Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sa Calobra

Wednesday 6 June 2007
I went for a hike in a beautiful canyon today, but before I tell you about the hike I must tell you about my adventure getting there. I got up at 0645, late for me, but an ungodly hour for the Spanish, and the earliest I have gotten up since I have been in Mallorca. I left Angel´s condo at 0720. It was sprinkling a bit but not enough to get me very wet. I got on the train to Sóller before 0800. The train arrived in Sóller shortly before 0900. I considered walking around town a bit and maybe going to the natural history museum and the botanical gardens before getting on the tram to Port Sóller, but decided to give Sa Calobra the highest priority.

I was on the tram just a few minutes after arriving in Sóller and arrived in Port Sóller just before 0930. The boat to Sa Calobra would not leave until 1000. I did not believe I had enough time for coffee or breakfast given the relaxed service in Mallorca, so I walked around the harbor. I was amazed at the number of Monterey style boats in the harbor. They are called Lluts here. The word llut is related to the word lute, and the Arabic word for the same musical instrument, al ud, because the musical instrument and the boat's hull have a similar shape. There were probably 50. Some of them were of fiberglass and appeared to be recently made. I don´t believe they are made in California any more. There were lots of them in Monterey when I moved there in 1970. I took a few pictures. It was then that I noticed that I no longer had my cell phone. The tram that I rode to Port Sóller was gone, and I thought I had lost it on the tram.

I decided to go ahead and get on the boat to Sa Calobra. The boat left at 1000. It was a very pleasant ride. The sea was calm, less than a 5 knot breeze, and less than a 1 foot swell. After a stop at Mola de Tuent, a nude beach popular with the French, we arrived in Sa Calobra at 1100. I headed for Torrent de Pareis taking photos along the way. The path to Torent de Pareis is paved with flat stones, and goes through tunnels cut into the limestone sea cliffs. The views are magnificent. I arrived at Torrent de Pareis before 1200. Most people stop at the cobble beach here and spend the day sunning and swimming. Several luxury yachts are anchored nearby and their passengers are swimming between the yachts and the beach.

I began to hike up the torrent. A torrent is a raging river during storms, and a dry streambed at other times. On this day it was a dry streambed with pools of fresh water here and there. Some of the pools were 10 to 20 meters across. Although they had some green algae growing in them, they were not stagnant, indicating that there was a lot of water moving through the gravel beneath the surface of the streambed. The pools were like mirrors at times reflecting images of the sky and cliffs on which the sun shown. The farther I walked the fewer people I saw going my way. I occasionally saw people coming down the torrent, returning to the beach. At first some were speaking Spanish and even English, but after about an hour of hiking, I heard only German.

The gravel stream bed was now interrupted frequently by a pile of large boulders requiring some climbing skill to get over. At one difficult spot a German family of 4 caught up with me. They did speak some English. I told the father to go ahead, because I might not be able to get up. He went ahead and climbed up the spot I was having trouble with. His daughter of about 9 years of age was following him, and unable to get across a long step from one foot hold to another. I helped her across, and her father helped her, her younger brother, his wife, and finally me up the slick travertine. I walked with them until I got tired of trying to keep up with them, and the canyon opened up and wasn't quite as spectacular as it had been. While I was along for a while I saw a long, dark mammal that looked like a large weasel about 50 meters up the torrent from me. The animal saw me too and began walking away from me and disappeared into the rocks. I suspect that it might have been a civet cat.

I started back down the torrent. I was going quite slowly, being very careful to not risk injury. Two German girls caught up with me at a spot I was afraid to go down alone. They told me they had begun hiking at 0800 at a monastery near Lluc. They asked me to show them the route I had taken on my way up the torrent. I left my pack with them and went first. They handed me their packs, and I told them where to put their feet. We repeated this process at several tight spots. We met several groups of Germans on their way up, and the girls visited with them. When we came to a group of Germans swimming in one of the pools, I stayed to swim as I was very hot and soaking wet with sweat. I swam with my shirt on to wash some of the sweat out of it. I hiked to the beach in my wet shirt and boxer shorts. They were almost dry by the time I got to the beach.

I arrived back in Sa Calobra at 1430. A boat had just left the dock, but the schedule indicated a boat would leave every hour on the hour. I waited patiently, but the next boat did not arrive until 1545 and did not leave until 1645 so I had 2 hours to watch some interesting people and the numerous small fish swimming in the cala. I believe the boat operators wait until they have a full boat before they leave. Anyway I did not get back into Port Sóller until 173o. There were some beautiful thunderheads over the Sierra Tramuntana. I was able to take some photos from the boat with the clouds over the mountains until my camera started to give me a message saying that the SD card was not formatted. The conductor on the tram told me to inquire at Sóller about my cell phone. I did so, but the clerk said no one had turned one in. I did not arrive in Palma until 1900. I tried to copy the fotos from the card to my flash memory without success. I expect I will be able to recover them when I get home.

Angel told me that someone had found my phone only minutes after I first missed it. They had called Ana, and she would ride her bicycle over the mountains all the way to Sóller in the morning to get it and bring it to the hospital when she went to work. Ana is a really special person.

After I showered, shaved, and went to the store for water and beer, Angel and I went out to an Andalucian restaurant for a beer and a snack before dinner. We each had a beer and Angel ordered half orders of three dishes: smoked cod, tuna with baked bell peppers, and bread spread with a very special cheese. We decided we had had enough to eat and would not make dinner when we got home, so we ordered desert. Angel ordered tiramisu, and I ordered a peach sorbet. It had the best peach flavor I have experienced outside of a real peach. We finished with chupitos, very small cups of a coffee liquor topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. We returned to Angel´s condo at 2300. I fell asleep on the couch reading a newspaper article about Tiger Nuts. They are used in Spain to make a very good kind of horchata. They are very closely related to the nut grass I ate as a child. I had hoped to grow some when I got home, but they need sandy soil, and that isn´t available in Vacaville.

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