Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Other Mallorca -- Part I

The West Coast of Mallorca (Majorca)
What do you think of when you think of Mallorca? If you're from North America or Asia, you probably never think of Mallorca at all--or you might think I'm referring to a bad whale, or maybe a whale that likes to go to the mall? While you'd get lots of "ridiculous points" for both of these, you wouldn't get the cigar. Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands. It belongs to Spain but is often jokingly called the 17th German Federal State. The name actually refers to the island's size in comparison to the other islands in the archipelago: major (big).

Ballermann 6 (on the playa de Palma) has become so well known for its German Schlager parties in the enormous German beerhalls that the Germanization of Mallorca is hardly ignorable. Don't get me wrong: these places are great fun if you 1. know the songs and 2. um, like the songs. They're catchy and sometimes a bit dirty and of course 99% in German. I know some of the songs, so I'm almost in the group of people who like them. I've always thought the world would be a better place if we'd all--and I mean all of us--would just stop fighting and enjoy a bit of light entertainment together.

The snack bar at Ballermann 6
The problem with Ballermann is that, alongside all this lighthearted entertainment--it has become (or maybe it always was) incredibly trashy. There are prostitutes on many corners at night and scary types milling around looking for . . . a fight? drugs? Who knows. You walk fast and try not to make eye-contact. We were smarter this time. We stayed on the main street. The last time we were on Mallorca, in February, we walked home from one of the beerhalls down a back street and were practically roughed up by two prostitutes who didn't want to take NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS for an answer. 

The beach is overrun with shirtless groups of young, not-exactly-fit men celebrating something or other by drinking massive amounts of alcohol and shouting their favorite songs, which are booming from their own boombox. And these songs are never the songs you like. This is almost as bad as being hardsold by a hooker.

When William the Donkey Groomer and I go to Mallorca, we spend our days hiking. Check out THIS SITE for lots more information about the Camina per Mallorca. This trip is no different even though the weather forecast is a blatant lie. It's at least 10 degrees colder than predicted, but we are nothing if not rugged.

"We need another towel," I say, coming out of our hotel bathroom with a bath towel around my neck. "I'm going to use this one as a scarf. Do you think it looks rugged enough?"

"No." William the Donkey Groomer doesn't look up. "You look like Lara from Dr. Zhivago."

"Just over that mountain."
So we set out on our first hike without my towel scarf (I rely on Will's outdoor fashion sense despite the fact that I think Lara was pretty rugged in Dr. Zhivago). Once we get going, it's not that cold. It's that awkward temperature that keeps making you want to take off your jacket; but then, soaked in sweat and freezing, you put it back on and marinate in your sweat. Stupid jacket. We've decided today to walk to the cove that we were too lazy to walk to last time we were on Mallorca.

"It's too far," Willam the Donkey Groomer says after we've walked for at least three hours already.

"It's just over that mountain."

"Thank you, Sir Edmund Hillary."

"Who?"

"Exactly."

We turn around. The hike ends up being six hours of steep ups and downs, so I'm not bothered. But I hate not finishing what I start. Hiking to me is about reaching the destination. Blech on the notion that the journey is the destination. I've said it before, but here it is again: The goal is the goal. The path to the goal will be rocky, steep and cold--with no towel scarf--but you'll feel great once you've done what you said you were going to do. I'm not sure if I've said all that before, but there you go.

More tomorrow on The Other Mallorca.

I must be off,
Christopher

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Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type, about a man struggling with expectations. Available from Amazon.