I am in the middle of reading a fascinating book, Tuning up at Dawn by Tomás Graves, the youngest son of Robert Graves. I am captivated by the book as it portrays village life in Mallorca during the Fifties and Sixties as well as the Seventies and Eighties.
Clearly, the social web of Mallorca’s pueblos has changed considerably since 1953 for a variety of reasons: the arrival of the Sixth Fleet, the construction of the installations on top of Puig Major, the death of Franco, the emergence of a democratic society, the influx of tourism, the blessings or not of sudden prosperity, the retreat of the American fleet, the widespread impact of television, the proliferation of drugs, the trappings of Modern Life, rapidly growing traffic by land and by air, an avalanche of property sales to estranjeros like you and me, the advent of golf tourism, the flourishing life of the Club Naùtica world, the hustle and bustle of showcase construction landmarks, building boom activities everywhere, and so on and so forth. I could probably name another few dozen of recent influences which all have catapulted Mallorca from a sleepy, almost Third World style community right into the heart of the 21st century and now, into the mayhem of unemployment and La Crisis.
Notwithstanding, a large part of traditional village life can still be found, almost on a daily basis. Take a funeral, for instance, or go to the village market, but better make it to the mercat during the off-season. You will see Mallorcan housewives buying three live pollastres (chicken) ready to be prepared for Sunday lunch, or her husband buying a Décimo ticket from the partly visually impaired lottery man, almost the way it has always been.
Fiestas and perhaps religious festivities are other such occasions when the traditional social gathering still thrives. We all will have a good opportunity to see if that is true with Easter coming up in two weeks time. Then caputxers and cofrarías (hooded penitence sinners) will participate in lively and rather emotional Easter processions. During these and other similar activities, happening in every single pueblo on the island, we will feel like in a time-machine that takes us back to the old days of yesteryear. I am glad that this is so and that Mallorcan villagers have not yet totally lost their roots, cultural tradition and soul. Phew.
The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2009. The time was 18:31:45.