the most enjoyable, healthy and not too expensive activities that we can practice
here on Ibiza at this time of the year is to take long walks through the countryside
and forests, anywhere all over the island.
conditions are ideal for this purpose; the afternoons are still long with the
right temperature, clean, fresh air, and an excellent quality of light that
helps to better appreciate our colourful landscapes. Itís the perfect time for photography.
also the best way to get to know the island and its nature, devoting the time
and effort that such a job deserves.
by little, just by being there and moving within it, one discovers - step by
step - all the secrets of our geology, climate, flora and fauna, our people,
our history and way of life.
It is especially
true if you are lucky enough to share these walks with a group of close friends,
some natives and/or long-time residents. But all, somehow, experts in things
like botany, biology, ornithology, ecology and chemistry with a deep love and
respect for both Ibiza and its nature. Some have a deep knowledge and university
studies of all these sciences and disciplines, yet find it grows deeper and
deeper with each walk.
love their jobs and really enjoy these walks (the pioneers have been doing it
for twenty-five years) and, what is more important, they love to share all this
knowledge with anybody who is prepared to learn.
Saturday afternoon walk becomes an open air, easy-going class, with practical
lessons, but without any examinations or tests to pass. Itís a school were we
can see young boys and girls, just coming out of university with their new degrees,
willing to expand their knowledge by applying what they have already learned
also amateur naturalists; photographers and just people that really appreciate
a good, educational walk with the right company.
has to book to come and nobody has to apologise if they are not there when it
is time to go. The rest will just leave without them at the usual time.
last Saturday as an example. The usual meeting place and time: Bar Madagascar,
Plaza del Parque. Ibiza Town. From 3:30pm till 4:00pm. Only eight of us this
time, two of the founders and real masters, Nestor Torres, and Mario Stafforini,
have already decided where to go, according to the weather conditions and the
season, what grows and blossoms at the time and where to find it.
to "Benirras," North of the Island, always using the minimum number
of cars possible. We leave the two cars by the side of the road, not far from
the beach of "Benirras" and start walking up to one of the valleys,
actually, the now dry bed of a mountain stream, that forms the cove and the
starts at the Western slope of the "Atalaya de San Juan" (400 metres
high). It is well sheltered from most of the winds, so the bottom of the valley
is very green, covered with newborn grass. Most is the common clover "Trifolium
pratenses" menthe; "Mentha sativa" is also abundant, as well
as other "Labiadae" and several small plants of the "Graminae"
family. There are plenty of fruit trees, especially citrus, lemons and oranges,
not ready to eat yet, cherry-trees losing their leaves by now, lovely, red pomegranates
"Punica granatum", sweet, soft persimmons "Dyospyros kaki",
both ripe at this time of year.
the valley there is a small trench in which the water of several fountains has
been running non-stop for many centuries, ever since it was built by the Moors
probably more then a thousand years ago. These fountains are now dry, for the
first time ever.
is still water in the pools built by the side and running in the trenches, it
is because it is being pumped out from artificial wells. They still use the
old irrigation channels to water the fields. In them we can see common frogs
"Rana perezi" and a rare little autochthonous black snail, with a
difficult name to remember.
area and the surrounding hills have suffered three forest fires within the last
two decades. There is very little left of the ancient, deep forest. All the
eco-systems have been altered, especially in the areas where the newborn pine-trees
were burnt for a second time, before they could grow new cones.
There were no new seeds for new trees to be born.
the trees and their roots, the soil gets washed away by the rain from the mountain
slopes, so the erosion is growing fast and we can see the naked rock by the
top of the hills where a thick green forest use to be. It will never be again.
A lot of the usual species, flora and fauna, are now missing from these areas.
we take a walk into the forest, or what's left of it, to see what we can find.
realise that this is the time of year for forest spiders "Epeira diadema" (about one inch in size, a
bit more with the legs expanded, dark-grey-brown, with a whitish cross drawn
at the back of the abdomen) is the most common. It is the local spider that
weaves the largest net of the lot: it can reach almost three meters wide altogether,
normally with the spider in the middle. It is very difficult to move in the
forest, at the present time without falling into one of these nets. When this
happens, my whole body goes into shock, though even I know that this spider
is practically harmless.
find one of the plants that we were looking for, two specimens of a protected,
tiny and beautiful autochthonous orchid ďSpirantes SpiralesĒ, and the only one
(out of more than twenty local species) that grows and blossoms at this time
of the year. We can't find the
type of narcissus that used to grow in the surroundings. There are not many
wild mushrooms either; the forest floor is still too dry. Only a few of the
early boletus, edible, but not too good, "Suillus collinitus" and
some "Inocibe fastigiata," a dangerous little mushroom full of "muscarine"
and other neuro-toxins (some use the "inocibes" as a psychedelic drug).
It is much better to leave it alone.
than two hours walking, the sun is going down fast. We heading back to the cars
in the quiet of the twilight. The sounds of the forest come through very clearly.
It is a real and proper country band. There is a blackbird "Turdus merula"
showing itself on the very top of an almond-tree, giving us short saxo-jazz-notes
and a nightingale "Luscinia megarhynchos" somewhere, playing a delightful
flute concerto. As it is still
hot, there are still two or three harvest flies "Cicada pebeja" still
singing sssssccchhheeerrrrrreeng and chirping along with the rest of the choir.
One by one, the crickets join in.
when you know you are in the right place at the right time.