Dear visitors to Formentera
Perhaps you were sitting in the plane, starting the descent towards Ibiza Airport, when you suddenly made out the small expanse of land emerging from the Mediterranean. It may even be that it passed your mind that you were seeing the giant back of a whale that was crossing the frontier between the terrestrial and aquatic worlds for a moment, before submerging itself elegantly in the depths of the sea.
After landing in Ibiza, you went in taxi or by bus to the Port, where one of the fast catamaran ferries would take you to Formentera, supposing, obviously, that there were no storms or rough seas.
I remember my first crossing to Formentera as though it were yesterday: I made the crossing in the old liner “Joven Dolores”, the boat that came and went between the islands at a slow and regular pace. My journey started in the mid 1990’s. Lying in the front part of the prow, where there was space to board for two cars, I was dreaming with me eyes open, my vision lost in the limpid blueness of the sky, when a voice in my head whispered to me that I was coming home. How strange, I thought, that until recently I had not even known that Formentera existed. Nevertheless, everything was possible.
After all, my love for the island had arisen in an unexpected and equally sudden way. On the wall of a friend’s house I saw a photo of a simple, solitary white house with blue-painted windows and shutters, set in an arid landscape. Later I realised that it was built in the traditional style of the island’s farmhouses (called fincas). Various plants bloomed around it, including hardy and tenacious plants such as bougainvillea and oleander that survived bad weather and drought. However, the charm of the photo was due to the light that created a heat-filled atmosphere. The stone walls around the house seemed to burn like glowing red embers in a chimney. The sky was adorned with a few clouds whose whiteness was being slowly dyed by the rays of the setting sun. The photo emanated a simple and austere simplicity, enveloped in a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere that I fell in love with instantly. And for almost twenty years now, I relive this moment whenever I look out from my window.
What exactly is the attraction of this island that has been described so many times? To really know, you have to drink this magic potion, and thus find out for yourself where the island’s seductive power lies.
Just as with me, waves have brought many and varied people to these shores over the centuries. Some of these castaways made Formentera their home and their descendants continue to live, work and die here. Some became lost far away to never come back, and others return triumphant to renew their bonds of love and unity. Like young plants in the mother earth, friendships have grown, genes have mixed and lifelong bonds have been forged.
Currently there is a happy mixture of more than seventy nationalities that enjoy a multicultural coexistence on a daily basis. In these microcosms, the nomads of our world come together, enjoying all that that Formentera’s setting can offer them in their encounters.
Five small villages full of life and colour welcome the traveller, captivating him with their particular charm. La Savina, with its traditional port area, invites relaxation in a peaceful atmosphere, just like its little brother, the elegant fishing village of Es Caló. La Mola, the highest point of the island, with its solitude and charm. Sant Francesc is the commercial centre of the island and houses the Town Council along with the seat of the Island Council. The touristic centre Es Pujols offers entertainment and night-time fun for all ages. Sant Ferran, the nostalgic bastion of the Beatniks and Hippies, is situated in the heart of the island and continues to live from its legendary evenings in front of the old sub-post office “Fonda Pepe”.
The beaches, with their smooth and silky appearance, owe their names to the four winds: “Illetes” is the west wind, “Llevant” the east, “Mitjorn” the south and “Tramuntana” the north. For those who prefer a wilder and stonier landscape, this can be found in the island’s magical rocky spots, but many of these can only be reached by the sea, making it necessary to have some kind of water transport.
The villages as well as the beaches seduce you with their welcoming corners, ample squares and wide beaches that invite you to stay and enjoy yourself. Refreshment stands, bars and restaurants combine international cuisine with native delicacies. There are many places where you can not only surf the Internet or flirt with your table companions, but also remain calmly absorbed in yourself and your waking dream. Here, something as simple as observing the behaviour of animals and people becomes a pleasure. Even with considerable traffic, the presence of roundabouts means that traffic moves fluidly and can go at the speed it wishes. While some of us move forward slowly, others like to drive more quickly. The result is occasional traffic jams, in which case you have to show patience, relax and not get angry.
A There is also a wide variety of accommodation that offers many choices, from intimate family atmospheres to temporary stays in more lively and public settings.
También hay una gran variedad de alojamientos que ofrece muchas alternativas. Desde ambientes familiares e íntimos a moradas temporales en entornos más públicos y animados
This island close to the African coast that appears to float in the Mediterranean Sea offers more than a tolerant atmosphere for multicultural coexistence. Aside from burning in the spectre of the sun or smelling of salty sea foam, it tastes of more and gives more. This “more” is the collective wellbeing that inundates the island, its visitors and its inhabitants during the summer months. In order to ensure the wellbeing of all, it’s a good idea to pack some common sense and consciousness in your luggage, a gift that will be gratefully received. There are many Formentera lovers with a vision for the future who toil to protect it so that each one of us can enjoy the basic elements of our environment in healthy balance: water, earth and air. In many areas of the island there are specific conservation programmes that preserve dunes, historical sites, windmills, marine fauna and the quality of water and nature.
Each one of us inevitably becomes part of this island during our visit and has a responsibility for using valuable resources such as water, electricity and gas with respect. It’s true that it’s not easy to change our ingrained habits during the holidays, but with a little good will this can surely be achieved.
The visitor who asks themselves honestly, before acting, whether their beloved island will abandon itself joyfully to their caresses or succumb, exhausted, to their inconsiderate embraces, will come closer to the truth each time.
May you enjoy the opportunity to begin your personal adventure with Formentera. Perhaps it will be love at first sight, perhaps at second sight and even at third sight, or perhaps no such thing will happen. In any case, while riding on the whale’s back you will merge during long moments with its culinary, historical and cultural worlds, and above all, with the spectacle of colours, light and shade, wind and calm, heat and cold, wetness and dryness that nature offers.