Headed out for a road trip through the Serra de Tramuntana, the range of spiky volcanic mountains that runs across the Northern end of the island. The road had been described in a guide as “not for the faint-hearted”, which presumably referred to the panic that my passengers would experience as I blithely swung round the hairpin bends aside precipitous drops, whistling “The Self Preservation Society”. After a while I commented that Joseph was no longer “weirded out” and had loosened his white-knuckled grip on the door handle, to which he replied “I’ve got past that now; I know I’m going to die.”
Stopped at the pretty town of Valldemossa, did another spot of unsuccessful sunglasses/hat shopping then found a place that did traditional Mallorquin cuisine for lunch. J and I shared an “Arroz Brut”, a hearty stew of cheap cuts of don’t-ask meat, rice and vegetables. Very nice it was, but also rich and filling, and it has cured Joseph of his curiosity about local grub. I later found out that its name translates as “dirty rice”, but it’s too far to drive back to ask for a discount. Michael used the ashtray to put his bread in, and when we asked him to desist pointed out that it was clean so what’s the problem? Typical bloody Dunphy. Afterwards I obliquely hinted that I really wouldn’t mind looking round the Monastery, but was met with cold stares. So that’ll be no.
Continued on the road of death through mind-boggling mountain scenery up to Sa Calobra, surely the hardest-won day out: a 25km round trip of insane loops and bends, even a ‘spiral bridge’, in which the road bends round and loops under itself. At the other end you queue for 20 minutes to get into the car park, operating one-in-one-out with every leaver paying a man in a kiosk in cash only, after he calculates your fee at the rate of €0.0468 per minute. No really. This seems to be typically Mallorquin, having a middle-aged bloke (or better two) do something a machine could do in a fraction of the time. Hmmm….
Once parked you walk down to the port then follow the coast round for 10 minutes, bizarrely though two floor-lit person-sized tunnels blasted through the rock, until you arrive at a stunning cove where a small stream ‘Torrent de Pareis’ empties into the sea. Surrounded on all sides by high mountains is a deep shingle beach with a narrow shoreline in which you can swim in the shallows. Don’t think there were many germans or brits here. We looked whiter than the shingle.
Later I discovered what had been missing from my holiday so far. Sitting outside a restaurant in the Placa Major I asked what beers they had; with a quizzical look the waiter said, “Umm, San Miguel. We have San Miguel.” He might well have followed up with “Of course we only have San Miguel - this is Spain. Most people in Pollença drink wine anyway, you stereotypical English lager lout.” The nameless aching void filled, I slept soundly that night.
If you ever see me without an umbrella, then don your sou’wester because it’s going to rain. Likewise as I have forked out for anti-mosquito outdoor spray, the last (and most expensive) anti-mosquito citronella candle in the supermarket and several types of mosquito repellent body spray, naturally there is a total dearth of the little buggers. We have broken every rule, leaving doors open and lights on and food scraps everywhere, but no sight of our whiny friends. The sprays and candles are pristine.
Ants are a different matter. The villa guidance notes advise that food should be kept only in the cupboards (of which there are none) or fridge, and food scraps such as crumbs (!?) should not be left lying around, especially near beds. Clearly the author was unaware that our kids pretty much sit and sleep on mounds of discarded apple cores, half-eaten bowls of cereal and bread crusts. There is probably a german bloke in the next villa blogging about how despite the warnings there are no ants around; that’s because word has gone out in the Majorcan ant community and they’re having a week-long fiesta in our digs. I’ve told the kids that ants are actually edible so they should stop whinging about the bread moving.
The Dunphy effect seems to propagate to nearby people and objects. The owner of the villa has been hovering around trying to get the lawn mown, but his lawnmower has mysteriously broken down. No doubt it will kick back into life moments after we leave, overheat and burn down the garden shed.
* Getting out of the car, Joseph said “Oh here are my sunglasses.”