It’s been hot again this week and we’ve had a slight calima. On Wednesday and Thursday, the mercury pushed over 30 degrees, and there’s a real warmth to the sun currently. After a couple of months off, I’m back to garden watering duty.
The image above is a photo of a photo. I spotted it in the waiting room this week, while I was renewing my driving licence, and fell in love with it. It’s the castle at Teguise, and it is stunning. As soon as the work is finished there, and we have a full moon, I’m going to try to capture a similar shot.
Our Covid numbers continue to fall, and numbers in the hospital are falling steadily, thankfully – we only have eight people there, with six of them in ICU. There was a sad story this week when a 55 year old firefighter, Daniel Poyato, who was based at the airport, lost his flight with Covid. He’s the first person we’ve lost who wasn’t either very old, or with some other kind of illness, and his death was a shock to islanders and a timely reminder that this thing is still deadly.
It’s fashionable these days to be critical of those in power. But I think The Canarian government has handled the pandemic very well here. Everything has been done in a very measured, controlled way. There have been very few U-Turns, and the results speak for themselves. Our total number of infections as a percentage of population is less than half that of most European countries and our death rate is less than a fifth of theirs.
As to the whole of Spain, there’s no sign so far of the much talked about “next wave,” and daily new cases remain at their lowest since last summer. As I said last week, we just need to get through Easter.
I was really pleased to start getting press releases from hotels this week, with their re-opening dates – some in April and some in May. I remain convinced we’ll see many air corridors opening up in June, and a return to significant numbers of tourists by September.
This time last year…
On this day last year, we boarded a BA flight from London, on the last leg of our epic journey home from Australia. There were eight of us aboard, all residents of Lanzarote, and we had to prove it to get on the flight, as the aircraft was coming here to repatriate Brits stuck here in lockdown.
We were a small, quiet, slightly scared group, wearing masks for the first time, and wondering what the future held.
While the last year has been tough on us all, it has also allowed all of us to enjoy Lanzarote in a way that has never been possible before. To discover parts of the island we didn’t know about, and to take pleasure from the simpler things in life.
If I could turn back time and “cancel” the pandemic, of course I would. But I also realise that everything that happens has a positive side and gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.
What we’ve been up to
Last weekend, we visited the dam above Mala. It’s been a few years since we went there, and we wanted to see what’s changed. The answer is not much! There’s a bit of water in it, some ducks nesting, and loads of people around. It’s amazing how Lanzaroteños are suddenly exploring the island. We’ve been to the dam a few times over the years, and almost every time, we’ve been the only people there. But last weekend, there were two sets of people abseiling down it, hang gliders setting up and dozens of families out for walks around the hills. We parked just outside Mala and went straight up to the dam – it’s a tricky climb, but there’s also a track you can use, which is longer, but much easier. I’ll share the video with you next week.
On Tuesday I had to renew my drivers licence, which entailed a trip to Arrecife, and I also met up with an old friend Ray, for coffee. He and Jen moved to the island years ago, and we helped them through the process. Ten years ago, he started a company here selling and installing water filters, called Agua Clara. He first presented me his business plan ten years ago, in Puerto Calero, and I persuaded him to advertise on Lanzarote Information, and he in turn, convinced me we should have a water filter fitted. And we have each been each other’s longest standing customers.
Wednesday was my birthday, and it started off in fine fashion – Julie had decorated the office with banners and all kinds of fun stuff, and there was a huge pile of presents from family. In the evening we headed to Puerto Calero to enjoy a curry, which was my choice for a treat meal. We enjoyed a quick cocktail at Buda (Julie had a mocktail as she was driving,) and then we chose from the specials on the menu at Mumbai Masala. A few observations – on the way there, we drove down The Strip in Puerto del Carmen, and it was surprisingly busy, much more so than recently. Many of the bars and restaurants were buzzing, and loads of people were enjoying sunset walks. Puerto Calero, however, was really quiet. We were one of three couples in the bar, and the only ones in the restaurant, apart from someone else who called in for takeaway and a drink while they were waiting. We took the photo above enjoying our cocktail at Buda – it was a hot and sultry evening.
The vaccination protocol here has now reached my age group, so I’m making sure my phone is in my pocket at all times, and hoping to hear from our local clinic any day. Julie is younger (she would say much younger) than me, so she’ll have to wait a little longer.
On the work front, it’s been fantastic to be making new bookings for holidays and car hire again. Thanks to the UK press, we’ve had many British clients with holidays booked for early summer, contacting us concerned they won’t be able to travel. But our advice to them is to hang in there for now – their government hasn’t made any decision yet about when they will allow international travel to restart and they are waiting for a report from their global travel taskforce, due 12th April.
In the news
Spain has approved the Astra Zeneca vaccine for everyone up to 65 years old – previously, it was only for 55’s and under. We’re already doing quite well here with vaccinations, and I think this will accelerate things.
It was funny writing the story about the runway extension again. Over the last 12 years, it’s one that’s come up time after time. In the latest report, AENA, the airport authority mention it again, but also explain that extending the runway further into the ocean will only be necessary to accommodate more than 12 millions passengers a year. Given that our peak was 7.4 million, and that the island has no plans to dramatically increase the number of tourist visiting, I don’t think it’s something we’ll see in the medium or even the long term. AENA also talk about other changes they are more likely to make to the airport, including more gates and aircraft parking, so we’ll keep you posted on those. But to be honest, as someone who uses the airport at least a dozen times a year, I think it all works pretty well as its currently set up.
I’m interested in the story of the houses being built from wooden laminate panels in Costa Teguise, and plan to visit as soon as I can. They’re pictured above. The new material promises it will keep the properties much cooler and prevent noise much better than normal block and render, and I have a feeling it will become more commonplace here. It also makes construction much faster, as the panels are pre fabricated and simply put up on site.
The biggest news was that Spain is lifting the ban on travellers coming here from UK. Of course, it’s only half the story, as the UK, in turn, needs to allow its citizens to travel again for it to mean anything, but it’s a step in the right direction and one more barrier removed to travel returning from the island’s largest market.
With businesses now contemplating a return to higher levels of tourism, all the talk on the island now is of the challenges of re-opening – How many staff do we need? Do we open the whole place, or just one wing? How do we get all the plant and equipment re-started? How do we charge all the hire car batteries? It’s a bit of a logistical, planning and budgetary nightmare for the larger organisations here, and getting it wrong could be very costly. But something we’re all saying is that while it’s a problem, its a nice one to have.
In the national press here, all the talk is about the Easter travel restrictions. We don’t have a lockdown here in Spain, but during the Easter period there are “perimeter closures” which effectively stop people travelling from one part of the country to another. There are a lot of people complaining about the fact that tourists can visit from Germany, for example, but we can’t visit friends or family in a neighbouring province. Personally, I agree with the perimeter closures. Anyone arriving into the country has to have a Covid test, so the chances of a Covid case coming in are slim. But it would be very easy for an asymptomatic person to spread the virus by travelling to meet up with family.
That’s all for this week. Over the weekend Julie has a hair appointment tomorrow – the first in a while – and I’m meeting friends for coffee and then going shopping. On Sunday, she’s going kayaking with a friend, and I’ll head out for a bike ride.
All that remains is for me to wish you a wonderful weekend wherever you are.