My first impression of Spain was Barcelona, a city like many others, yet different and enchanting at the same time. Gaudi architecture and new age graffiti clash and mesh like the independent Catalan nationals and their Spanish counterparts in a contentious battle over independence that has somehow been halted for an afternoon siesta and tapas. But it was not this city we came to see; our destination was an hour plane ride out into the Mediterranean Sea to the island of Mallorca. Here we rented a car and drove across the island to Artá, a small town not far from the northwest coast. We had previously made arrangements with our couch surfing host Gerard, and it was here where we were to meet him.
Gerard’s house was an anomaly. It was made entirely out of field stone with terracotta roof tiles and plexiglas skylights. His house was set at the foot of a mountain, half an hour down a dirt lane and far from any type of amenity. A solar panel fed the single LED light above the kitchen table and a well provided water for washing and flushing the toilets. An open chimney in the corner provided a spot to have a fire on chilly nights. The space was occupied by Gerard and his dog, Highpocket, a Border collie mix that was adept at climbing mountains. We picked fresh vegetables from a WWOOF farm and cooked pizza in a gas range in his kitchen, as the smell of the sea wafted in the open windows. This was our home base for several days.
We hiked the mountain behind Gerard’s house but our goal was Cova Del Diablo. A spot well known to rock climbers for deep water soloing, Cova Del Diablo is a massive rock face some sixty feet above the Mediterranean Sea. I knew the climb would test my abilities to their maximum, not only physically but also mentally. No harnesses or ropes would catch me should I slip; instead the yawning mouth of the Mediterranean was all that was there to break my fall. I decided to try it. It was unseasonably chilly and breezy that spring day, but I was determined and dressed for the weather. My heart was in my throat as I slowly and tentatively edged my way over the cliff and started my descent. The water lapped at the rocks far below me, foaming up and breaking as sea met land. I shivered and imagined the fall and the shock of cold water. I shook my head to clear it. I slowly and deliberately worked my way lower, feeling out each hand and foothold before transferring weight onto it. The sun beat on the rock and my back and my hands became sweaty despite the temperature. Here I was protected from the wind and at the full mercy of the sun. I found a spot to rest and dried my hands one at a time on my shirt and took a deep breath. Not much farther to go. When I finished my climb, I realized that I had conquered my fear and that all things are possible if one only puts their mind to the task at hand. I stood up and stretched, looking up at the sheer height of the wall in front of me. The climb up would be easier. It was time to move on.
Later we explored a cave called Cueva Del Drach. It was very touristy, but the site of the stalagmites and stalactites interspersed among pools of aqua blue water was worth the wait. We neared the bottom and a guide gave us a history of the cave. Shortly after, a live orchestra played classical music as they floated by in boats.
The island is rich in history, architecture and beautiful scenery. A popular local travel destination for German tourists and a road biking paradise, Mallorca is an ideal spot to relax, dine and enjoy local culture. It has something for everyone including mountains, parks, forests and beaches. The adventure we had here in Mallorca was the inspiration for some of The Beginning of Knowledge. We flew back to Barcelona after enjoying this paradise and then I took off on my own to Morocco.
Jonathan Beam is the author of Crimson Morning - The Philosophy of Travel, available on the member page by signing up above. He is a blogger who writes about travel, adventure and philosophy. He has also written a novel that is currently under consideration to be published!