The Long Journey

Residents and visitors are largely relieved by the change in mask rules coming June 26th. Although full details aren’t yet circulating, they basically mean that a mask is not enforced here outside so long as a social distance is maintained and you’re not in big groups.

It’s been such a long journey for everyone that any relief is welcome. Infection numbers seem to be falling and vaccination rates are very promising. However, the island remains in ‘level 2’ for now and some limitations are still in place. Nightlife is not as it was and many hotels remain closed.

This weekend there were plenty of arrivals scheduled from across the world, mainly of course from mainland Spain. We’re not closed and people still come. But of course, it’s not yet possible to visit easily from the UK due to the quarantine on return and that impacts Lanza especially, given our long earned marriage.

Debate

The feeling on the ground is one of debate. Not so much that we’ve still got infections. That’s to be expected, the islands are connected and our streets contain life and an active population. But more so the confusion over the rights and wrongs. Especially the clash between money and health.

We’ve lost 784 souls throughout the archipelago so far. Some argue that this would have been much higher if lockdowns were not enforced. Indeed, studies convince us of that. National lockdowns are now one of the most researched topics among the economic, civic and healthcare-science community.

As a tourism and local-interest blog, it’s not our place to say who is right or wrong but we are a global island and papers emerging from all over the world do seem to suggest that lockdowns saved millions of lives and the damage to the economy was equal to, not more than what would have occurred if people had made their own ‘stay at home / avoid travel’ decisions.

If you’re interested, there’s plenty of decent research out there, for example at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-81869-2 and https://foreignpolicy.com/…/coronavirus-pandemic…/ but in short, rich people tend to stay at home when they feel at threat and the poorer take more risks and suffer the loss. Irrespective of law. Yup, that sucks.

Taking a Toll

It’s impossible for someone here in Lanzarote to feel anything but pain for the loss of their income and their well-being irrespective of theory. We’re one of the most tourism reliant places on Earth. But perhaps it’s not the fault of policy but the fault of the virus itself. An unavoidable hell, perhaps poorly explained and unequally managed.

We also know that a holiday in the Canary Islands is not affordable for everyone, even in times of open skies. Polls suggest that even if all borders opened immediately, without restriction, many are staying close to home and watching their Euros regardless. With or without a vaccine, people are cautious and sore.

There is no denying that early lockdown was intense here. And even recent limitations have seemed extreme. The truth is, those countries that locked down hard seem to have survived economically better.

Maybe ours should have been total and longer and once and for-all. But what’s the point if not global?

More than anything else, the debate itself takes a toll. Why should a fisherman or waiter need to study the magnetism of meds? Why would any Canarian niño familiarize themselves with Swedens per capita income? It’s this loss of pleasant naivety that rocks us more than protest or fighting. Why are these now topics in Arrecife on a Friday night stroll?

There’s a very interesting paper published by UCLA that proves our individual political persuasion actually altered our personal response to the virus much more so than law. We live in a world where followers of one party restricted movement by 9% and the others by 21%, even within the same legal boundary. It seems after all that most people will stretch things a bit or a lot depending on personal beliefs, no matter what the mayor, or president or World Health Organisation advises.

What a long paragraph that was! You see, the topic is crazy. As things hopefully feel less of a threat and masks go in bins, we start perhaps to say more of what we think. More of what we’d have done. Given the choice, given the chance, to save more of our friends and more of our income. It’s tempting.

Pushing Back

Personally I’ve always believed that people push back even harder than governments tend to. At least in the civilized world. I was there watching in person when those planes hit New York. The flights were grounded for only 3 days but it took years for me and millions of others to feel easy about flying again.

The same happens here but to you and us all. Covid-19 or at least the impact it’s having will pass in terms of immediate threat. The elderly are already somewhat protected and the hospital now copes. But the change will be seen for much longer. We must now adapt and invest rather than dream of a switch that flicks back.

As people begin to return to our island, our smiles can be seen. We might all still be wondering “what if / how come” but opening back up has always been wanted. We’ll clean up, we’ll reshape, we’ll build stronger, reach further. Perhaps tourism here will be different, more global, a more balanced investment for all who involve.

The 26th does seem to be an important day. To stand in our streets, to feel the heat on our lips. To perhaps kiss if we dare. We’re all talking about it. A milestone we needed in this foggy, strange journey. I’ll keep my mask on, I need to, but I won’t frown if you don’t. I understand your perspective and I value all choice.

Nobody knows what would have happened if masks didn’t ever exist. Or if the island had closed completely a whole year ago or never at all. Nobody knew how to handle this then and we’ve all been thrown by how little is known at the top. Maybe just smile, maybe just stick out your tongue rather than worry too much.

We came to live on a place driven by tourists. There was very little here before the airport was dug and Manrique took over. Of course we were going to be struck very hard. And if you’re still here, like me, we’ve weathered that storm. What’s left is just rain. Just mud. Things to clear up. Souls to remember and love. Not gone.

Alex x

Photo taken in Famara last week.
PS as ever, please don’t rely on blogs, even ours, for your important decisions. Official guidance is usually better researched.

Written by Alex on June 20, 2021