Wild Thyme in Ibiza

03 Oct 2012

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Wild Thyme in Ibiza

Introduction When I first went there, Spain was a land caught between two eras. The old meant it was a country of kind, honest and talented people who had been held back by Fascism for decades. The new happened when El Caudillo, Generalissimo Francisco Franco died in the mid-’70s. All the country’s pent-up hunger for learning and knowledge exploded into life as Spain charged headlong into the latter half of the 20th century. For me, arriving in Ibiza was the beginning of a love affair with Spain that has endured to this day. I love the Spanish attitude to disasters big and small where the only thing that gets hurt is pomposity or officialdom. I remember sitting at a bar in a port in my early days in Spain watching as a German-owned Mercedes, a seriously large and expensive car, was about to be loaded into the hold of an inter-island ferry. The way it was done before roll-on/roll-off ships was to lower a large and extra strong net flat onto the quay. Each corner of the net consisted of a loop and once the car was driven into the centre, these were attached to a large hook lowered from a crane. In this instance, the hook was lowered, the loops were slipped over it and the crane operator began the laborious process of lifting up the car and transferring it to a large opening in the deck which led down to the hold. Unfortunately, something occurred inside the crane’s ancient mechanism and instead of stopping in the correct place over the deck, the crane, the net and the luxurious Mercedes rotated until the car was suspended in almost exactly the opposite position to the one from which it had come. This meant that it was about 70 feet over the unpleasantly grubby harbour water. To this day, I don’t know whether the crane driver panicked and did something untoward or the hook and loop mechanism failed but there was an agitated scream from the crane’s cab as the operator watched the net fall apart and gravity took the car water-wards. There was a kind of whiplash effect as the crane was freed of the additional burden of the car, the cable let out a twang and the ferry rocked back and forth like a mad thing. The car fell into the harbour with a huge splash where for a few moments it bobbed happily like an oversized duck in a bath and then, as though it had decided it might as well get on with it, the vehicle went nose down and smoothly disappeared beneath the surface. It’s odd how these things appear to happen in slow motion, but I recall seeing the crew run towards the side of the ship, some gesticulating upwards at the crane, others pointing in vain at the bubbles erupting from where the car had gone down, while a third group simply stood there and giggled hysterically. By now, virtually every Spaniard in sight had gathered on the edge of the quay and to a man, and woman, they were enthralled by what had happened. At first there was a weird silence and then the level of laughter grew and grew and in the end most of the bystanders were having to hold each other upright, such was their pleasure at seeing a spectacle of this magnitude. This was Spain and the Spanish at their enjoyable best and it is a best that I have continued to appreciate to this day. Stewart Andersen P.S. The title of this book comes from the fact that after rain, the air in Ibiza is filled with the scent of newly dampened earth and the perfume of herbs. Above all else I always loved the aroma of wild thyme.

Source: Goodreads

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