The doors of Manhattan open: Formentera abandons isolation


Formentera is an island with 9,000 health cards, two garbage trucks and a soccer field. It is divided into three lighthouses that point to Algeria, Ibiza and Sardinia. It has no airport. It does not have nursing homes. It does not have ICUs. It has no traffic lights. Two buses run through it during a half marathon. All the passengers of a day add up to nine. Twenty if this spring did not touch pandemic. It measures eighty-something square kilometers. The same as Manhattan.

Along with the Mola lighthouse, the second oldest man on the island, Pep Escandell, a lucky guy, was born and lives for 98 years and nine months. When he was eleven years old, a girl was born in the house opposite and married her. There was no other girl. There was no other house. The most interesting of the wars happened the night that fell into the water a German bomber Ju-88, and Pep, the lighthouse keeper and his father future, they got into a boat to rescue a lantern to the pilot of the Luftwaffe , to which they saved almost just for him to see the Third Reich fall. "Comrade Spain," or something like that, he said, extracting a boat-sized boot from the water.

The girl left two years ago, and a week ago Pep had a fever. An ambulance took him to the hospital while his test went by boat to another island. Two days later it was not coronavirus. Now Pep skips the confinement at cane speed to go to the other side of the road, and inspect a 'xeixa' type wheat field; fashionable because it is low in gluten. From a drone, Pep would seem like Mr. Cayo de Delibes starring in 'The Blue Lake'.

Pep thinks of the virus as Kafka. On August 2, 1914, the one from Prague wrote in his diary: "Today Germany has declared war on Russia. In the afternoon I went swimming." Pep says that "it is much worse than war", because "you cannot walk, you cannot fish, you cannot play cards ". A grandson is scared behind him: "That's what fucks him", the game of 'botifarra' in the social premises, a few hundred meters away from the lighthouse.

In winter, or in apocalypse, in the middle of Formentera it is difficult to see two people together. In the other half it is difficult to see one. Going down from La Mola to Sant Ferran, the sea paints a mosaic of impossible blues that disinfect the eyes; and the earth an airstrip for fig trees scattered on stakes imitating flying saucers.

Sant Ferrán is the island's dj, who is also the pharmacist , Dj Pharma, of course. Now he has masks, but bad. That is why Lorenzo, the vet next door, says that the island does not meet the assumptions for entering phase 1. "If they have just started testing the toilets, for God's sake," he complains. This morning, she welcomes a baby quail that has fallen from a nest, a giant cat with an allergy to its eyes, a dog with a rabies vaccine, another with a heartworm, and a Pitbull that moans: " It is incredible, they are beasts and then they are the most complaining. "

To the north, in his office in Es Pujols, Juanma Costa reads ozone machines on his computer. He just bought a bunch of gels and masks, but on his screen he says ozone may not kill the coronavirus . "Phase 1 doesn't matter to me," he summarizes, because "as long as they don't open the Ibiza airport, there's nothing to do." Alerts on what the Germans and the English are saying jump on his mobile phone, as if he was awaiting a bombardment of guiris.

Juanma has 700 of the 12,000 hotel beds on the island. Also the only five stars, which just opened to reach the pandemic. "If they force me to open without people, and they don't let me apply the ERTE, phase I is harmful for me," he explains. But it is not all bad news, there is much worse. More than half of its staff is confined off the island. Between 60% and 70% of its regular clientele is Italian. But will there be any good thing? "Well, that Sánchez misrepresents us first, he sells us as a safe destination," he acknowledges.

Two of the seven cases detected throughout the crisis remain active. Just a low, but very relevant. In 1971, in Illetes, one of those beaches that appears in the rankings among the best in the world, a fisherman and his wife set up a beach bar that would become one of those restaurants with fish dishes at 300 euros, transalpine that wear high heels and gemstones in bikinis, and sheikhs leading a fox on a leash out of its floating palace . The 'Juan and Andrea' of all life has run out of Andrea. The biggest hole in this cheese-pierced island, which seems to move like a stone raft on stormy nights.

Patient zero was Johan, 43 years old. He began to feel fever soon after the state of alarm was decreed, and he decided to isolate himself from his wife and son, without anyone coming to see what he had. Thus it was several days until he began to suffocate. They evacuated him by helicopter to Ibiza in a bubble, and he ended up sedated and cased. For several days the part to his wife was that they almost died. On Friday of last week he was discharged.

Johan had not been out of the island for a long time, so no one understood how he was infected. At least nobody who didn't know his profession, bus driver. His last two services were excursions by Imserso retirees from Ibiza , hours before their holidays were suspended by the Government, and urgently returned to their homes in Madrid, the Basque Country or Valencia.

Since then, only three passenger ships arrive per day. All from Ibiza. At seven o'clock in the morning, equal to about twenty passengers. Many with work overalls and the face of knowing how to fix things. When they go up, they give the Civil Guard a sheet with their state of health and telephone number. One of an industrial cold company says he sometimes calls someone and asks if he has a fever.

Across the port, at the fishing pier, Oriol, captain of Juana Ros, has just fished a school of barracuda. He opens them lengthwise and hangs them in the sun on the boom. In a few days they will become peix sec, which is what turns a normal salad into one from Formentera.

Ivan presides over the brotherhood. About twenty boats that sail within a radius of twenty miles around the island. He does not believe that there are more fish in the quarantine now, or that they are larger. It doesn't matter either. They fish on demand: "If they ask me for ten tuna I go and take them, if they ask me for ten lobsters I go and take them, it doesn't matter if it takes me half an hour or an hour." Without restaurants, there is hardly any demand, especially for expensive fish, that's why good times are running to have born lobster, grouper or San Pedro rooster.

Very recently, happiness consisted of hanging and taking yellow ties from the olive trees in the Plaza de la Constitución, in Sant Francesc. Everything interesting used to happen there, between the headquarters of the island government, a church shaped like a panacota, and the Bar Centro, where Pepe Ferrer prepares six tables for Monday, 30% of its terrace. In wars the enemy is very concerned with cutting communications, bombing antennas and television channels, in Formentera it would be enough to close the Bar Centro. At 11 the insular president, Alejandra Ferrer, leaves another videoconference and goes down to the plaza. She learned on TV that Formentera was going to be unconfident and on Friday afternoon she had not yet received the ministerial order. He proposes that anyone who arrives at least take his temperature.

Around the plaza people go to or come from the largest supermarket on the island, or grab lunch at the Manolo bakery. They greet each other with Japanese obeisances. You know that one is from Formentera because he says goodbye saying "Salut", as if it were inherited from the black plague that depopulated the island in the 14th century . One masked man tells another that much is said about summer, but winter will be worse. There are people who received their last payroll in October 2019 and will not see one again until June 2021. You ask around for phase 1, and they all seem to have taken it as the former leper of 'Brian's life', who was complaining that Jesus had healed him, and now he did not know what to do: "He told me 'you are healed, male', like this, without asking or anything."