Darwin’s Beagle never moored off the coast of Balearic Island Formentera and perhaps that is all for the better or else the poor man would have felt obliged to write an extra book on his findings on that particular 19 kilometer long stretch of land. This is what I found over the course of just one week.
Formentera’s human population basically consists of two species:
Hippies. And lot’s of them. Many are original, having somehow managed to survive the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and zeros (yeah, that is longevity, man) and are still doing what they have always done: making music, driving painted VW mini-buses, growing hair, enjoying the free beer the audience is so kind to donate every once in a while and trying to sell their home made stuff to the slick Italian tourists (see next entry). They are not in danger of extinction: many younger people are attracted by the eternal summer of love and are slowly adopting the habits and the hairdo. Expect to meet people who believe drinking your own morning urine is good for the skin, who think of the word ‘consumista’ if they really, really want to insult somebody and if you ever are invited by them to drop by for lunch or dinner, please do not expect to actually receive something to eat – it is the thought that counts, right?
Slick Italian tourists. To be recognized by slick hair on the head and no further body hair at all for both females and males. Hairless legs, shiny arms, completely smooth chests and spotless private parts (beaches on Formentera have no dress codes and make for excellent observation). They tend to move around with their equally perfect partners, checking out completely hairless other couples and totally ignoring the other species that does seem to take pride in what is growing on their head (=eg. hippies) . Smiling is not allowed: the perfect face is easier maintained without the disrupting smile and accompanying skin cracks. A well positioned and mysterious looking tattoo is another sign of being part of this tribe, just as well as the right trainers, the right sunglasses and the right and seemingly effortless position on the rented motorcycle. The Italian skin only needs 1 hour and 25 minutes of beach to change from a pale color to the perfect shade of bronze.
These two species manage to live completely separate lives, except for a few nights a week. On those nights the hippies need the Italians to sell their home made jewelry to and gather enough funds to maintain their Arcadia and the Italians need the hippie markets to be able to stroll around –since not much active nightlife is available. Remember, that is what Ibiza was invented for- , show off their perfectness and buy the perfect souvenirs to bring home to their mothers. The confrontations are usually uneasy (“How much for that?” “40 Euros” “What?” “Yes, but is real mother-of-pearl” Italian walks away and mumbles “ The guy is out of his mind” and the hippie mutters “ This isn’t what it used to be”) but no real problems were observed during the week. However, the future remains unclear because every year more and more Italians make the journey to the island.