Sunday 21 June 2020 we entered the realms of the new norm. Spain was no longer under a 'State of Alarm' and regional Government's took back control of their regions. Unless there was another major outbreak of CV19, all decisions relating to the management of the virus and the economy would be made at regional level.
Life in Estepona has gradually returned to some resemblance of normality. We've seen friends return to work who had been shielding, we've seen restaurants and bars reopen and in the marina, we have seen more movement of boats both coming and going. People are still very cautious though and facemasks are mandatory.
The Spanish quarantine requirements were lifted on the 20 June and there was a lot of anticipation that holiday tourists would come flooding back to Spain. Whilst some towns along the Costa del Sol have seen increased tourism, there hasn't really been a huge increase in Estepona. There are certainly more people in the town, but nowhere near packed to capacity. A good benchmark for this is the Sunday market at the port. Once renowned for its vibrant hustle and bustle, it is still eerily quiet.
Unfortunately for us our summer has taken a very different route to what we had planned in January and revised in May. We have not left Estepona, other than to have a couple of day trips out.
Once we had entered the new norm and it looked as though there would be freedom of movement across Europe, we changed the grandchildren's flight tickets to Malaga so that they could spend some time with us in Estepona. But, unfortunately the number of new cases of CV19 increased considerably and at the end of July the British Government recommended only essential travel to Spain and those returning from Spain would have to quarantine for two weeks. We made the tough decision not to risk it with the little ones, so cancelled their holiday. I think it's safe to say we were all pretty heartbroken, but hopefully we will see them soon.
Being in Estepona over summer meant that we were here for the celebration of Virgin del Carmen, which is a big thing in Estepona as she is the Patron Saint of fishermen. Usually there is a big parade of the Virgin del Carmen statue through the streets, with bands playing and singing.
She is then taken to the waters edge and launched on a raft and taken out to sea surrounded by all the local fishing boats and anyone else feeling brave enough to risk it. This part is usually at sunset, by which time a lot of alcohol has been consumed on the fishing boats! Things then get really crazy. If you want to onow how crazy watch the short documentary The Passion of Andalucia. The scenes of the Virgin and the guys in the sea were shot in Estepona.
This year because all holy saint day celebrations and fiestas have been cancelled, it was a lot more sedate and involved just dignatories and the local priest on a fishing boat. It was still enjoyable and there were about 15 boats that went out to sea, trimmed with bunting and flags, blowing horns and shouting their praise to the Virgin del Carmen when the blessing was given. Although nowhere near as grand or crazy as previous years, it was really enjoyable and gave us a very small glimpse of what it would be like.