more, I thanked Garcia for taking the time, walked back to my rental car and defied death on the road back to Uruapan.

I had trout empanizada for dinner, asked the concierge where to find a nice bar downtown, and strolled along the river bank to the Bar Sol y Sombra. They had a trio romantico. There were couples on dates, and a few very nice looking young ladies you could invite for a dance. I went back to the hotel alone, and enjoyed the luxurious room as I dozed off.

I got up the next morning, had an excellent breakfast, went back to the room, dialed Garcia's number and said, "Maestro, quisiera pedir una guitarra, por favor."

Garcia was cordial and friendly. We spent a couple of hours talking about guitars, wood and the illegal wood trade. (Garcia published a book about guitar making wood.) I told him I was old school: I wanted Brazilian. We went into the 8x20 foot humidity controlled room where he keeps his wood stash. He showed me Brazilian sets like I hadn’t seen for 20 years. He showed me some spruce tops Romanillos had given him “from early in his career.” They looked like the next board in the log from my ‘73 Romanillos. They also looked like Bream’s famous ‘73 Romanillos #501, which I had seen from a foot away—but hadn’t played. I picked out the Brazilian, but told him, “You pick the top. You are the Maestro.”

When the guitar arrived nearly two years later the top was very fine grained, with a lot of “silk,” not at all like the Romanillos. I called Garcia to compliment him on the guitar. When we got talking about the top he said, “That wood from Romanillos is great wood, wonderful, but you might have a hard time selling a guitar that looks like that, without Don Jose’s label in it.”

The spruce/Brazilian Garcia is in the front rank among the four classicals. They're all different. Each has its virtues. The only one I would say is better than the others is the '73 Romanillos--but not by a lot.

I gave the Huipe to the local guitar society. They lent it to a student, who auditioned for university guitar programs with it. She got into Adam Holzman's famous studio here at the University in Austin. The guitar society gave her the guitar. So I guess it's a pretty good one, but not as good as the others, so it didn't get played much.

Garcia is at least one definitely world class maker in Paracho. Also I hear good things about Fructuoso Zalapa. He's from a guitar making family in Paracho, but has moved away. Last I knew he was living in Morelia. He has worked with numerous famous makers in Spain and the USA.

Here's Eliza Carrington playing one of his guitars


P.S. In 2006 I was still living on a small island in the Central Pacific. After I got home I was reading the electronic New York Times. There was an article about drug gang violence in Mexico. One evening a man walked into the Bar Sol y Sombra in Uruapan with a burlap bag. He rolled five severed human heads out onto the dance floor, saying, "Maybe this will teach you cabrones not to play both sides of the fence." The bartender was quoted as saying, "It pretty much ruined the whole evening."

ernandez R -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Mar. 25 2020 16:31:30)


Little more the twenty five years ago I was hanging out with a buddy at the cheers II bar in Mukultio waiting for the ferry from Whidby Island and explaining my classical training. We had some time to kill so he took me on a guitar store tour of western Washington. Not the hotbed of Spanish guitar but I was surprised by how many were to be found. I recall a lot of $2-4K takimini guitars hanging on the walls. I also recall how they all sounded dead as if each had been dipped in soul sucking plastic. Going by what I know now they all needed fresh strings and to be played for year?

At one shop, I don't recall its name there was this cheap, $500, made in Mexico, but solid top model. She was nothing to look at. When I looked inside it appeared to be hastily assembled. But the sound! It was vary light, perhaps 1200gr. To be honest I had no experience to judge the quality of the build but after going around to some of the shops a second and third time we kept coming back to this one guitar. It really was unremarkable but for the tone.

My buddy... Ha! just recalled his nickname was Little bear: think deadhead nirvana wannnabe. Anyway he explains to me how it should always be about the tone and all the shine and fancy inlays assuage the ego but not the soul. I bought her.

About ten years ago I had a fire burn up everything but my pickup truck, the clothes on my back, and my little airplane. All my guitars gone including my ugly Mexican beauty.

I spent years looking for that guitar afterwards but never found her equal. I could write up a long essay on local music stores who won't mention handcrafted guitars and luthiers who fail to connect outside of their world. I recall a phone conversation with one of the better guitar shops in Austin telling me to look on EBay? Anyway I just started building my own with my goal of some day replicating her sound.

Now if I could only sight read and play the way I did thirty years ago...


Couple quick notes:
-Have you thought about writing a book? Compile all your experiences here on the foro for a start. I've been writing my whole life but I end up sounding more Charlotte Bronte then Hemingway :/
-almost two years of lurking the foro and always took the time to savor the depth of your experience and rational voice.
-photo is #1

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