La Buena Vida

When in doubt about where you are meant to be, look down at your feet- Buddhist saying –


Llucalcari, a one-street village nestled along Mallorca’s spectacular west coast is my new ‘meant to be’ place. A village that warrants a name on a Google map but not on a road sign. Blink and you miss it. Not surprisingly many new visitors arriving into Palma’s airport after dark, in just-rented vehicles, tackling hair pin bends and glancing down at ‘How To Get To The House’ directions, simply drive on by! 


The bus stop, as it happens, is the lone marker to this dreamlike hamlet. The descent to which resembles a private driveway on a roller coaster. My inner voice, now firmly in the ‘ON’ position, talks me down, down, down, convincing me to take the No Entry lane toward the beckoning ocean. Apparently the only way in, and out. 
  
With exacting precision I maneuver the car into the one remaining teensy space, congratulate myself and step outside. Houses trussed up, all in a row. Not a soul in sight. Probably just as well considering my Spanish illiteracy. What’s “Good evening”? I forget already! With flashlight and careful instructions arrogantly ignored on the back seat, I grasp the house key. The search for my Caserio begins. “This is fun,” I chuckle, like a kid on a scavenger hunt, supremely confident in my detective abilities.

Ten minutes later and I am still out on the street, homeless. The key doesn’t fit the lock. Am I even in the right village I wonder? The derelict church next door invokes chills even the warmest of breezes can’t avert.  A deep down fear brews in my gut. Could there have been some kind of mistake? Unwittingly I try the key in the adjoining property (my neighbours’ apparently) leaving us all half scared to death. “Habla ingles?” I ask in desperation to the blank faces in the doorway. Yet amidst the confusion my arrival had in fact been anticipated and I am redirected to the door I first fumbled failingly to master. A welcome entry befitting sighs, giggles and cold beer waiting patiently for my arrival. 


Part 2
Last year, arriving in Ireland on a week’s retreat with poet David Whyte, we were reminded to take a good look around as we’d never see this place again exactly as we did on this first night. And so it is here. Four weeks and each day reveals something previously unseen, unfelt. And as with any place we inhabit for long enough, a familiarity grows. We get to call it Home. A House of Belonging?
Life here is slow. Days are long. Fertile ground for one to ponder new directions. Boiling the kettle to clean the dishes. Washing clothes by hand. Everything more elemental and necessary to gear down a body and mind. A healing of sorts. Windows recessed deep in stone walls allow for an uncommon darkness and profoundly deep sleep, and ancient doors keep interiors like wine cellars, cool and dark. Once opened, blinded by the light. Reminders of childhood Saturdays spilling out of the local cinema into the bright afternoon light. 
The sun’s rays enter the outside bathroom in the late morning making for a perfect time to bathe. The shower head limps with excess weight in its cradle requiring body convolutions to rinse bubbles from my hair. Errant winds deposit swirling leaves at my feet. I am a million miles away from the life I so recently knew.
A 30 minute walk to Deia, the nearby village with its ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ appeal, provide the basic necessities for daily life and the opportunity to greet new friends with the obligatory kissing on both cheeks. Purchases need to be made before the mandatory siesta closures, the heaving weight of bottled water and wine forgotten by years of car ownership. Chocolate cravings have to be planned ahead, if that’s even possible!
Beach access, a 5 minute descent through terraced olive groves and a resident donkey, invite sun lovers the opportunity to spread their nakedness over giant boulders, providing they possess the agility to scale the perilously steep ledges….typically those meant to be seen naked. This is how many ‘take the sun’ on this side of the Atlantic, but as the Buddhist saying goes, ‘When in doubt about where you’re meant to be…’ I look down at my feet and make a swift departure home.

Mars Bar Meditation

Assumption: You like to eat Mars Bars
Yesterday I bought a Mars Bar. I left it on the kitchen counter. It was gone within 24 hours. Each time I swung inside the kitchen I saw it there, waiting. A joyful image. Last night, at the witching hour, I devoured it. A swift gluttonous act, the kind one saves for nights alone so as not to repel onlookers. Let’s call it the ‘Here’ Mars Bar for the ‘I see it – I like it – I want it’ impulsive kinds (see Call of the Croissant).
I could have placed it in my ‘Secret Stash’ draw, (yes, I have one already). That ‘out of sight, out of mind’ place that offers greater success for postponement of the inevitable. A crucial resource for full moon mania, or work day crises that have us scrambling for the draw in a ‘resistance is futile’ flurry. Knowing it lies silently in wait creates a whole other feeling of joy, especially for those who merit exercised self control. Let’s call this the ‘Hidden’ Mars Bar for the pleasure postponers.
Now let’s imagine a third option. Someone has put a Mars Bar in your house (partner, cleaner, whoever) and placed it in a kitchen draw that you rarely open. It could sit there for days, weeks, possibly months, without you knowing. Let’s call it the ‘Heady’ Mars Bar.
So imagine this feeling? Craving a Mars Bar, unable to venture out to make the purchase, yet ignorant of the fact that one lays within a hair’s breadth of your reach.
Isn’t this like joy in life? Whether through our children’s laughter, the smell of freshly ground coffee, or the feel of a lover’s touch, we extol the sensuous. Just like the Here or Hidden Mars bars. 
Becoming more conscious of what we call ‘this lifetime’ surely involves pondering the Heady Mars Bar planted in our kitchen. Call it God, or Love, or Spirit, or something bigger than our Self. Like the sun on a cloudy day, if we don’t see it does it mean it’s not there? Easy to forget about its splendor when we don’t feel it’s warmth, see it’s full light.
My point is not to go on a Mars Bar hunt of your home but rather to consider the possibility of its presence. Maybe it changes nothing for you. But what if, by happenstance you suddenly found something you really wanted and realized it had been there all along? You’d just never seen it!

Drivers Wanted?

What’s your driving style? If you’re the Grand Prix type then add Mallorca to your list of travel destinations. For the faint of heart, this is not. 
Travel guidebook warnings are prolific and weighty, …57 hairpin bends – the most terrifying in Mallorca, …need nerves of steel, …boasts 270 degree loops and other harrowing features, provide ample warning for the acrophobics to make other plans. But loving time behind the wheel invites those up for the challenge. Count me in. And if not now, when? 
With warnings under advisement (and recent downhill gear instruction from my daughter) I opt for a first day’s drive to Castell d’Alaro, an ‘extremely narrow road that threads its way along precipitous mountain ridges.’ Choice leads to awareness.

Sa Colabra

Like the ribbon path of a rhythmic gymnast, roads are threaded along precipitous slopes. Marvels of engineering. Spectacular views abound in the peripheral line of vision only. To indulge fully, if only for a fraction of a second, can be costly. Absent cliffside barriers attest to momentary lapses of concentration and lost lives, human and goat.


Dangerously narrow roads allow passing cars only inches in which to navigate. Bikes, scooters, cyclists, hikers, even horses add to the dodge ’em maze, and missed directions means many miles of onward travel before a turn around is possible. 

Getting around this part of the world requires patience and sobriety. Perfect for me. But then there’s always the young and the restless, in a rush to get somewhere…or not. Some take it in their stride. Only behind these unfettered souls can fleeting glimpses of the dramatic seascapes, yawning chasms and homes of the rich and famous (Halle Berry? Sir Bob Geldof?) be gleaned. The occasional rants at atrocious drivers morph into empathy for the poor sod behind the wheel. One day it’ll be me, the old sucker who amasses a trail of cars in her wake. 
The zippy Fiat Panda is back with the rental company. Returning home on the bus, afforded a long look out… and down at one too many burned out car wrecks. Glad to be a passenger for a while.  
Check this out (filming last week!)
The new movie from the Wachoswki brothers (The Matrix triolgy), starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, has been filming this weekend at the famous beauty spot of Sa Calobra. Filming for ‘Cloud Atlas’ has been taking place all along the rugged  west coast for the past 10 days, with scenes being shot around Soller, Formentor and Puig Major.
Mallorca is doubling for New Zealand and Hawaii, both of which feature in the multi-stranded story by novelist David Mitchell. The spectacular scenery of the west coast, where the Tramuntana mountains fall into the sea, was said to be ideal for the sea scenes in the movie. The beautiful bay in the Port of Soller played host to the replica galleon ship, the Earl of Pembroke which will feature as a pirate ship in the film.