It’s summertime, island beaches are aglow with sunshine and the seawater is soft, warm and briny. The sand is yellow with the consistency of couscous and so hot that bare feet can barely touch it by midday.
Early morning, as I stretched my legs along Can Repic esplanade in Puerto Soller, holidaymakers were already unwinding their bronzed limbs on towels under a full sun. By their sides they had water bottles and parasols, books and beach bags no doubt full of tasty treats and cool drinks in preparation for a day relaxing by the sapphire sea with the sound of whirring gulls overhead.
The old Sa Muleta lighthouse gleamed white under radiant blue skies and the gentle waves were dotted with yachts and small boats. Ducks quacked happily in the small estuary that feeds into the sea and a lone fisherman mopped his brow as he patiently awaited his first catch of the day.
Ah, how I wish I might join them all but for me, summer is a busy working period of book planning, translation, editorial and consultancy work. Having had 18 months of so much disruption, work is now flowing easily again for which I am truly grateful. All the same, as I drive along rural roads and through beach resorts and watch tourists enjoying creamy coffees, ice-creams and ensaïmadas outside country cafés, I feel wistful.
Friends in the UK send me forlorn messages about the rainy weather, telling me that their self-enforced holidays in Cornwall and Dorset – is there nowhere else to visit in the UK? – have proven excruciatingly expensive and the beaches have been crowded. Why not visit Mallorca instead, I say.
Many intrepid visitors and friends have done just that but there are those nervous about the rigmarole at airports, the cost of PCR tests and the fear of proving positive to the virus on their return. I understand their concerns but frankly, with the scrupulous safety measures in Mallorca, they’d probably be far safer here than in packed Cornwall with the masses.
Other friends have told me how lucky I am to be on a permanent holiday living as I do in Mallorca. Surely I don’t need a getaway as they do. Really? The simple truth is that however lovely it is to live all year round on a sunny island, the everyday problems and anxieties that we all experience do not fade away. Real life with all its nitty gritty moments pursues us wherever we reside. Still, experiencing a problem in a sunny environment does feel marginally less onerous than under grey skies.
My job is mostly desk bound unless I’m doing island research or hotel reviews so when temperatures reach 40 plus, I find myself succumbing to air con and fans. Trying to unscramble the brain in such extreme heat takes some doing and every step is a challenge especially feeding and watering hens, ducks, peacocks and community cats under a steaming sun.
Animals too are struggling with the extreme temperatures and our three domestic cats spend hours lying comatose on cool tiled floors until dinner beckons and they yawn, peck at it briefly and return to their slumbers.
During the summer months I receive hundreds of emails and messages from those around the world seeking advice about Mallorca’s hotels, restaurants, gastronomy, best places to avoid the crush, hidden coves and the like. I do my best to answer them all in between my work but sometimes, when the sun is sizzling, I wave the white flag. There’s a wonderful irony about immersing myself virtually in hotel and restaurant delights on behalf of my readers while I remain at the hot desk.
But soon the weather will grow cooler and like a chrysalis, I shall emerge from my dark cave of an office to enjoy the delights of the island I have chosen to be my home. I adore late September and October as the sun is gentle, fewer people are on the beaches and the air is fragrant and fresh with the perfume of flowers and herbs. Walks and runs to the port or into the hills are a joy and the world feels calmer once more.
Mallorca as a whole is thankful for the valiant holidaymakers who visited this summer. It has been such a tough time for all but gradually the island is finding its feet, getting its mojo back and there is the smallest whiff of optimism in the air. So while I sit dreaming of sunny beaches at my desk, I shall take comfort in knowing that thanks to our tourists, the island will begin to flourish. There is hope.