Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 56

Almost two months have passed since we went into lockdown in Spain. From last Saturday we were allowed a new privilege: that of one daily session of exercise, or a walk (the latter within a radius of one kilometre from our home).

After our first walk up the lane – passing numerous cyclists huffing and puffing up the hill – we changed to another route. We’ve since walked down to the floor of the valley, as far as one of the bridges over the torrente (stream) that runs through our valley.

It’s a glorious stretch of countryside, through the farmland of mallorquín neighbours Llorenzo and Bárbara. We hadn’t seen either of them since the lockdown began (in fact we’ve barely seen a soul, apart from the nice man from Terragust delivering our picked-that-morning fruit and veg each Friday).

Bárbara was picking chard in their produce garden, close to the lane, as we went past and it was good to have a decent chat with her – albeit one observing a safe distance and without the traditional hug and cheek kissing.

‘I’ll leave some for you by the gate, for when you come back,’ she said to us in castellano, waving a bunch of enormous chard leaves as we returned to our walk. These are not wealthy people, and their generosity is touching.

All Change

The torrente in March 2019, which we walked alongside

In March 2019, we went for a (very) long walk with Peter (one of our part-time neighbours), following the path of the stream. The stream bed and the banks had been cleared of all vegetation by the local town hall, as a precautionary measure, following the devastating floods of October 2018. It looked horribly stark but enabled us to walk through fields that hadn’t been accessible before.

That long walk revealed new vistas of the valley and an abundance of ducks living in the area. Before turning back for home, we spotted an orange tree on the other side of the stream, in the garden of what looked like an abandoned property. Peter – wearing some very sturdy boots – waded manfully through the water to do a little scrumping. Sitting on the bank of the stream, feeling like naughty children, we really appreciated those juicy fruits before our return walk.

When we arrived at the bridge this week, we were amazed to see how overgrown the torrente had become. On one side of the bridge there was so much vegetation growing that we couldn’t see any water. Only a single duck – startled by us into a noisy take-off – suggested there was water somewhere down there. Looking in the other direction (see below), we could see water but also much vegetation. The path through the fields that we had taken was no longer visible amidst the undergrowth. What a change in just 14 months.

Close-up of the same stretch of the torrente.

Another Not-So-Close Encounter

On our way back from this latest walk, we saw a stranger working in the garden of the house just down the lane from our own. Having been starved of face-to-face contact with other humans for so many weeks, we stopped to talk to him – again at a safe distance – and found out that he was a gardener. We said we hadn’t seen our neighbour José Luis for a very long time. Was he OK?

The gardener told us that our unfortunate neighbour has developed an extreme pollen allergy: if he’s outside for more than a few minutes, his eyelids and lips swell. What a horrible affliction to have – not only at this most beautiful time of the year (IMHO), but also when many of us are now taking advantage of the freedom to go outdoors again for exercise or walks. No wonder we haven’t seen him.

If we didn’t already appreciate how fortunate we are to be enjoying The Great Outdoors once again, this would have been a salient reminder.

Mallorca Moves into Phase 1

Spain has begun a four-phase de-escalation of the emergency measures that came into force at midnight on March 14th. Each province of Spain will progress through these phases at a rate that’s appropriate to the local circumstances, but each phase is expected to last around two weeks.

From Monday, May 11th, Mallorca begins Phase 1 – as will Menorca and Ibiza. (The small island of Formentera entered Phase 1 last Monday).

Here are some of the things possible during this new phase:

  • Going out together in the car (so far, only one of us has been able to go out to the supermarket, bank, or pharmacy)
  • Leaving our municipality and travelling to other parts of Mallorca
  • Social contact with a maximum of ten people who don’t live with us – observing social distancing measures, of course
  • Shopping in places no larger than 400m²
  • Having a drink on the terrace of a bar (but not indoors)
  • Visiting a library or museum
  • Going to church

There are, of course, still restrictions, such as limited capacities in places that are re-opening. And although hotels are allowed to re-open, only guests who are lodging can use them – and there are some access restrictions.

As much as we love walking in our valley, the carrot on a stick for us is having a long walk on a seafront, followed by a coffee or cold drink on the terrace of a bar, looking out to the Mediterranean. Small pleasures. It’s not every weekend that you can say you’re looking forward to Monday…

Jan Edwards ©2020

Mallorca Hosts European Hot Air Balloon Championship

 

Balloons over rural Mallorca

It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. We had a full-on – and fun – September, with family and friends who stayed with us at the finca; there were also other friends, staying elsewhere in Mallorca, with whom we met up to eat out. It was a thoroughly enjoyable month of good food, wine, company, and fun.

Back to work, I thought, as October began. Then wham! I went down with a heavy cold; barely recovered from feeling wretched, I launched into a project which took me out and about to interview and write about a few traditional artisans in Mallorca.

#AmWriting

With that project now finished, it’s time to crack on with my novel and catch up with posting here and on my Eat, Drink, Sleep, Mallorca blog – both of which have been rather neglected with everything else going on.

Until just over a week ago, we were enjoying an unusually warm and pleasant October, with only the occasional ‘off’ day. Then somebody flicked the ‘winter on’ switch and it was a hasty trip to buy logs for the Jotul stove.

A glorious autumn Saturday in Mallorca

Before we resorted to winter-weight curtains and socks, there was a wonderful autumn Saturday (October 26th). We got up early to go and watch hot air balloons. We do see the occasional distant hot air balloon from our home, because nearby Manacor is home to a company called Mallorca Balloons, run by Ricardo Aracil – but that day we were in for something special.

Ricardo was responsible for bringing the European Hot Air Balloon Championship 2019 to Mallorca – for the first time since the competition was launched in Skövde (Sweden) in 1976. The event is organized by the International Aeronautical Federation (based in Switzerland) and takes place every two years; 100 hot air balloons from 23 countries came to Mallorca to compete this year.

The European Hot Air Balloon Championship was as popular with spectators as it was with competitors and we were in a long line of cars driving towards the cloud of balloons rising over the countryside near Petra.

I find myself getting quite emotional when I see hot air balloons. It’s something to do with the tranquillity they exude: the slowness and peace (punctuated by the occasional burst of flame) as they travel. One day I shall try a hot air balloon flight – but I think I’ll wait for the warmer weather to return first.

 

Going to see the hot air balloons in flight was just the start of a memorable October Saturday. Later that morning we went to have a Terragust experience – which you can read about here.

We’re now in ‘winter’ mode here in rural Mallorca, but can look back at these two events and be grateful for a very pleasant autumn 2019.

Jan Edwards ©2019