“I was trained to turn loneliness into laziness.”
― Bill Callahan
Yesterday I left Ibiza, Spain. I had spent two and a half weeks of mostly solitude in a little cliff-side “finca” at the Northern tip of the island. It was the most lazy I have been in my entire life. No joke. There were a few days that I didn’t even get out of bed until after five pm. Why bother, when I could lay in the bed and look out over the cliffs and the ocean. Most days it was crazy windy and I wondered if the windows may come crashing in on me. No, I wasn’t depressed or manic. I was just lazy and if I’m being honest, a bit lonely too. I had no cell phone coverage and my only connection to the outside world was when I had WiFi and could chat with my family at home for a few minutes at a time. It was the ultimate in remoteness.
For those of you that know me personally, you’ll find it unbelievable that a semi-hyper woman such as myself could do it – the “it” being nothing. My personality is to “get up and go! Explore!” Sure I know how to relax and rest and all that mind/body fluff that has been engrained into my yogi self all of these years. But to actually have days of doing nothing -no yoga, no painting, no walking, no writing, no exploring….was no small feat for the likes of me. I’ll likely never have the opportunity or desire again. But I am grateful for the experience nonetheless.
Between letting my muscles atrophy while my mind raced like an Olympic marathoner, I did manage to see a good part of the island. Before visiting Ibiza I was told that I would “looove it”, that is was a haven for “artist.” There were old “hippies” who sold there art at famous markets like Las Dalias. I was excited.
Before arriving in Ibiza I spent a day in Barcelona where I walked around the city, drank real melted chocolate with a dollop of heavy cream and bought beautiful paintings from an extremely humble Spanish woman artist. She dressed in jeans and a sweater, let her natural grey hair sweep her shoulders and the tiny bit of makeup she wore only accentuated her glowing healthy aging skin. I love Barcelona
So I give you now my uncut and rather harsh review of Ibiza, Spain –
“I am not what I appear – I am much shallower than that.”
First, let me begin with the natural beauty of Ibiza.
The island has natural beauty in SPADES. The coastline is majestic; entrancing. I could sit for hours and stare out at the rocks, the waves, the trees dotting the hillsides. And the ancient rock walls that cover the island are to me, so artful in design that I feel there is no comparison as to the beauty and ingenuity of the islands early farmers and settlers. I loved driving through the farm lands too. Since it is Spring the farmers were preparing the land for the spring plantings and everywhere around me there was tilled earth, flowers and trees in bloom. It was heaven.
The natural beauty of Ibiza rivals that of Ischia, Italy, which I could not prevent myself from being reminded of while driving its coastlines. They are so similar in the natural beauty the Mediterranean offers. I have long said that Ischia is the most beautiful place I have seen. Although some of that beauty comes from the real and authentic people of Ischia. There seemed to be no pretense in Ischia as that is saved for the wealthy Capri…It is why I long to return.
Which brings me to the inhabitants of Ibiza.
It is here that the island played tricks with my expectations. As I drove through the main cities of Eivissa and San Antonio I was struck with the abundance of night clubs. And I mean night club after night club. Cheap hotel after cheap hotel. I was told that in the summer the tiny island is full of party goers from all over Europe. The dance, fuck and party for pretty much the entire season. So in essence, Ibiza is a party island for young vacationers for a good part of the year. I just happened to be there in the spring time when 70% of the restaurants, shops, hotels and clubs were closed. I am grateful my first experience was not riddled with “club wear” and parties. I may have hoped the first plane back to Barcelona for authenticity.
Driving away from the city and back to the secluded farmlands you can make a stop at any one of the statuaries and shops along the way. Here you will find more Buddha statues than in Thailand. At a cost of course. You see, being serene and a Buddhist has a steep price in Ibiza. As does the real estate. Most, not all, of the Spanish people live in the cities in the cramped flats, while the “fincas” and farmhouses are owned by the Brits and Germans and “artists” who can afford them and the Buddhas that grace their patios and gardens.
Funny though, I always thought Buddha was free…
The finca I called home for a few weeks was only twenty or so minutes from the famous Las Dalias market. I went for a visit my first weekend on the island. I got there before the tour buses full of senior tourists came. As I walked through the “Hippy Market” I found myself more than a little put off. It was a sad sort of place. A few stalls had original crafts from locals, but most had trinkets and jewelry for sale that weren’t even made in Spain, let alone Ibiza. They were mass produced in places like Malaysia and such. Huh??
I think at one time Las Dalias really was an amazing place to retreat to for the hippies, the artist and the musicians. But now, in 2014, there may be a few old remnants of the once flower power…but in general, it’s full of wealthy Europeans pretending to be poor artists and hippies. It’s cliquish and hippy sheik at it’s best. It saddened me….the shallowness and pretentiousness of it all. It was such a show, with actors in costume and all. And where were the local Spanish people? I saw maybe a few. I know this is a harsh comment. I know it may not be fair, especially to those who remember Las Dalias in it’s heyday of the 60’s and 70’s and to those who earn an income from the tourist busses and vacationers. But in truth, I met more true artists, humble artists, on the side streets of Barcelona. They didn’t dress the part in costume, they didn’t ask high prices for their work either and I am certain they didn’t have expensive Buddhas on their patios. They just enjoy their craft. I saw none of this on Ibiza. I know it may be out there, it just eluded me on this particular trip…and I searched high and low for it.
The redeeming humanistic experience came from the local Spaniards. I found them warm, graceful and polite. They, like the locals in Barcelona gave no show, no costumes and no pretense. Just wonderful hospitality, which is what lost them their island in the first place I suppose. If I could only surround myself with them, I’d have been much happier there. I think that’s why I stayed in bed instead.
If I were to ever return it would for the shear natural beauty and isolation you can find on the island. But in truth, I think maybe another island would be better suited for my personalty. Natural beauty aside, we all desire to be around people like ourselves. We can’t stay held up alone for months on end. Or at least I can’t. I need people. People who resonate with my spirit. This, I know for certain.