Covid is still running throughout Spain. Especially Omicron. But we are fast approaching the stage where there are so many people, including children, who are vaccinated, that it is more of a bad flu than the looming boogeyman, and killer, it once was. And things are rapidly changing as a result. The bulk of Europe is beginning to take a We need to live with the virus approach. And based on the advice of leading epidemiologist in Spain, we will be joining this attitude with a slow but sure roll back of restrictions.
Beginning on Thursday, masks will no longer be required outside. It will be very interesting to see if anyone is willing to take it off in Galicia. Last June they no longer required masks but locals here continued to wear them. In town, it was only the Pilgrims who were maskless outdoors. Capacity restrictions are also being lifted. This will mean that hospitality can reopen at full strength. No more social distancing in a restaurant, bar, or on a terrace. This will be of particular interest to Pilgrims coming to do a Spring Camino. You will still be required to show a Covid vaccination passport, but Albergues will not be at 30% capacity like last year. So finding a bed will be a little less like The Hunger Games.
Jeff and I have had many a discussion as to when we might feel comfortable discarding our masks outside. It’s not like we don’t hate them as much as everyone else. Jeff’s glasses are perpetually fogged up. I can’t wear my stylish sunglasses on a bright sunny day. But there may be a time very soon where we are willing to throw caution to the wind and go for it. Likely, just in time for the government to no longer require them indoors. In the local news this week the prediction is that by summer the pandemic will essentially be over in Spain. No restrictions, except Covid passports through 2023. I admit I will feel a bit weird. Like going outside without my shoes on. But they caution we need to peel it all back slowly, so as to avoid spikes as more and more children are vaccinated here.
The Spanish economy is humming right along. Unemployment is back to where it was pre-pandemic. And in Galicia it is even better. If you discount how high electricity has been for the past six months. I just got our electric bill for the past month. It’s doubled. And that’s on top of it having more than double since last Summer. No, it’s not like electric bills in the US. That would be catastrophic in Spain. But it’s much higher than it was last May when we moved in. However, it is rapidly declining, too. Friday’s electric rate was 5+% lower than the day before. I know this because they publish the rates daily in the paper. So, it has been a bit of a temporary spike. Fingers crossed.
But even with all of that, the economy is bouncing back and the EU recovery funds are arriving just in time to shift it into high gear. I met with our contractor on Thursday. He is applying for all sorts of EU funds for us to convert our property to a more energy efficient operation. We are tax payers in Spain, so why not? We shall see if we can qualify for the one that is specifically for Homes and Businesses on the Camino de Santiago that convert buildings for energy efficiency and store that energy onsite. We have a business on the Camino. We want to convert it to solar and store the power onsite with an array of batteries in the barn. Seems like a good fit. And I read where Abanca (the local Galician bank) is partnering with a company to assist their business customers on applying for the EU Next Generation funds for all sorts of different programs – depending on the region where you reside. I reached out to them and they are going to get back to me next week to apply for the ones we qualify for and to advise me if there are further programs I was unaware of. So far, it’s all good news. Except when it’s not.
We have filed our paperwork with the Turismo in Lugo. We need their permission to operate on the Camino. And Diego has submitted our paperwork for the permits to the Concello for our entire project. Great! But we will require them to submit it to the Patrimonio for the Camino de Santiago. This is the governing body who will say Yay or Nay on our project. And that will ‘Likely take three months, Kelli’ assuming they have no further changes or concerns. So, I need to wait until the Concello says Yes, before I sign the contract for my food truck. And when will they say Yes or (No)? It takes time. So it is looking more like a summer opening for my food truck and campground. I wish I could say it would go faster, but I have no pull with the Patrimonio. I have no idea where they are located and how I might even address them. Diego and I worked together on the story for the submission. I had already put together some slides for a deck related to my business, outlining our Mission Statement, target market, and our three year plan. He was grateful not to have to conjure it out of thin air to submit to the Concello.
Overall, I think things are looking up in 2022. Sometimes we have to be a bit patient (not my strong suit, but I’m learning) and adjust expectations. It just gives me more time to work my list and gather all the requisite supplies. And who knows what awaits in 2022? Sitting in el Compartimento in Valencia this time last year, I had no idea we would have accomplished so much in 2021. So I’m very sure that amazing things are in store for us this year. I just need remember my motto: Sin Prisa pero Sin Pausa.