La Isla Bonita

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In the "real world", you leave one incredibly beautiful place (vacation) only to go back to a dreary home, wherever that reality may be (cubicle). But this is the life of a modern day bon vivant! There is no time to stop and sulk. No time to think that life is anything but a permanent vacation.

In the words of Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild,

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

Sameea and I were letting one sun set, only to see another rising in the distance. No actually- we were chasing the sun on our flight from Croatia to Spain. We were flying into Palma de Mallorca, an island off the eastern coast. Staying true to our promises of visiting friends abroad, we would be FINALLY reuniting with our long lost soul sister mermaidintheflesh Mary Kate. She had been teaching English on the island for a year by the time we reached her.

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Mary Kate lived with Dave and Teddy, who were kind enough to pick us up at the airport. The three amigos had even rented a car for our visit! ¡Que lujoso! The airport was on the other side of the island from their flat, so the ride home provided an hour long view of the mainland. Picture the standard dog-with-head-out-window, then replace the dog face you were envisioning with my face. :) There I am!

Upon arriving, Teddy began his artistry in the kitchen. A craftsman of sorts with the knife, Teddy was eager to please our palates, and we were just as eager to accept! We delightfully waited for the prized dinner whilst sipping on Riojas and eating olives. I was back in my element. We had a traditional meal of Pa'amb Oli, which in Mallorquin literally means "bread with oil". Do not let the literal translation sell itself short- some of the best dishes I've ever had have been in Spain, and have been just as simple. Pa'amb Oli is rustic bread drizzled with fresh olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, cheese, a heavenly pickled topping known as Mermaid Grass, peppers and jamón. Always jamón.

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Stuffed to the brim, it was time to go out! We were to have a night on the town in Porto Cristo. MK knew all the locals, Dave could speak Mallorquin, and Sameea was just along for the ride. All was fun and games until the creepiest man I've ever encountered decided to intervene.

I was speaking Spanish with one of MK's friends when I could feel the burn of someone's eyes on my neck. Side note for those who don't know- I have an extreme phobia of Prince (yes, the one who once called himself a symbol). I only recently saw the CARTOON Aladdin because Jafar has always reminded me of him. Anyway, I turn around to see what looks like a mix of David Bowie, Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, and Prince, staring at me. As if it couldn't get any worse, my pet peeve (other than Prince-resemblances) was evident in this scary, scary man. A ponytail. Not to be confused with the harmless man-bun sported by such elite and already-good-looking men as Leonardo Dicaprio. This creature of the night had a looooong, slicked back, greasy PONYTAIL! All signs pointed to murderer.

Months earlier I could hardly bare a cartoon lookalike of Prince and suddenly there is one in real life STARING at me with CRAZY EYES nonetheless. So here I am tapping into my sixth sense- the sense of someone else's eyes on you- when Craig's List-killer-ponytail-man is burning a stare into my back. Eye contact occurs and - oh god- he starts walking towards me. Fight or flight response initiated- PANIC. RUN. GRAB DAVE. DO SOMETHING. Everyone else is too occupied either speaking the tongue of the land (Dave, Teddy, MK) or just occupied in their own world (Sameea). Trying to cue panic eyes with someone who actually speaks English, I frantically look back and forth between the four of them- with no luck whatsoever. In the end the following occurs:

"Angel." "Um, excuse me what?" "You are an angel"

*Oh god, this is not how I was supposed to die* "I have to go"

STEPS IN FRONT OF ME AS I TURN AROUND

*That's it. I'm done. He's going to abduct me and I'll just be another Law and Order episode*

"Where are you from?" "I don't speak Spanish" (BTW he's been speaking English) "Neither do I"

*WHY IS NO ONE NOTICING THIS GIANT SIX FOOT SCARY MAN TALKING TO ME*

"Ok well I don't want to talk to you. Bye" The heebie jeebies had exceeded their tolerable limit. I've never spoken to someone who gave me SUCH cringees. Luckily, Dave notices I'm in complete need of help. I grab him, we run away to the next bar. PSYCHOKILLER FOLLOWS US! I run straight to the dance floor- my safezone- and join the crowd, salsa-ing like no tomorrow. Because at one point I was pretty convinced there was no tomorrow.

I should also note I used to watch marathons of Law and Order SVU, which, combined with an overprotective Italian father who constantly thinks everyone is out to kill me, makes for some intense paranoia whilst traveling. For example, one time while studying in Germany, I saved a word document to my desktop titled "If I go missing", and listed out the details of a 6 ft 2 German man who scared the willies out of me in a forcefully-shared taxi ride from a train station. I also barricaded my door with my desk chair that night in the dorm room. But hey, I'm alive right!?

Chicken Soup for the Paranoid Soul

Thankfully, I made it out alive again in Palma and nothing bad happened. Except that might've been the night MK lost her phone. But it puts everything in perspective! We had our limbs, and a roof over our head! Fantastico!

The following morning we celebrated our splendid luck by heading to the beach. MK and her roommates had found a book with the 300+ beaches all over the island. They had checked off at least 50 in her year living there. We were driving to a "tourist" beach, and wound up walking at least 3 miles along it to find "the right spot". Basically, it was crowded and usually "tourist beaches" in Europe mean nudie spots. Out of personal preference, we were trying to sunbathe sans saggy old Euro men eyesores. We brought beers (Desperados MY FAV) that immediately turned steaming hot, but were enjoyable nonetheless. It's hard to complain when you have absolutely zero responsibilities, digging your toes in the sand on an island off the coast of Spain. With perfect weather. Paraíso. 

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After lounging around on the beach, people-watching and catching some rays, we walked to a little hut in the sand that suddenly had live music as the sun set. Que perfecto! We sat at eclectic dining tables in brightly colored plastic chairs, soaking in the ambiance and stuffing our faces with more Pa'amb Oli. None of us had any idea of portion sizes at this restaurant so we also ordered a tray of grilled, marinated veggies. Yet in true clueless-tourist form, we had ordered way too much food. But we finished it. Because in a setting like that, you have all the time in the world to enjoy yourself. 

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The next day called for a more secluded atmosphere. We cruised the inner freeway an hour until we had found "the spot", meaning, we drove till Teddy said "here!". Suddenly, we were hiking down a steep, rocky cliff housing a family of native goats. Don't worry, it wasn't that baaaa-d. See what I did there.

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It was a hidden gem of a beach, and more beautiful than I ever expected simply stumbling upon. On the drive over we even passed a house labeled "Casa Hokie", home to an engineer Dave once met who actually did graduate from VA Tech! He was well-off, with homes in Mallorca, Germany, and US to boot. ~Go Hokies~

For dinner, Teddy treated us to shrimp with platanos. A true chef in the making, Teddy was all about "the colors". He made me realize I, too, was all about "the colors". You never want ingredients of all the same shade on your plate- or else it'd be suuuuper un-instaworthy. Meaning you wouldn't take a picture of it then. And you know what they say, pic or it didn't happen! 

After dinner, we went out in a nearby town, specifically loved by zee Germans. It was easy to tell Mallorca is definitely a vacation spot for the Alemans- the six foot tall non-Spaniards were only slightly conspicuous. Surprisingly, or maybe not, we danced all night at an outdoor club, equipped with giant bucket drinks and a dance floor big enough to swing dance on. Yes, a group of Americans swung dance (swing-danced?), in Spain, with Germans. One, Dos, Drei!

Next stop- Magaluf, a tiny beach town is known for it's constant British inhabitants. AKA as soon as I arrived I didn't get out of British accent mode (I have one just like most GPS options). At the peak of a steep hill, our hostel was super cute- and thankfully more hotel-y than hostel-y. On our budgets that usually never happens. Hungry from the drive over, we dropped our bags, changed, and went off to find some ambiance and dinner (with the former outweighing the latter in priority). We had become experts on the hunt, and quickly found a cute outdoor Italian(ish) spot with live music and cute waiters (again, priorities). Like little European rabbits, we munched on cheese and olives, and of course gulped it down with cheap red wine. The weather was absolutely perfect and the ambi (ambiance) was superb. I could hear the waves crash as I tasted the earth through my rustic Tempranillo. 

Three glasses later, I could've slept on the earth. The red wine was making me sleepy- it was time for an environment change. We left the restaurant to go start the real fun of the night! As soon as we hit the main strip, we were bombarded by club promoters. Girls come here! Free drinks over here! British, Scottish, a rare Spanish few, came at us from every angle, begging us to be the ones to populate their bars. Had I fallen asleep during dinner? Was I dreaming? It was real life version of one of those promotional TV ads- act now and experience Magaluf's finest dance moves! BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE- We have accents! And good music! You just have to pay NOTHING!

                                                      And a street lined with bars named after you! Shmee's not interested, though.

                                                      And a street lined with bars named after you! Shmee's not interested, though.

Magaluf, what dreams are made of.

The next day, in full recovery mode, we sipped the country's finest beer, CruzCampo*, and ate paella while overlooking a río. Because hangovers simply are not allowed in Spain.

*CruzCampo smells like a fart and tastes like a Natty Light. But in Spain, everything is magical like in a dream.