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Published: August 21st 2019
We awake to cloudy skies and the sound of a howling hurricane blowing outside. We briefly consider setting up shop under an umbrella next to the pool, but I think if we try to put an umbrella up in this gale it would quickly end up somewhere in Africa. The wind is directly on-shore and the waves are pounding in. The red flags are up declaring the beach unsafe for swimming, but a few waves and a Category Four Cyclone are apparently not nearly enough to discourage the average European tourist from lying by the shore. We decide to go local and join them. There’s not much sun so most people are sitting on the sand rather than under the umbrellas. The umbrellas are thatch on a solid timber frame, and the fact that most of them aren’t currently somewhere in Africa suggests that they’re probably embedded in a couple of cubic metres of solid concrete.
It usually costs somewhere north of 30 Aussie dollars to rent an umbrella here for the day, but it looks like it might be a bit windy for the umbrella man to be bothered collecting his money from the handful of people using them
today, or so we thought. Just as we start to relax we spy him in the distance coming towards us. It’s not nearly pleasant enough here for us to part with north of 30 dollars, so we make a run for it before he gets to us. I think we might have been liable for the rent as soon as we sat down, which means that we are now criminals on the run. They seem to be very tough on beach related crimes in this part of the world. When we were in Sardinia we read that they have stiff penalties for stealing sand from the beaches there, even unintentionally. Issy shows me an article from yesterday’s paper about a French couple facing up to six years in jail after they were caught with some jars of sand on a ferry leaving the island. Stealing sunlounge rent feels to me like a much worse crime than that. As we make dash for the safety of the hotel I look around nervously to see whether there are any security cameras on the beach. I can’t see any, but I don’t think I’ll feel really safe until we’ve cleared immigration at the
airport in a few days time.
We set off for Cap de Formentor which is about twenty kilometres away at the northern tip of the island. We pass through Port de Pollenca and then follow heavy traffic up a steep and very windy road. There are three buses in front of us and they take up the whole road on the hairpin bends, which is good because they look big and scary and they’re clearing a path for us and all the other cars behind them. We want to stop at the lookout point at top of the mountain to take a closer look at the stunning vertical granite cliffs, but the car park’s packed and the traffic is jammed right up, so we drive on. This road looked like a deserted track on Google Maps, but the reality is a lot different. I think they must have taken the Google Maps photos in the middle of winter. I think they took the Google Maps photos of our beach in the middle of winter as well. We couldn’t see any signs of any beach umbrellas when we looked at the maps before we got there, and we were a
bit worried that we might be stuck with sitting out under the scorching sun, but the beach is actually drowning in umbrellas. I wonder if the Google Maps people think about the timing of their photos before they take them.
We drive down the other side of the mountain and stop for lunch at the clearly very popular Formentor Beach. It’s sheltered from the wind here, so people have their umbrellas up without running the risk of them going into orbit. The beach looks sandy and nice.
We return to Cala Sant Vicenc to find that the wind is even stronger than it was when we left, and the beach is now completely deserted. Our hotel’s restaurant is deserted as well so we go to a very cute and rustic looking restaurant at one of the hotels nearby. We’re shown to a small table with six wine glasses on it lined up in perfect symmetry. I’m not sure the maître d’ is overly impressed when I order a beer and decline his offer of a wine menu, and he then needs to remove all six glasses which he’d clearly spent a long time setting up.
We hypothesise on the relationships between the three older Spanish couples sitting at the next table. Well I hypothesise; Issy just tells me that my imagination has been overly stimulated by beer. I think that the man in the corner is a key figure in the Spanish mafia and that he’s come here from his hideout in Madrid to steal a priceless icon from the Cathedral in Palma. I assume there is such a thing as the Spanish mafia. I also think he’s having an affair with the lady sitting next to him, unbeknownst to both his wife, who’s sitting closest to us, and her husband who’s sitting opposite him. The Mafia boss flashes his colleagues a picture of the priceless icon which he’s got on his phone, or at least that’s what it looks like to me from the other side of the room after two large beers. I think he needs to be a bit more discreet. If a couple of tourists from the other side of the world have cottoned on to what he’s up to, then Interpol will surely be all over it. Issy says that if I really want to know what’s going on then I should just go over and ask them. Is she kidding? Go over and ask a mafia kingpin whether he’s about to steal a priceless icon? I might as well fit myself with a pair of concrete shoes and jump off the pier. I convince Issy that it would be in our best interests to sneak away quickly before they’ve had a chance to notice that we’re onto them. I think we got away OK, but that’s the second close call today, and I think I can feel a sleepless night coming on.
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