Hola amigos! It’s me, Megan.
I’m just triple checking we are clear about who is behind the keyboard as I’m currently severely sunburnt.
I don’t know if that affects the way I write – it sure is going to affect the way my skin ages – so just to be sure.
Sunburn? But, how did that happen when we know it only rains on the plains of Spain.
Yes, yes it does rain on the plains of Spain, particularly come mid-October as I have recently discovered.
But, I was not on the plains of Spain this weekend.
I wasn’t even on the mainland. Rather, I was on the island home (and birthplace) of tennis superstar, good-looking Spainard, all-round nice guy except for the butt sniffing ritual pre-serve, Rafael Nadal.
I was on Mallorca.
And better yet, I was on Mallorca and it only cost me $25AUD ($50AUD return from Madrid) to get there.
Hello European prices! (Less enthusiasm about Ryanair’s bugle call upon landing; that ritual has got to go!)
You see, when I first arrived in Madrid, I hopped on Kayak Flights website and used their nifty feature that allows you to see the cheapest flights anywhere from your origin city for an entire month.
It just so happened Mallorca was a hot deal for October.
And that’s how I found myself this morning delicately dressing myself after lathering my body in the small, less than 100mL bottle of moisturiser that airport security didn’t confiscate from me.
Just a brief side note on the moisturiser – it has olive oil in it, which just feels so exceptionally Spanish and is actually a wonderful product from Nivea that I hope I can find back home in Oz.
Anyway, back to Mallorca.
Oh, it was wonderful!
When I landed early on Saturday morning, I had two options: take the number 1 bus towards the city (and my hostel) or take the 21 bus that went in the exact opposite direction but seemed to follow the coastline.
The number 1 bus was teeming with people; the number 21 bus was pleasantly empty (i.e. not too empty to wonder, ‘Okkaayyy, where exactly is this bus taking me).
So, as you can imagine, I took the number 21 bus.
Tricked you; I totally took the number 1 bus.
I’m clearly a bit more of a trickster when sunburnt – I’ll remember that one when I need to brighten my or somebody else’s mood.
Okay, so you’re picturing me on this pleasantly empty bus. What am I wearing?
Don’t worry; I’m not going to go all fashionista on you, though it does come naturally.
As Madrid has been quite chilling in the mornings (wind chill factor, I’d prefer to not know your acquaintance) and I had to be at the train station in Torrelodones at 5.30am, I decided to layer up with two jackets and wear my cashmere sweater.
The cold and I just aren’t compatible, okay.
I knew Mallorca would be warmer and that I could shed my layers at the hostel and proceed to the beach.
The only problem was that I had decided to skip that step and go straight to the beach.
Wearing my layers around my waist and over my backpack as I strolled along Playa de Palma, I looked like a true nomad.
I definitely did not look like I was ready for a day at the beach.
And I wasn’t.
Thankfully, there was a storm overhead that looked ready to break at any second and it was still early enough by Spain’s standards that not many people were around at all.
An additional ‘thankfully’ is that Playa de Palma reminded me so much of Mooloolaba – a long stretch of beach with little souvenir shops, boutiques, and restaurants along the waterfront – so I knew the people were familiar with my type.
To be honest, I didn’t even care about my appearance. I was in Mallorca for one reason and one reason only: to relax.
Of course, my crazy achieving brain did try to hijack my intentions at one point saying, ‘You can stop and read some more once you make it there [enter tree, food hut, other landmark]’ and I had to tell that crazy son of a gun that he needed to get his boardies on and chill.
I’ve probably fried him in my earnest for a beach getaway, but I don’t even care; anyone who tries to mess with your relaxing time and make you feel guilty about it needs to get gone.
Later, when I decided I was ready to take things up a notch on the summery scale, I slipped into one of those sauna boxes they call beachside toilets and got into my proper beach attire.
A sweaty glow was just an added bonus from the lavatory’s titanium walls (seriously people, just a few more holes for fresh air is all I ask).
That was about the most I had to think about all day. I walked along the beach. I stopped and read. I lay down in the sand and zonked out. I walked some more.
And then my stomach indicated it was time for food and I made my way to a cute little beachside restaurant.
I had thought to myself earlier, “I don’t even want alcohol this weekend, it will be so nice to just have water instead” but then a really gorgeous Spanish man asked me if I wanted a drink and instead of N-O, I found myself saying S-A-N-G-R-I-A.
Don’t worry, I didn’t spell it out (that would be weird); instead, I rolled that r with so much passion and I might have even clicked. I don’t know.
I do however think my message was received as that sangria was not easy to gulp down like usual; the fishbowl I had been given was extremely potent.
Yes, I ate with my drink, including nearly a whole breadbasket to soak up that alcohol. No, it did not work.
And, before you say it, I know, I did the right thing by finishing the drink. It would have been a waste to leave it otherwise.
The only slight problem I could see was finding my hostel with my phone battery about to die.
But, I’m intelligent, and I simply used the last vestiges of energy to get the address and write it on my hand.
Once on the bus, I just had to keep my lip-syncing along to my music to a minimum and watch for the bus driver’s to indicate which one was my stop.
Only, the asshole told me the wrong stop. Or, I interpreted it wrongly. Details, details.
Either way, I found myself 400m from the bus stop checking in with a waiter who gave me great instructions and half an hour later I was at the hostel safe and sound.
I thought my day was nearly over. How wrong I was!
Following my fellow Aussie roommate to the kitchen as she prepared her dinner, I soon met a bevy of boys and girls.
It wasn’t too long before we were outside in the courtyard. Let me just briefly run you through who was there because it was such a lovely cosmopolitan group.
- Fred, a 20-year-old self-assured Swede (he’s going to release an amino acids drink for vegans, he’s building a studio for his music, he’s currently seeking work as a deckhand and is a port manager back home in Sweden, and I’m sure there was more but forgive me Fred) playing his guitar and singing covers and some originals;
- Dylan, a red-headed Welsh guy that has lived in Spain since he was 5 years old, but still sounds British also showing us some tunes;
- Lauren my Australian sister from Newcastle who is on her own amazing solo travel adventure;
- A French guy who’s name I never got but sounded like a mix between Souffle and Croissant (I think);
- Daniel, a programmer and Spaniard who remotely works wherever he wants; and
- Two American brothers Tyler and Daniel, who are working and teaching in Madrid and who are also supporting Trump in the upcoming election.
The evening was going spectacularly with contributions from everybody, live music, stories about different ways of living I had never imagined, and so much kindness and coolness.
Until Fred brought up the American Presidential election.
You know, the one with Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump?
Yeah that one.
Alcohol had been consumed at this point and the evening dissolved into a heated half-an-hour debate around the table about taxpayer dollars, protecting a country’s culture, greed, immigration, misogyny.
As a former debater at school, you would think I would have sunk my teeth in. But, no, when I tried to insert some economical benefits seen in a small town in Victoria, Nhill, that resettled thousands of Burmese refugees, I was spoken over and opted to sit this one out.
There was lots of “Thanks for respecting my opinion” followed by raised voices that kind of made you feel like those were empty words.
It was interesting to watch. I was proud of the discussion going on and how many different people from different countries were willing to plug “Humanity trumps all.”
I understood that to the American brothers, their father’s business was their main concern – a business that is probably their livelihood – but was dismayed they weren’t rooting for policy, but the personality of Trump.
The debate ended after the younger brother told his older brother to ‘Shut Up’ (to keep the debate amicable and give everyone a chance to talk) one too many times and he spit the dummy and they left.
We were consoled with Fred’s original songs about compromise, love lost and that girlfriend that just didn’t want to see things from his point of view.
I sat there thinking about my long-ass day starting in Madrid to now sitting around with people I just met, feeling connected and happy. Ah, travel.
The next day, I decided to head to another beach and just as I left the hostel, the two American brothers were off on their own beach adventure. We ended up going to the same beach.
I realised I felt super uncomfortable being around the guys because of the night before. It definitely was the elephant in the room, and in typical western fashion, neither of us brought it up.
On the half-an-hour-long bus ride there, I decided it was silly to let a difference of opinion be divisive. Especially when the crux of the debate was about removing divisions and accepting difference.
That being said, when I got the beach, I did excuse myself for food (which I did really want) and then found myself a quiet nook to roast for the next five hours.
And so, I left Mallorca a cooked lobster with more wonder about the world and humans and how we all work together. Or don’t.
But, mainly the sunburn; it’s really bad guys.
Send Aloe Vera!