Ahhrghhh! Today I did something I’ve never done before and had sworn I would never do:
I drank coffee out of a paper cup.
OK, I had an excuse! It was to support my local bar, Michel, El Terreno’s favourite gathering place that had just opened up again, newly renovated, after the long lockdown. When the edict came that they were only allowed to serve outside, they duly put up heating lamps on their terrace as well as a new ventilation system.
What seemed like only a few days later, they were told “You’re only allowed to serve until 6pm!” And then, in a blink of an eye: “Whoopsie! You’re not allowed to serve guests at all!”
Fortunately we had three days’ notice before this latest regulation would kick in , and the Monday and Tuesday before the almost-lockdown, we went on two wild pub crawls from Patagonia to Michel, lasting from 5pm all the way to 6pm! Oh, the roaring days of youth.
Then - poof! it was all over. Back to cooking every meal for myself again.
But the owner of Michel, the Brazilian Fabio, is nothing if not tenacious. The very next day he had rigged up a take-away stall on his now unheated terrace, serving soups, tapas and of course café con leche, in cardboard boxes and cups.
That’s why I had to break my principles and taste. Not wanting to jeopardise Fabio by hanging around the terrace or worse, sitting down, I quickly grabbed the steaming cup and started legging it down Joan Miro while taking sips.
Ahhrghh! Michel’s coffee is SO good, but drinking out of cardboard was psychologically damaging, and I felt like a real plonker walking and drinking coffee instead of sitting down like a civilised person. But being seen walking with cup and burning my lips was a small sacrifice to make to support my local establishments.
Michel is only one of many, many, struggling against the raging, man-made storm, and untold establishments have already gone under, their staff queuing up for food and blankets.
However! My friends on the island and I all agree: There is nowhere else we would rather be. We have the sun even in winter, the natural beauty and one another - and our neighbourhood and local village shops are not giving up.
The centre of Palma is a bit different. There, every day is Sunday - a Sunday in a particularly repressive and food-less crap-ocracy. In a world without smiles, the few people in the streets scuttle from shop to shop, seemingly eager to see other living humans, if only their eyes. Even cyclists and longboarders wear masks.
The plazas and pavements shine empty, all the chairs, umbrellas and heating apparatus hastily bought to satisfy the latest regulations, removed on pain of death and stacked up inside the restaurants. The whole city looks like an enormous garage sale, but empty.
No, it’s better to stay on the outskirts.
In Santa Catalina, two or three restaurants are bravely fighting on, among them Bunker’s, serving the most delicious takeaway pizza, made by a real Italian pizza chef with real Italian pizza flour. He smiles with his whole body behind the mask, handing out box after box of excellent pizza to eager customers lining up with plenty of social distance now that they don’t have to bother with the terrace furniture.
Outside Ca’n Ivan Sese i Joan Miró 38, locals are huddled behind load bearing columns, keeping a long distance and wearing masks. They are drinking Coke out of plastic cups.
“We are allowed to drink while standing up if we’re waiting for food,” explains one of the customers, looking furtively towards the road in case the rozzers are on the prowl. But what can they do? We pretend to be worried, knowing very well that it it’s not against any law to stand on a pavement outside an establishment.
It’s actually a little bit exciting and quite romantic - we’re all in it together, a war without the dangers.
The customer laughs, then shrugs. “I just don’t understand. The two of us are not allowed to sit down here, outdoors and with two metres between us, but we just got off a bus that was absolutely packed, letting more and more people on. Where is the logic?”
It’s probably the same logic as when, a few weeks ago, you could still go out for a meal as long as you kept a mask on between the door and the table but as soon as you sat down, there was no more need to wear a mask.
Or the logic like when seven of us went out to dinner, taking great care to sit far away from each other at three different tables, but when a friend of a friend from the mainland turned up, everyone let him kiss them, mask-less and with much slobber.
No. There is no logic in Covid, and I suspect there isn’t meant to be. However! Mallorca is clearly THE place to be now. As always!
"Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to my nearest bar, Patagonia for some café con leche Bringing my own cup, naturally !"
Meanwhile, do you have any local cafés, bars or restaurants that are still doing what they can to keep themselves and you alive?
Please, please share them here with links, phone numbers, photos if you have. In addition to the places mentioned above, there is also the excellent Peperoncino in Son Servera.
Come on, let’s hear about the places that need our support!