Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Other Mallorca -- Part II

Sóller, Mallorca (Spain)
We've decided to hike from Deiá to Sóller and back today. It won't be less than six hours. We park the car in Deiá, a town on a ridge with a few quaint restaurants, a tiny market, the requisite church and very limited parking. We've driven through the "town" before, so I know what to expect. The main street will be choked with gabbing locals, playing children and oncoming traffic. I wonder what the mortality rate is on this road. The motorcycles come through here like wildfire.

William the Donkey Groomer is standing--and staring--at the machine where you pay for parking (I know the word in German for this--Parkautomat--but have never seen one in English). He finally looks back at me--I'm still at the car, fussing with my jacket zipper--and gives me the shrug that means he doesn't understand the Spanish instructions on the machine.

"I only have two euros," I shout. "How much will it cost?"

He looks back at the machine, then gives me another shrug.

"I'll buy a drink from the market and get more!" I trot off to the market, which is tiny and filled with Deiáns buying their morning bread. I'm fourteenth in line, so in my mind I get out my camping gear, pitch a tent and start a chorus of Kumbaya. The woman at the counter is chatting with every person before and after the sale, which would be cheery if I weren't waiting in a queue--which I hate more than anything in the world. I understand everything she's saying even with my limited Spanish. It's all so bueno bueno bueno and smiles. I wait patiently, hoping I'll get some bueno bueno bueno too.

"Zwei zwanzig,"--two euros and twenty cents (which I would have understood in Spanish too)--she says as I show her my drink. No smile. No bueno. "Haben Sie es nicht kleiner?"--Don't you have anything smaller?--she asks when I show her my twenty euro note. (Please try to resist "smaller" jokes right now.)

Donkeys--not groomed by William, obviously

"Leider nicht," I say and smile. "Bueno," I whisper to myself.

When I return to the parking machine, my pocket bulging with coins, it turns out the machine won't let you pay more than two euros. And it says this in perfect English. I narrow my eyes at William the Donkey Groomer, who speaks perfect English though it's not his mother tongue.

"We can't park here," I say. "We'll be gone for at least six hours, and Deiá doesn't want us to park her longer than two."

I see in William's eyes that he's considering just paying two and hoping for the best. He enjoys tempting fate.

"You remember Gran Canaria, right?" I say. "Two hundred euros to get the car back and three hours standing around at the police station?"

"We'll park somewhere else," decides William. It's a good decision.

We turn down the road where the trail starts and find a free parking space twenty meters from where we could have started walking thirty minutes sooner if we'd read this blog post beforehand. Always drive to the where the trail starts. There's probably parking there.

The trail from Deiá to Sóller meanders up and down, in and out of olive groves. On this trail you're never quite free of the annoying motorcycle roar from the mountain roads, although as you near Sóller the noise lessens. After around two hours we happen upon a large manor house that serves guests coffee and cake. The aroma of butter and freshly baked cake wafts from the door of the manor.

"Go in and smell this," William says. "At least you can smell it."

I go in. It's heaven. To my right is a counter with eight cakes and tarts--all beautiful. They look and smell intoxicating.

Soller, Mallorca
"Would you like something?" A woman says, walking out of the kitchen.

How do I tell her that her cakes are poison, that I can't eat her gluten-laced cakes?

"Sin gluten?"

She squints at me, confused.

I smile, try to be adorable. "I can't eat wheat. Trigo."

"Oh," she says, like "Well, then go away."

When I didn't know I couldn't eat cake--a decade ago--I wasn't even much of a cake eater. It's much more interesting to smell the cake. I linger just a moment, my nose hovering above a tart layered with apples, before I go. Imaginary drool splats on the counter.

It takes us another hour to reach Sóller, where we try to reach one of the lighthouses. I have great intentions of getting a fantastic photo with all three lighthouses, but it turns out they aren't accessible. This is the best I can do:

Three lighthouses (one no longer in operation) in Sóller, Mallorca

If you are on Mallorca, Sóller is a must. The town has good restaurants and a good feel. It's so far away from Ballermann that you wouldn't guess they were on the same island. And that's what I like about Mallorca. You don't have to experience this place like every other tourist. You can choose. You can cycle if that's what you're into, and apparently spring is the best time. On Mallorca, you'll never cycle alone.



Tomorrow Part III of The Other Mallorca.

I must be off,
Christopher

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Christopher Allen is the author if Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Available from Amazon Anything.