Today was a day not unlike all the others here in Ibiza – I left the boat early to get ahead of the heat of the day and as the sun poked its head above the horizon the chill from the cooler evening washed across the deserted concrete apron and sped me on my way along the cobblestones. I was going for a different destination today but found myself lost among the convoluted back streets of town where the one way street system appeared to have a mind of its own and if you hesitate you are lost or run over by locals who don’t pay any heed to the one way system…. I was making my way toward Sant Antoni on the western side of the island but with a short (or so I had thought and anticipated) detour to the salt pans near the airport. I overshot my turn and had to double back to the turn I thought I had missed and realised that it was the next one I wanted after-all – I should have turned around then…. But it was a pleasant morning, the funky smell of the land that is so typical of Spain and I am beginning to realise that a peculiarity of the agricultural part of this small island. There are olive trees and fig and bougainvillea but none of them can possibly be responsible for the sweaty sock aroma that seems to languish in the dusty but verdant fields outside the city. I kept following the black line of the front tyre and it took me toward Sa Caleta – one of the bays that we seemed to frequent at the end of the season due to its good wide and flat waters. A rather damp and dusty and potholed track scattered with ankle twisting gravel led me to a quaint bay where the typical boat landings of the island were tucked into the rocks. Across the bay you can see the forboding face of Sa Canal and the boat ramp here in the bay is covered in beards of sea grass to soften the blow of rock against boat when coming in. The water is still clear despite the litter of dead grass. After negotiating my way back along the roadway – I followed the road signs to the airport which apparently backs on or runs through the salt pans. An incredible patchwork of slightly raised footpaths criss-cross the countryside in large square sections with a murky and uninviting water filled ditch dividing the roadway and the ponds. For those of you who waded through my entry in the Camargue, this doesn’t differ too much, except that I anticipate the honking of the Flamingos was in Spanish or Catalan instead of French! The roadway is slightly set above the ponds so you can’t take your eye off the tyre in front too often or you get the lemming approach to guiding yourself into the aforementioned murky and slimy ditches. Just after I left the airport behind me, I came across a run off/driveway that appeared to be someone’s backyard – it was but he was obviously busy elsewhere being Sunday and all and it looked like this church had shut down when the men of the salt ponds stopped work for the summer, all doors on this church were firmly closed. Across the carpark there was a raised ramp with a wall of 'tongue and groove' with tiny little gun sights cut into the mid sections, this was what led me to see the Flamingos and see the great expanse of ponds stretching to the bay beyond.
While attempting to take a ‘selfie’ that didn’t look like I had been through the rinse cycle and listening to the incessant honking of the Flamingos a car turned up and made me even more self-conscious. Whilst packing up my camera and readying myself for the next stint, I noticed this fellow had gotten his tripod out of the car and was starting to set up – aha another flamingo chaser has come to town.. I was about to pedal away when I saw the next piece go on the tripod –well that didn’t look like an ordinary camera attachment, so trying not to appear too interested I watched the rest of the set up.
Next out of the car, came a massive telescope.. wow- he was really enthusiastic about his flamingo shots!!! With my limited Spanish I asked what he was up to – two words stood out in his rapid reply – Manchas Solarus. Look it up on google…. He was setting up to take photos of the solar flares on the sun – the same sun that was burning the back of my retinas through my polarised sunglasses. With much adjustment he was finally satisfied and showed me his result through the display screen on the camera he had attached to his telescope – WOW 8 trillion kilometres I think it was he said and it seemed so close on the display. After exchanging numbers and email, I left him to it and continued on my journey along the coast. When I was back on board, I received a text from him of his luna flare photo and a link to his other photos, Antonio M Salmoral, his work is incredible if you were Interested.
I finally set off and came across the roadway to one of the large mounds of salt that are all piled high and left for months to drain all the excess water out of them before being processed for the ships which take most of it to Nordic areas for salting of fish. I found some large pieces of salt near the hill which I couldn’t help but be impressed with the crystallisation and the blinding white glare given off the hill.
I followed the potholed road, (which was slightly slimy so I assume it had a high clay content) – quite a miracle that I managed to stay upright between the lemming edges with its slimy matt filmed contents, the golf ball sized gravel on slick clay slurry roadway. I took said road all the way along the meandering path that parallels the Salt ponds and the scraggy untamed hillside where miniature pinecones were dangling and sprouting from wannabe trees. Eventually I came out onto the ‘beach’ of uniform rock that inhabit these areas and to the imposing Sa Canal to my left and the grand expanse of the bay looking toward the little inlet where I saw the ‘boat ramps’ earlier.