Hello again! Back to my vacation in Menorca – part two. I kept hearing about this festival but everyone was telling me different cities it was in. Thankfully the lovely car rental lady at Europcar (NOT Avis – see last post for aggression) told me for certain the festival would be in Es Mercadal on the weekend. It is the smaller version of the Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella in May. Which is CRAZY! Looks super cool but I would rather have the tamer version of it. And it allowed me to come into full contact with the horses! Something I doubt would be possible for me at the Sant Joan festival.
Check out these pics from the Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella. Insane in the membrane.
and this …..
Wowzers. That is A LOT of people. But that is the Sant Joan fiesta. Es normal.
The festival in Es Mercadal is called Sant Marti. The horse is the common hero of all the local saint’s day festivals celebrated in all the Menorcan villages during the summer and clearly shows how authentic the island customs are. The drivers and horsemen, dressed up in the outfit called “de just” (of the just man) in a combination of black and white and they ride Menorcan-race stallions in a long procession or parade (qualcada) which goes through all the main streets and squares of the town.
During the two days of the holiday, strict protocol is observed, mixing religious acts which are closely observed, with moments of collective fun especially during the “jaleos” which take place in the main square and where the horses, horsemen and public take part to an equal extent in the show.
And this Jaleo is what we went to on Sunday morning at 11 am in the Plaça Constitució. It was, in a word, fantastic. First, the riders rode in a procession through the street showing off themselves and their gorgeous horses. And then the fun begins! They ride into the public circle in twos while the spectators (me!) try to touch the horse while it rears up. This went on for about an hour. I am allergic to horses. Seriously, all I have to do is look at a horse and I start to get welts on my face and arms. But after 15 minutes I was ready to get into the game. Screw allergies! It was so much fun.
If you get a chance to go to the Sant Marti or the Sant Joan festival I highly recommend it. And make sure you wear clothes that can get dirt, sand, horse slobber and more on it. NO HIGH HEELS! No. Muy ridiculo – and don’t think I didn’t see it.
Next up – El Toro, whose summit (357 metres/1,171 feet), bristling with a cathedral of telecommunications towers, is visible from most of the island. The highest point of all Menorca and on a clear day you can just about make out the entire coast of Menorca. A Christ statue welcomes you to the top and the Església del Toro.
Time for a beer! Off to the west coast, to the town of Cala en Porter. Just around the tip of the bay, in the south-facing cliffs, the Cova d’en Xoroi is a spectacularly located pirate cave (and who doesn’t love pirates), complete with legend attached ~ bloodthirsty pirate named Xoroi makes attacks on a village, carrying off a hapless vigin and somehow disappears into thin air until an improbable fall of snow allows desperate villagers to track footsteps back to the cave and free the virgin, while the pirate ends it all by jumping into the sea. Nowadays the cave has been turned into a nightclub, which doubles as a bar/tourist attraction during the day, with fabulous views out to sea, small nooks and low tunnels. I think it would have been quite fun to go to the nightclub, the place is so original. But since we were leaving on the ferry that night, it was impossible. Next time! The entrance fee during the day was 8 euro for adult but with your ticket you received a free beer. Isn’t the view fantastic?
And we still weren’t done for the day. If you are in Menorca, you have to hit the beach! The day before we went to Cala d’Algaiarens in the north and today it was going to be Cala en Turqueta in the south. There are many beaches to choose from just south of Ciutadella, many walkable along pathways (sometimes very narrow) from one beach to the next. We parked and had to walk about 15-20 minutes to get to the beach. It was already around 5:00 pm and the beach wasn’t too packed. We went to the left to get the most of the setting sun. Cala en Turqueta is a series of tiny patches of sand and mini-bays, with illicit boathouses and shacks redolent of pirates and smugglers. There are those pirates again! These gave the tiny beach an atmosphere of intimacy and adventure. There are many places to walk around so it is perfect for everyone of all ages. Do you want to see the view? Of course you do.
Yeah, that’s me. Enjoying Menorca to the fullest! I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Now it’s your turn!