Tuesday, September 6, 2011

‘THE SEASON’ Is Closing

Something has changed.  It is the end of August, and the end of the usual vacation time in most of Europe.  Perhaps it is not surprising that when I gaze at the bay to the SE, between punta de Jondal and punta  de Porroig, the bay is empty.  But it happened quite suddenly last week.  One day it was the same as ever, ships anchored in the bay from about 10am on through the day until by mid afternoon, certainly by 6pm, the bay was full (50 boats?)… to take advantage of ‘water sports’ and beachside bistros.  The sea between Ibiza and Formenterra, the two smallest of the Balearic Islands, has been like a club race scene.  All day, every day I could see ships stream across the Mediterranean toward this bay.  Tonight I see only a couple of sails in the distance; none have anchored in the bay.  It feels odd… a desertion of some kind.  It leaves more peace in the air, perhaps.  That possibility has not settled in yet.  It’s more a sense of vacuum for the moment.
No Boats!

While shopping earlier in the week a friendly clerk, asking about my stay and wanting me to enjoy it, informed me of 2 forthcoming changes: 1) that the heat wave would be finishing over the next couple of days; and 2) that the discos would be closed soon...won’t be long she says, September 20th and they are closed.  The island becomes ours again she says.  She smiled happily. For now however, there are still torrents of people coming through the airport, if not by ship.  I stopped by the airport this week regarding my car reservation; it was a very busy airport.  This must be one of the last big weeks… August 21-28th.   Strange! that the yachting crowd should finish before the last big week.  Maybe they are on their way back to a homeport.

Shops I frequent in St Joseph, close by my place.

The clerk was right; the heat wave was over in a couple of days.  But there is more.   It is not just an end to a heat wave.   For the last couple of evenings, I have had to put on long pants, a long sleeved top and a light jacket; and now this morning too.  I have even had a second cup of coffee, instead of iced tea.  It is not just a cooling off I’m afraid. The weather is changing!  It’s that first hint of Fall.  It has come even here in the Mediterranean. And! for some reason I am a bit miffed:  I am missing the heat!! Oh the days are still warm, even hot (34C); but it is no longer hot all day and deep into the night. What! How to explain my response to the end of a heat wave?  I was looking forward to a cooling.  Instead, I think I came to like this Mediterranean hot weather.  I think I like the slow outdoor rhythm that develops through the hot days: shade or sun I could always find the right spot to enjoy the Mediterranean day.  Here one does not retreat inside on the hottest days, like in the India late Spring, where one ends up just sitting too stunned by the heat to even think.  Here one finds a shady ‘breeze-way’ and stays outdoors, enjoying the day.  The days are long when one stays out into the late evening, an evening still warm enough for bare skin!  This inviting outdoor life is decidedly one of life’s gifts.  I have not mentioned the ever so sweeting singing of the canaries flitting in the pines… the sound, for those of used to the Pacific Northwest, is like a cross between a chick-a-dee and a robin.  This is the background to all that is so beautiful and vital on Ibiza…

The outdoor life has given me a feeling of vigorous health, maybe it is just seeing all this vigorous vegetation around me??.  The days outside, reading, writing, swimming, and going for the odd wander have made a strong impression. The swimming has been a real bonus… 3-4 times a day!  I can tell the difference with the body… more strength, more stamina, and even some change in shape.  Hey! Exercise works!   Those 25 steps up from my car I can now do in a sprightly walking glide… each step with a 2 foot depth and an 8 inch rise… up the wide steps I go, no longer hobbling along with the same foot making the stretch up, just one step at a time. The body is feeling much more fit.  I play with fantasies of keeping swimming as part of a daily routine.  Franciso was here this morning to work on the pool; I told him “Si! nadir (swim) ees buenos!  el muscular mucho grande!!  Yo equipaje (I baggage) de piscine (swimming pool).  Mi casa!  He laughed… enjoying my humour, maybe? My use of language for sure.

Talking by the pool with Francisco

One of the books I have been reading is John Julius Norwich’s THE MIDDLE SEA – A History of the Mediterranean.  (2006).  When Norwich contemplated a beginning and end for The Middle Sea, he decided to begin with the people of the ancient civilizations; and to end with WW 1 and the treaty of Versailles: when Europe and the Middle East were re-designed.   To him it was an end of an era, and thus an appropriate ending for the book:

“Does the Middle Sea of today retain the significance that it enjoyed when the world was young? … Alas, the answer must be no. … the trade routes no longer exist… the monster cruise ship prowling ceaselessly from port to port, island to island … it is becoming increasingly clear that its old raison d’être is lost for ever, and that the prime purpose of today’s Mediterranean is pleasure… .

          Not perhaps in every respect a bad thing…the waters in the past all too often were stained with blood.  One tends to forget…The miseries of former days at sea…slaves bled under the lash…a sudden storm could be tantamount to a death-warrant for an entire crew.

          What is sad is the loss of dignity: that the world’s most historic body of water should be so taken for granted…so polluted…its shores so littered that many are maintained only through the efforts of thousands of sweepers… .”  (my emphasis)
I would agree, mostly…though I have not seen litter; and there is a lot of our globe that seems to be littered and polluted.  But that this sea “should be so taken granted”, yes that hit a chord. “It links 3 of the world’s 6 continents; its climate for much of the year is among the most benevolent to be found anywhere.” Unlike other historical sites I doubt a ‘sea’ can be designated a heritage site.  It is too bad.  Though there are 7 Mediterranean regions in our world; there is only one ‘Old Mediterranean” full of the relics from numerous civilizations, including, at least 3 great ones. 

Which of the many Mediterranean civilizations? Found at old fort on Ibiza.

His rendering of Crete’s history is an example of his focus on various peoples:  It gives the sense of such a force for civilization!  Not a military culture but by 2000 BC the commercial crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean.  “Their life was easy, their climate delectable… the objects that they left behind them give the impression of a happy, peaceful, carefree people secure enough to leave their cities unwalled.”  Yes! Here we find King Minos; and the grand story of the Minotaur.  Norwich reports historians have actually credited Minos with having assembled the first great navy … largely clearing the sea of pirates and establishing governors on certain islands of the Aegean. This extraordinary civilization is one of the oldest threads in the weave of our Western culture.
I’m tempted to include it in this winter’s wanderings… maybe after Dubrovnik.  Glad to have found Norwich’s book, as I set out to traipse around the Mediterranean this fall/winter. 

Archetypal image found in most pantheons...Green Man/Dionysus in Mediterranean.

Another interesting book I found at the international bookstore in Santa Gertrudis is SEEING by the Portuguese Nobel Prize laureate, Jose Saramago.  A review:  “I have never read a novel that gets so many details of the political behavior that we for some reason insist on calling ‘organized’ so hilariously and grimly right.” Chicago Tribune (not an easy read; a moderate post-modern style; but it sticks!)

September 3, 2011- A perfect end of summer drive last evening: windows down; the air still warm but cooling as it breezes through the car.  The island is slowing down. Now I can feel the peace settle in; hardly anyone on the roads in the early evening.  So different! no one screaming up behind me wanting to pass.  I can just meander along the country roads… to watch a family of 3 (father, son & daughter) harvest some olives; to look longingly at the ripening deep purple black grape, the vines so close to the roadside I want to stop and pick a few.  But there is no place to stop!  The old stonewalls close in the roads…the valleys are full of the yellow-burnished orange stonewalls, bordering roads and terracing fields.  A lot of stones on this island!  

                                     Old rock terracing in the country.                                
Now September 4th and I have seen no boats in the bay for over a week; and very few on the sea.  Looking out this evening, it is an empty sea. It is definitely the end of THE SEASON.  My hostess arrives within the week; we will have a couple of days to chat; then I am back to London and a family wedding in Scotland September 25th.

 The amazing Mediterranean BLUE! even in the morning glory.

Slideshow of my travels thus far can be viewed by clicking here or on the photo below.
Ibiza, Spain

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paula, we have had great weather for weeks, and it too may be on the move away. I'm definitely not wanting to have wetness and cold around too soon. Still it will get colder where you are going from now on, and as I tried to say in my aborted comments before, Morocco might take your fancy. Scotland can look beautiful in the Fall, but it is never warm for long in a day. I am walking 2-4 miles a day if I can manage it, that exercise had made a great difference to me, and I'm looking forward to keeping up the effort, even when the weather is not so great. Am having fun with my blog, it is gradually taking a nice shape, and I hope
    to encourage folk to take part in it. No house sale, it doesn't matter, 2012 will be more conducive, I think, if America can find some balance and a chance to regroup. Anyway the rest of us have to keep it together as well. Have a lovely time in the UK, looking forward to your next story. Love, Kristin