Friday, October 19, 2012

Spain 3

We are nearing our final week in Mallorca, and the weather is becoming more and more unstable. Despite the heat, I think we've been fortunate to have had a couple of weeks of sunny weather, which allowed us to thoroughly explore the beautiful beaches and coastline. Storms are now rolling through on a regular basis which has improved the temperatures somewhat, but the swimming has become a bit hit or miss. Luckily, Elise has now decided she loves (!) playing in moderate storm surf, so blustery days still provide much entertainment at the water. Not a year ago Elise was terrified of waves, so this is a big step forward. Hawaii, home of the huge wave, should prove interesting at Christmas

We spent a day hiking to Platja des Coll Baix, the lovely beach pictured below. The afternoon was glorious and I snorkeled far along the coastline. My best sighting was a large eel snaking in and out of a hole in a rock shelf and I studied it for some time. Elsie enjoyed the snorkeling, too, and was delighted when she and Pam discovered a moderately sized octopus lurking in a hole near the shore. She loves to be the first to find something of interest, and excitedly waved me in on my way back to the beach. We all studied it for some time, and when I got too close it reached out and grabbed my fin! It was shockingly strong and there was true resistance as I pulled my foot away.

On another note, we've discovered there's no such thing as a designated "nude" beach in Mallorca. They all seem to be nude beaches to some degree and it's not uncommon to see people, young and old, strip completely naked and stroll across the sand to go for a swim. Platja des Coll Baix had a greater element of this, likely due to its somewhat remote location. We find it curious - Elise doesn't bat an eye...

Our house remains our sanctuary, which we return to after each day's adventure. It's got some idiosyncrasies, but we've got no major complaints.This is the view down our street to the front door. Our house sits one short block below the town's main road, so it's a tad quieter than the other homes.

The view of our back porch, where we eat outside when the weather is dry. It's a very peaceful place to eat and enjoy the surrounding countryside.

There are a lot of lizards around, which keep the bug population at bay. We've enjoyed watching them catch insects while we dine outside at night. Pam found a rather large specimen in our bedroom, though, and we decided we weren't super comfortable going to sleep at night with it roaming the room. Amazingly, Pam captured it (much to Elise's delight) and we released it outside. No harm done.

Rainbow over Campanet as seen from out back patio.

Elise doing her morning homework in the kitchen. Pam directs all the away-from-home learning and Elise writes in her journal each day chronicling her experiences in Mallorca.

Cats seem to mysteriously appear and disappear around here. We don't know why, but fear they live short, dangerous lives. A few of the kittens Elise had "adopted" suddenly stopped showing up, and now she's found a new friend, "Molly". This cat is a little darling, and we hope she remains "around" for the rest of our stay. Elise loves cats, especially kittens, and they remain a very prominent highlight of our stay here. Isn't this one sweet?

We journey into Palma, the big city, for a lunch and exploratory walk. We enjoyed the sights, but both Pam and I agree cities are not really our "thing". They're busy, crowded and we typically get lost. We seem to have much more fun exploring the villages and countryside, both in the car and on foot. However, the food in the cities is often very worth seeking out, and we enjoyed the "house platter" (a typically Spanish lunch selection) pictured below at a small cafe. Elise loved the homemade blueberry jelly and ate eight pieces of bread to go with it! She is not a very adventurous eater, unfortunately, and we have to basically trick her to try the simplest of new foods.

No lunch would be complete without dessert. This place came highly recommended and we all enjoyed homemade ice cream (almond and vanilla), sponge cake and hot chocolate. Yum!

A view of Palma's main cathedral during a brief break in the day's storms. We went inside, but were limited in our exploration due to a fiesta related service that was taking place.

On another day, we visited the medieval village of Arta in the northern part of the island. We enjoyed walking the narrow streets and picking delicious grapes from the many wild vines

A large truck BARELY squeezing between a parked car and the adjacent buildings. This is a common occurrence in these small villages. The drivers are amazing!

We climb every second or third day, depending on the weather and our bodies. Here, a climber scales a 7c+ route in El Museo, a super steep cave that's not in the guidebooks, unfortunately.

Elise and I sheltering in a "bar" she made at Fraguel. She served us lunch items and created a menu and a sign to the washrooms, which she hung in a bush.

The menu beside the sign for the "bar". See if you can read the food items. From the top, they are "chocolate, kiwi, an M & M, orange, water, rosemary crackers, nuts and chocolate cookies". You certainly can't say she's not adventurous when it comes to her writing!

Elise climbing the start of a 6c+ at Fraguel. She wanted to try because of the stalactites, et cetera. We thought she was quite ambitious for jumping on this steep climb.

Me climbing a very nice 6b+ at Gorg Blau. A German fellow belayed me while Pam took pictures.

Our climbing is periodically interrupted by days of wet weather, so we shift gears. One "iffy" day, we decided to do a hike up Puig Tomir, a great excursion that had been recommended by a friend of ours at home. This hike would be similar to hiking up the Chief in Squamish, and the views from the top were equally spectacular. It was a bit cloudy, but we could still see most of the island from the windy summit plateau. Elise did a great job, as usual, and enjoyed fondling a large Mallorcan beetle on the way back down the approach road.

There is a traditional glass making factory near our village and we went for a tour the other day. Unfortunately, the factory was closed, but the glass shop was open and Elise got a hand-made glass horse as a souvenir from Mallorca. If she doesn't break this before we got home, it will be a miracle. We hope to go back to the factory next week when we will be able to take a tour and watch them blow the glass.

The unsettled weather does make for brilliant sunsets, like this one over the houses beside our back porch.

Ten days to go in Mallorca! A trip to the Palma aquarium and some underground caves is on the agenda for the final week and Elise is very excited about both. We have secured accommodation in the village of Sella near Alicante Spain for our final four weeks and are starting to plan activities and adventures for the second half of our trip.

Marc, Pam and Elise

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