“The True Wanderer, whose travels are happiness, goes out not to shun but seek, like a painter has to move about to get perspective.” Stark, Freyda. The Zodiac Arch. 1968
The island is about 20 miles wide and 40 miles long, with three main towns each having populations between 20 – 50,000; the island having a population of about 133,000… each year receiving about 2,000,000 visitors.
It is time to wander. I have been here over a week now: swimming in the pool; looking over the pine covered hills; and gazing at the Mediterranean. Hovering like the local falcon high up, drifting on the updrafts. I have found a local market with internet café and bar; the bank; the post office; and a lovely café/bar on the cliffs at es Cabells, due south from the very beautiful residence where I am staying. Imagine whipped cream infused with garlic to spread on slices of baguette; a dish of local olives; and vino!
Ibiza is one of several small islands traditionally called the Pitiusas Islands (profusion of pine trees). While dry, the island thrives with the indigenous pine; olive tree; figs tree; carob tree; grape vines. Not surprisingly the Carthaginians who inhabited the island after the Phoenicians (654 BC), named their city port after their fertility Goddess, Bes or Ibusium (Ybshum, depending on language). Upon arising my first morning, it was all so familiar! The air dry but not completely… not desert… there is a moist salt creeping about in it, creating a very special ambiance of life! A vegetation simply blooming with good things. Dry, but not struggling. It was like being on the southern California beaches of my teen years: La Jolla; Laguna/Emerald Bay; Santa Barbara. Indeed! It is ‘Mediterranean’. This time it is the Mediterranean with a profound and incredibly ancient, Western history.
So much LIFE; so much History: I am charmed. There is an urge to become steeped in it. Punic/Phoenicians; Carthaginians; Romans; Byzantines; Visigoths; Arabs have all left their trails. In the medieval era the Christians invaded, principally the Catalans whose language is still spoken by islanders today. So I have all day! Every day! For seven weeks or so.
Though I try to rise early to beat the ‘beach traffic’, once again it is 9:30a and 10:30a as I open the gates, turning very sharply right (can often take 2 tries!) to descend the narrow road down the hillside. As I pass the main towns, I move into the valleys, which are agrarian still. The farmer’s homes dot the landscape, in the age-old pattern. (The newcomers, a very international group, build their homes on the hills, and they too are seen as white ‘dots’. There are few ‘developments’, except by the 3 main towns.)
I have read one can find walks in the woods, so I am heading to San Miguel on the north coast of the island: A place where there are mainly woods; few homes. Arriving I find a main street, a church, a few hotels and businesses; then it is down the steep, winding road to the small cove and its beach… already crowded. I head toward the beach wondering what I might find… other than muscles and curves. With delight! I notice a path leading off behind the beach bar on the left.
Away I go. Traipsing up, along the narrow path amongst the pine covered hills whose cliffs drop sharply into the bay. I grin. This is the right kind of wandering. I meet only two others on the path. They are returning.
Soon, another little bay comes into view below the cliff path: a few small, rectangular concrete boathouses, with rails to the sea (the local fisher folk?); a ‘bit’ of a rocky beach; and a very small wooden hut with awning of sticks and a scattering of tables… a café.
No one appears to be in sight, but as I pass the hut I hear, “Ola!” I return the greeting and walk on, behind the café towards the woods. There is no marked path, but a walk of some sort seems to lead behind the hut. “Oh dear… .” Old chairs; a couple of broken down boats, holes in their hulls: General rubbish. Then as I look more closely, gauging the scene… “Oh God! It’s a gravel pit making do for an outhouse… wads of paper scattered about.” Yes! a bit frantically, I look about for a path that might take me beyond this mess… not deeper into it. I skirt it as best I can, sure that I can see a winding path setting off up a near cliff. Yes! Up I go. In a moment I am up and away, passing an old hut of broken and fallen stone. Built for what purpose? My first ruin!
Up, up I climb. There is a lovely path through these woods. At one point a distant bastion comes into view; only a glace then it is lost from sight. Perfect. Upward, though I have lost sight of the bastion, the bastion clearly marks the top of the hill: Obviously an ancient lookout station. After some time, the path seems to run out and I take to a road of deeply rutted dirt. A jeep passes me going down the road toward the cliff edge, and a house or two, which can be seen through the trees… of the international sort. I figure I can’t go wrong if I just keep going up.
Up! Up! Why am I walking up? “Mad dogs and Englishmen… .” That damn phrase comes to me again. Last time it was India… going to market in the noonday sun. Will I never learn? But it is truly a treat to walk this narrow path, cum road. Something just off the path catches the eye: Off to the right, a sacred site? A circular area with piled stone markers… cairns; a fire pit; and an opened stone tomb? I have no idea what this marks? Who? No information is provided.
Higher up the three storied bastion comes into sight, crowning the cliff point. Defensive architecture was built through the ages; many times reinforced. I notice block cut rock amongst the natural boulders used to build this round tower: Roman, I am sure. An open wooden door and inner stairway lead to the top.
Nothing could be more perfect! An hour’s walk through a scented pine woods to an historical monument on a cliff high above the Mediterranean. Today I understand “mediterranean blue’. It’s not quite turquoise, except if the waters are shallow and the bottom is white sand; but a true, warm! blue. The heart sings with the sight of that blue.
There are no guardrails or barriers. Cliffs drop away on all sides hundreds of feet into the sea. Not a tourist in sight; not a tourist marker. Simply something of the past one comes upon when walking in the woods.
A half hour later, and I am down at that little cove, sitting at the beach shack drinking lemonade. Food? Comida? A pequeno pescado (pes ka do… small cooked white fish), with salad, and blanco vino. Por vafor! Mucho buenos. Gracias! The tables gradually filled as I waited: five Englishmen (late 50’s; early 60’s?) have been sitting in the sun, drinking beer. Three beers later, they are burning multi shades of red.
A perfect day. Home for a swim in the pool. Day 12 in Ibiza.
All the photos from Ibiza can be viewed here Ibiza Slideshow, or at my Facebook page if you have a Facebook account.