Chapter Twenty   June 22-July 24, 2005


Picking up from last time, the Moroccan tin box did find its way onto “Seraphim;” despite the fact that the dealer had an inflated idea of its worth.

But we did enjoy Cartagena.  We made new friends as we strolled through the old town.

It was hotter than Hades in Cartagena, and we fully embraced Siesta out of sheer desperation.  We used the opportunity to reprovision before we hit the “island prices” we expected to find later.  The European answer to Cosco is a German chain called Lidl.  Our visit there required a taxi to carry everything back to the harbor.

But the islands made up for it.  First stop:  Formentera, and its little brother Espalmador.  Espalmador is tiny, and privately owned, so the only way onto it is by boat.  No bars, no restaurants, no noise. Making up for those deficiencies is the nudity.  Some of the earliest tourists to visit Formentera and Espalmador were nudists, and the tradition continues.  And then there’s the “mud bath” behind the beach.  Actually, it is but a dried-up swamp with a few drops of moisture left.  An area about the size of a medium sized automobile.  We saw several groups of people covered head to toe in the muck.  A few friends even extolled the virtues of bathing in the mud:  supposedly a great cleansing of the skin, relaxation of tired muscles, purifying of pores, blah, blah, blah.  To John, it looked like a giant Petri dish.  Since this is a family site, we’ll show the mud, but not the nudists.  Sorry.

Sharon even tried the mud bath, but only went in as far as her thighs.  And those stunk for three days!

Formentera is also known for the hippies who invaded in the sixties.  They brought with them their drugs, music and crafts.  And some of them never left.

Once over on Ibiza proper, we were pleasantly surprised.  We expected:

  • -Thousands of 18-30 year-old singles from England and Germany.  Yep.

  • -Loud discos going until all hours.  Yep.

  • -Lots of bare bellies, butts and boobs, all covered with tattoos and body piercings.  Yep.

  • -Cheap hotels and lousy restaurants.  Yep.

  • -Not much in the way of scenery to look at.  Wrong!  The west coast is stunning.

  • -Brusque people tired of the crummy tourists.  Wrong again.  We met some wonderful Ibizians.

(We did tire of the discos!)

Our arrival in San Antonio, Ibiza was marred by yet another mechanical breakdown.  Actually it was two breakdowns, in case you’re keeping score.  We “met a guy, who knew a guy, who recommended a guy” whose father turned into John’s “new best friend.”  Antonio.  Antonio is 66 and retired.  He sold his boat service business to his son several years ago.  He just happened to be in the shop when John appeared with his “problems.”  Antonio is one of those “old school” mechanics who likes to fix things, not just change the parts.  What a gem!  John worked side by side with Antonio on both the engine problem and the broken anchor windlass.  In the end, his expertise and experience cost us less than $175 for both problems.  Not bad.  And, as we waited for parts to arrive from the USA, Antonio even took John out on his own boat for a sightseeing trip.

Once we left San Antonio, the island took on a different air.  The coast is high stone cliffs topped with green trees.  The sea crystal clear, deep, and of the purest blue imaginable.  We anchored one night in a little cove just large enough to hold one boat; the rest of the cove was shallow and rocky.  We entered through a slot in the cliff, and the cove opened up to our right.  There, hidden from view farther out to sea, was a tiny beach complete with bar/restaurant.  There were twelve chaise lounges for rent, and six umbrellas.  Period.  Everyone left at day’s end except for four young men who were staying overnight.  When we awoke next morning, the four young men were gone, the entire beach had been cleaned and raked, the chaises and umbrellas were all in place.  Ready for a new day.

We did come across a “first” for us:  A large motoryacht, as in 200’ large, traveling with another “supply ship” to hold the toys.  The supply ship was pretty big, too, and looked to be a converted oil-platform supply ship.  It was filled with jetskis, a 30’ speedboat, water-ski boats, rubber dinghies, and an amphibious car!  The car looked like a Rambler American convertible, ca. 1955, but with a difference:  it sported twin propellers under the rear bumper.  All this to service the guests on the larger yacht.  We have never seen anything like this before.  We missed the opportunity to photograph the yacht; you’ll just have to settle for the “tender.”

We managed to combine business with pleasure one evening, and took the bus to the other side of the island to Ibiza town.  It turned out to be charming, with its old walled city sited on the hill overlooking the harbor.  After buying the bits we needed at the “ferreteria”, we climbed to the top of the hill, but the cathedral there was closed for the day.  People watching was much better than in San Antonio:  more style, more money, more transvestites.  We had a wonderful dinner in a small plaza, then caught the late bus back “home.”

Now Mallorca.  Totally different all over again.  More upscale, more money, less skin.  We have just begun to explore this island, so you’ll have to wait until next time.

When we set off on this adventure, we knew one of the main things we wanted to do was get to know something of the people of the various places we were going to visit.  That we have done, but did they all have to be mechanics?

Hasta luego, amigos!