Ellen Joosten and the ‘Soul of Soller’ – A Humans of Mallorca story

Written by Shirley Roberts

The Lockdown year of 2020 has produced some fascinating work.  The Art, the Writing and all manner of Creativity will be laid at the door of this most peculiar of years.  For me, I began a year’s project with the author Ellen Joosten.  This book is heading to the printers as you read this and the creation has finished.  Ellen wanted to tell the story of the Soller Valley from as far back as she could research.

We started with the first settlers and the first chapter begins like this. ‘Long before Soller became a tourist destination, around 5000 BC (prehistoric times) it was inhabited by those who survived from the land. They lived in caves and spent their lives maintaining their existence by hunting small animals and collecting edible fruits. They were largely shepherds and used the animals for food and wool. Maybe you can imagine the untouched beauty of this Valley, pure and pristine, surrounded by high mountains. The tops covered with snow in wintertime. Waterfalls with crystal clear water falling down from the steep walls in the spring rains.  Winding streams making their way through the lush vegetation. So very near the sea, which was an empty coast with white sandy beaches. The people lived a very primitive life which we can only imagine’.

Ellen then went on to ten more chapters and side stories encompassing the development of the world here, to what we know today.  This was a huge undertaking full of photographs, stories, people and the development of a culture in a Mediterranean Island which was to be repeatedly conquered. So much already written history to tap into, including a new take on the overview.  This is Ellen’s journey into the world of the Soller historians and archivists.  Old photographs and anecdotes from all manner of contributors and then the job of putting it all together to make an evolving history.  We found stories and tales which were word of mouth only and delighted in their inclusion.

This book is an act of love for Ellen who is one of the second homers here and comes to stay as often as she can. This is Ellen’s story

‘I studied tourism and management and after my graduation I started my career in the tourism industry. First as a marketing manager for an airline and a global airline distribution system and later on I worked for tour operators before I made my move to an online travel agency. When I turned 40 my husband and I got a chance to set up an airline ticket website in Silicon Valley in California. First, we lived in Los Gatos and later in Saratoga, a quaint little village tucked away in the Santa Cruz mountains. We had orange trees in the garden and deer came to visit us almost every day. Part of my team was based in Bangalore, India. So I travelled many times to India.  After a great time of seven years in the US, we moved to Singapore for seven years to do basically the same thing. We travelled extensively around Asia and learned to know and appreciate the region.  But we always made sure that we could visit Soller a couple of times a year.

For the past three years we are settled in Europe and share our time between Amsterdam and Soller. Now, I can spend more time on the creative side of life which I love, this book being the first product.  I also try to keep fit by cycling. What is more challenging for a Dutch flatlander than to peddle the mountains around Soller?

We still have the house in Soller with the same group of friends that we bought it with back in 1996. Enjoying it together or individually It has been one of the best decisions of my life’.

The book Ellen has created is a Coffee Table book with stories, photographs, history and mementos.   Designed for all those who love this world and want more of the back stories and atmosphere. It will sell for 39.95 euros and is called ‘Soul of Soller’.

The shipment of glorious books is due at Palma docks in May 2021.  Ready for those who will snap up this unique work and for others who have just discovered our unique ‘island within an island’ called the Soller Valley.

Ellen is an incomer who recognised the need for a book written in English about the history of Majorca.  So many great works exist in other languages but sometimes lose the spirit in the translation.  This work is an attempt to redress that balance.

The Soul of Soller is a highly anticipated arrival to mark a new beginning and a new introduction to the island. Look out for the launch date in May 2021…

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