I write for a luxury lifestyle magazine on Mallorca, which may seem a little odd, given that rural life on the island – as we live it, in an old finca – is far from luxurious, as the word is generally interpreted.
But I certainly do appreciate and know a bit about the finer things in life. Someone once accused me of being a bit of a hedonist: I love top-notch cuisine, fine wines, travel (not that we’ve done much of that with all the expense of keeping a finca going and all our cats to look after), and going to the theatre and concerts. But, of necessity (all those finca bills!), these pleasures are very infrequent – and more appreciated by both The Boss and me, I believe, as a result.
The Yucca-wide Web
Since coming to live on Mallorca, I’ve written about, or interviewed people in, some fabulous architect-designed homes on Mallorca. I’m not jealous at all . . . much. But I’ve just seen the most amazing accommodation this morning. Rising before the sun and finding a serena (sea mist) blanketing the valley, I ventured out with my Nikon D50. And saw this intriguing spider’s web in one of our yucca bushes – a kind of web-within-a-web. An inner sanctum? A mezzanine? Who knows.
Without wishing to sound too fingers-down-the-throat cheesy, it’s experiences like this that make us appreciate finca living: being sufficiently without the distractions of busy daily urban life to have the time and opportunity to notice what nature gets up to while the human race races about its daily life. And that’s a real luxury.
Mallorca’s long hot summer is behind us. Autumn has begun with some unsettled weather and storms, and the buckets are poised to catch the rain pouring through the roof into our home; this weekend’s forecast is looking rather grim. Six months after we applied for permission to repair our seriously leaky roof, and nada. Six months! We’re not the only ones seriously fed up with waiting to get the job done. Our local Mallorcan building firm would love to get on with the work and be able to invoice us for what is a substantial job. Might help his cash flow situation in these challenging economic times.
Free Food, Anyone?
Anyway, I digress. Wet weather means free food . . . if you like gastropods. Heavy rain is the cue for snails to emerge from wherever they hide themselves when it’s hot and dry, and go for a glide (or whatever that forward motion that snails do is called). And there are hundreds of ’em.
When the snails come out, so do the Mallorcans, on the hunt for a free meal. The French aren’t the only ones who love eating them: you’ll find snails on the menu of many restaurants serving traditional Mallorcan cuisine. People even drive out to the valley – presumably from the nearest town – to forage for the pot, abandoning their cars wherever they can to set off on foot with their containers. They’re easy to spot, as they weave slowly along the lanes, heads bent low to spot the gliding gastropods.
One Sunday, we were out working in the garden and saw two elderly ladies slowly making their way up the lane towards our property. These were clearly accomplished snail-spotters, as they were bobbing up and down as they went (rather good exercise, I thought). As they passed our garden, we greeted them in Spanish and they stopped to exchange a few words. It was then that I noticed one of the women wasn’t carrying a container for her snails: she’d simply placed them all over her arm. Lots of them.
“Would you like a bag for . . . those?” The Boss asked, indicating her ‘passengers’. The lady accepted the offer and was last seen plucking the snails from her arm (I tried not to shudder) and putting them into the provided paper bag before continuing her quest.
Free they may be, but you won’t find me foraging for snails . . .