Menorca ~ Part DOS

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.

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and this …..

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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.

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and

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and

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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?

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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.

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Yeah, that’s me. Enjoying Menorca to the fullest! I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Now it’s your turn!

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Happy 90210

DONNA: You guys better not drop me. I am on my second new nose.

DAVID:  If I promise not to drop the front end can we finally have sex?

DONNA:  DAVID! NO! I am to be a virgin until, well, another few weeks. And sorry, it won’t be with you.

BRANDON: Will it be with me?

DYLAN:  Sorry Donna, not interested. This week, I only have eyes for Brenda. Next week, maybe I will get drunk, get high and ride my motorcycle over the cliff. You guys will miss me so much.

STEVE:  Hey, if I stand like this will it make my schlong look bigger?

DAVID:  Steve, if you get any closer, I will be having sex with you.

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Excursions a Cabrera

Cabrera island, so close, yet so far. I see it practically every day, calling out to me to come visit. Just south of my lil town of Sa Rapita and I have been wanting to take a boat ride there to check it out. Finally, with my friend Perla in tow, I did.

Cabrera is sometimes called Goat Island and measures four by three miles (about 6.5 x 5 km). It’s a charming rocky island, much frequented by pirates in days of old. On a darker note, it also served as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Napoleonic Wars. Many died on this island during this period. Cabrera is beauty incarnate, rich in wildlife and plants, and the island has been a national park since 1991.

Daily excursions by boat run from Colonia de Sant Jordi. The boat leaves at 9:30 a.m. and arrives back on the mainland at 5:00 p.m. You can also visit with your own yacht, but you must get permission in advance, and only 50 boats are allowed in the harbor (the island’s only legal mooring place) at one time.

Perla and I got up early, drove over to Colonia de Sant Jordi, had a quick café con leche and boarded the small boat. We made a reservation a few days before and everything was very easy peasy japaneasy. We headed for the back of the boat and pulled on our rain jackets, the day was starting out a bit cloudy. The trip took about an hour to get to the main island of Cabrera.

Once there, we had a “guide” give us some “guidelines”: There are no trash cans, so please bring your trash back with you. There are very few toilets, so please use the one at the port while you can. There is one small cafe and there is not a hotel on the island, so if you miss the boat back, well, have fun roughing it. After that, we were on our own for about five hours.

Perls and I had packed a deeeelish picnic and we decided the castle on the cliff was our destination for lunch. The castle was built in the late 14th century to ward off pirates, and later it held mostly French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. Pirates and prisoners, sounds treacherous. Let’s go! Climbing to the castle …..

We picked out a cozy spot where many prisoners probably once sat. But I bet they didn’t have as good of a spread as we had; Mallorcan Pere Seda rosado wine, Mallorcan olives, pickled onions, grapes, yummy Mahon cheese cubes and a baguette from the local bakery.

Even the ants enjoyed it ……

The castle (which dates to the end of the 1400 century) was the popular place to see once the boat docked. But Perla and I stayed long after everyone had checked it out. It was only us, and the ghosts for the remainder of our stay. We looked down towards the water 80 meters below, pretended we were prisoners for awhile ….

The prisoners probably never looked as happy, or pretty. And then, sadly, time to head back down so we wouldn’t miss the boat. Back down the skinny stairs.

Cabrera is famous for its population of Balearic lizards, of which there are about 10 subspecies. Here is one lil dude we saw. Cutie.

Past the graveyard where the prisoners who died are buried. Of 9,000 sent to Cabrera, only 3,600 survived.

And to the cafe for a cerveza.

Life is good.

But wait, the trip isn’t over yet. There is one more stop. Picture a bright bluejay. Picture the vibrant blue of fresh turquoise blue paint. Now mix those up, multiply it by 1000 and you are a little bit closer to the color of the water in the cave. Cova Blava was incredible. The boat enters the cave where you can jump in the water and swim around. And though it was a bit chilly out we didn’t want to miss out on anything. So swim we did! And it was cold. And beautiful.

Alas, the trip is over. The clouds started to rain. And we became the captain of the boat. Go see Cabrera.

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