The palette of colours on the largest of the Balearic Islands can be adapted to any artist’s requirements: whether a painter is looking for an infinite range of blues for the clear skies, saturated greens on grey for the Tramuntana Mountains, or ochres for an urban scene in the old town of Palma. There they are, so all the artist needs to bring is talent.
On this occasion, the brushstroke starts in the northeast of the canvas, on the Son Serra de Marina Beach, a protected natural space that has become a popular surfing spot for enthusiasts like Berni (yes, on top of everything else, you can surf here too).
Then the stroke goes west, towards Sóller and the mountains. Traditions still live on in this singular area surrounded by a wall of hills and dotted with orange trees. Here we find Antònia. Finally, with a flick of the wrist, we go south to Palma. In Ciutat, Toni is our guide and the last hue in this brightly coloured picture.
Berni, 33. Surfing instructor
When he was 16 he made a deal with his mother: he would pass everything and, in return, she would buy him a surfboard. He managed it. What Berni did not know was that his passion for waves would lead him to become a surf instructor… in Mallorca. “There are still people who are shocked: ‘What, you can go surfing in Mallorca?’” he smiles, and then points to the waves behind him. Surfing culture has grown a lot in Mallorca, but there are still those who are surprised to see surfers on the beaches.
Yet the island offers a lot of advantages. “First, there are no tides, and so on a day with good waves you can easily spend four or five hours in the water.” The other advantage is that it doesn’t matter where the wind blows from. “By car, you can be anywhere on the island in just over an hour.” His preferred beaches are Cala Mesquida and Son Serra de Marina, in the north. He confesses that he has other favourites, but he is keeping them for him and his board.
Antònia, 45. Administrator
The valley around Sóller was off the beaten track for a long time. The town has lived its history surrounded by the mountains of the Tramuntana range, with just a small opening to the sea, Es Port. It is said that geography moulds character and Antònia would confirm that: “Yes, we keep ourselves to ourselves,” she says, laughing. “Although we know how to open up. It is a small town, and in all towns like this people feel they are a little bit special.”
The catalogue of Sóller peculiarities is long. The advice of this administrative worker ranges from recommending the snails in aioli on Sa Fira day (the second Sunday in May) to a walk around the port, or simply taking a seat in the square and having a coffee. Asked to choose a special moment here, she doesn’t hesitate: “winter, when the number of visitors goes down, and you go away for the day. For example, to the Barranc de Biniaraix ravine. You need to be fit to walk it… but poc a poc [little by little] you get there eventually.”
Toni, 69. Retired
He spent 31 years in the projection booth at the Lumière Cinema in Palma. “Apart from reading and writing, almost everything I know I have learned from films,” says this Palma local, now retired. He says that now it feels like a big effort to go to the cinema to see films –unless he is asked to go by his two grandchildren–, and he prefers music, getting together with other veterans “to sing habaneras, boleros and maybe a ranchera.” What is more, he likes to wander and photograph his beloved Palma.
He loves to travel, but hates to leave the island. “Over the years, Palma has become even more beautiful. It looks fantastic. The old town, its pavement cafes, the shops,” says Toni, who also enjoys walking by the waterfront, “in front of the cathedral and as far as El Portixol or El Molinar.” Before walking on, he gives me three recommendations: “Mallorcan soup, frito de lechona [a pork dish with vegetables]. And to finish, a glass of herb liqueur.” This is a man who knows what he is talking about.