Ibiza and Formentera

Deep down I know I’m no better—I know that I am a part of this culture in that it embodies me, and I embody it to a certain extent. I conform and even enjoy certain aspects of it. Yet there are some parts and some degrees of it that I disagree with. Some days I feel like the old grouchy man at the end of the block—yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn, but the thing about my generation’s mainstream “rave” culture is that sometimes I just don’t get it. So if you’re going to misinterpret my account of the Spanish island that is Ibiza as a spoiled white girl bitching: please stop reading now. Yes I’m going to point out some cultural aspects that I dislike, but that doesn’t mean that I have not been guilty of them at some point in my life to some extent (not as severe as what we saw) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time there. I could probably write the same social critic about any location, but Ibiza, especially the town of San Antoni, just magnified it all to 1,000th power.  This is my cultural world, my cultural generation and their legacy: there is no escape from the over-the-top swagger, the extreme sluttiness, the raging hard-core, so the least I can do is open a discussion of what is contemporary popular culture underneath a microscopic focal point that is Mediterranean island of Ibiza.

Freshman year of college, I would’ve been in heaven here—beach all-day and partying all night while being swayed away from my better judgment by boys with their English accents. During our first few days in Ibiza we were appalled at some of the things we saw in the city of San Antoni: people openingly vomiting in the streets in broad daylight, girls with idiotic tattoos and teased bleached blonde hair, and chavy, bloody, drunken wankers with black eyes who were around every corner you turned. No one we ran into even spoke Spanish; so in order to avoid annoying street-side club promoters we would respond in Spanish only to hear silence on the receiving end of the conversation. San Antoni caters to the tourist demand of extreme partying and seeing this time and time again during my travels this year has disgusted me. When I travel I want to be the one who has to adapt to a new environment—not vice versa. For me that is the true spirit of adventure, being able to adapt to a world that doesn’t resemble your own, and San Antoni is not the place to find those kinds of cultural adventures. Ibiza is known for its discotecas and its crazy nightlife, but for those first few nights we couldn’t bring ourselves to participate in the real-life and class-less Jersey Shore episode that was surrounding us. The neon outfits, the drugs, the excessive drinking that results in livers that look like raisins: no thank you, I’ll pass. Thankfully, after two days in the STD-infested city of San Antoni, we hopped on a ferry to the lesser-known and more Southern island of Formentera. As we stood outside with the wind whipping our hair in ever which way, we began to exchange excited looks and whispers.

Every once in awhile while traveling you experience a tingle, a premonition that something major and moving is about to happen, so as we stepped on that boat and sailed across the deep, clear blue waters that separates Ibiza from Formentera we felt a fresh buoyancy in our steps and an renewed eagerness to explore as we gazed out towards the tiny paradise that was awaiting for us. Moments after setting down our bags we ran towards the Northern tip of the island and towards some of the clearest ocean water I’ve ever, and probably ever will, see in my life. Yacht after million-dollar yacht lined the aqua horizon as we stopped every two seconds to snap a quick photo of the beautiful, yet surreal scene that lay before us. On the tip of the island the land is so narrow that you have two beaches across from each other that lay within less than half of a mile of each other. It was like living in a summer-time beer/cocktail commercial in that every one was tan, beautiful, happy, dancing in beach shacks to Brazilian-inspired beats, and smiling as if they had zero worries in the world. No drunken idiots in sight, no arguments being shouted in lower-class British accents, and not a single trashy person was within miles of us—just a perfect beach paradise, which seemed to have been the preferred vacation spot of every rich Spaniard, Italian, and real-life James Bond to ever live. The next day we woke early, packed our bags, and rushed to our rented bikes with a picnic lunch in hand–ecstatic to be able to explore more secret pockets of pure and pristine beaches. With the soft morning sun highlighting the sparkling opal waters of the two inland lagoons we made our way through small vineyards, white-wash Mediterranean houses, and pine trees rooted in dry orange rock to smaller, rocky coves that were framed by tie-dyed waters of sapphire, cerulean, and turquoise. Later we found out that UNECSO protects this island as it is home to Posidonia sea grass that cleans the water, resulting in the shockingly clear waters. Beach, after cove, after small cala, we biked almost the entire island in less than two days. On our last day in heaven we decided to take the last possible ferry (even though our return tickets were valid for a calendar year) to our last stop in Ibiza Town, and thus began the longest day of my life.

After biking around Formentera (which began around 9am) all day, we met up with friends from our summer program in Cádiz (at 10pm) to make plans for our one true Ibiza night. We bought club tickets, booze, and pizza: all of the necessary preparations for such shenanigans. By 1am we were at our friends vacation apartment, drinking before going to the club to avoid the steep drink prices, catching up from the last time we saw each other during various travels, meeting new friends, and enjoying the warm early summer night. We began walking towards the club, giggling at stories, attempting stupid dances, and talking with other random groups of people headed in the same direction as us. Colored lazers, electro music, and energetic dancing consumed the rest of the night/early morning until we reunited and headed towards the beach to watch the sunrise over the sea. Its moments like these that are unique to Spain: going out with friends, having what you think will be the best night ever (only to be proved wrong in the future), and then walking home in the pale pink glow of dawn–still tipsy– smiling quietly at how extraordinary life is. Stupidly, I decided not to sleep when we got back to our hostel at 9am (24 hours without sleep) and by the time we were at the airport I was at a very delirious stage that consisted of a lot of giggling at odd moments and extremely unintelligent and incomprehensible comments. People passing by would stare, and I would laugh harder. I would say, what I considered to be a normal sentence; my friends would consider calling an exorcist. Once our plane finally took off at 4pm (32 hours without sleep) I fell into the deepest public sleep of my life and awoke my normal self with only a few videos and pictures as proof of what had just passed. Ibiza: it happened once, and we did it right.


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