“We have amazing weather today, no wind, the sea is flat, you are very lucky!” José, or guide for the morning, informs us as he drives us to the part of the Bay of Palma where we’d set off in our kayaks. “We ordered it. I sent a message to [San] Pedro*… We have a direct hotline to him,” Dad replies smugly, and the whole lot of us – José, Mum, Sis, myself, Selena and Christoph – dissolved into laughter.
“There is a purifying power in laughter. It is truth in palatable form. It is instant vacation. Seeing the comical side of many situations makes life a great deal easier. It’s like riding through life on sensitive springs that ease every jolt.” — Eugene P. Bertin
*San Pedro, or St. Peter, is the gatekeeper to Paradise and the palaces of Heaven.
I hadn’t been in a kayak since my last K2-500m race with Yi Herng in April 2014 and I just couldn’t give the opportunity to engage in a sport I fell in love with 7 years ago a miss, especially when it involved gaining an alternative perspective of Mallorca’s coast — we were going to explore caves only known by experts! (And! We were promised bananas and pears to snack on!)
The caves were large and sometimes intimidating to even enter. As we paddled into one of the caves’ mouths, I watched our shadows dissolve into the surrounding darkness. The only sounds were the loud crashing of waves from outside and the faint dripping of water from around us… Thankfully, the other caves were friendlier and, to our surprise and great elation, José decided that one of them was appropriate to double as a snorkelling location.
Holding my breath, feeling asphyxiated and accidental mouthfuls of seawater (which was so salty it tasted terribly bitter) was unpleasant and I didn’t manage to get used to it, but it was in exchange for the world of peace I experienced when I dipped my head just below the water surface. Almost immediately I found myself swimming among brilliantly coloured fish, and wading about above a coral, it felt just like I was swimming in a perfectly designed aquarium, except I wasn’t. I wasn’t in an aquarium and none of what I saw was designed, yet everything was… perfect. I could only think of what Jules Renard once said: “On Earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
Upon leaving our final cave, I noticed something rather peculiar… Do You see the ‘man’ on the face of this cliff? Spot his nose first. Then move Your gaze lower, his clenched mouth… Higher, his closed eyes and even higher, a tuft of ‘hair’!
Meeting Selena and Christoph was by complete chance and having had their company as fellow tour-goers was simply wonderful. Turkish Selena and Swiss Christoph are light-hearted, humorous and witty colleagues who are in Mallorca for a company retreat as part of their 25th Jubilee’s celebration. Christoph ‘adopted’ one of the plenty non-stinging jellyfish bouncing through the water under our boats and named it ‘Selena Gomez’ to get on Selena’s nerves. (My sister thought naming it ‘Olaf’ would have been a better idea.) He placed the jellyfish in one of his kayak’s open-air compartments and filled the compartment with water, asking ‘Selena Gomez’ if the water tasted good as he did it — “Schmeckt es dir?”
Lunch was late late late, so we didn’t make it too far down the hill from where we’re staying before we surrendered to our hunger pangs and walked into a Thai restaurant my sister at the end of the street.
It turned out to be the best possible thing that could have happened. For one, I ate the best Mango Sticky Rice I’ve ever had in my life — they served it with a beautiful orchid which I wore for the rest of the day. I remembered Singapore. Second, we engaged in a long and hearty conversation with the owner, Mr. Frankenstein, who was born in a German town really up North, who was the first person in history to has ever guessed my age correctly, and who fell in love with Thai cuisine and opened this restaurant in Mallorca in 2005 with two Thai chefs who have been with him for 23 years (he previously had a Thai restaurant in Berlin). He has been in Mallorca since 2002 and the 14 years could be observed from what he knew about this island: Mallorca’s corrupted government is nothing like any that one would find in Asia (this is because the same three families have reigned this island for the past 700 years) (something to add: 36 to 48 policemen are currently in jail here for unlawful behaviour…); 50% of Mallorquins are unemployed; Mallorca used to be fabulously lush, however, the drought since 2 years ago has resulted in majority of the island becoming anything but; little villages like Alaró and Sencelles should be visited (something that many tourists miss out on) to experience the lives of real Mallorquins. He was an incredible man, and he and Dad exchanged contacts. 🙂
We didn’t have anything planned for the rest of the day so we drove to Alaró, just as recommended by Mr. Frankenstein.
Quiet, secluded and located in a remote and peaceful valley at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains, Alaró, a small municipality in the district of Raiguer, is only about 30km inland from Palma. This village’s origins date back to the Islamic period and are closely related to the history of the homonymous Castillo de Alaró (a castle) that was built by Christian inhabitants to ward off invasions from pirates. It is, apparently, one of Mallorca’s most attractive and sought after villages in which to live!
I can understand why: there were blossoming fig trees and blackberry shrubs everywhere, roads had trees forming something like a ‘London Bridge’ above them that made them look absolutely enchanting, the town square was undeniably charming, and stunning mountain sceneries could be appreciated from almost every corner. The vibe the village gave off was simply irresistibly charming. Nothing seemed to have changed in the last 50 years… not that any of us had been here 50 years ago, but the town seems so original and untouched — packed with rustic buildings and winding, narrow cobbled streets, Alaró has a relaxed pace that all of us picked up on… One would easily feel as though they had stepped back in time upon stepping foot here.
I munched on Alaró’s figs on the ride back to the hotel, blissful, and had Wayne W. Dyer’s words on replay: “You have everything you need for complete peace and total happiness right now.”