Summer in the city. Activities are slowing down with the rising temperatures. Only few people are strolling through Palma’s quiet streets. A soft breeze from the Mediterranean sea strokes their faces. Here and there a bar is luring with a shady place and a cool drink. A little princess is dancing on deserted Carrer Oms, a single boy skating a Calatrava street. On a Sunday afternoon, families enjoy the nearby beach. And while the kids are romping in the waves young couples are blazing in the sun.
As much as I like the peacefulness right now, somehow it feels like the unbearable lightness of being. Because it comes at a price. The cozy café around the corner that closed for good. Stores that don’t open in the afternoon anymore due to the lack of customers. And shutters that might not be raised at all for the time being. Something went missing: the ease. And the visitors who we thought we’d never ever miss.
It’s as if Mallorca has gone on a time travel. Back to the 60s. But the summer of 2020 is different from the summer of 69. The tranquility in Palma and the smaller towns on the island is as contagious as the joy of life. And I have to admit that on the one hand I would love to keep the moment. But while living in the moment is always a good idea, clinging to it hardly ever works. Like it or not, the economy today depends on tourism. It will take time and effort to change this business model towards a more sustainable lifestyle. And we won’t find the blueprint in the past.
It’s for a reason that many Mallorcans left the island in those days, looking for work in Latin America. Because living on the Balearics used to be rather arduous for most people. Traditional industries like the manufacturing of shoes and other leather goods lost their competitiveness. And even typical produce like almonds, olives or oranges were often imported from the peninsula. It was only when travelers started to look for the authentic experience that the revival of Made in Mallorca began.
In the wake of the corona virus we are all struggling to find a new normal. To find a balance between overtourism and a lack of visitors. If we are lucky the Balearic Islands will seize the opportunity to reinvent themselves once again. It is said that the tourist destroys paradise by finding it. The expulsion from paradise may be irreversible. But if the reason for it was that man tasted from the tree of knowledge, we could eventually start to walk the talk.