From book clubs to weddings, events go online in the crisis

Above, some of Periana’s foreign residents met up via Zoom last Friday, and right, the online wedding.
Above, some of Periana’s foreign residents met up via Zoom last Friday, and right, the online wedding. / Chloe Gavin / SUR
  • Groups of friends as well as colleagues who are used to meeting up in person regularly have turned to technology to keep in touch

Most foreign residents in the province are well versed at using video calls to speak to loved ones back home. However, a month ago it would probably never have occurred to anyone to 'attend' a church service, their monthly book club or even speak to their neighbours online.

Determined not to lose touch with those who only live in the village or even down the road, platforms such as Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp have become lifelines for us in recent weeks.

Around 20 foreign residents in Periana have started to get together via Zoom every Friday evening in time for the applause; some bring a glass to raise as well. Organiser Chloe Gavin told SUR in English that people who have homes in the village but are currently in the UK have joined in as well, and last Friday, the mayor, Rafael Torrubia, participated. Chloe also hopes to get some of the Spanish residents involved in the coming weeks.

Barbara Crouter, also in Periana, said that she is making sure her book club still meet and they are planning to organise their first online meeting via Facebook messenger later this month. "We've already sent in our reviews for the latest book via email, but it's not the same. Getting the reviews by email made us realise how important the discussion and banter is to us," she reflected.

Churches across the province have also adapted to reach out to their congregations through the use of modern technology.

The Chaplain of the Anglican Church of Nerja and Almuñécar, Nigel Thomas, explained to SUR in English that the Chaplaincy holds services via Zoom every Sunday at midday and on Wednesday mornings at 9.30. "We will keep to this timetable until the end of the coronavirus epidemic, when we can return once again to our usual time and place of services," he said.


Friends and family of Santiago Ordóñez de la Torre and Lourdes Aguilera Ruiz organised a surprise Zoom wedding for the couple when the real celebration, which was due to take place in Antequera last Saturday, had to be postponed.

They had organised a message from the priest and prepared other videos. They told the couple to put on their wedding outfits and prepare the rings. While the real wedding will have to wait until a later date, the couple said Saturday's celebration "was very emotional".

Nerja councillors, like many others in Spain, have also been holding town hall meetings online in order to keep things running during the lockdown.

The 2020 budget, which was approved provisionally in February, was scheduled to be passed during a video conference on Wednesday. Councillor for electronic administration and new technologies, Javier López, said councillors hoped to stream this and other meetings for residents "especially during the state of alarm".