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Island Ecology

Island Ecology

by José P Ribas

Es Cubells
A Balcony To The Mediterranean Soul


Ibiza Ecology

There is a special place to be when peace of mind and serenity needs recovering, ideal for this time of the year, and this is why I'm up at Es Cubells, the capital of the Migjorn (mid-day) part of the Island.

Sit on the terrace of the Bar Llumbí, ask for a nice cool beer, breathe in deeply and blow away all the black clouds.

Continuing our perimeter trip around the South of the Island, leaving the impressing sight of Vedra at our back, following Southeast, by the high rocky cliff of the coasts, we turn Llentrisca's Cape. What comes next is a very broad, open bay, from the cape to Punta Purroig, four to five kilometres long, four kilometres deep, high coast, with very few proper accesses to the seashore.

The little white church, surrounded by colourful oleanders, is situated at the edge of this bay, perched on the cliffs over a hundred metres above sea level. The graceful curvature of the bluff forms a natural balcony of exceptional beauty.

This is one of the best and most genuine postcards of the Island. Its landscape, trees and buildings leave no doubt about what part of the World this belongs to. One can feel the spirit and the beat of the Mediterranean soul.

The sea looks calm and mild from this distance, with a special, exclusive light and colours, best to be seen at dawn when the rising sunlight strikes the cliffs of the West Coast of the bay.

Very soon we can find out, we can feel, that there is something really unusual about this place, something long time wanted, something pleasant and relaxing. It is not the magnetic energy and the wild emotions that one can feel in the presence of Vedra.

Here, the thoughts and feelings turn far more subtle, mystic, deep, almost religious.

This is probably the reason why the church was built on this natural altar (thank God they built a bar by the side, too).

In the garden there is a monolith to the priest Padre Palau who spent the last eleven years of his life (1870-80s) meditating at the top of Vedra. Today there is an iron cross in the same place, installed by another priest - Padre Morey - around 1960.

Padre Francesc Palau founded the religious order Carmelo Misionero and in the 20th century a convent for the Carmelite Sisters was built a few hundred metres from the church and the cliff. This place had special relevance for spiritual meditation during Franco's days up and until the mid-1970s. The elder neighbours of the place still remember some hysterical mystic crisis scaring the neighbourhood, keeping the natives away from the surroundings. The convent is still open.

By the side of the church there is a road that runs two thirds down and along the cliff, to about fifteen or twenty big villas built on the slope. One of the firsts to be built, right by the seashore, almost thirty years ago, was for the Swiss actress Ursula Andress ("007 vs. Dr No"). The road was extended three kilometres to the last villa built for the musician Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells) in the 1990s.

In between there is the only public way down to the seashore to the little beach of Ses Boques with several fishermen's huts, the boats and a nice, small, wooden-terraced restaurant run by a local ex-fishing family. There's good familiar service and the rice dishes, "Arroz a la Marinera" (seafood rice soup) and paella are excellent. The seafood and fish is always varied, plentiful and very fresh.

Cala Llentrisca (*) is probably the least-visited beach of all Ibiza (most come by boat), less then one kilometre from the end of the road, towards the Cape, but with very difficult pedestrian access from this direction.

These littoral waters are perfect for snorkel-diving and underwater photography, crystal-clear with plenty of light, from three to eight metres deep. The "Posidonia oceanica" meadows are still in very good condition, so a great variety of life can be observed in them (Wrasses, Breams, Groupers, Combers, Rays, Mullets, among other fish, Fan mussel, Sea-urchins, Sea-stars, Cuttlefish, Octopus and Crabs are also common).

By the big stones of the seashore, out of the beach, looking up to the cliff slope, the serenity turns into a rather fearful impression, when we see the different material layers that form them, most is clay and marl, with two or three levels of heavier and harder calcareous rock at the top, with enormous blocks of rocks just waiting to tumble down to the sea.

This happens now and then, especially after big rains. In fact, all the slopes move down slowly.

The Clays, Marl and Calcareous rock that have formed these hills, up to four hundred metres high, (Puig Jueu) used to be the seabed of the ancient "Tethys Sea" and were raised up from about twenty million years ago, together with the Alps, (Movimiento Alpino) the Pyrenees, the Sierra Nevada and the Balearic Islands, always in the direction Southwest to Northeast. The Betica Range (from which the Blalerics split off) was formed by the clashing of the African Continent against the Euro-Asiatic Continent.

The abundant maritime fossils, easy to be found in them, (ammonites, equnodermos, cephalopods, lamelibranquios, foraminifers, etc.) tell us they are all from the Cretaceous period, (120 million to 65 million years) the third and last period of the Mesozoic Era. Younger fossils are not found in this part of the Island.

So many stones start to weigh on my spirit and I need to recharge batteries. I drive up to the church again, stopping to admire a work of art, right in front of the bar, a sculpture in honour of the seamen of the site, done by Luis Ojeda and Julio Bauzá, two resident artists that have also done most of San Antonio's Big Egg (Colombus' Egg).

I look down to the sea, wavering by the horizon, at the Southeast, the entire island of Formentera can be seen, tremulous, twenty kilometres away, and away go problems. Serenity comes back slowly and optimism gets stronger.

I go in to the bar for another beer. The local daily paper, that I haven't read yet, is on top of the counter, by the till, when I'm paying, I resist the temptation of picking it up. I go to sit at the terrace with the beer in my hand, pleasant Karma in my soul and a smile on my face, thinking of the Spanish master of humour, Antonio Mingote when he says: "A pessimist is nothing but a well informed optimist".

(*) "Llentrisca"("Lentisco" also "Mata" in Ibicenco) is a plant, "Pistacia lenticus", together with "Rosmarinus officinalis" "Juniperus phoenicea" (Sabina) and the "all over" "Pinus halepensys", our most common and abundant pine tree, that also give name to the Islands (Pitiusas) are part of the plants that forms this hundred per cent Mediterranean littoral forest.

Post Data

About my publication from last week, I would like to clarify that any and all the opinions and commentaries are one hundred per cent personal. For the best understanding of the situation, it should be said that the editorial line is, and wants to keep being, hundred per cent apolitical. "Ibiza History Culture" is hundred per cent apolitical.

Having said this, I also would like to say that it is my objective to write about what I find relevant, from the ecological point of view. At the present time, the dominant subject of our environment, is our own quality of life. As a specimen of the human native society, I reflect upon, as most of my community does, the environment in which we are living at the moment, and everything I said is said, every single day, in local papers, radio and television. I apologise for being frustrated, arrogant and bitter, but, I must admit that it is the way I feel in the present circumstances and so that's how I tell it, if I want to have any self-respect.

The moment of truth for our social future has come. Some meditation about it wouldn't do us any harm, though; I fear that is all I can do about it.

Thank you very much for your time and comprehension.

José P Ribas