By Shirley Roberts
The craggy mountainside rises out of the sea from the Port of Soller. The caves and inlets are there until Deia and beyond. The smuggling stories of this area are legendary and start from early days. In more recent Franco times the routes were used for tobacco, antibiotics and essentials, not easy to come by. I am sure those same routes are used today for drugs and money laundering. The surveillance is more sophisticated, so not so many smuggling successes are shared these days. The inside of the rocks has been hewn by generations to include steps which come out in the scrubland near the Muleta. Smuggling was a sophisticated business and not to be caught was the whole point. To use the caves in this way and then scramble over the Muleta was not for fainthearted and why they were very successful.
If you are a young local ‘The Rocas’ are known as the favourite swimming places. Many a wild child has done the jump from the highest peaks as a rite of passage. Then when their blood has returned to normal the young of the area use the rocks and clear blue water as their own swimming pool. Follow the road in the Port of Soller towards the lighthouse and as you turn the bend past Es Mirall the Rocas is down the cliff on the right. This is an area beloved of my family and the place for family gatherings and teenage hangouts. I watch, like an old person, from the road. I can’t think of anything more frightening than the slide down the rocks to get to the sea. As my youngest granddaughter tells me ‘you weren’t born here Nan, this is what us Sollerics do’. She is absolutely right.
Our Nan’s Day Out this week consisted of the Rocas and lunch at Es Mirall. The beach was busy and the summer life was being played out. Es Mirall was empty and has the most wonderful view over the whole bay of the Port of Soller. This is a family gem of a bar and Café. Opposite, on the Jumeirah side of the bay they have an equally spectacular bay view but from our side we were in the cheap seats with a view. Es Mirall is just like the Rocas, you have to be local to appreciate it. Fine wines and Pa amb Oli are legendary here and make for the finest wine tasting evenings the area offers. The music and the microphone can’t be used right now, but, in normal times, they make up some of the most outstanding Soller Valley summer nights.
From the Rocas you catch glimpses of the finest yachts on offer. Some are parked up for the day. Others like to stay overnight at the mouth of the harbour without coming in to use the harbour facilities of the Port. This is the very best place to play ‘spot the celebs’ who are so famous they don’t want to use the busy Marina Tramontana. For their dinner dates the state of the art dinghy rocks up alongside and whisks them down to the Repic sands. Sometimes to the amazement of the families on the beach a famous Rock star or two hops from the sand to the waiting limo. ‘Was that really Bruce Springsteen I saw?’ is the talk over the picnic on the beach.
The Soller Valley young have a charmed life if they are into the outdoor life. To swim, rock climb, walk the mountains and appreciate nature is what they were born to. My girls have all got their broken arm, legs and bumps on the head stories to remember from this lifestyle. It is not risk free but over lunch today we were laughing at some of those tales. Always very funny years after the chilling events.
The caves and rocky inlets of Majorca can tell so many stories and the same is true of all the islands of the Mediterranean. These days with ships and planes bringing in all we need those smuggling stories seem fanciful except for the human imagination. There will be someone out there right now planning a use for those old smuggling routes. A new tourist attraction ripe there for development.
So as life on the rocks gives way to gin on the rocks another outing comes to an end. As long as I deliver the girls home in one piece I am content, especially on days like this.