Beach Life in September

I am constantly amazed by the hordes of people on Mallorca’s beaches. One would have thought that now, after the end of the Summer holidays, beaches might be a bit emptier. But, far from it. If you had been to the beaches of Cala Pi, Es Trenc or Cala d’Or during the first ten days of September, as I had, you would have found it difficult to put your beach towel down without any physical contact to some unbeknown person next to you.

Statistical figures for PMI airport and the month of August 2012 were at a slight plus over the previous year (3,494,008 passengers; plus 0.8 %), the highest monthly figure in Mallorca, ever. The figures for July 2012 had been 3,435,936, an increase of 1 % over the same month in 2011. Figures for the time between January 2012 and the end of August suggest that there were 16,141,592 pasajeros (remember, each person gets counted as two, one for arriving and one for departing).

People in the hotel business are complaining that, even though this year’s tourist season is seen as a good one, income and profit are not good enough to make up for a relatively dead Winter season. Some people are never quite satisfied, aren’t they?

The photo (top) was taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2012. The time was 12:56:15. The photo (bottom) was taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 18:53:08.

Beach Life in September

The Massive Downpour of 1989

In early September 1989, twenty-three years ago last week, the South-East of the island was surprised by a ferocious Gota Fría, bringing torrential rain and utter devastation with it. Entire stretches of road were swept away, trees were uprooted by the thousands and dragged away, three people were killed when a hotel basement in Portocolom was flooded, hundreds of animals drowned and chaos ensued everywhere. The area around Felanitx and Cas Concos des Cavaller was declared a disaster zone and Reina Sofía (the Spanish Queen) flew in from Madrid to visit the affected area and talk to some of the victims. Rain fell at 06h00 in the morning at a rate of 125 litres per square metre within just 30 minutes. That’s about the same amount of rainfall that one could have expected to fall in one whole year. I had never seen or lived through anything like it in all my life, nor had most Mallorcans.

You may know the mountain of San Salvador, the Felanitx monastery. Believe me if I tell you that twelve rivers originated from that one mountain (many of you would call it a mere hill, at 510 m of altitude) after that rain. One of these rivers passed through Cas Concos, demolished an old country stone bridge and took oak trees of a considerable age with its raging force all the way to the beach of Es Trenc, some 29 kilometres away. Ten days later, no rivers were left, only torrentes, dry riverbeds.

Today’s photo shows the external wall of the Felanitx cemetery. This cemetery filled up, then, like a swimming pool until the Marès built walls could not contain the masses of water any longer nor support the water’s weight. The very walls shown in the picture collapsed in the process and an avalanche of mud and debris swept onto the surrounding fields, including the corpses of four recently buried people. The cemetery of s’Horta was similarly wrecked.

I’m telling you all this because now is the time of the year when the Gota Fría might visit this island. Be alert.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23rd, 2012. The time was 13:23:37.

The Massive Downpour of 1989

The Truth in Literature

Literature has always been about the conflict between fiction and reality, the clash between the real and the surreal, the relation between the mind and the written word. Some of these arguments will be explored in Formentor from next week on Friday, during the annual Converses Literàries de Formentor 2012 which will take place at the Hotel Formentor from September 14th to 16th.

Ulysses, Hamlet, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and other important personalities in Literature are the topics of this year’s literary colloquium.

Authors participating in this year’s Literary summit are expected to be Pau Faner, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Jesús Ferrero, Carlos García Gual, Eduardo Gil Bera, Irene Gracia, Leila Guerriero, Gabriel Janer Manila, José María Lassalle, Olga Merino, Ana Maria Moix, Javier Montes, Maria Antònia Oliver, José María Ridao, Carme Riera, Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, Marta Sanz, Fernando Savater, Manuel Vicent, Dario Villanueva. The event will be chaired by Basilio Baltasar.

In 1959, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. In 2008, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and has been held in Formentor ever since.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Port de Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:28:35. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of elpais.com. It had in turn been taken from the book Historia de la literatura española. Derrota y restitución de la modernidad: 1939-2010. The authors in that photo are (from left to right) Juan Goytisolo (National Prize for Spanish Literature, 2009), Víctor Seix, Camilo José Cela (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1989), Josep Maria Castellet and Juan García Hortelano. Behind, to the left, Joan Fuster and to the right, Josep M. Espinàs.

Muchas gracias.

The Truth in Literature

Cool in the Pool

You may be surprised when I tell you that we do not possess a swimming pool. We had guests staying with us the other day, for a week or so. Friends of theirs, who were here on holiday, were aghast to hear they stayed with us in a house without a piscina. The truth is that I would quite like to have a cooling-off swim basin but my wife is not in favour of my idea. You may also be shocked to hear that we don’t have air-conditioning in our house, either. I am totally against the environmental insanity and the harmful effect of air-conditioning, health-wise. Luckily my wife agrees with me on that one. Okay, it is hot out there right now, I grant you that. But temperatures will drop within a week or two; so, what’s the big deal? We keep our shutters shut all day long, and there is always a slight breeze and sufficient circulation of air in the house.

As for swimming: there is a large municipal piscina less than a mile down the road from our house with two large pools, a jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna. And even better, there is the sea less than twenty minutes from here, by car, with two dozen bays and coves and beaches within half an hour’s drive, and some 250 beaches in Mallorca, all told. Would you rather swim in the pool or would you rather float in the Mediterranean Sea? That’s an easy answer, I would have thought.

The photo was taken near s’Alquería Blanca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 22:40:14.

Cool in the Pool

Promoting Breastfeeding

I can’t say that I go to Santa Ponça a lot. Had I known what was going on at the beach of Santa Ponça the day before yesterday, I would have gone there for sure.

A few dozen women nursed their babies during a promotion day for breastfeeding held by the Associacio Balear d’Alletament Matern (ABAM) in Santa Ponça (see photo). As I wasn’t there I had to borrow a photo of the event from the Internet. I hope L’Agence France-Press or the photographer won’t sue me. If they do and I have to go to jail, would you come and visit me?

Just to make it plain and clear: I would not have gone to Santa Ponça because I am a geek, a voyeur or a dirty old man. I am all that but, no, I would have gone because I would always support and help promote the cause of natural breastfeeding. Our three children were all breastfed, I myself was nursed the way nature has provided for as well and so should every living being on this planet. I am sad and disturbed to see so many young mothers here in Mallorca bottle-feed their babies as young as perhaps two months or less. A lot of them smoke as well whilst they nurse, bottle-nurse that is, their brood. I can’t get my head around it. Do we really want to live in a plastic world? No wonder our politicians act like morons most of the time; they were probably all bottle-fed.

Just in case you don’t go to Santa Ponça all that much either: a national (or international) breastfeeding day will be held on October 2nd this year, with a communal breastfeeding being held in Parc de la Mar, right by the Cathedral.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of lapatilla.com and the photographer, Jaime Reina/AFP Photo.

Thank you very much,

muchas gracias and

merci beaucoup.

Promoting Breastfeeding

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

Cala Deià

Cala Deià is a very picturesque, tiny pebbled beach near Deià. The beach is famous for its association with Robert Graves who came here for his daily swim during the Fifties and Sixties. The Cala was further immortalized by Anaïs Nin in an erotic short story called Mallorca. The cove is a beautiful sea inlet, surrounded by rocky cliffs, giving it a feeling of a hidden paradise; a torrent flows into the sea during the rainy season and there are some fantastic terraces. The views are truly stunning. Two bars serve refreshments and some food, including some fish which can be excellent. The water is crystal clear. The walk down the winding path to the Cala is well worth it, especially in mild weather. I went there just after Easter when the cove was absolutely deserted and peaceful; of course, then, the water was too cold for a swim. When I went there last week, the sun was too hot for a long walk and the small beach was too crowded for my liking. In the Summer, the beach is teeming with local visitors, some rich and famous, and the obligatory tourists. I may give it another try in September.

The photo (top) was taken near Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 4th, 2012. The time was 14:40:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of platgesdebalears.com.

Muchas gracias.

Cala Deià