In my case, this happened about a week ago, as I was driving (perhaps a bit too fast, rushing to get to whatever appointment I was en route to) through the tunnel on the highway from Ibiza towards San Antonio. The sun was setting in the distance, which meant as I exited the tunnel, I drove into a blaze of glorious, golden light. At the same time, I switched from Ibiza Sonica Radio to one of the more commercial local FM channels (blame, or in fact thank, the bad reception underground) and as if by magic, the familiar Flamenco-esque guitar riff from Madonna’s 1986 classic La Isla Bonita floated over the airwaves.
‘Tropical the island breeze All of nature wild and free This is where I long to be La isla bonita’ Now I’ve never been a huge fan of 80s music, but La Isla Bonita is without a doubt, a standalone classic – it’s almost ageless. Whether you were born in the 50s, or the noughties, or anywhere in between, there’s just something about it that tugs on the heartstrings, don’t you think? And so as Madge’s voice echoed through the car, I turned her up as loud as she could go and sang along with her as though my life depended on it. Bitch, I WAS Madonna.
‘I want to be where the sun warms the sky When it’s time for siesta you can watch them go by Beautiful faces, no cares in this world’ Seriously though, I had goosebumps. And tears in my eyes. All my stress, the need to hurry and any sense of urgency all just melted away in an instant. Because in that very moment, I was where the sun warmed the sky. I was surrounded by nature wild and I free. I was where I longed to be. Ibiza: the beautiful island. For me, there is no place in the world as beautiful as Ibiza. And trust me, I have searched. It’s not as simple as identifying literal beauty – after all, the world is full of breathtakingly beautiful islands, countries and cities, and beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder. It’s the beautiful character (for want of a better word) Ibiza possesses that makes her so special to so many people. It’s the energy most people swear they feel pulling them, calling them, to Ibiza. It’s a feeling. A vibe. It’s almost like… magic.
‘…the sun would set so high Ring through my ears and sting my eyes Your Spanish lullaby’ Madonna may have been singing about her mythical Spanish island of San Pedro (which is not, in fact a real place – she has admitted in interviews that at the time of the song’s production, she wasn’t the type of person who holidayed on beautiful islands. How things have changed!), but really, has there ever been a song more suited to Ibiza? Forget house music – if our island could have an anthem, I’d vote for La Isla Bonita. The Spanish guitar, the echo of bongos complemented by a good old fashioned synthesizer, the shake of maracas and our lady Madonna’s inimitable voice switching in and out of English and Spanish lyrics that are just begging to be sung along to… what more do you need? You need to have a beautiful island to dedicate it to of course.
I can’t even count all the ways in which I find la isla bonita. I love her sparkling, clear blue sea – twinkling like glitter when the sun’s rays skim the surface. I love her majestic rock formations, jutting out from the coastline like enormous sculptures sent down from heaven. I love the dusty countryside caminos, lined with terraced stone walls and surrounded by lush fields of flowers. I love the wild succulents that spring forth from the coast and in the middle of farmland alike. I love the hazy, golden sunlight that seems to give the mountaintops, valleys, beaches and old town halos at just the right time of day. I love the magical sunsets – no two are ever alike. I love the cobbled streets of the old town, even when they cause me to slip over when I’m rushing (there goes the universe again, reminding me to slow down). I love the buzz of the human traffic in the village squares at night. I love hearing so many different languages and accents bouncing off the walls. I love the Balearic fashion show that is day-to-day life on the beaches, in the bars and clubs of the island. I love the island’s rich musical heritage. I love that Ibiza is so special, to so many people, and I love that I get to call it my home. And you know what else? As much as I love having electronic music almost on tap here, I still love the commercial radio stations, who understand the value of a good car karaoke session! Now, let’s all singalong with Madonna…