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Feb 2008

I was strolling on the beach when i heard some distant music. The sound became more distinct as i approached a seaside porch, where sat two musicians: one in his mid-20s (really cute) and the other middle-aged. They saw me but continued to play. The music was good so i decided to stay, sitting down on one of the steps in front of them. They sang in English, but when they stopped to discuss something, it was in German. I don’t remember who initiated the conversation but after a short while, i joined them at the table for a glass of beer. The place was painted in blue [i later found out that it was called the Blue Bar] and some Japanese was written on one of the pillars: ii desu ne.

An older woman came out with another guy. She owned that place. She came here more than two decades ago. It was apparently after the 60 era, when Formentera, together with its more buzzing neighbor island Ibiza, was a hippy paradise, but it has held on to its charm as such to hippy minded folks. Her son, the young guy, was born on the island and had spent most of his time there. The older guy was his uncle, a full time musician in Germany who came here with his buddy just to play music and write some rhythm during the low season.

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I arrived at the port, ready to go back to Ibiza. The ship was waiting to depart. But the sun was shining, the sky blue; it had been gray for the past 2 days. I took a deep breath: No, i don’t want to leave; i’ll stay. Maybe things will change with the weather.

I went back to town looking for a hotel. One night in a boathouse was more than enough. I was directed to the town square and was turning left and right when a man stopped by my side and asked in English: You look like you need some help. I turned. He was middle-aged, nothing extraordinary, almost without impression: Yes, i’m looking for a hotel. I was told there’s one nearby. – Follow me, i know one.

He led me to a smallish restaurant. 20 euros for a night. Not expensive, but i wasn’t sure about spending it; maybe i’d leave before the evening, so i said i’d think about it and come back later.

The stranger, as we were walking out, turned and said: If you want, you can stay at my place. It’s small, but we can arrange something. He must have taken my hesitance for unwillingness to pay.

I looked at him. From the conversation on our way to the hotel, i learned that he was a doctor from Argentina, working at a local hospital. People had seen us together, they had greeted him. I didn’t felt unsafe. If you don’t mind, I’d really appreciate it, I replied.

The man, Augusto, was divorced, had 2 daughters in Argentina, and lived by himself here. There were a few moments when i felt odd about it, just me and him in his place; i’d be sleeping in the kitchen cum living room, next to his bedroom. I tried to calm myself down by asking about his daughters, who were my age: are they students or are they working? do they visit you?

Augusto was kind. He had time off that afternoon and took me sightseeing around the island. One advantage of driving a car [or having someone drive you] is that you can easily access so many places. Here is the lighthouse at the southernmost tip of the island, Cap de Barbaria

formentera-lighthouse

And here’s the view from the highest point, on the east side, la Mola

formentera

Later in the evening, he took me out to a bar/restaurant with lots of construction-type guys watching soccer game who looked at me quizzically when i entered. We had some delicious tapas and when i offered to pay, he refused. He picked up the tab because, in his words, i needed the money more than he did.

The next day, when he dropped me off at the port and i was thanking him for having been so kind, he simply said: No, thank you for having trust in me.

formentera, spain

Feb 2008

The next day, eager to escape this sad-looking place, i took a bus back to the port to go to Formentera first thing in the morning. I boarded the ferry. The sea was rough, water splashing all over the deck. It even rained. I was the only person up on the open board. They must have thought i was crazy. But i loved it. It was coldly refreshing. Most people who stayed inside looked rather sick when they got out.

Started walking along the beach. No one was in sight. There was beauty in that desertedness. The sand was a mix of green and pink and white colors.

ibiza-water1

Then i reached this narrow strand of sand, which was at least 2 kms long. And 50 meters wide at most. I was literally walking in the middle of the ocean.

walking-middle-of-ocean

I turned back and continued down south. Still the only one on the beach for a while, but then started seeing some car tracks on the sand, and soon a couple of people. I felt lonely but stayed strong and continued on, didn’t want to make it back to town. I passed a row of houseboats on the beach and decided i could stay there for the night.

Bad idea.

There was nothing romantic about it, but absolute misery. Night fell around 7:30 and of course i couldn’t fall asleep that early. So there i was, lying on the cold wood in darkness. But the worst part was the wind. I should have known that it would be blowing hard. And it was still Feburary; it was chilly at night even without a single breeze. I put on more clothes, and finally dragged out a shed, shielded it around me against the wind and managed to sleep.

When i woke up the next morning, the tampon inside me had been there for too long and i had to change it. I was squatting on the ground, taking the old one out and putting another in, trying to wash my hands with the sandy sea water. One of the most disgusting things i’ve ever done in life.

I started arranging my things to walk back to town when i saw this guy coming in a car and disappear into one of the boathouses. I decided to wait to ask for a ride. I was exhausted and unhappy and didn’t want to walk. He didn’t speak much English, and looked puzzled seeing me there, but he let me climb into his car. I was dropped off somewhere in town, and asked for another the ride to the port. All i was thinking was: i wanted to get the hell out of here. I was so miserable for the whole night i couldn’t bear staying here for another moment.

ibiza, spain

Feb 2008

Arrived in Ibiza. After some name confusion, i landed myself in a town in the north, either San Joan or San Antoni. I got off the bus at the last stop and realized my mistake right away. It was quiet, not because it was off-season or it was a Sunday but because there was absolutely nothing remotely attractive about it. But already too late to go back so I started looking for a hotel. I approached two school-aged little girls and almost failed at non-verbal communication. My gestures and drawings didn’t make much sense to them. It took them a full 15 minutes to understand what i was looking for: a place to eat and to sleep.

They took me to a small hotel-resto nearby. The room cost 20 euros which was quite an amount of money since i rarely ever pay for accommodation. But i needed it badly. I was feeling a fever coming. The owner must have been surprised that a tourist would come check in at that time.

I changed and realized that i’d run out of tampon. (For some reason, i always have my period when i travel.) I came downstairs, signaled to the waitress, who was punky cute and had a friendly wide smile, and nervously asked where i could buy some tampons. She didn’t speak English so well but understood the matter right away. She told me there was a store down the street where i’d be able to find some the next day. For the time being, luckily, she had a couple in a bag and gave them to me.

I rested a little bit and finally got myself up to take a look at the town. True to my first impression, it was ugly, full of unimaginative concrete gloomy buildings and the clouded February sky didn’t help. That was the opposite of what i had expected: beautiful nature on this famous island. A day wasted, but it did give me a little time to get better.

Back at the hotel, i ate dinner by myself. I am alone a fair amount of time; that time, i was lonely, just digging at my plate and staring at the wide screen from time to time. A few men were around watching a soccer match. The waitress had gone; in her place was a boy who had the same alternative look, and was cute. I wish i’d had the courage to come up and strike a conversation. I’m always so shy in situation like that, telling myself that cuteness and friendly smile is not enough of a reason to befriend young males.

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