Only small parts of our travel diary has been translated into English by family members and friends. That was a tremendous job but articles getting longer and longer made it difficult for us to ask them for more translations. Please be so kind as to use services like google translate if you're interested in reading articles that haven't been translated. Or click through the photo gallery - the photos on our German website are talking for themselves and allow you to follow us on our trip. Please find here the link.
COPLARE promotes plastics recycling on the Cape Verde Islands
We had already envisaged the Cape Verde Islands as the first destination for COPLARE to get to work when we were still in Germany. The conditions on this group of islands are great:
- The Cape Verde Group of Islands is still a comparatively poor country, with many people unemployed and relatively low wage levels.
- The main reason is that the Cape Verde Islands have but few resources. Farming is only possible on some of the islands. Up to today, industrial jobs have mainly been available in the area of fish processing and, more recently, in the construction sector. The islands place their hope into tourism - an area they plan to develop strongly in the future.
- Tourists create waste - much more than the local people do. According to a UN study, every tourist produces 1kg of waste per day. We have not verified this, the number seems high to us. However, it is probably true that tourists drink more beverages from PET bottles and consume more industrially packaged goods than most Cape Verdeans do.
- Tourists do not like dirty beaches. If tourism is to be expanded successfully, hotel keepers, restaurant owners and the island administration must be eager to establish proper waste management.
It would be comparatively easy to introduce waste separation in hotels and restaurants. In those places, it would be possible to collect significant amounts of waste in a short amount of time, giving any business model a solid base.
Once a rarely visited developing country, the Cape Verde Islands are about to turn into an attractive holiday destination for many tourists. The Republic is in its development phase and there are very little established, set structures. If recognised as relevant, good ideas should have particularly great chances of being heard during this phase. In the medium term, good ideas should have a good chance of being implemented.
Since the Cape Verde Islands have almost no goods of their own, most things must be imported. Thus, lots of goods are shipped to the large seaports Praia (Santiago) and Mindelo (Sao Vicente) by container and the latter are probably sent back to their port of origin empty.
• The Cape Verde Islands are closely connected to Europe by their political past and their location. Portugal is the main trade partner. Furthermore, extensive trade relations have been established with the Netherlands. We do not know yet how Germany ranks.
• In any case, the COPLARE Expert Network, whose members are mostly active in Europe, can be of use for the Cape Verde Islands.
Those were our preliminary considerations. During our time on the Canary Islands, we researched the internet for days and found out that, as expected, open landfills are the only type of waste disposal on most islands. On some islands, the waste on those landfills is burnt in smouldering fires. Only Fogo, a relatively small island, already has a waste incinerator. It might even be a waste-fuelled power station. However, since we will not be establishing a PET recycling project in Fogo, we only took notice in passing.
It was a real pleasure and motivator to receive a positive reply from a large German PET recycler, when we asked whether they would be interested in purchasing used PET bottles from the Cape Verde Islands. We thus started figuring out how many PET bottles could be transported in one container, provided that the bottles were properly compressed. We checked the current pricing development for post-consumer PET as bale goods and weighed different sizes of PET bottles, in order to establish average weights. These data were then used to develop a calculation sheet by which the achievable revenues from selling bottles could be determined.
Coming from the Canary Islands further north, we wanted to visit several Cape Verdean islands, so we headed for Sal Island first, which would allow us to join up with the northeast trade winds and continue sailing further west or south without problems later on. Sal is the tourist centre of the Cape Verde Islands. Every year, between 120,000 and 150,000 people spend their holidays on Sal Island. In terms of the COPLARE project, it therefore made sense to, first of all, talk to several hotel managers. We wanted to know whether they would be happy to dispose of PET bottles separately from their other waste. We asked which hotels were of importance on Sal Island and our attention was called to the "Morabeza" and "Odjo d'Agua" hotels. Both are first-class, 4-star hotels in prominent locations by Santa Maria beach. Both are already operating sustainability programmes and the hotel owners are said to be influential on the island.
When we introduced our "sailing and recycling adventure", we actually got appointments with the Hotel Managers very quickly. They both confirmed our assumption that an intact environment matters a lot to the hoteliers. They mentioned that the people on Sal Island were probably more sensitive to environmental issues than those on other islands, due to the extreme importance of tourism for Sal. We also learnt that, every now and again, guests complain that the hotel does not participate in waste separation. Since all garbage is picked up and disposed of by the municipal company Salimpa, both managers advised us to speak with the municipal administration. The Hotel Manager at the Odja d'Agua was kind enough to arrange an appointment at the Camera Municipal for us.
There, our presentation met with great interest, too. They quickly arranged another appointment with two people in charge of tourism and waste management for us and we presented our ideas to them as well. We learnt that the island administration is not only well aware of the waste problem, but also interested in approaches to solving this issue. We were informed that the Camera Municipal would deliberate on whether they should separately collect and possibly market PET. The other island administrations would also be involved. Furthermore, a survey on waste levels was planned for the beginning of 2012, so we were told to wait for the data.
Whether or not the interest shown was real and the careful evaluation of all possible options as well as the discussions involving a larger group of people are actually necessary for plastic recycling to be introduced on the Cape Verde Islands in the future, is open for debate. It remains to be seen whether these were just empty words or whether action will follow.
On Sal Island we then met Anne Seiler, a former German journalist, who has lived on Sal for many years, offering German language island tours. Anne visits Terra Boa shanty town on every single one of her tours. She is concerned about the future of the children in Terra Boa. When we told her that it is very easy to make a type of "yarn" from used plastic bags, with which people could crochet nice things, she was instantly enthusiastic about the idea. "We have more than enough plastic bags here and many Cape Verdean women know how to crochet. Crocheting is a tradition over here", she said. Using five plastic bags, we swiftly produced a small crochet bag in the colours of the Cape Verdean flag as a sample. Anne loved it as much as we did and promised to take it to Terra Boa to show it to the women over there. If the women were happy to crochet such bags, Anne would surely find buyers for them in Santa Maria.
In Mindelo, we met "Tinené", a 61-year-old Cape Verdean man who heads a technical trade school. Tinené and his boys build all different kinds of machines. We were very impressed by the quality of their work. With remarkable precision, they cut, bend, mill, turn and file metals as well as plastics and manufacture sometimes very complex machines. Even though Tinené has no degree, he is an admirable engineer and an ingenious inventor - always striving to develop machines that his country could use. At the moment, for instance, he is building a seawater desalination facility, which will solely be operated by solar and wind energy. It will be used to irrigate fields. Tinené would also like to develop machines for waste removal - he has already finished a shredder that crushes glass bottles into fine sand. For now, however, the island administration does not want to spend money for such machines, even if it is true that a large amount of glass bottles is trashed, ending up on controlled or wild landfills. Tinené has already been investigating the issue of PET recycling. He is looking for ideas of products that can be made from used PET bottles.
We told him about everything we learnt thus far and hope that it was useful for him. We also showed him the video of Evans Githinji from Nairobi, who produces fencing poles from old plastic bags. Tinené could copy the machines used in Nairobi. He was very happy about that. He said the information had inspired him and knowing that he now had a new contact in Germany was very valuable to him. According to Tinené, this type of collaboration is more useful than development aid money. Cape Verdeans should learn how to take their future into their own hands. In his view, it is a necessary for this path to be rocky and hard at times. The hours we spent together and the conversations we had, have been deeply imprinted in our memory. We hope that Tinené will contact us and the COPLARE Network when he has developed new recycling ideas. People like him deserve recognition and support. It is Tinené's biggest dream to see the machines developed by him in use and to pass on his knowledge to young Cape Verdean people. If you would like to help us with that, please email us.
Individuals like Anne and Tinené are very special people that greatly enrich our journey. It is and will be our declared goal to find people like them and support them with all means possible.
After six weeks on the Cape Verde Islands, we draw the following conclusion: COPLARE has made some contacts and established plastics recycling know-how in different areas on the Cape Verde Islands. This is just like sowing seeds. Time will tell which seeds will bear fruit.
We are now going to head to the Caribbean. However, there are still some open questions with regards to plastics recycling on the Cape Verde Islands. In the Caribbean, we will neither have the time to work as intensely as on the Cape Verde Islands nor will the general conditions over there be as ideal. We have thus decided to focus our activities on the Cape Verde Islands for now.
View the photo gallery on our german website
Almeria,Gibraltar, Tarifa, Spain & UK, 2011, Sept. 6 to 26
Transl. By Klaus & Susanne
After Ibiza we end up further down the Spanish coast in Almeria instead of Cartagena. Once we have found favorable winds we want to take advantage of them as long as possible. Our Guide does not mention Almería and we have no inkling of the town. Perhaps that is the reason why we are pleasantly surprised. After all, we landed in Europe’s most sunny city where desert and ocean meet the most fertile region of the continent.
With 170,000 inhabitants Almería is a rather large city, with luxuriant parks, grand fountains and many sculptures adorning the boulevards giving the city a prosperous look. Well-dressed business
men rush through the streets, a woman coming out of a bar carries coffee pots over the street into her office, young mothers pushing buggies do window shopping , couples and friends meet in tapas bars under shady trees. Seldomly we hear other languages than Spanish. We are happy to have found a bit of original Spain. The moorage at the Club de Mar is affordable enough to allow us to stay a few days in Almería. The Tourist Information turns out to be a good advisor for what is worth to discover in Almería and its surroundings. The lady managing it even speaks very good German. The three highlights during our stay in Almeria are a Flamenco Evening, an excursion to the edge of the Sierra Nevada, and a visit of the Alcazaba.
On the Iberian Peninsula the Alcazaba towering over Almería is the second largest Moorish fort installation after the Alhambra in Granada. The Alcazaba is praised as touristic highlight of the city, but even from far away it’s obvious that not more than some ruins have remained behind the walls of the fortification and we don’t expect much from visiting it. Yet, we find more than expected with our attitude of “well, may as well see it, since we are here already". The Alcazaba is a good place to realize the changeful history of Andalucía, because each era has left it’s traces. E.g. the Christian castle in the western part of the fortification which during the Middle Ages was constructed on top of the foundation walls of an Islamic palace. Not the least from top of the Alcazaba we’ve got fantastic views over the city as far as the Cabo de Gata in Almerías East and the bare hills behind the city.
When we inquire at the tourist information about the possibility to attend a Flamenco performance we’ve got Flamenco dance in mind. “Sure, once every week on Friday we have Flamenco in Almería” explains the friendly lady, writes down the address and recommends a taxi to get there. We are in luck since it is Friday. To our surprise what we experience in a cozy tapas restaurant on the edge of town is not flamenco dancing but an enchanting evening during which guests perform Flamenco singing. The bar is worth seeing, too, since it is built right against a rock wall. We manage to capture a square little table in the back of the restaurant and watch the proceedings.
It seems that the layman artists have written the song texts themselves, as they always give detailed explanations about the songs to the audience before starting the performance. The restaurant has engaged a guitar player who accompanies the singers and sometimes a percussionist joins the two. The stage forms the end of two long, rustic tables which seem to seat two clans of people supporting different singers. People of all ages meet in this restaurant and many seem to know one another. They all watch the action while buying their drinks, exchanging hugs or having a talk. The applause varies with the offerings, but is always respectful. It appears that we are experiencing a very authentic Andalusia evening in the bar “Peña el Morato” which we will not forget..
By the time the taxi dropped us after this exciting visit, the yacht club has locked its gate. We are prepared and have our cell phones ready to call the watchman. But this doesn’t help if the watchman doesn’t take off the phone… What to do? The gate is too high to just climb over it and moreover the whole yacht harbor is surveyed with video cameras. There is a music bar on the property, which is accessible from outside the harbor but no open door to the dock. We go in any way to look for help, and - guess where the guard sits and has his coffee... When he hears the code word “Pagena” he opens the harbors gate for us and even knows where our boat is tied up.
Not far behind Almería starts the Sierra Nevada, where some of the well-known Western movies have been made. We have the urge to go up there and exercise our sailor legs. So we take a bus which takes us to Laujar de Andrax, the main city of the populated strip of land along the Southern edge of the nature park Sierra Nevada, called Alpujarra. Once more we follow the advice of the lady at the visitor information in Almeria and hike to the origin of the river Andarax. It bubbles out of the rock into a pool where we wade into ice cold water, just like a Kneipp Spa. The only regret of this pleasure is that it comes right at the beginning of the walk. From the rivers source we hike up a gravel trail on Mt. La Genara.
The gravel road is bordered by olive trees and small shrub and in the air lies the typical spicy herbal smell of the South. In the curves of the path we see old basins formed of laid bricks, which could have been water basins but today are filled with earth and are overgrown. Along our way we find lots of rosemary and sage and we collect a branch of each of it for our galley. Light winds blowing in this height make the temperature comfortable. We ought to have a geologists with us who could explain the great variation of different stones we see: at many places slate glistens in grey , green and silver, besides the slate lots of rocky ground shows and we even see ochre sandstone. To us this combination looks unusual.
The valleys of the Alpujarra are very fertile, at least where they are irrigated. We see the water channels feeding tomatoes, beans, zucchini, corn, olives, almonds, figs, pumpkins, oranges, lemons and sugar cane. In the main street of Fondon, the goal of our hike, we find a big heap of almonds spread for drying. I looks like it’s there to be taken away but dare not helping ourselves as we are not sure. Anyhow we picked already some on the trail. Returning by bus to Almería we come along a large sea of plastic over greenhouses. Here is one of Europe’s main vegetable supplies. We also pass a huge solar park which reminds us that we are close to Europe’s or maybe even the world’s biggest solar installation, named Andasol.
Five days along we leave Almeria , the lockers full of good Spanish wine. We travel two days and nights to reach Gibraltar, the gate to the Atlantic.
We worry a bit about all the ship traffic in this region; a good reason for accurate navigation. You don’t want to get in the way of one of those huge naval vessels. We seem to have chosen a good course, because the main traffic in- and outbound passes in steady distance north and south of our course line. We get used to see the big "high risers" passing by at high speed. On our way a Swedish coast guard cutter, securing Europe’s boarder at this hot spot for illegal immigration from Africa, for hours monitors us. The boat circles several times around Pagena, but doesn’t use the radio frequency for talking to us. They might be so bored in their border patrol that with our pretty little boat we are giving them some diversion.
As we reach Europa Point at the Southern point of Gibraltar we are welcomed by a pod of dolphins playing around our boat. They seem particularly taken by our towed dinghy and keep diving under the rubber boat to show it their white bellies, maybe because it also has a light grey body? They aren’t the first dolphins that weget to see, but such a large group staying with us for such a long time is a new experience.
Soon we have to pay full attention for our approach to Gibraltar. As we round Europa Point under full sail and idling engine we get in the way of a large tanker
which wants to drop anchor here. We are a bit afraid because it’s hard to anticipate his intentions as we get close to the rocks and still need to cross his bow. Moreover strong wind gusts fall 400
meters down from the rock into the bay and we still need to stow away the main sail. Finally we reach the airport runway, which boarders Marina Bay, without any problem, get into the harbor and find
Pagena’s reserved moorage.
In Marina Bay we discover immediately that boats here come from many places and have covered large distances . They hail from the USA , Canada, New Zealand , Argentina, Caribbean , U.K., France, displaying wind generators , solar panels, spare fuel cans and bicycles on their decks. Here are the blue-water sailors.
We are going to stay in Gibraltar for ten days in order to buy some spare parts, and are expecting some parcels. Our to-do list is quite extensive. We won’t be bored. It takes days just to deal with some banal stuff like buying an aluminum ladder , or getting an Amazon purchase through TNT customs. We are unfamiliar with the place, have to ask our way, and do a lot of walking. Eventually we learn that bus rides are free in Gibraltar.
One makes easy contact with other sailors in Marina Bay. Once in a while someone knocks and wants to yak - about the aluminum hull , the wind vane, the generator – or wants to know what is COPLARE and why we have so many promotion stickers on the boat. Or we just sit in the cockpit and watch people on the dock, looking us over. For example, we meet boaters who have already circumnavigated from America all across the Pacific . Others are fellow Germans ready to do the hop to the Canary Islands , like us and of course we have chats with our direct neighbours. Many share interesting information or give valuable advice. We hope to meet one or the other of these yachts again in the Canaries , the Cape Verde Islands or the Caribbean.
Because of COPLARE we meet some nice people from "Gib", as they call it here, who are engaged in Environment protection. We find time and enthusiasm to help with "Clean-up-the Rock" on "Clean-up-the-world-day", September 17. Environment Safety Gibraltar (ESG) members are happy about our help show interest in COPLARE and invite us promptly for dinner. We spend a wonderful evening in a beach restaurant in the company of a very international group of environmentalists from various corners of Europe who all live in Gib at the moment. Janet, the chair person of ESG even gets us a presentation on the News at Gib-TV. There is so little action in Gib that our little project is news-worthy.
Gibraltar is a fascinating locality. The town is not particularly beautiful, we find few pretty corners. It’s too small, too noisy and too much a warren. There is charm in the mix of cultures here , though. We are impressed how friendly and how open toward strangers people ar in Gib and all have a story to tell about their own or their families’ past.
To go to Spain only takes 15 minutes across the airport runway. There is busy traffic on foot, bike, scooter, car or bus. When a plane is coming or going they just close the road to La Linea on the border for a few minutes. So easy !
The Rock is fascinating, too. At his highest point he rises to more than 400 Metres. For centuries the rock was pierced with tunnels. Today they reach 50 km , covering more distance than the roads of Gibraltar. All tunnels were meant for defence and drawback in case of attack. You find remnants of gun emplacements everywhere . Wherever you are, it’s war and defence. World war II Tunnels, Great Siege Tunnels, 100 Ton Gun, King’s Bastion, Casemat Square," Monument to the Evacuation of Civilians of Gibraltar" and much more of military purpose can be explored.
Only the monkeys seem to have no military role and just keep tourists entertained with their acrobatic nonsense. Although they get fed by the government with fruit and vegetables, they are always interested in more food. As soon as they hear the soft noise of a lunch bag they appear immediately on the scene. All right, we must admit that we did not pick a good lunch spot near the top station of the cable car… But Joachim was successfully defended our lunch pack against the apes!
Gibraltar is considered to be the " Gate to the Atlantic" and the most southern tip of Europe, but geographically the town of Tarifa on Spain’s Costa de Luz is. Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans meet here and from Tarifa it is just 8 nautical miles to Tanger in Morocco. That alone would be a good reason for a visit. Also we’ve been told by more than one that we should not miss Tarifa. Indeed when we go there by bus we like it very much. A warren of narrow lanes with white-washed arabic- style houses lead to pretty shops and cute tapas bars. The old town of Tarifa practically invites us for a cosy stroll. But absolutely magnificent is the huge sandy beach which borders the town in the West. It allows plenty of room for everybody : sun worshippers, kite surfers, volleyball players, walkers, parents with children and dogs, which can run here endlessly. We discover a beach restaurant with good music and a terrace where one lounges on big pads and gets good food. Perfect place to finally order the long-wanted Paella. The salty air , the view over the ocean in the shade of a straw umbrella, all enhance the food’s inimitable taste and crowns a great day of exploration.
The Costa de Luz between Tarifa and Cadiz is supposed to be Spain’s most beautiful coast barring none. Our neighbours at the dock are planning to go to Cardiz, then into the River Guardiana between Spain and Portugal before sailing to the Canary Islands via Madeira in order to cross the Atlantic End of November with the ARC (Atlantic Ralley for Cruisers) to the Caribean. We share their interest in all those places , but we don’t want to visit so many of them in such a short period of time. We’ve got too much travel impressions to digest anyway.
We just want to get to the Canary Islands and spend a few weeks on the different islands. Already three months have gone by in a wink and the October in the Canary Islands will also evaporate before we merely have had time to find a source for half decent bread, fresh vegies , the butcher, the fish monger, an ATM , laundromat , etc. etc..
To the photo gallery (on our German website)
Sept. 17th, 2011, Clean-up the Rock Gibraltar
17. September 2011: We volunteer for Clean up the world (CUW) Gibraltar
Clean Up the World is an annual global campaign held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme that inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve their environment. The campaign's flagship event is Clean Up the World Weekend, celebrated globally on the 3rd weekend in September each year.
Clean up the World was established in 1993, after Clean Up Australia founders, Ian Kiernan and Kim McKay, approached the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the idea of taking the Clean Up Australia concept globally.
The resulting partnership now mobilises an estimated 35 million volunteers from 120 countries annually, making it one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world. From Botswana to Bulgaria and Vietnam to Venezuela, volunteers from a range of organisations take to their local parks, beaches, forests and waterways to conduct a range of activities including clean ups, tree planting and awareness raising events with the common goal of cleaning up, fixing up and conserving their local environment.
We took part in the Clean-up-the-Rock in Gibraltar organized by Janet Howitt and team from ESG, Environmental Safety Group Gibraltar, and had great fun! From our own experience we can now tell that it’s a pleasure to meet lovely and interesting people via this activity! We are going to participate at any time and in any place of the world again in the Clean-up-the-World event. It creates such a lot of positive atmosphere and gives a lot of hope that people will learn to overthink their behaviour regarding waste disposal; whether it’s children at school with their parents and teachers, local politicians and owners of local businesses who take actively part in the event; or hikers who come along the area we are cleaning and encourage the team doing the clean-up with a warm thank you for their efforts; or other sailors in the harbor we were inviting to participate the day before the clean-up.
We also took the opportunity to talk to the Minister for the Environment in order to suggest that on the city maps, which are widely distributed to visitors, the location of recycling bins should be marked. In Spain such plans exist in most of the harbors, but in Gibraltar we had a hard time to discover the existing recycling bins for glass and cans.
In talks with ESG people we learned a lot about waste management in Gibraltar: About an incinerator with energy recovery which isn’t in use, because it doesn’t work properly. – The minister didn’t mention that when he explained that there are no recycling bins for plastics and cardboard in Gibraltar because their calorific value is needed for the incinerator… - About waste from Gibraltar brought to a waste plant in Los Barrios, Spain, where valuable materials like PET bottles must be sorted out manually. From all this we got the impression that waste management is still a topic that makes many people feel ashamed and drives them to suppress reality. CUW is a good means to draw their attention to reality and to talk about possible improvements.
Gibraltar only has 30.000 inhabitants. It doesn’t make sense to install modern and highly expensive waste management plants exclusively for such a small community. Cooperation with neighboring communities like Los Barrios in our view make sense. I this fact would be accepted as such and any national issues would be excluded from considerations, the cooperation could go much further and create more positive impact.
To sum up: It was pleasant, interesting and inspiring to participate in the Gibraltars Clean-up!
For those of you, who would like to read Janets Summary on the CUW 2011, here is the link to ESGs website.
And here is the link to our photo gallery.
2011, Aug. 17 to Sept. 5: Balearic Islands, Spain
Translated by Klaus E.
The afternoon of August 16 we sail into the Cala Fornells of the island of Menorca. Our chart says that it is forbidden to anchor here, but according to the guide one can anchor outside the fields of sea grass. In such cases it helps to just go and see. Indeed, many boats are at anchor in the large bay which opens up behind the narrow entrance. So there! The white fishing village Fornells and the bay becomes our home for the next week, we feel very snug here. The boat is safe, the bay is picturesque and the village supplies all our needs. Clear and pleasantly warm water invites snorkelling. Susanne: “Most of the time I take my little Lumix camera into the water and try to take fish photos. While good pictures are rare they help in identifying the fish. I have a great time.”
There is neither a large hotel nor a disco club in Fornells. You find only a few restaurants and bars plus small stores with pretty displays. People come here for water sports, conditions are perfect: no current, no waves, but good sailing wind. Windsurfers and small catamarans tear across the bay and young and old learn sailing in Lasers and Optimists. Sailors and powerboaters who travel the Baleares tend to remain for days here in Cala Fornells.
We take the bus to the capital Mahon, the road signs say “Mao”. As we take the dinghy to the bus stop in the morning we encounter thick fog. We need to travers about 500 meters across the bay to Fornells, but where is it? One loses all direction in this fog. Good thing Susan’s colleague gave us a watch with a compass so that we can find our way to go. We come across another crew who are obviously lost. They are happy to follow us and we all arrive at the dinghy dock O.K.
The island bus stops at all the communities between Fornells and Mahon, giving us 50 km of impressions of the land in the island’s center. Evergreen trees and shrubs cover Menorca’s hills, fields are bordered by stone walls. On a few irrigated lots grows corn and meager meadows feed horses, cows and goats. The rest is pine trees.
Mahon, with a few pretty old-town lanes leaves few impressions. Maybe it’s different for people who come by ship into this port at the end of a long narrow inlet. The pride of the town is the organ in the St. Maria church. It was constructed by German craftsmen. We sit and listen to half an hour of a beautiful organ concert while fleeing the noon heat outside.
We make another excursion with our PAGENA to the Eastern shore of the Nature Park Des Grau-Favaritx. We are interested in the 70 ha Laguna S’Albufera - partially fresh and partially saltwater-fed - a paradise for water fowl. When we do bird watching there are only Auks. Ducks, herons, cormorants and ospreys must have left. There is much variety in the nature preserve: Lovely board walks surround the damp zone around the lagoon, where malodorous plants grow behind reeds and copses. At the other end are low hills forming inaccessible fjord-like bays with trees growing down to the waterfront. Right behind the dunes which separate the lagoon from the salt water rises a steep coast line which hides many small beaches, accessible only by small trails. At the bay’s entrance lies the islet Illa d’en Colom which is also under protection. It is a delightful place, and we are glad we came.
Having stayed a good week in Fornells, we feel that we have been long enough on Menorca, even though there are many more interesting places to see, e.g. the picturesque South Coast or pre-historic Taulas, something like Stonehenge. But roads and winds do not fit our plans.
The final route along the North Coast toward Mallorca opens views to conical pyramids called barraques, alongside of fields. They remind us of French Trullis. Our tour guide says nothing of their meaning and use. Neither does it mention the noticeable two oldish structures which sit next to the lighthouse at Punta Nati.
The crossing to Mallorca is short, we have a good sail most of the way.
The bay of Pollensa NE of Mallorca is huge. From Cape Formentor it takes an hour to cross over. The mountain mass behind Pollensa, the Tramuntana, is imposing and almost alpine in appearance – very beautiful!
In “Puerto de Pollensa” we find another comfortable anchorage. We pay little attention to the city, but take the bus way up to the old city of “Pollensa”, which is the second cultural center of the island next to Palma. It has attracted many artists and offers plenty of good art galleries. The town is small. Since we don’t buy souvenirs nor spend money in restaurants we soon complete our trek. The 365 steps up Mt. Kalvarie boil in the midday sun. Joachim says” I am not crazy to go up there in the full noon heat! Let’s wait for the afternoon and a bit of shade.” Thus we end up in the museum of the artist Dionis Bennassar in his former home. We like the colourful pictures which fall somewhere between impressionism and expressionism and we study them in detail. A catalogue of the exhibition is now aboard with us.
As we arrive on Mt. Kalvarie the lore that Mallorca is Germany’s 17th province gets confirmed: We hear almost nothing but German around us, which seems strange in Spain. Even the owner of a tapas bar turns out to be from Munich, even though he looked “Spanish”. That’s “Malle”!
On the way to Puerto Soller on the West coast we experience tough sailing. By Cape Formentor we get gusty blasts, and then it increases to force 5 - 6 right on the nose with an unpleasant sea. We watch a larger yacht returning to the Bay of Pollensa. We are also thinking about it, but decide that PAGENA is up to it, and we are in good spirits. Working out the speed on the tacking course we figure an ETA before 20:00 o’clock, and decide to continue.
The Bay of Soller is a natural haven which received a real marina within the last 10 years. Also in this bay we find an anchorage, but there is hardly room for all the boats anchoring here. When PAGENA swings around her anchor we get too close to a power boat and decide that we won’t sleep well at this place, especially since we have heard, that during the night a gale will hit the bay. So, we anchor off, tie up at the dock and prefer to pay moorage instead of taking any risk. That’s how we get to know Joerg and Heidi of the yacht SIRENA. They supplied us with plenty advice for the stay in Spain, and together we finished several bottles of wine on board of SIRENA. Too bad all that wine ruined the memory for many of the tips…
There is an old wooden street car which rumbles at walking speed between Puerto Soller and the town of Soller up the hill. One can spy into the gardens and back yards of the locals and almost gets tempted to pick their lemons off their trees. Another wooden train takes an hour to travel across half of the Tramuntana to Palma de Mallorca. Interrupted by countless tunnels the track runs through fertile valleys and past ancient olive groves. A bus ride would be much cheaper, but it is worth the expense.
Once in Palma we purchase a few items of equipment for PAGENA. The store clerk speaks German. Another customer, also German, offers us a ride in his car which we accept thankfully. Would this have happened to us back home? Likely not! Actually, why not ?
In town we are smitten by the buildings style “Modernismo Catalan”, a version of Jugendstil which was expressed by Gaudi or his students. The most impressive edifice of Palma, the cathedral , right by the ocean, is closed on Saturday afternoon. Too bad. We would have enjoyed to see Gaudi’s ‘crown of thorns’ over the altar, a construction of cardboard, cork , brocade and nails.
Not far from the cathedral are the ‘Banys Arabs’, buildings from the time of the Muslim occupation anno 902 to 1229. These are baths in the Roman style, used for recreation and meetings. Even we enjoy the garden with its cacti, palm trees, orange trees and fountains, at the end of a exciting day.
Next day we move the boat back to the anchorage to save money. This time we set the anchor especially well. Unfortunately, other skippers are less careful and anchor much too close, and with too little scope. So, we get torn out of our sleep by a loud thump as another boat rams PAGENA with a dragging anchor. As we come awake wondering about damage we hear loud calls and whistles from other boats in the rising wind outside. Another boat heads for us and we get company from a charter yacht, which hangs on our anchor. Good thing that it holds. This skipper is a real dumbo, feeling no guilt and even asking who did the dragging. He doesn’t even want to leave in the dark, but Joachim manages to convince him that he must make an attempt. It takes hours before we get back to sleep. In the morning J. swims around the boat looking for damage, but nothing showed.
A few more days in Puerto Soller, and we got fed up waiting for fair wind and motored to Ibiza. SIRENA had recommended a nice bay on the West coast of Ibiza. But it is crowded when we arrive early in the morning. The wind is coming up too, and we decide to move further on down to San Antonio.
We expected a small town, not a sea of high rises showing up on our bows. There is even a sort of pyramid, probably a Disco. So, away we went to the other side of the bay to Cala Bassa, where boat masts promised nicer, quieter stay.
There is a Beach Club in Cala Bassa , looking high-class and exclusive. The beach has fine lounge chairs and a pine forest background. Several small restaurants air pleasant music to plenty of visitors. But only during day time. The place seems to be part of the Pacha, the finest club of Ibiza. People are sunbathing, riding motor boats or being towed on banana boats or such. Well, if they enjoy…
We visit San Antonio by bus. We get a kick out of a number of weird characters. There seems to be a costume party with leopard and devil figures abounding. Others had themselves body painted. Too bad we did not manage to photograph them since we were too surprised when they appeared and left. Ibiza is prettier than expected: verdant, with wild, broken coast line. Too bad the island is mainly known for its clubs and the hedonistic night life.
We only touched on Ibiza, but on Mallorca and Menorca we visited three attractive areas each. We conclude that the Balearic Islands are worth a visit, even if one looks for more than a bathing beach and a fine hotel facility for ones vacation. For sailing we prefer other places, since we had to use the engine too often.