Although there are still a few lingering closing parties to come and restaurants are closing their doors later than ever before – giving people all the more reason to stay in Ibiza longer – there’s been a definite shift in the island’s population this week. It’s the same every year: come the day after DC-10 closing party and season workers are already packing their bags and heading off into the big wide world to start their next adventure. I’ve never understood the appeal of seasonal work, but that’s because I’m more of a ‘put down roots and stay’ kind of person by nature. I came to Ibiza for my first summer season in 2006 with the intention of it being a one-time thing – fast forward 11 years and I’ve never left. I just felt like I found my place in the world and so I don’t need to try living anywhere else to see if I like it. (Note: On occasion, I’m also j-u-u-s-t a little bit scared that the same thing could happen to me somewhere else in the world and I’m certainly not ready to give Ibiza up!)
Anyway, I digress, as usual. So today I was reflecting on the concept of seasonal work and thinking about all those people working tirelessly behind the scenes to provide many of the services that make Ibiza holidays so magic for many of you, and that make island life interesting for me in the summer months. It takes a certain type of person, I believe, because the very nature of seasonal work is not without its challenges. Finding accommodation, getting the right job, getting a bank account sorted, making new friends, finding a work life balance that allows you to enjoy everything the island has to offer while working hard enough to make enough money. You’ve got to be tough… Just the thought makes me anxious! Seasonal work comes in many different guises – while waiters, bartenders, chefs and hotel staff may automatically spring to mind, there’s also concierge agents, yoga instructors, massage therapists, diving instructors, life coaches, doctors, life guards, stylists, photographers, writers, DJs, landscapers, wedding planners, event managers – you name it, if the job is available here in Ibiza, there’s probably a six-month contract with someone’s name on it.
Without these thousands of season workers every season, the island’s infrastructure would surely collapse. There’s no way our service industry could handle the volume of tourists that descend on the island between May and October. And while it might be nice to imagine a day when you didn’t have to queue up in the petrol station behind a host of hire cars, the truth is without those hire cars, all the venues based in the far reaches of Ibiza wouldn’t be accessible to anyone either meaning they wouldn’t be busy and could ultimately go out of business. And before you start thinking about public transport, let me just ask: have you ever tried to catch a bus here? And don’t get me started about taxis (or lack thereof) in high summer. I often wonder why season workers don’t want to settle down. I wonder why summer businesses don’t want to give the all-year-round thing a try. I mean – do they not know Ibiza in the winter is really, really magical? And what about the thought of leaving your island resident friends behind? Well, at least these days we have social media and can keep up with each other’s lives from afar. For some who choose to work the season, spending an off-season travelling is their reward for all the hard work of the summer. For others, it’s straight off to another destination – be it sunny or snowy – to do the same thing all over again.
So today, the roads are a little bit quieter. The streets are a little less crowded. Restaurants, bars, shops and other businesses (including your favourite website and magazine) have dropped back to skeleton staff. There are quite a few apartments, houses and villas now vacant (hurry up winter residents and snap them up fast!). Ibiza is shifting into winter mode, and while the change of pace makes me happy, I feel like we need to pause for just a minute to give thanks for those season workers who have just left us. Happy winter travels and come back soon!