Toilets, Trams and Tsunami in the Soller Valley

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 31st May 2016

Photographs by Rachel Fox
The provision of toilet facilities is in our neck of the words is a recurring theme.  This week some public toilets have been opened in the Port of Soller.  These are tucked into the mountain at the back of the Port and were built some ten years ago.  They have never been opened to the public because of staffing and cleaning issues.  It seems impossible to understand how that was ever the case but we move on. Municipal toilet provision is very thin on the ground and the cafes and bars have an unwritten acceptance that their facilities will be used by visitors. Most visitors realise that they need to at least use the café and buy a coffee or a drink to entitle them to use of bathroom.  The problem comes when visitors are irritated by that and will not buy something they don’t want. Then notices appear saying charging for the use of the toilet and it all gets a little ugly.  The best we can say this week is the opening of the new facility will help, a bit.

Shock, horror and consternation greeted the Nit Tram story this week.  The Tram services between City and Port are increased from Mid June to the end of August each year.  The Night Trams continue till midnight and they are an essential part of the transport system for our summer visitors.  Last year there was rumblings about the salaries paid to the night tram workers and threats of strike action.  This was resolved at the 11th hour and the Nit Trams ferried us all to and from the Port in time honoured tradition.  This year it has all got a little ugly and complaints about the payment issue has gone to arbitration.  The results of the discussions have not been revealed yet and it is getting nearer and near the date when the summer timetable has to be produced. The story so far is considering a summer without the Nit Tram. I remain hopeful that this will be resolved and all will be well.  I am sure you are beside yourself with worry about this so I will update as soon as news breaks…

Last Wednesday, at 12.30 the Port of Soller was hit by a Meteotsunami which is a tsunami-like wave of meteorological origin. Meteotsunamis are generated when rapid changes in barometric pressure cause the displacement of a body of water. In contrast to “ordinary” impulse-type tsunami sources, a travelling atmospheric disturbance normally interacts with the ocean over a limited period of time (from several minutes to several hours).
A 40 centimetre wave caused consternation today and was defined as a Rissaga which is the Balearic name for a Meteotsunami and its sudden change of sea level. The rissagas are a unique meteorological phenomenon of the Balearic Islands.

A 40 centimetre wave is not that high in sea faring terms but this was doubled to 90 as the Meteosunami hit Minorca. These events always cause surprise in the Mediterranean where astronomical tides are almost negligible.  This was the story of the day in the Port of Soller and the swimmers on the Repic Beach reported a rogue high wave and a ‘funny feeling in the water’. 

The perfect horseshoe bay of the Port of Soller has its occasional storms and twisters.  It is a fantastic sight to see a twister heading your way right down the middle of the water. We like to think of clicking our ruby slippers and joining Judy Garland but the phenomena doesn’t last that long. The wind change is the key for local businesses to change gear.  There are some winds that see everyone scurrying to bring in umbrellas and furniture.  It’s as if they can sniff what is just about to happen. Nature doing what it does is amazing to watch from a safe distance.  The Mediterranean is our friend but even a tide less sea can cause problems for sailors, swimmers and users of the shoreline.  The warning flags are there for a reason and the Red Cross staff blow their whistles to warn of danger. The boat trips you book are always subject to cancellation if the sea conditions are not right. The sea is out of our control and we have to give it maximum respect.

The Port of Soller is preparing for its three-day Fiesta in June to celebrate St Pere. The honouring of the Patron Saint of Fishermen is a very important date in our local calendar and the seafront comes alive with activities. Fish will be on the menu including the Port of Soller paellas which are second to none. There is no doubt that that everything to do with the sea is of huge importance in this place. That is why the Meteosunami was taken so seriously here this week and used as a reminder to respect the mighty elements.  

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