Living the dream in Mallorca
If I’d had a Euro for each time someone told me “You’re living the dream mate “, I could possibly have bought a second repossessed house in my native village of Caimari, Mallorca, a village, which, despite its location 30km from chic Palma, could as well have been located in a hidden valley of the Andes mountains.
Caimari, often surrounded by mythical mist in the morning and no stranger to torrential rainfalls, is nothing like the Mallorca of glossy brochures, all inclusive holidays, and horse carriage operators. My fellow villagers mostly live of their smallholdings, love hunting and playing cards, share a distrust of government, and rise at 5am in the morning with a certain amount of panache.
The bars fall into the same rythm, opening at dawn to serve coffee ,traditionally accompanied by Yierbas, a liquor capable of mulitplying your heartbeat and widely attributed locally to getting the blood circulation going during the colder winter months. The main bar entertainment is provided by multiple competing television news channels -without which, no self respecting bar owner nor customer would feel comfortable.
The TV news only give way to the weekly FC Barcelona match, which attracts an opinionated and sufficiently thirsty crowd to justify the stiff pay-per-view subscriptions.Luckily for our four bar owners, they tend to win. As for food, Pa’ amb oli is the only serious game in town. The dark Mallorquin bread comes out with the feeblest of excuse and after few minutes under the grill gently sprinkled with our beloved local olive oil, you can top it with almost anything, although local vegetables and a slice of Jamon Serrano is the preferred option.
Caimari, by the way, also happens to be a village that every cyclist worth their cranks would pass through on their Mallorquin cycling visit, either as the final checkpost before facing the gruelling climbs in the Tramuntana, or during a somewhat more leisurely ride through the Campanet valley.The stunning undulating landscape, the location, resting at the foot of the mountains, the well maintained country roads, and low level of traffic, all lends itself splendidly to cycling, climbing, hiking and running.
Add the majestic dominance of century-old olive trees, sheep grazing carefree in the fields, overlooked by the towering ancient village church, and you’ll understand why so many rental cars stops at the last bend before the village to take pictures .Our Caimari scenery otherwise involve an important and pleasant olive processing plant, a few dozen cats, a handful of pensioners occupying wicker chairs on the pavement greeting and exchanging gossip with the passer-buys, a couple of evenhanded policemen who’s main job it is “to ensure that drivers parking on yellow lines or “driving without safety belts whilst talking on their mobiles” – get a mild telling off” , and lets not forget a few battered vintage Renault 4Ts scattered in the fields and on the roads- the vehicle of choice for farm labourers, a car as simple and logical as the village life it supports.Despite its simplicity, this is an iconic car, and if you know anyone having one for sale for less than €1500, I would be interested.
This by the way, is the village where I decided to follow my dreams with the help of a few philanthropically minded business partners (as well as an exceptionally tolerant life partner). How difficult could it be to set up a small cycling cafe and shop on the main artery into the world heritage site of Tramuntana and in such a picturesque location? As a little time has come to pass and many mistakes have been made, the old adage of course comes true- that there is no such thing as a free lunch.The secret of a happy life as a mini-entrepreneur (and the best early advice I was given), was to waste no time snapping out of my anglo-saxon efficiency mode, and instead adapt the more typical Mallorquin complete indifference towards life’s imperfections and overwhelming Spanish bureaucracy.
By somehow learning this important trick, the satisfaction of having “my own name on the door”- in what undoubtedly is one of the best cycling cafe locations anywhere on our planet, came to replace an earlier sense of island fatigue. The other key motivator undoubtedly came in the form the daily banter and report with the thousands of men and women who return to this island frequently to ride the most glorious cycling routes anywhere,and of course just sitting down to compare notes over a beer with the small colony of spirited cycling aficionados who’s motivation to set up shop on the island more or less coincided with mine.
I definitely have a growing sense of achievement and pride, and looking back on that scary moment when I decided to walk away from a monthly pay cheque there are few regrets. Coming to think of it though- a bit of income at some point wouldn’t be a bad thing…..Lets hope for a good 2021 livind the dream in Mallorca 🙂
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