I like to drive, and I have two speeds, fast and really fast. My mom always said I had a lead foot. And it is even better when you have a fast car to do exactly that. The Porsche (The Germans, not mine) does nicely with my latest mix playing while cruising through the mountains or heading to the beach. But the drivers here in Mallorca astound me. It is one or the other – either they drive sooooo slow that apparently the sun has warped their right foot or they are on my ass while I am already driving at top speed. And the thing that makes me even angrier if they are tailgating me is when they are too scared to pass when in a passing zone. Que? You can drive one inch behind me but you are too timid (I could think of another word) to pass me? That only prompts me to drive slower, much slower. But usually, as long as I am listening to my favorite 80’s station (I don’t have many choices around here but I can’t complain) I sing loudly with Roxette and let it slide.
I started driving at 15.5 years of age…okay a little earlier when no parents were around and we were out in the country. So I would think I am by now, a qualified and good driver. Here, in Spain, you can drive a scooter when you are 16 but you must be 18 to drive a car. The first three months is only theoretical tests before they even get into a car. That makes no sense to me. Granted I never took a day of Driver’s Ed in school, what’s the point? And on top of learning how to drive here, they place an idiot sticker on you. During your first year of driving you must keep a large, fluorescent “L” sign in your window. “L” can stand for a lot of things – loser, lucky, lovable, lush but in this case, is it obviously Level 1.
Also, I must discuss the inability to construct a normal, non-confusing parking lot. Not really sure where the problem lies within the architecture of spanish parking lots, but there is one. These are the most perplexing, unexplainable supermarket lots, Ikea, shopping mall areas that I have ever tried to safely navigate through. Seriously, it’s a parking lot for crying out loud not the next grand cathedral.
But with all my complaining Mallorca is a beautiful place to just cruise around. I have a few favorite spots while driving around the island; the windmill that arrives out of nowhere when turning a sharp corner in Algaida, or coming over the hill on the Ma-19, right past the speedway there is an amazing view of the port of Palma de Mallorca and the skinny, winding backroads traveling on the NNW side of the island are spectacular, especially when arriving to a point that drops 250 feet down into the Mediterranean. And I must admit that I love roundabouts, now THAT is a smart idea.
I feel I must mention the car bombing the other day in Palmanova. I was shocked and saddened by the terrorist attack on my island of Mallorca. The two Civil Guard officers who died were identified as Diego Salvà Lezaún, 27 years, and Carlos Sáenz de Tejada García, 28 years. My heart goes out to their families. The police sealed off the island with road blocks and closed the airport and all ports until 9 p.m. that evening. Also, another bomb was found under a police car but it was defused. This is not the first terrorist attack that has happened so close to me and unfortunately will most likely not be the last. I was living in Oklahoma when the Alfred P. Murrah building was bombed and I moved into New York City a short two weeks after 9/11. While the ETA group that attacked on Thursday will continue to try to instil fear or create power where there is none, I know for a fact, that it can also cause a rally cry to the citizens of that country. I saw the sadness from the terrorist attacks on my homeland but I also saw a spirit build. A feeling of being an American and fighting back for what we know is right. I feel conflicts can be dealt with peacefully, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen. And I will continue to fight for what I believe in – and what has been instilled in me all along within the Bill of Rights: the freedom of speech, the freedom of press and the freedom of religion.