Are we Human in the Soller Valley?

By Shirley Roberts

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin 
on Tuesday 20th June 2017

Photographs by Rachel Fox
In developing the ‘Humans of Mallorca’ brand here I have had some great adventures and spoken to ordinary people with extraordinary stories. One lady who works at the Airport told me that she had worked in Customer Service for the past twenty years.  Her whole working life had been at Palma Airport. She said that in the last few years the customers had changed and that they arrived angry.  When she was passing on information to them they just wanted someone to blame for their late flight or the fact that their car hire wasn’t quite ready. This wasn’t about compensation it was all about having someone they could shout at.  She said that people arrive stressed and unhappy and she hoped that their time on holiday in Majorca made them feel better.

I witnessed this for myself in Soller this week when the Ferrocarril announced the price rises for 2017 for a one-way journey on the Soller Tram. The price has gone up from 6 to 7 euros. Social media and in particular the Sollerweb Facebook feed went ballistic. The complaints soon changed from the ‘unfair’ price increase to all sorts of vitriolic complaints about anti tourist behaviour and general anger that things in Soller are not what they used to be. The personalisation of the issue was the fact that stuck in my mind and gave pause for thought. It was as if many complainers were taking the general issue as a personal insult to them and this gave them permission to be ‘furious of Soller’.
To give a balanced clarity I had conversations with the Ferrocarril and with the Deputy Mayor so that I could report the feedback to our readers.  There is a big story going on here about the EU issuing a directive that previous practises of giving Balearic Residents a discount on the Soller Train and Tram was wrong and had to stop.  Local residents discount also came under scrutiny and the consensus seemed to be that in the future when the EU gives the green light a new system will be applied.  This will probably mean that you will be able to buy a monthly discount card depending on the frequency of the journeys and not on where you live. This will give benefit to tourists with children who find the tram fare prohibitive at the moment.

There is a phrase around in the ‘fake news’ world that says never let the facts get in the way of a good story and that where we seem to be with this one.  ‘I reserve the right to be angry’ lives in Soller as well as in Palma Airport.

Let’s move down to the Port of Soller now to the preparations for the Fiesta of Sant Pere. This takes place from Thursday 29th June to Sunday 2nd July 2017.  Sant Pere is very special in a fishing community like ours and his statue lives in the Church of the Port of Soller until the start of the fiesta.  That is when the statue is taken from the church and marched to the seafront accompanied by the Town Band to be lifted onto the boats for the procession. This then is the signal for the three days of great events for all.  So far so good but the Angry Birds of the Port of Soller don’t see it that way.

The Port of Soller is one of the Fiesta locations which allow all night music sessions as a feature of the celebrations. The community divides up into those that love this and those that don’t.  Regular visitors plan their trips depending on their choice but every year there are those who had no idea what they were arriving into.  The hotels tell their guests who are in earshot of the music in advance of booking for these dates.
The self catering guests are the ones that are usually taken by surprise and suffer a sense of humour breakdown after nights without sleep.
This is such a glorious month when the weather is perfect and summer evenings hold such promise. So many opportunities to relax and enjoy beachside activities or the odd glass of wine at the waters edge. It would be great to have the power to make the Soller Valley an anger free zone and allow the good times to envelop us all.  Maybe we can be relaxed, smiling ‘Humans of Mallorca’ for the rest of the summer – I really hope so.

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