For the past week I have been indulging myself in a spot of sentimental nostalgia, reflecting thoughtfully, back to what I was doing this time last year. Or more importantly, what was the world and his wife doing, twelve months ago before Covid19 tainted our carefree existence. Who, in a million years, would ever have imagined that someone sneezing in China could actually prevent a grandmother in a small Majorcan village from hugging her grandchildren? A lot has certainly happened in the past few months let alone since this time last year!
One of the first things that sprung to mind during my trip down memory lane was the freedom we had to wander amongst others, without fear of contagion or compromise. And the most simple of pleasures we enjoyed, was the spontaneity of sitting at a cosy table outside a local bar to enjoy a carefree coffee while watching the world go by. I’m still not quite brave enough to do that just yet, mainly because most of the bars in our village quickly abandoned the advised protocol and made their own decision to stop wearing masks when serving. The socially distanced tables certainly look inviting when they’re empty, but once the crowds gather, those tables suddenly look very small and people are almost sitting on top of each other. Plus, if the servers aren’t wearing masks up front, how can you trust their protocol backstage?
One day last week, after a quiet stroll through the countryside, we were forced to take a detour home around the village in order to avoid two large groups of cyclists who had descended on the local bars in our main square, and taken over all the tables, leaving hardly any space to pass through the pedestrian area at a safe distance. This time last year you didn’t even have to think of cyclists as being a potential health risk! A bit paranoid, you might think? But you don’t really know where these large groups of strangers have come from, who they have mixed with, or how cavalier they are towards keeping Majorca safe. I suppose virtually blocking a pedestrian walkway through a village could be a good indication of their commitment to others!
This time last year, our village of Mancor de la Vall was also enjoying its boisterous San Joan Fiesta, the first and possibly most looked forward to fiesta of the season. This year the fiestas still went ahead, commencing June 18, but with a drastically downsized agenda designed to respect the current pandemic. It would seem that even with constant warnings, a select group of Majorcans can’t get by without a schedule of celebrations, despite any consequences that might spike as a consequence! And to be honest, it was so low key; it makes you wonder if it was actually worth the risk! It’s not as if the culture of fiesta is going to disappear overnight simply because one year is cancelled!
Last year, mingling and merging amongst the carnival crush, shoulder to shoulder with happy locals celebrating their lively culture with laughter and dancing, whilst drinking and shouting above the music, seemed to be the most normal thing in the world. And yes, of course we all miss it. But this year, beneath limited bunting and decorations, there has been a subtle feeling of concern masking a forced joviality. Even amongst the most seasoned locals there has been some doubt about holding these fiestas. Yet despite all concerns, the show went on, albeit without me and Other Half. We chose to stay at home, ignoring the scaled-down events and reminisced over last years celebrations, with the promise and hope for next year, and more to come in a much safer future.
By this time last year, Majorca had also thrown open its arms to an exultance of faithful visitors from abroad, and the island would have been growing busier and busier each day as tourists came flying in. It was also a time when we ourselves would be flying off somewhere for an exotic break; but courtesy of the current global situation we’re not going anywhere, and all our holidays have been cancelled with refunds hopefully pending! Of course any airlines involved, even though they themselves have instigated the cancelled flights, are hardly likely to pay up, offering future flight vouchers for a limited period instead. But as we are not planning to fly anywhere any time soon it’s a no-win situation, and cash in the airline’s pockets.
Holidays are meant to be carefree and fun, not cautious and fearful. It used to be such an exciting proposition, from the initial planning to the actual trip itself. But as we all know, everything has changed so a ‘staycation’ is definitely on the cards. Majorca is currently open to German tourists on a trial period at selected hotels across the island, aimed at kick-starting the tourist economy to generate income. Yet with so many restrictions in place, it makes me wonder if these trial holiday experiments are going to be the experience these German tourists signed up for. Mind you, if they’ve got a sandy beach and plenty of searing sunshine they will probably be happy bunnies, even with all the strict protocol in place. I only hope it’s not too much too soon, and that the visiting tourists from abroad behave and respect the rules for the safety of our island! It’s bad enough when locals flout the regulations without having visitors setting a bad example at our expense! Remember, the virus is still wreaking havoc everywhere, both on the world’s economy and everyday lives. And although Covid may be successfully declining here, it is far from being beaten! Whatever the official advice, boundaries tend to blur!
This time last year we were also lucky enough to be on a luxury cruise ship sailing the Mediterranean coastline without a care in the world. In this current climate it’s very doubtful that any cruise ships will be cruising anywhere, any time soon. Or whether they will even be allowed access to any of their regular ports of call when they finally do weigh anchor! Many countries simply don’t want hoards of people suddenly descending on them in their thousands, and it’s totally understandable. Even with the strictest protocol in place, it only takes one reckless mistake from someone who is not entirely focused on the safety of others! Palma is rumoured to be accepting large cruise ships later this year, but again, even as a cruiser myself, I have concerns that it’s not such a good idea, until there is an available vaccine for all, and the virus is undeniably under complete control.
I fully understand that the tourist industry as well as the island’s economy must literally be kept afloat, but Majorca, being an obvious draw with it’s summer skies, turquoise sea and beautiful beaches, must be very careful it doesn’t become a fool’s paradise! It’s wonderful that we are finally moving forward. But for me, my glorious memories of the past are telling me that the future will be well worth waiting for. Happy past memories go towards making an exciting future. There’s no need to rush!