Thursday, July 28, 2005

Marching to Soller





It has been very hot in Mallorca for the past few days, and having discovered before my departure that I was experiencing some indication of kidney dysfunction, I have not wanted particularly to set out for town in the day. I made the trek a couple of days back, and it takes a good half hour, even when hoofing it pretty hard. Add to that scenario the possibility that one could easily take a wrong turn, and although Soller is not all that large, there is the chance that I could get misdirected and overheated. I figure it just isn't worth the risk.

Tonight however, I decided to go in for dinner and to get a sense of the town at night. On my way in, the sun was setting and many of the cedars and palms where silhouetted against a brilliant sky. I pulled out my camera to snap a few photos and after the first, my batteries suddenly went out. I had already closed the gate, and although I had access to it, I chose not to return to the house. So I set out for town carrying an inoperable camera and spent part of my energy deciding whether I could or should buy new batteries....I opted to wait and use the ones in my camera bag, so there would be no other photos this night.

Going into town is not so difficult. It only requires following the signs to the center. Returning from town in the dark is another issue. I found myself really searching for my path back, turning right here, then left, then along a riverbed and right further along. Otherwise, I relied on recognizing the shapes of some buildings, the peculiar angle of some of the turns, or the trees that either lined the street or those whose stumps had been simply paved into the road.

It is necessary at points to lean back against a wall to allow traffic to pass. When I approached one corner tonight, a moped sped out of the darkness, into the light of a streetlamp where the driver waved at me. I think it might have been the smoothie guy whom I interviewed for my film yesterday.

The rocks and pavers in the sidewalks have been polished by years of pedestrian traffic and they mirror the path ahead. Later, as you come around a corner, you might suddenly find yourself between two orange groves, with the light fragrance of oranges playing on the air. Walking under the stars, the masses of stars, it is possible to make out the darker dark of the massive mountains that surround this valley, with the houses perched above us, shining like beacons.

There is great pleasure and sometimes necessity in reaching a milestone and being reassured that one is on the right path. When finding the entrance to one's home in the dark, one certainly feels that reassured relief to have made it back to haven. It is one of the more material ways in which we can find ourselves "safe".

* * *

So getting into town and returning home only make up part of the story. When I first emerged into town, the sun was setting, and I checked one of the restaurants where I had planned to eat only to learn it was closed. Eventually, I settled on a place that served pasta and salad and I ate heartily after all the walking I had done. My meal consumed, I looked around me. There were a few other places open with diners on their terraces, and kids playing soccer in the churchyard where they probably attend church. To my right, a table of 3 Mallorcan women and a man. Their daughter, a beautiful dark-skinned beauty was cruising me while we sat at our respective tables. I thought of telling her that she had beautiful eyes, but knew that I would only be starting something I was unprepared to finish.

Meanwhile, I notice a German tourist to my left, drinking huge mugs of beer, smoking and texting something on his cell phone. He had a piercing in his lower lip that was rather prominent, and which gave him a bad boy appeal. I kept my eye on him periodically until he staggered up and away into the courtyard. A few minutes later, a couple of other guys showed up to sit around the perimeter of the square, leaning actually against anti-parking barricades. I figured there could be any number of reasons for their behavior, including any number of items that could get a tourist arrested, so I sighed a bit and headed back home.

The highlight of the evening was seeing the stars of my North Carolina sky being borrowed by the Spaniards to make me feel at home.

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