At this time of year in Ibiza, you see a lot of big lists, like awards for the best DJs and clubs, round-ups of the best restaurants, beaches and hotels, and endless reels of summer highlights. All of these are great to see and read of course, but it got me to thinking about all the little things that come together to make an Ibiza summer so great. Ibiza is so much more than the sum of its most famous parts, and so I started reflecting… I love watching the sunlight glint through the untamed pink bougainvillea growing over a doorway in Dalt Vila that used to belong to my friend Miss S around an hour just before sunset. The tree grows totally wild, now there’s no one in the house to tend to it, but that’s what makes it more beautiful.
I also adore the contrast of homes in the same street – some of the more ancient façades have crumbling paint that I’ll run my hands along to watch it flake to the floor like snow, while others display things chosen by their houseproud owners – be it an ornate wrought iron gate, cute little succulents jutting out from window sills and colourful tiles that say the name of the home, or itsy bitsy birdcages (though caged birds themselves do not make me happy), faded fake flowers and quirky art pieces, depending on which street you’re strolling through.
Still in the same cobbled streets of my old town home (I don’t get out much), I get a kick out of hearing the gitanos who live behind my building refer to me as ‘La Rubia’ (the blonde), thinking I don’t listen or understand. There’s so much I relish about living alongside this pocket of colourful Spanish culture – the way they bring their living rooms out into the street in summer, projecting movies on the wall or playing cards/darts and even video games late into the night on my doorstep; the way they all pile their washing on one line, crammed against a wall (how does it dry?), and the soft, soapy smell that wafts along the air when it’s there.
I love when it’s really hot, one of the grown-ups breaks the street pipes open to create a gushing fountain for their children to play in. I love that the kids aren’t precious with their bikes or toys – they’re all just dumped in the cobbled street overnight and whoever gets to them first the next day claims them. I love the sound of Flamenco guitar floating across the airwaves after dark, and the claps and cheers as someone inevitably starts to sing along. I love the way they cover the entire street with giant sheets of tarpaulin at Christmas time to keep any rain from ruining their 15-hour barbecues, complete with sound systems that rival DC-10. I love that they always invite me to share their food and drink when there’s a celebration. And I especially love the way that all of the big tough men in the street each have a tiny little chihuahua as a pet!
Seeing girls in skimpy clothes and biker boots doing a walk of shame through Ibiza town in the mornings as I throw my yoga mat over my shoulder and skip to class makes me happy – not in a smug way, just with a hint of nostalgia because that used to be me, and some things never change. On that same note, I love knowing that thousands and thousands of people are out partying all night while I’m asleep, and quite possibly kicking on the next day – and that I too, could do that if I wanted to. I just don’t want to anymore, though I still find myself searching for recent Ricardo and Luciano back to back recordings to see if it’s enough to entice me to go to the Amnesia closing (I’ll keep you posted on that one).
When I’m walking through the Mercado Viejo, I love hearing the very faint and familiar buzz of a tattoo gun coming from the window of Inkadelic – wondering who’s in Neil’s chair and what kind of piece they’re having put on their body for life. I love seeing people’s tattoos in general – sometimes Ibiza is like a living, breathing art exhibition in this way. Just a little around the corner, I love that the menu and recipes at Comidas San Juan hasn’t changed since I first went there in 2005 – and that the prices remain the same too. Speaking of unchanged recipes, I love the elderly ladies in their quaint white aprons in my favourite panaderia (bakery) in a hidden back street in the new part of Ibiza town, where their own beef-filled pastry is a dead ringer (taste wise, not looks) for a good old fashioned Aussie sausage roll.
Knowing there’s a new supermarket in San Antonio that is basically the equivalent of Waitrose brought me much joy this year (I’m not even British, but sometimes you just want a bit more variety than Eroski can deliver), but the funny twist of fate I love about it is that when I shop there on occasion, I feel like I’ve sold my soul to the devil and I go back to shopping local with a vengeance. Knowing all my local shopkeepers by face (and some even by name) makes me feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and when they even have personal recommendations for me based on my tastes and regular purchases, it makes me secretly chuffed (and of course, spend more)!
That very first glimpse of the sea you get when you’re driving through the Ibiza to San Antonio highway tunnel is like a little glimmering piece of magic; and on the way back, when you first see the outline of Dalt Vila on the horizon, my heart always skips a beat – I LIVE in there! Even better if a cheesy 80s rock song comes on the Hard Rock Radio channel at the same time. I love the way the birds chirp like crazy and fly really low just before sunset gives you the feeling that we really are just a very little part of a big universal puzzle. I love that first moment in late September when you realise, all of a sudden, you’re no longer sweating your way through your clothing.
I love running along the promenade in Talamanca and wondering if people think I’m listening to house techno, when really, I’m tuned into Taylor Swift. And I also love wondering the same thing about everyone whose paths I cross. Seeing the same street cats every day makes me happy – they are at once feral and tamed. My favourite is a little tortoiseshell girl who lives near where I park my car, who for more than five years has always given me a chirrup of happiness when I stop to pet her, and walks with me all the way down the path into the old town. When there was a fire in the area back in June, I was terrified she might not have survived – she disappeared for a little bit and then popped up again in September, when the smoky smells had finally dissipated, bless her little purring heart (I also now keep a bag of cat treats in the back of my car just for her).
For me, Ibiza is the sum of all these little things – and so much more. I see beauty absolutely everywhere in Ibiza; in every street, in every part of nature, in the sky, in the sea, on the roads, in the campo, in my apartment and in the sun, the moon and the stars. I take great pleasure in the big things too – the aforementioned beaches, bars, clubs, restaurants and music – but if they were all to disappear tomorrow, I wouldn’t go anywhere. My love for this beautiful island transcends its commerciality and trendiness – there really is no place like home.