Southwestern Winds

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, October 20, 2006

So enough of the tragedy. After the robbery incident, it was high time we start enjoying ourselves, specially for Ed's mom who had traveled all this way to relax and have a good time, not to mope around as we had done the past two days.

Taking advantage of the relatively clear sky we decided to head to the southwest side of the island and visit a few remote beaches on our way to Palma. Our first stop was Cala Pi which Ed and I had already visited, but without the privilege of daylight.

  The old stone watchtower that stood guarding the cliff of Cala Pi looked very different with the 10 am sun shining upon it. Encircled by an azure horizon we walked around the tower, captivated by the view of the perfectly straight skyline glimmering in the distance. There was a woman in a white cotton dress who had picked the best little spot for her reading. I enviously watched her for a while, admiring how idyllic her presence there was. It was a spot I would have chosen myself had I had the time or the book.

On either side of the tall cliff, way down at the bottom, lay pools of emerald water being pushed into the coves by the strength of the great Mediterranean. While Ed's parents warned us to stay away from the edge (and Ed purposely stepped closer to it) we took a few more pictures and decided to move on to the beach.

  Unfortunately the beach wasn't as clean as the last time I had visited it. There was dried up algae washed up on the shore, and although we were looking down into the beach, we could still smell the putrid odor of the sun dried seaweed. Only a few tourists lay in the sand, together with the small fishing boats left behind on the eastern shore.

After we had had enough of Cala Pi, we got back into the car and consulted the map for our next destination. Close to Palma there was a beach town called S'Arenal, where the beaches weren't small coves as we had seen so far in Majorca, but rather the long stretches of sand found in other coasts of other countries. Curious by a change of scenery, we sped off in that direction.

When we got to S'Arenal, I was instantly reminded of Mar del Plata: a coastal city in Argentina which I never liked at all. It was a mishmash of second grade bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, apartment buildings and hotels, all run down by time which made it all look even worse. All the tiny stores and shops filled to the top with souvenirs and T-shirts and caps and bags and things no one really needs, in all colors and sizes; it was enough to make one dizzy.

We drove around trying to find a decent place to have lunch, but even that wasn't possible there. Definitely not a place we were impressed with, and not one I'd care to come back to. So with that in mind, we drove to Palma where we were sure we would find a great place for some Spanish tapas.

Palma was a contrast compared to the dump we had just been in: her elegant streets and distinguished flair could turn anyone into a sybarite. We miraculously found a good parking spot and headed towards "Entretapas", a trendy place for tapas we had also savored in Madrid. We had a light lunch of salmon, shrimp, and octopus toasties with Brie cheese and a delicious olive spread. We had no time to waste so we swallowed our food and were on our feet again, on the way to the Palma Cathedral.

The way to the cathedral was embellished by squares filled with fountains and ponds where ducks and swans dwelled. Old statues and brick roman arches announced the proximity to the cathedral, even though one could already look up into the sky and see the high Gothic steeples towering above us.

The entire architectural system of towers, squares, stone fortress walls, tunnels and dark stairways surrounding the cathedral connoted the existence of an important 14th - 15th century town, where its remnants where now the attraction for thousands of tourists.

We entered a stone stairway where a long haired middle-aged man was deliciously playing his acoustic guitar for spare change, and as I stopped to listen to him as a sailor would a siren, people passed by indifferent to the painfully melancholic melody strummed by the guitar-player. I wondered how some people could be more sensitive to music than others, and I asked myself if being so susceptible was a gift, considering my heart was now aching a bit.

I pulled myself away from the bittersweet darkness of the staircase where my saddened musician was playing and unto the illuminated landing. I looked up and saw the anticipated cathedral looming in front of me. I quickly caught up with Ed who was busy with his camera, oblivious that I had lagged behind.

A great artificial lake lay in front of the building, spewing water high into the sky, as if celebrating the magnificence of this cathedral. We took a few pictures and moved on to where Ed's parents were. The stone stairs leading up to the large church was filled with people: muscular men dressed like gladiators were offering a cheap thrill to the bypassers by extending their swords and happier guitar players were thrumming their strings while others clapped to the beat.

By the side of the building, horse-drawn chariots in red and white stood by, waiting for some eager passenger. Although the horses looked well taken care of, I couldn't help but feel sorry for them: they looked like they would much rather be running in some lush field.

Unfortunately the cathedral was closed to the public so we didn't have the chance to venture inside, although the stone fašade was enough feast for my eyes. We circled it as much as we could and moved on to the narrow cobblestone streets, where tons of tourists were heading. We stopped for some ice cream and I was tempted to go into the Doll Museum or, as I preferred, the Puppenmusem, but we had lots to see and little daylight left.

After wandering around the old Palma streets, I noticed that a lot of the buildings resembled Antonio Gaudi's art nouveau style in Barcelona, with its theater-masked balconies, it's serpent-scaled fašades, the organic movement of the buildings. We would soon witness all that in a few days when we embark for Barcelona!

  Since the parking meter was about to run out, we headed back to where the car was parked. While Ed's parents waited for some friends of theirs to meet them there, Ed and I went inside the premises of the Museum of Modern Art built around a set of old stone fortress walls. The views up there were staggering and we could see most of old Palma, the harbor, and the cathedral.

It soon became time to leave and we headed further southwest toward the little hotel towns up in the hills. We drove by Genova, Illetes and Palmanova. Although these little settlements had amazing views, they lacked that traditional olden tint to them that other towns had. These were more urbanized and tourist-oriented. Nonetheless it was pleasant to discover that side of the island, until night fell upon us.
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