The Myths of Es Vedra

Es Vedra is an island of mystery.

You cannot strike up a conversation about Es Vedra without talking about the many stories that wrap a nd occlude this little rock like the spells of cloud that sweep in from the sea.  Describing Es Vedra is nearly impossible. Why does it enrapture us so? Maybe that’s why we find stories about Es Vedra so fascinating- they help us put what we are seeing into context. It is a place of great beauty, intense power, and magic that you need to see to understand… and even then…

Islanders, fishermen, and researchers of paranormal events claim to have witnessed strange events in the waters near this islet of just 3.8 kilometers around and a height of 382 metres. 

According to legends, some millennia ago the mother goddess of the Phoenicians was born here. So much mystery surrounds the island that nobody really knows what is the truth, what is fantasy, and what is a myth based on truth.

Many swimmers (including the famous José Amengual, an underwater hunting hero in Spain) claim that they’ve heard loud underwater deep bass notes near to Es Vedra, seeing huge shoals of fish changing direction in fright. Could it be undiscovered sea life or something… else?

There are those who believe that Es Vedra gained properties of energy accumulation when it separated from Ibiza millennia ago. According to legend, it forms with the rock of Ifach in Alicante and the southwest coast of Mallorca a sort of Mediterranean Triangle. It is known as the Triangle of Silence and some associate it with the famous Manises UFO Incident. If you look on this chart, you can see that Cafe del Mar is almost at the epicentre of a spooky triangle that could cause strange, magical things to happen….

es vedra triangle of silence

The Manises UFO

On November 11, 1979 (at 11pm on the 11th day of the 11th month, incidentally) A Super-Caravelle aircraft en route from Palma de Mallorca to the Canary Islands with 109 passengers on board had to make an emergency landing at Valencia airport Because of a UFO. The pilots claim that they were pursued “by several points of red light, which went up and down in an unconventional way.” The lights appeared just as the plane flew over Es Vedra. By any reading, that’s an unidentified flying object!

Pilot Francisco Javier Lerdo de Tejada, who had fifteen years of experience and more than 8,000 flight hours, reported the events as follows. “At 23.08 I started a climb, according to the flight plan, from 23,000 to 33,000 feet. In the middle of the climb I saw two red lights, in parallel, of such enormous intensity that they were brighter than our instrument lights, or whatever it was, in which they had to be installed and followed a path of collision with us. They were moving at an incredible rate, faster than any conventional aircraft, and they stopped instantly at a very short distance from the Caravelle.”  Tejada claimed to have made the emergency landing at Manises airport due to “a real risk of collision.”

Once the plane was on the ground, several people still reported observing the strange lights from the Manises control tower for more than two hours. Imagine the stories the ground crew would have for their families that night!

Lights in the sky

The Caravelle crew detected the alleged UFO half an hour after takeoff, between Ibiza and Alicante, the same area where a boat crew claimed to have seen a “rain” of UFOs. “About nine o’clock at night last Tuesday, when we were about fifteen miles from Formentera, there appeared before us lights like flares that did not remain static. Yellow lights less than eight miles from us” said Jose Luis Gonzalez, captain of the ship. He claimed that more than fifty UFOs had surrounded them for six hours.

“The” UFOs” turned out in this case to be paratroopers with lanterns that were taking part in the recording of a program for the National Radio of Spain. At least that’s what the government said. And Roswell was really a weather balloon, of course. 

ufo newspaper clipping es vedra

The Hermit of Es Vedra

The mythological pedigree of Es Vedra was further enhanced by Francisco Palau y Quer (1811-1872), founder of the Tertiary Carmelites of Spain. 

Francisco retired to pray in a cave on the islet. “This mountain is an islet west of Ibiza. Separated from the island, rising from the depths of the waters to the sky. There are no more inhabitants here than I. I have the Hermitage two leagues at noon of the island. The brothers, who have a fishing boat, bring me here, leave me alone and they return. At the top of the mountain, there is a fountain, and the openings of the rocks are my cells. Here I retired ten years ago and I find what a hermit can desire, ” said Father Palau.

Palau, like so many of us, wanted to escape the pressure of the so-called civilised world. Perhaps he, like us, was drawn to Es Vedra by the magic contained in the rocks themselves.

On this island “which rises on the crests of the Mediterranean Sea,” he remained there for days at a time. His mission was “to unite with God and his Church”.

Father Palau was the person who has spent the most time on the island and his mystical experiences in which he describes ladies of light and celestial beings have been reinterpreted by some, after the Manises UFO Case, as UFO sightings.

Catalan mountaineers climbed the island for the first time in August 1950 , challenging another ancient legend that states “it can never be climbed, because whoever tries it and mounts the summit will instantly change sex.”

Lizards and goats and Catalonians, oh my

es vedra goat

Francisco Martí Ferrando and Manuel Puig were the first to tread the crest. “The top of [Es Vedra] is an esplanade 15 meters long, five meters wide. Many vegetation grows in the form of forest, but most were completely dry. The island of Ibiza can be seen very little, the mountaineers wrote in their notes. They were three-quarters of an hour at the top before descending. They saw lizards “about 10 or 15 centimeters long” and Martí Ferrando seemed to notice a wild goat, although Puig doubted that it was there. There were no traces of UFOs in 1950, and, of course, they remained male after their feat.

What are your favourite Es Vedra legends? Have you seen any UFOs, buzzing around Es Vedra at sunset? 

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Spending Time, Earning Time. Ibiza Time.

What is time? To answer this, I will begin by using a sophomoric rhetorical device often used by writers to look smarter than we are. That means I’m going to quote from Aristotle.

He said “time is the most unknown of all unknown things”, which in a post-Donald Rumsfeld world has some odd and inappropriate parallels. We perceive time in part due to our cultural conditioning; in short, where you are from dictates how we experience time. It is not the case that we are oblivious to this phenomenon, where our cultures overlap we see the differences.

Because I am a British immigrant to Ibiza, I have my internal British Time which often conflicts with Ibicencan Time or Spanish Time. It’s a relic of the tangible past. My partner definitely considers her Polish Time to be the pinnacle when it comes to an accurate representation of temporal reality. Considering the number of times I have been late, you, dear reader, should agree with her.

Reality Tunnels

For all the times I have been thrown into confusion as to the exact format of a siesta, I could just as easily count apoplexy among my countrymen for our perceived inability to run a functioning rail network. Despite having over 4000 years experience with our sexagesimal timekeeping system, we all run on different clocks.

drums on benirras beach
Some human behaviours are beautifully anachronistic

So, the conclusion we can draw from this comparative experience of time is that time is in the mind- at least in the subjective sense. What is a long time? What is a short time? St. Augustine posed the conundrum in this most noteworthy way:  It cannot be what is past, since that has ceased to be, and what is non-existent cannot presently have any properties, such as being long. But neither can it be what is present, for the present has no duration. 

To borrow a line from The Smiths, how soon is now? 

When you say it’s gonna happen “now”

Well, when exactly do you mean?

See I’ve already waited too long

And all my hope is gone”

Miserable for sure, because Morrissey is from England.

Maybe we should read these words as an exhortation to live in the moment. In another revealing illumination of this writer’s incredibly nerdy music taste, the prog band Tool has this to offer on the subject:

“Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line.

Reaching out to embrace the random.

Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.”

Furthermore, there’s the quintessentially relate-able tale of how the fear of mortality and wasted years nibbles on the nerves, by Pink Floyd.

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”

Time and Space, Space and Time

A sculpture of Time and Space, Ibiza
Time and Space, rendered in stone

So what are we talking about when we talk about time? Is it the mental theological cartwheels of St. Augustine, the Unknown Unknowns of Aristotle? The poetics of miserable English musicians? Lets see what the opposite view from the sciences of the mind can tell us.

Land of the Headshrinkers

One of the founders of modern psychology was William James. He contended that ‘the prototype of all conceived times is the specious present, the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible’ (James (1890). All well and good- but I for one am not immediately sensible at all moments; in fact the opposite, far from it. My mind wanders all over the place to be quite honest, as you have probably gathered from this piece of writing. 

Eckhart Tolle, a contemporary writer, distills much of the esoteric philosophies of religion into a suggestion to be present in the moment. Tolle is talking about being aware in the specious present, much as Gilmour reminds us to pay attention to our finite existence on Earth. As James Maynard Keenan tells us to expand our horizons. While St. Augustine considers the present moment to be timeless and never ending, only the past being measurable and quantifiable.

Café del mar
sometimes time stands still

And the Band Plays On…

I’m writing about time today as I’ve recently (if recently actually exists) been struck by the many-times and many-minds that experience Ibiza. The sun is the same, in a relative way, as Floyd sang. Probably because the relative experiences of all of us are unique. A product of the individual histories from our disparate cultures and the multitude of demands on our time. I wonder about if there is any hope that we can see time the same way at all. Is that even desirable? 

I look around at Café del Mar and notice how time works differently for all of us. The guests experiencing our atmosphere for the first time, I wonder if it’s different, this moment, to what is experienced by my friends who return day after day.

Objectively speaking, we are in the same place at the same time (whatever that actually means). As we know, the experience of time is subjective in the extreme. It may well be the most personally biased sensation we humans possess.

If the earth spins differently for you, can we see things the same?

The sensation that time is the enemy is quantifiable. Studies show that walking speed is directly correlatable to the size of the towns in which we live- a Madridista literally walks faster than a Rojiblanco on their way to the stadium. Maybe you have noticed this yourself, either being annoyed by the slow moving country folk as you try to get where you need to go, or bewildered by the city-dwellers who are surely rushing their lives away. The Madridista and the Azulgrana probably experience the 94th minute of El Clasico quite differently too, depending on the scoreline of the game.

Furthermore, when we are seeing and feeling the same things outside of ourselves, the internal story is subject dependent- the ultimate individuality. At the Café we are lucky, guests and workers alike. We are joined each evening by the resetting of the clock. A group of individuals united by external context, the collaboration between the Sun, a DJ and Ibiza’s shoreline.  As a result I feel those moments when we witness the sunset, that time itself slows to crawl. Not subject to our constructions of sexagesimal time or pressures of appointments.

And then, it is over- the night has begun, and the Café del Mar party begins.

Speaking of which, we have a lot of work to do in real-time. I’ll see you all tonight, or on the next post. In the meantime, let’s try to experience time in a positive way. Yet, pay attention to where we are, what we are doing, and who we are doing things for.

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In Search of the Ibizan Wall Lizard

The Ibizan Wall Lizard. Cool as heck.

Lizards licking an ice cube

Ah, nature! Living on Ibiza has many benefits, but being surrounded by such a beautiful environment is surely in the top one or two. Those of you who have visited Ibiza before or live here year round will know the Wall Lizard well. These little neighbours are surprisingly confident unless startled, and are full of character.

If you don’t like these guys then I don’t know if we can be friends. I mean how cute can you get?!

We might think that humans own Ibiza, with our concrete and noise and clubs, but this is a lizard island.  It’s their backyard. We are relatively new arrivals. 

Image6

I make absolutely no apologies for being a total nerd for the Ibizan Wall Lizard. What stars these guys are. The fascinating aspect for me is how the Wall Lizard has adapted to life on Las Pituisas. By most measurements small islands are not good environments for non-aquatic lizards, the food supply can be scarce, and competition high.

Strange adaptations

The fact that these lizards are so numerous is an indication to us that something very peculiar has happened to a species that at one point would have been completely carnivorous.

They learned to eat fruit.

I have discovered through über-scientific trial and error tests in the field (I lie on the beach and throw bits of fruit at lizards) that this species is particularly fond of grapes, but will go for strawberries as well. Apparently these guys will also eat smaller lizards and lizard eggs if given the opportunity, along with their usual diet of ants and insects. While cannibalism is pretty grim, again this is an adaptive response to living on islands. When there’s less prey available, a smaller lizard starts looking pretty good.

Wall Lizards also dine on flowers, nectar and seeds when they can find them, which means that on Ibiza we have lizards that pollinate. Imagine that!

The lizards also help the plants spread out by eating fruits and then depositing the seeds far from the original plant. Isn’t that cool?

Don’t feed the lizards Cheetos though. They’re not good for anyone.

Evolution in Action

It is an evolved strategy of survival that is produced by the millennia long isolation on Ibiza and Formentera that these lizards have experienced. We see the effect of evolution in other ways too. The colours of the Ibiza Wall Lizard are more varied than the trinkets that bear the shape of the reptile at Las Dalias Market.

The Wall Lizard, sort of.
Pay attention class, this is NOT a Wall Lizard.

What will surprise you to learn is that the coloured lizards are geographically segregated. The lizards in the North and South are different colours, as are the East and West. The wall lizards that live on Es Vedra are a deep purple, for example.

On Formentera, the effect is astounding. The Formentera Wall Lizard is brighter and larger than its Ibicencan cousin, and the colours are astonishingly vivid. Separated only by short distances, what we see is dozens of sub-species of lizard scattered across the islands.

On Formentera the lizards show off bright colours.
On Formentera the lizards show off bright colours.

Amazingly, we don’t know exactly why these lizards have adopted such a wide variety of markings. Some theorise that large, bright lizards are broadcasting their prowess to other lizards, to stake claim on territory.  In an evolutionary sense, this works for smaller lizards too.  It would be a bad day indeed to fight a lizard that is much bigger than he looks. Much better for everyone to see from a safe distance who is a competitor, and who is simply going to eat you.

So what is the other lizard on Ibiza?

Through a combination of what I describe as interpretive artistic representation and simple ignorance, the lizard that appears on merchandise and throws and fabric bags and bumper stickers is the wrong lizard.

Not an Ibizan Wall Lizard
Just wrongness in every sense

 

What we have ended up with is a mish-mash of the Ibizan Wall Lizard and this guy. This is a Moorish Gecko, who’s name should tell you his origin. This guy is the one you might see skittering up your wall at night on his suckered toes, and while he is very cool he lacks personality, which the Wall Lizard has in spades.

Ibizan 'wall lizard' art
This is not a Wall Lizard. It’s a lizard that crawls on walls.

So, this is what is commonly thought of as the symbol of Ibiza. Compared to the other photos I’ve posted here, you can see that there’s been a misinterpretation of the brief. You can see that this silhouette is clearly that of the foreign invader, the Moorish Gecko. Note the splayed feet with rounded toes, compared to the slender claws of the Ibizan Wall Lizard.

Why this has happened is easy to understand. The Ibizan Wall Lizard acquired it’s name because it likes to hide in the nooks and crannies of walls. The Moorish Gecko is more likely to be seen on the walls of your apartment as it hunts for mosquitoes.

A Wall Lizard, despite its name, is actually incapable of climbing vertical, smooth walls like the gecko, and so the confusion has arisen. Probably. I’m not a lizard expert.

Sympathy for the Reptile

I don’t think the Wall Lizards mind too much that we draw them wrong, though. They seem above such petty concerns as that.

There’s something I’d like to finish with that occurs to me when I meet the lizards on my travels. The Wall Lizard is cold blooded, which we think as being inferior to our internally regulated, mammalian temperature.

In some ways for sure.  There’s a lot to be said for being a mammal, we have opposable thumbs and Netflix for a start. There is another perspective to take though. The lizards are far more in tune with their environment than we are. They allow themselves to respond to the world rather than struggling in vain to bend it to their will.

In this way, the Ibiza Wall Lizards are able to tolerate much higher levels of internal heat than we are, absorbing the energy for use in movement. Is it because of this that you never see a stressed Wall Lizard? Lizards might move quickly sometimes, but always with that knowing smile on their faces.

They get the Café del Mar mentality, instinctively.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two ourselves, about ourselves.

Perhaps we could stand to be like the Wall Lizard in our day to day lives. Adaptable to our changing environments, never letting the heat get to us. Understanding that when others misrepresent us or paint us inaccurately, it’s usually not about us at all, it is more likely to be a lack of understanding or a misconception.

Taking a tip from the Wall Lizard, it might be good to remember it’s no big deal, and there’s still plenty of sweet fruits in the world.

 

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Ibiza 2017: Catch-up with Café del Mar! The season behind us and the season ahead.

So here we are once again my friends! It’s the new season at the legendary Café del Mar in San Antonio Bay, Ibiza.  

On the 12th of April 2017, we celebrated our opening to herald another season of sun, sand, sea, and the best of times with friends and family.

Café del Mar
These guys know their way around an Aperol Spritz

I thought I’d open up the first English language blog by giving you my perspective on the island in winter. When the clubs close and most people go back to their homes around the world, what happens on Ibiza?

I live on Ibiza all year round- which is of course super tranquil and beautiful during the off season. As a part time writer (when I don’t have tables to serve at Café del Mar), the quieter months give me breathing room to put pen to paper. I try to experience all the things I heard about during the summer, but never found the time to discover.

The winter here is almost deserted. There’s hardly any tourism. Many Ibicencans also leave for a while, to holiday or visit friends and family on the Spanish Peninsula.

Café del mar
The easiest time to visit us without reservation? When we’re closed. Always book ahead!

The result is truly amazing. A village island almost to ourselves. The few people that remain gather at St Jordi market on a Saturday, and the half empty hipodromo becomes the city centre.

The airport diminishes from a plane landing every minute to some deserted length of tarmac that a tube of screaming metal falls on sometimes. Noisy giants dropping through the winter clouds and disgorging maybe half a dozen humans from inside. Including the crew!

A year on Ibiza changes your perspective. A year ago  we were stunned by the calm of Ibiza. My fiancée and I arrived on the island, on the 2nd of April 2016 after a pan-European adventure in a van that was at best a death trap. At worst it was a malevolent entity, a possessed, demonic machine with a cracked radiator who was determined to strand us in France.

New Beginnings

Our first rental room was in Ses Salines, a short hike through the bushes to the Torre de sa Sal Rossa and the very southern tip of Plat’ja den Bossa. Time then felt like the calm before the storm, since the beach was essentially empty.

We walked from one end of the beach to the other and saw perhaps two people. At the time it was strange, like the feeling of being somewhere secret, like being a child who has sneaked into school when all the teachers had gone home. But it was so tranquil. Like the sea, the tides of Ibiza mimic breathing itself. Hot on the heels of this tranquility the intensity of the high season crashed in, and so we were submerged in a blistering schedule and surrounded by chaos. 

The summer races by so fast it feels like each month is a week and each week is a day.

Across the island of Ibiza spring is a season of change. The almond blossoms in St Agnes start to fall, and this always tells us that the days of wearing woolly jumpers are over. It might surprise you but Ibiza does sometimes get cold; well, relatively speaking. 

Café del mar
This place actually exists, and it is amazing.

Island Duality

This time of year is a peculiar feeling on the island, as you see the streets slowly become busier as the hotels and apartments start sprucing up. Men in hi-vis vests are more numerous. The sounds of heavy drills and saws fill the air as repairs and new buildings are completed.

Yet as I write this blog we’re coming into the time of rebirth. As the energy is driven by the rising temperature returns to the Mediterranean, the cloudy days become less frequent. The flamingos at Ses Salines get a little noisier before flying off to the mating grounds in Europe.

Those of us who are here all year round feel the changing of gears. The streets are no longer deserted and the temperatures are creeping up. For many of my friends, it’s a bittersweet moment because they already miss the winter tranquility. I can understand that perspective.

Those brave Season Workers who are reading can tell you, summer in Ibiza is unique, challenging, and exhausting.

Give thanks!

But then, I remember gratitude. I am lucky to be here, at Café del Mar Ibiza. Even in the bustle of a peak season, surrounded by many people, we are all united. The tranquil, enervating and near tribal experience of witnessing the greatest sunsets on Earth.

Café del mar sunsets
You never forget your first time, right?

 

Are you joining us for your first sunset and Caipirinha or Mojito? or are an old friend coming back to the family? We all live for the summer season. As much as I was glad for the winter break at the end of Ibiza 2016, I’m now looking forward even more to my second season of sunsets at Café Del Mar.

The season ahead of us

So, what can you expect from our blog this year? Well, between you and me I thought that this season we’ll change it up a bit. The first and most obvious change is that now, since we have changed writers, we’re writing in English! My Spanish is improving, poco y poco, but I’ll stick to my native tongue here.

This blog will take you through what it is like to live full time on Ibiza, and of course how it is to work at Café del Mar. Mainly because I want to explore the history of this Café that has treated me so well, and brought such happiness to the world.

I’ll bring you some great interviews with the cool people I work with (and some DJs if I can grab them at Café del Mar) and talk about the secret history of the White Island. Then I plan on getting out with my camera and exploring Ibiza for myself. Look out for me on my little black scooter and say hi!

I’m also going to to see if I can get some secrets out of our bartenders, so maybe they will show us how to make Café del Mar’s secret mojito recipe to enjoy in your home, or hotel, or beach… or in the office.

mojito cafe del mar ibiza
Drink in your office responsibly

Finally, I’m so looking forward most to getting to know you all; Encantado y mucho gusto.  I’ll be back here next week with a new article, and every week through the summer and beyond. 

I’ll probably be sitting down soon with the legendary El Chino, resident DJ Ken Fan himself in the near future. So, any questions you want me to ask him, let me know in the comments!

Peace, Sunsets, and Never-Ending Café del Mar Cocktails to you.

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