By Elena Rodriguez and Juan Antonio Dominguez
MADRID (Reuters) - Decked out in pearls, 106-year-old Felicisima de la Fuente is thrilled to be on her way to see a show at a Madrid theatre after nearly a year cooped up in a nursing home.
"I look so beautiful," she laughed from the minibus whisking her and fellow residents to the performance at the EDP Gran Via theatre. "This is a happy day because I haven't talked to people for a long time."
More than 200 residents and workers from nursing homes across the region were treated to the stand-up show by comedian Santi Rodriguez on Wednesday, after receiving both shots of the coronavirus vaccine.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the virus tore through Spain's care homes, killing about 43,000 people from March to May. Since then, residents have had to endure tough restrictions on movement and limited visiting rights.
Now, with almost all of the care home population fully vaccinated, Spain's most vulnerable are eager to regain their freedom.
"Contact with the outside is very necessary," said 93-year-old Inocencia Montanel.
"It felt a little strange. I used to go to the theatre or the movies a lot but after so many months away, I looked at myself and thought 'hey, I'm really here'."
(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Juan Antonio Dominguez and Sergio Perez; Writing by Nathan Allen, Editing by Andrei Khalip and Janet Lawrence)