In Part One of Monica’s tale, she found herself on the remote island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, as lockdown restrictions were taking effect, earlier than expected. Here’s what happened next.
The restrictions came rapidly. When we heard rumors that there would be a curfew, I ordered a plane ticket to Sweden. A few days after I booked the plane ticket, it was confirmed that the next day it would be forbidden to stay outdoors, except to go to the store. A girl at the hostel and I took the opportunity to take a trip to a nature reserve a few miles north before the lockdown.
On our way back, the island was deserted and at traffic intersections texts flashed ‘Go home, pandemic warning.’ It felt creepy. We became aware that suddenly the restrictions had changed, and the shutdown had started one day earlier when we were stopped by a very angry policeman who threatened to fine us.
Empty streets and a well-walked dog
That same evening, we walked across the street to see the amazing sunset, as every evening. But the police showed up from nowhere and immediately sent us home. The owner of the hostel had a dog. That dog got lots of walking, as we took turns going out with the dog to get out. At the store, they handed out plastic gloves and some had face masks. It was an eerie atmosphere, suddenly the streets were empty. In the following days, the police drove around the village with a megaphone shouting that it was forbidden to stay outdoors and that if anyone did it, they would be punished with heavy fines. We felt like prisoners and nothing was fun anymore. The atmosphere felt doomed and all we could do was wait for the latest information.
Grounded in lockdown
It started to get chaotic with the air traffic, my friends could not get tickets anymore. I thought I was lucky because I had ordered a ticket in advance and been smart enough to take insurance that guaranteed me a new flight or rebooked route, but it did not help. My flights were changed, then canceled constantly. I got new flights every day, but after a few hours they were canceled again. Also, we were on a small remote island, which made it more complicated to get to the mainland.
Back to the mainland
Several days after I was supposed to leave, I finally got on a plane to the city of Las Palmas, where I would stay one night and then hopefully fly on to Madrid, Berlin and wider. It was a completely different Las Palmas I came to this time. The mood was depressed. Many of the world travelers at the hostel wanted to return to their cold countries. Although some tried to refuse, they were forced to leave, and the hostel was emptied and closed. Some did not have anywhere to go.
All the airports I stopped at were eerily deserted and had guards everywhere. Like it was a war. When I landed at Kastrup in Denmark it was completely empty! It was a very strange atmosphere. I was lucky to get on a train to Sweden that night, and it was even more strange.
Sweden: business as usual
I spent the night in a hotel in Malmö. Though sparse with people, they moved carefree on the streets and it felt like any night. In the morning, it felt like there was no pandemic anymore. I was able to have breakfast at a restaurant and the city full of people. Even on the train home there were quite a lot of people.
Once home, I quarantined myself for 14 days and then life began about as usual, at least for me, who lives in the countryside.
Of course, things have changed since then.
Spain: the final frontier?
Since it is difficult to travel at the moment, I decided to work to get money for the next trip instead. I am back in my old profession as a planning architect, and working from home.
As soon as I can, I will drop out of the hamster wheel again, and try to get to Ireland, Portugal and hopefully, finally, Spain! I am not the kind of person who gives up easily…