Our last post mentioned that we were ‘Stranded in Tenerife by the Coronavirus‘ and explained what the situation was a couple of days ago. Spain has been hit hard by this pandemic and we seem to be right in the middle of it. We aren’t the only ones of course, there are thousands of tourists and of course millions of locals affected in exactly the same way.
After we published our last post on Sunday we headed out for a walk and to check on the local transport at the bus station. Mid way there a police car pulled up alongside us and one of the officers shouted ‘No Walking‘ and then ‘Go Home‘. I guess we looked like tourists rather than locals but it was intimidating and a bit of a shock. We explained we were heading for the bus station and they agreed that was okay if we went straight back to the hotel afterwards.
Bus station was fairly deserted but we were relieved to see buses running and the helpful lady behind the security plexiglas assured us that our bus on Wednesday morning would be going. She did mention that the authorities were banning the use of cash from Monday though so we would need a travel card (like an Oyster card in London). Luckily the young lad on reception back in the hotel had given me his spare card as he said he suspected the non-cash system may be in place.
Complete Lockdown in Spain
Monday morning saw the whole country going into complete lockdown as we woke to all public areas of the hotel being closed. No access at all to the pool, any outside sitting space, the lounge, or the bars. Signs everywhere informing guests to stay in their rooms all the time apart from mealtimes in the hastily rearranged restaurant.
All of the tables in the restaurant were now spaced out preventing people sitting too closely together. Roped off areas around the buffet to enable staff to police ‘social distancing’ as people collected food and drink. Two distinct timed sittings to keep guests numbers down as well. Then straight back up your rooms.
A lot of other guests are seriously struggling with the confinement and keep trying to gather in reception but repeatedly get sent back up. They don’t seem to be able to handle the isolation and the lack of things to occupy their time. There are no tea and coffee facilities in rooms and all drinks are only available at meal times so the ‘all inclusive’ package isn’t looking such a good idea anymore. We are only half-board but we are used to spending time alone and entertaining ourselves so it hasn’t really been too tough at all.
The real eye-opener was when we left the hotel to visit the local supermarket. One of the valid reasons for leaving homes or hotels is to buy food of course and as long as we carry our passports and the hotel pass we are allowed to walk to the nearest grocery shop. Luckily it’s quite a big shop and the 10 minute walk in the sunshine was fabulous after a few hours of being cooped up inside. We definitely walked at an incredible slow speed just to make the most of it.
Queues at the door of the supermarket greeted us as they were operating a one in, one out system and the door was flanked by armed police. Yes that’s right. Armed Police. A few locals tried to march straight in without queuing but were blocked and ordered quite forcibly to get to the back of the line. As we queued police cars roamed the empty streets behind us with loud speakers ordering people back inside their homes.
We only wanted a few provisions really, it was the fresh air and walk that we were out for. So some crisps, biscuits, coke, and two bottles of peach schnapps were all we got. In times of social breakdown you just have to have schnapps don’t you?
Back at the hotel we saw police helicopters patrolling the coast line and beaches with more broadcast messages ringing out. It really feels like we are in the middle of a science fiction film where the world is collapsing all around us. Surreal and very very unsettling.
Getting Home to the UK
Checking flights and buses on the abysmal hotel WiFi isn’t easy but Jet2 are still sending out empty aircraft to return their prebooked passengers until Friday so that looks okay and the local bus network seems to be guaranteed at least until the weekend. So we will keep checking today and hopefully set off tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and hope that firstly we can get to the airport and secondly that we get our flight home.
A lot of people here are seriously stressed and worried by the situation which is completely understandable, but we are trying to remain calm and just see it as part of our travelling adventure. Of course we would have much preferred to have spent the days sipping martinis round the pool but it is what it is. We will try and get out again this morning for a grocery shop visit if we are allowed and may break our slow-walking record again as we are desperate for fresh air and sunshine. Our balcony is unfortunately in the shade all day!
Speaking to a couple of members of the restaurant staff we found out that the majority of workers in this hotel are being laid off tomorrow morning and the hotel is provisionally shutting down at the weekend for four months. That is their best-case scenario although they seem to be expecting longer. All the hotels will be doing the same thing so the staff won’t have a hope of getting any work until the end of the summer. Now that’s serious isn’t it? We truly hope that the situation turns out to be less dramatic and not as lengthy for all of those people.
I use the term ‘home’ loosely as although England is our home we don;t actually have anywhere to live when we get back. We have a couple of nights booked in travelodges in several locations as we had planned to see lots of friends and family next week but of course those meetings are now all off. It’s too irresponsible to meet others after we’ve travelled plus nowhere will be open.
Where we go after that is anyone’s guess as all of our plans between now and the beginning of September have completely collapsed. We will need to find somewhere for a couple of weeks to self-isolate as that’s the right thing to do but it will be pricey I guess. Then we need to start thinking about what happens next …….
Stay safe everyone.
16/03 – 17/03/2020