I WAS chatting to one of my colleagues at Mallorca Sunshine Radio this week. She was born on Mallorca and has lived on the island all her life. I told her that she was lucky and she looked at me puzzled, head cocked to one side, and asked why.
Now, how do you answer that?
I could have started with the sunny weather and contrasted it with the constant grey damp which pervades the UK for nine months of the year.
I might have alluded to the natural geographical beauty of the island; glorious beaches, majestic mountains and clandestine coves. Or perhaps the history and traditions of the people who bind families in close-knit supportive units who share fun, festivities and fiestas together. The real stuff of life.
Instead I muttered something inane about the benefits of Hierbas and wandered off. It was just too big a question to tackle at the kettle in the studio kitchen. But it set me thinking.
Why do I love Mallorca so much and what is it about life on this island that jumps up your trouser legs and won’t ever let you go?
Expatriate friends of mine talk with real fear about having to leave the island (Brexit hasn’t helped this) and I know what that feels like. A few years back I had to take that extremely difficult decision and return to the UK, but Mallorca never really let me leave.
People born and bred on the island may have their own unique identity but perhaps, like my colleague, they also accept Mallorca as the norm, rather than a very real exception to it.
I have noticed some people born on islands have a need to travel and explore. This holds true with my Australian chums – and they have a very big island to explore. I suppose this is also true of us British expatriates who live on Mallorca. After all, we left an island to come to this one.
It is that casual familiarity with a place which fails to appreciate its charms to others. One of my Australian friends I met working on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here told me she longed to visit London. She wanted to see Buckingham Palace! My face must have been puzzled and my head cocked to one side as I asked her ‘Why?’
I have lived in London twice, so the appeal of cramped tube trains, dirty damp pavements and being ignored by charmless locals has rather faded for me, but to my chum the capital of England was the epitome of her travel desires. In January she sent me a photo of her standing on Pall Mall – wearing a very big coat.
Back to my ponderings on the addictive qualities of Mallorca. When I first came to live on the island I became entranced by the many traditions and festivities. I love a good fiesta! These gatherings, steeped in historical tradition, are still some of my favourite things about the island. I really enjoy being part of a community sharing in something they take as ‘normal.’
I have tried to explain that where I come from in Liverpool, people do not dress up as pirates and have a battle on the beach every year – well not officially anyway!
But possibly it is the very simple things which really make life on the island so precious. As I write this I am sitting at a cafe (outside) with the sun setting behind the local buildings.
I am not in an office. In a few minutes I am expecting two friends to join me and we will share a sundowner together and chat about this and that, as we often do. I will not be stuck in front of the TV on my own.
It is these subtle yet gigantic life differences that make living on Mallorca my Kryptonite.
Laura Penn hosts The Sunshine Club every Sunday 10am – 12 noon on Mallorca Sunshine Radio.