Here is a quick health update in Galicia for those friends I know currently walking the Camino a bit shy of O Cebreiro, and those planning to leave for Spain soon. Or with a view to early 2022.
First off, Galicia has reached a 94% vaccination rate for all those over the age of 12. That’s the group currently authorized to receive the vaccine. They are saying that of the remaining 6%, a third are outright refusing to get it (so just 2%). Another third are actually on the books but living abroad (most received the jab in their country of residence). And a third are completely unreachable with current data, so they don’t know where they are.
As a result of the high rate of vaccination here, restrictions are lifting. Already we are not required to wear masks outside, if distance can be maintained. Hospitality is opening up to full capacity, if safety measures are followed. This should take pressure off business owners and provide comfort for tourists planning trips up here.
Many fall festivals and upcoming holiday markets should be able to operate somewhat normally as we head towards the end of the year. Who knows? Perhaps we will see Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior – The Three Kings – at a real parade on January 6th. A procession! I never thought I would miss the marching bands and processions.
Pfizer has submitted the results of their study for kids 5-11 years old to the European Medicine Agency. Galician children participated in this effort. It’s been dubbed successful and, if approved for children, may mean that masks are no longer mandatory as soon as December, according to the Minister of Health. Basically, life could return to normal starting 2022. It hardly seems possible.
And on to Camino Health, if you remember, back in August I posted a photo of a Red Cross worker who was cycling the Camino from Palas de Rei to Melide each day. Patrolling the route in his red vest, and equipped with a portable defibrillator and first aide kit. Well, turns out this was a pilot program run by the Red Cross just on the Frances between Sarria and Santiago. In the two months of the pilot, the riders assisted 1200 peregrinos who needed health assistance. Outstanding.
As a result, this program will receive funding and next summer it will expand to more routes, with the goal of full coverage in the future. Very exciting for next year as the Camino returns to normal volumes.
In other news, after being stuck in apartments during our strict lockdowns in Spain last year, Gallegos are moving outside the cities to find single family homes with land as their first residence. Looking to commute to their jobs in the city. But there is a shortage. Rural family homes are in high demand here and prices are skyrocketing. Glad we bought when we did. And Galicia is not the only Spanish Community experiencing this. They say the trend is being pushed along by the swift pace of climate change, as well. People are hedging their bets that more impacts like Covid are coming and they want space. Makes sense to us. We did the same. Perhaps it will help revitalize rural Spain and some communities that were slowly fading away. Wouldn’t that be remarkable? Children growing up outside a city with their hands in the soil. Learning to grow their own food.
Volcano coverage from La Palma in the Canary Islands may have knocked Covid off front page news. But truly it’s because contagion here is bottoming out, and its less and less of a concern on a daily basis. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can turn our attention to other things. Like the price of electricity. As we used to. The every day things that loomed so large pre-pandemic can be our first concern again. As life returns to normal in Galicia, grumbling in cafes to our friends now seems like a luxury in which we can all gratefully afford to indulge. Who knew just 18 months ago that the mundane would be so luxurious.