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Published: August 22nd 2019
The wind is still howling, but the sun has reappeared, and a few brave souls are back on the beach watching the waves crash in.
We head off for today’s destination, the Cuevas del Drach, or Dragon Caves, which are about an hour’s drive away over on the island’s east coast.
As we near the caves we pass through the small town of Manacor, which we read is the birthplace of Rafael Nadal. The great man trains here at his own 40,000 square metre Rafa Nadal Sports Centre, which houses amongst other things 26 tennis courts, the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy and the Rafael Nadal Experience Museum.
We booked tickets for the caves on-line for a very specific entry time, and we join a group of what looks like somewhere around 200 people at the entrance. We start our descent. The caves are massive and spectacular, with large doses of all the usual stalactites, stalagmites, and other cavely formations. We read that the path through the caves is 1.2 kms long. It ends at Lake Martel, which at 170 metres long and up to 12 metres deep is apparently Europe’s largest underground lake. As we reach the lake
we are directed to take our seats in what is effectively a small lakeside auditorium. A small row boat then appears carrying a string quartet and we are treated to a short classical concert as the boat is rowed gently through the lake in near darkness in front of us. The whole experience is haunting.
Issy says she was feeling a bit uncomfortable during the concert. She says she's not a huge fan of caves, as she’s always worried that the roof might cave in. I’d never realised this. She whispers that she was really hoping that the orchestra would play very softly and that the applause would be a bit muted, as she was scared that a lot of loud noise might vibrate the rocks and make a cave in even more likely than she’d already feared. I thought she was only ever worried about the roofs of chapels, churches, cathedrals, abbeys, basilicas, convents, monasteries, and any other types of religious buildings collapsing on her while she was in them, and I assumed that her logic for this was that a divine being, who she says she doesn’t believe exists, might want to take retribution on her. I’m
not sure that this logic is all that logical, but I doubt that what I think is all that relevant here.
I try to reassure her. I point out that given the cave is thought to be something of the order of ten million years old, and we’re only going to be in here for about an hour, the odds of its roof collapsing during this time would seem to me to be rather small. I sense that she’s not really all that interested in this logical line of argument so I move on instead to telling her that if the thousands of tons of rocks above us do decide to fall in today it will all be over very quickly and I’m sure she won’t feel a thing. I sense that these intended words of comfort are not helping all that much either, so it’s probably fortunate that the concert is over and we can now start to leave. Leaving involves queuing up for a short boat ride across the lake to the caves’ exit.
We agree that despite the fear factor this experience has been a real highlight.
We drive back to Cala Sant Vincenc
via the shores of Alcudia Bay. This looks like mass tourism central, with wall to wall apartments and hotels jammed into a couple of hundred metre wide strip along the beach. It doesn’t look particularly appealing and we agree that we’re glad we’re staying where we are rather than here. We move onto Badia de Pollenca bay where the kite surfers are out in full force enjoying the howling wind. It looks like one of them is about to land on the bonnet of our car, but this turns out to be an optical illusion, and he lands instead on the bonnet of the car in front of us; well that’s what it looked like might happen, but as we drive away he still seems to be safely out on the water.
We read that there are more than three million German visitors to Majorca every year. They outnumber the next biggest nationality of visitors, the British, by more than 50%, and visitors from the Spanish mainland by a staggering three to one. This dominance is so great that a lot of people apparently now refer to Majorca as the seventeenth German state. I ask the Google machine why
this is. I’d always thought of the Germans as a highly cultured and worldly race, but it seems that I may have been mistaken. One site says that most Germans who come here aren’t after a different cultural experience at all; all they really want to do is get a tan, get drunk, and enjoy some time in good weather. If they could do all of this in the Fatherland they would, but they can’t, so they come to Majorca instead. There are German TV channels and German restaurants here, so they can get all they want relatively cheaply without “feeling the pain of leaving Germany”. I hadn’t realised that Germans were so attached to their homeland.
We eat at another rustic restaurant close to the hotel. Our table is next to a large tank and we watch on as the maître d’ fishes out live lobsters from it as they’re ordered. We wonder whether the lobsters realise the fate that awaits them. We feel very sorry for them, although I do then remind Issy that she’s currently tucking into the shoulder of what was once a cute lamb grazing away in a nice green paddock. The maître d’
sits two of the lobsters on the edge of the tank while he tries to fish out a third, and Issy yells at them to run away while he’s not looking. They don’t move; they look like they’re rooted to the spot, and we now feel like we’re watching a horror movie playing out right in front of us. I was feeling quite good after a couple of sangrias, but the world suddenly feels like a very cruel and uncaring place as we watch these three poor creatures get carted off to their executions. I think we should probably avoid sitting next to fish tanks in the future.
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