September 15, 2015
In the spirit of full disclosure, as Tricky Dick used to say, we have been having such a great time that we haven’t been thinking that much about the blog… and, full confession, there have been a couple of occasions – the captain turning 70, and the 8th wedding anniversary of the most long-term members of the crew. But there have been some other things worth recording – especially our enthusiastic and complete enjoyment of Menorca, the smaller of the two large Balearic islands.
We are anchored in Puerto Fornells (pronounced “fornays”), and old town in a very ancient settled area. Lots of nature around, good swimming from the boat, a whitewashed village a short row away, and wonderful seafood. We have not enjoyed anywhere this much since leaving the Azores.
There’s a reason, in the long and continuous history of Mediterranean wars, why Fornells and Menorca in general are such pleasant places. During the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca, the big island, enthusiastically went with the fascist uprising against the elected government. Menorca remained committed to the Republic (and social-democratic). After Franco’s victory in 1939, lots of development money went to Mallorca, and Menorca didn’t get a penny.
As a result, Mallorca is not crammed with tourists, “clubs,” and crappy restaurants catering to day trippers. Menorca is quiet, largely undeveloped, with large, open natural areas.
Still, a bloody place, historically. First the Phoenicians, then the Carthaginians, then the Visigoths, the Romans, pirates (although, weren’t they all), the French, the British, and the Spanish all seized the islands, frequently feeling it necessary to destroy everything and everyone they could get their hands on. Not a lovely view of human history.
This dinky little bay, with a permanent population of 498, has many stone fortifications piled on the hills near the entrance to the bay. So many that one of the guide pamphlets in the museum, established in a 215 year old British fort, says, “The ages of many of the derelict defensive fortifications around the entrance to the bay are unknown.”
On the plus side, I had the best grilled prawns I have ever eaten in my life yesterday, and the bay is sheltered from the currently odd weather, and fun to swim in. Sarah and Ellie are here, good boatmates, and on Thursday morning we will sail on to Port Mahon, Menorca, to connect Ellie with her flight back to the US. It will be a sad parting from an even-tempered and pleasant companion and excellent hearts player.
What with all the wars and occupations, there is an interesting relic – Puerto Mahon makes a truly excellent gin! And there are lovely little, traditional sprit-sail rigged fishing boats that are always a pleasure to see. Don’t miss it!