Words by Terenia Taras
MY partner and I flew out to Mallorca on March 2 to start our new life, him as a pilot for Jet2, and I to run my own PR business. I already work remotely, so this was a dream opportunity for both of us. We packed up our essentials and moved into a lovely rented apartment in Bendinat.
Our first two weeks were spent sorting out legal documentation, buying household items with regular trips to the garden centre for flowers and a lime tree to make the terrace our own. My partner was excited to meet his new colleagues and start the spring season flights. All the while the coronavirus was spreading and we were somewhat oblivious to the full extent of what was coming. Just as we’ve all been when China was in the midst of its own crisis at the start of the year, and I guess no one anticipated how quickly it would spread and how far-reaching it would be.
Overnight everything changed when the Spanish Government placed a strict lockdown across the whole of Spain and Balearic Islands. We went from being able to go about freely to being expected to only go to our nearest supermarket or pharmacy and we weren’t even able to travel in the car together. I enjoy running but this wasn’t allowed anymore and I even posted on some of the Majorcan forums asking if anyone wanted to dog share!
In the first week there were several arrests of people breaching lockdown restrictions. Police controls are checking on people’s reasons for travel and fines of up to €30,000 are being threatened if people disobey. I was stopped by police in Palma when I attempted to get some essential medical products for my partner, which weren’t stocked in the chemist’s near us. The two police officers asked me where I lived and when I told them Bendinat, they exchanged a glance between them. Luckily, I’d taken the medical packaging and written in Spanish what I was looking for so they let me go.
But what was great to see in comparison to the UK was the complete opposite to the stockpiling going on. In Mallorca there was no shortage of anything, even in the first few days of lockdown. Toilet roll was rationed to one pack per person and even the fresh fruit and veg aisles remained well stocked. However, with such strict restrictions in place and family back in the UK we were forced with the dilemma of whether to fly back, stay put, or have no choice at all if we left it too long and the planes were all grounded!
My 18-year-old son was back in the UK as he has a job there, but as a mother you just want to be with your children when something like this happens, whatever their age. I also wanted to be there should full lockdown be placed on the UK in order to reassure him that even though this is a scary situation and unprecedented in our lifetime, it will be over at some point! My son also didn’t want to spend time with my mum who has COPD, a respiratory illness and his dad who also has health issues. My partner also had the problem of having vital medical supplies, which were due to be transported over, but that wasn’t going to happen with the borders closed.
Watching the news daily, it was horrible to hear that we’re going to lose loved ones. My mum is one of those at serious risk and I cannot begin to think that if something were to happen to her, I maybe wouldn’t have been able to get back, despite the fact that you wouldn’t be able to visit loved ones in hospital.
In the end, after talking to family and friends we made the decision to try and get back to the UK before all planes were grounded. That same night we managed to book a flight back to Manchester via Dusseldorf with Eurowings. There were only 15 passengers including us on the flight back to Manchester. I spoke to one woman in her 20s who had been visiting a friend who worked for a UK airline in Mallorca. The airline had sent a plane for all its staff, but because the flight was full the woman had to sleep in the airport until she could get on a flight the next day. Every restaurant, shop, café and bar in the airport was closed so she hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for over 24 hours!
After a short stopover in Dusseldorf, which was relatively normal with shops and cafes open, we landed at Manchester airport. We were the only people at passport control and baggage reclaim which was incredibly eerie as we’re so used to airports being really busy.
It’s mixed emotions being home. Of course it is good to be back here with my son and closer to family, even though we can’t see them. But we’re still paying rent on our apartment in Mallorca and we also need and want to get back because of my partner’s work commitments. We’re just hoping we can get back in without any problems. Sadly, there is nowhere in the world unaffected by this pandemic, so for now we all have to just sit tight and wait this out.
Stay tuned for a new blog series by Terenia Taras