General view of Soller. | M. VAZQUEZ


Change is all around us and change happens. This is my observation of the week as I consider ‘change’ in a Soller Valley context. The bus service has changed Soller out of all recognition. To have a reliable ‘every 30 minutes’ service from early till late has a huge implications for young people going to school and college and for adults working in Palma. In the past those decisions were not fully available to all. Students who needed education outside the one high school in the Valley, had to have lifts around the sporadic bus service which existed. Workers rarely accepted a job in Palma unless they had a car. The car allowed those who could afford the petrol, choice. Some families moved house to be nearer the opportunities in Palma.

This has all changed and created a reverse trend. Many who love to live in the Soller Valley now happily commute. The journey can be relied on, and parking is no longer an issue. The changes are now beginning to be felt and there is a concern that Soller is becoming a dormitory town, only used in the evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

Children who had their education in the Soller Valley became very close to their classmates and socialised after school. These days with the choice of schools widened to reach Palma and its suburbs, friendships are far more widely spread. This has an effect on teenagers who are not so keen for all their activities to be local. They know how easy it is to get into the City and have wider choice.

All these developments have not gone unnoticed by our decision makers. Young people are being encouraged to hold events here and the Town Hall are being very supportive. The primary schools haven’t taken the hit yet and they are all full to bursting. The change is more felt from 12 years and upwards. Young people who are very involved with the sports of the Valley tend to still be socialising here. They already travel the island every week for their matches. This trend is not viewed favourably by everyone.

The changes are also being contributed to by the new generation of residents. Many are home based workers, some carrying the tag ‘internet nomads’. Whilst based in local houses in the Soller Valley they are rarely seen outside during working hours. They have no need to walk to work or grab a coffee or a drink on the way home. They may make the effort to get out and socialise but often, because there is ‘just one more bit of work to finish’, they don’t quite make it.

All these factors contribute to the commuter feel where the only people in town during the day are the carers of young children and the elderly. Sightseers must think that this is an oddly balanced community. I have had this conversation with friends in the UK from Dorking and Horsham. This has been their lives for as long as they can remember. It means that the place only comes to a balanced life of all age groups at weekends.

For ‘the Island within an Island’ this is all a shock. Not so long ago there wasn’t even the Soller Tunnel allowing the cars through. Then there was no charge levied on the tunnel which allowed more visitors and residents. Now the car can be left at home and the bus takes the strain, with its greatly extended timetable. Every way forward brings change and there are many who just ‘don’t do change’. It makes then unhappy and wistful for the pleasures of life in the past. For the generation growing up here in 2023 they have lives their grandparents in the Soller Valley couldn’t have even dreamt of.

It has to be said the older generation are enjoying the changes too. They are often the ones back to Soller on the midnight bus after a night out in the city. I have been in their happy company many times when our outings have taken us to the Opera and other great events. For many all the changes are welcome and positive.