Walking, in particular, is one of those forms of exercise I just don’t ‘get’. Why would you walk somewhere if you can drive and get there faster? I don’t even own any kind of sensible walking type shoes or event trainers for that matter, because I’ve just never needed them (and I also find them very unattractive!). I mean, incidental walking is OK. But the distance between my car in Los Molinos and my apartment in the heart of Dalt Vila is just about as far as I can handle – be it in summer heat or winter cold. I’ve also been known to walk to Pacha from the port in Ibiza in August when taxis are scarce, but it’s usually under duress. But here in Ibiza, walking – especially in the beautiful autumn and winter months – is a ‘thing’. People absolutely love it.
My Instagram feed is full of friends’ photos of their morning walks, sunset strolls, dog walks, countryside hikes, afternoon jaunts, full moon walks. You name it, the residents of Ibiza will find an excuse to walk it. There are even companies dedicated to taking islanders on guided educational hikes, weeklong around-the-island walks and even kids walking tours, but I have always managed to sneakily avoid any kind of walk. Until now. You see, last weekend I was totally duped into going for a walk under the ruse of watching the sunset. Finally, someone got me out of my desk chair and into the countryside – but involved a serious ruse and the promise of some char-grilled lamb chops. “Come to my house for a barbecue,” said my friend Miss M. “We’ll take the dogs and watch the sunset, the beach is right on my back doorstep.” It seems Miss M’s version of a doorstep and my version of a doorstep differ by about four kilometres or so. As I was soon to find out.
So I arrived not long before sunset, bottle of wine in hand, already starving and trying to calculate how soon we could fire up the barbie. I was surprised to see Miss M’s communal style kitchen full of friends all wearing… trainers! And hoodies. Some of them even had water bottles. What the hell? There was something weird going on… and when Miss M announced we would be taking one of her favourite ‘trails’ to reach the seaside, my heart sank. There I was, in my favourite Ugg boots and sparkly gold leggings, dying for a drop of wine and craving a crispy chorizo… and yet it appeared none of those things would be on the menu for quite some time.
I considered faking a migraine – but then how could I justify scoffing wine later on? I thought about moaning about a yoga pain (the one type of exercise I can barely handle) but I knew no one would believe I had exerted myself enough to sustain an injury. I thought about just telling the truth: “I don’t like walking.” But then I didn’t really want to be ridiculed in front of the group. I even thought about faking an emergency and just doing a runner – but I firmly believe you should never tempt fate by lying about such things. So off I went (begrudgingly), into the wild Ibiza countryside, heading in the direction of Cala Bassa for the sunset. How hard could it be? I kept reminding myself that people do this voluntarily every day – in fact, some people spring out of bed in the mornings eager to get out there. And I thought perhaps I’d been a bit too harsh dismissing walking altogether.
Until we came to the first mucky puddle. The dogs splashed through it obliviously, those in trainers bounded over it and I… well, me and my Uggs had to take ridiculous detours through the scrub to avoid it. After we’d been walking for about 15 minutes, I kept asking Miss M, “Are we there yet?” to which she ALWAYS replied, “Yep, almost.” About 30 minutes later, I was ready to cry. My not-so-sensible shoes were causing me to develop sore shins and the arches of my feet were cramping up. My lower back was killing me. I was DYING of thirst. And yet everyone else in the group was smiling and laughing and having a jolly old time. I couldn’t even turn back because I had no idea where I was and what landmarks to look out for. And we all know Google maps are useless in the campo anyway. Not that I’ve ever been good with maps anyway. So on I trudged.
And then… something magical occurred. Someone in the group handed me a glass of wine. No, no, that wasn’t the magical part (honestly – though it did make me pretty happy at the time). The magical part was when the beautiful, crystalline, Mediterranean Sea appeared through a clearing of the trees, like an oasis, beckoning to us, as the sky started to turn pink and golden as the sun began to set above. And after that, I forgot about my aches and pains (could have been helped by the second glass of wine perhaps) and it was like I was walking on clouds. I bounded acorss the golden sand, enraptured by the iridescence of the thousands of jellyfish in the shallow waters (thankfully was too cold to swim). I stopped to smell the wild flowers. I picked up shells. I even found a big fat hedgehog who’d fallen asleep in a bowl of cat biscuits clearly left on a terrace for the stray cats, one of whom I made BFFs with as she walked along the dirt path with me for about ten minutes.
Could life get any better? I mean come on. A HEDGEHOG IN A FOOD COMA. It was a veritable winter wonderland – deserted beaches, baby animals, picturesque sunset, friends, wine, laughter. It was like my very own Disney film! I finally understood what all these people had been banging on about for all these years. There is even MORE magic to the island, if you step off the beaches and into the countryside and go and look for it. Of course, that’s what I thought until the sun set completely and we had to walk the rest of the way home in the pitch black darkness with iPhone torches to lead the way, surrounded by houses with small fences and big dogs that were barking like Cujo. But that’s another story. I’ll stop here.