It’s been a funny old week, living on an island which relies almost entirely on tourism and air travel for its income. Some of our visitors have been happy to stay here whilst the Eyjafjallajokull glacier began to erupt, but many have not had such an easy time of it. My sources at the airport told me they felt terrible having to tell people repeatedly that there were no flights allowed to leave for the UK, and day after day it’s just got worse. Many families (travelling with a certain low cost airline) were stranded at the airport with no insurance and no funds for accommodation, and there were some rather nasty tales of hoteliers bumping up their prices by 300% to take advantage of the problem. Then there’s the outrageous prices I’ve heard for car hire, 2’500€ to do a one way trip to Calais? Come on.
Others were struggling to get here, in particular for a big birthday party that happened last weekend for Ms B, a very popular teacher at King Richard III School in Portals. Her party, which had been planned for months, went ahead without her family attending, which was a terrible disappointment for her, but her friends and urban family made sure she still had a terrific time at Mood Beach. Happy Birthday Laura! And still there are anxious moments: Julia Briant and her beau are planning to get married in the UK this weekend coming, and we can only keep everything crossed for them that they will make it back in time for their nuptials. And there’s also the small matter of the London Marathon: will Pirates Adventures’ Richie Prior make it home to run the 26.2 miles for charity this Sunday?
But, in amongst all of the anxiety and lost income, came a bolt of kindness. Adam and Steph from Central Auctioneers started a campaign to help out the stranded passengers at PMI. What started as a comment from them on Facebook became a full blown aid effort as more and more people started to pitch in with donations of food, blankets, baby milk and all the other bits and bobs you can think of which make life a little easier when you’re stranded in an airport. We did our bit by donating kids’ books and toys to the cause: I can just imagine how awful it must be to be stuck somewhere with nothing to keep little ones entertained. (It’s bad enough when you’re waiting in the queue at the supermarket). This merry band went to the airport armed with gifts and brought some happy moments to the stranded holiday makers, they helped with medical problems, even taking in some of the more needy visitors and giving them somewhere to stay. What a wonderful thing to have done. So amongst all the nasty business, there is community spirit shining through, and that is still what I love most about Mallorca.