Yesterday I spoke too soon. Fallas has now been ‘postponed’. Even as late as last evening the city was meeting with National government officials and trying to find a way to ignore what’s happening and the potential consequences of a million people from all over the world descending on us.
When I heard that their initial meeting yesterday with the Ministry of Health resulted in them taking a ‘day by day, wait and see’ attitude I was not happy. It’s more than a little naive to think that only healthy people would come here to party. And that massive crowds gathering together, packed in like sardines in to the Ayuntamiento to watch and listen to the Mascletas two times per day wouldn’t be problematic. And possibly deadly.
The Prime Minister offered to reimburse the city for any losses related to shutting down Fallas. 700 million euros is the number being thrown around. That did it. Whew! Not that I don’t sympathize. It’s the biggest fiesta in Valencia all year. It represents one quarter of all tourist revenue. It’s designated as a World Heritage Cultural treasure – or something along those lines. But needs must, and its sad they waited so long when people could have cancelled their plans much easier even a few days ago.
My friend called me from France. She’s skiing in Mirabel this week and she called me from the lift up the mountain to let me know. She knows I quit FB long ago and is often my window into the goings on that come through that channel.
‘You wouldn’t believe the absolutely insane debate people were having about the cancellation. And then, like everything on those expat FB groups in Valencia – it got very nasty, very fast.’ She told me before her mobile cut out.
So glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I can’t stand the noise of social media. It’s never healthy. But now all the Fallas minots will be put back into warehouses. The fireworks will be saved for later. There will be something Fallas related on June 24th, but that’s it this year. They haven’t cancelled Fallas since the Spanish Civil war 1937-39.
I tried to hit up my local el Chino at lunch time for supplies. True to his word, the gates were down and my friend had fled to parts unknown, leaving behind a sign that read ‘Cerrado hasta despueses de Fallas’ . Basically, See you, suckers!. Just like everyone else we know who was getting out of town to avoid the revelry. One Fallas is fun. Two just confirms you need to leave town to avoid the Fallas crowds. Even without the coronavirus.
Instead of leaving, we went to yet another Dr. appointment today. Jeff went with me this time and the waiting room was packed. Not one patient had a mask on, but they were hacking and coughing. The staff looked like they were in the movie ‘Pandemic’ because, well, we all are actually. When we sat down in his office to review some results, the Dr. asked that we move our chairs back away from his desk.
‘Just a little more distance is required, I think.’ He told us gently.
He has a chronic illness himself and he can’t take a chance as he is immuno-compromised too.
When we were getting ready to leave Jeff thanked him for all he’s done.
‘When we come here, we leave feeling better. Not always physically but we know you’re on top of it. You actually care. We aren’t used to that.’
Our Dr. smiled. ‘Thank you – I appreciate it. But this is the job. I care about my patients. Or I should find something else to do. Perhaps a brick layer.’
These hero are on the front line of this pandemic. And its about to get worse. Tomorrow will be another appointment – as will most every day next week and the following one too. But I have confidence we’re on the right track with the cornucopia of needles, meds, machines, ultra-sounds. It will be OK. I’m sure of it.
I think it’s easy for people who are young and strong to laugh at this thing. If you’re below the age of 40 your chance of dying from coronavirus, even if you contract it, is almost negligible. But if you’re older and you have underlying health issues you have to rely heavily on the rest of the population to do the right thing. And it’s good to know the city of Valencia is finally cooperating now. To keep us all as safe as possible.