My visit was to look for autumn leaves on the trees and I was not disappointed
2021-12-02 Soller By Shirley Roberts
All pics by Shirley Roberts
It depends which side of the mountain you live on whether Bunyola is the centre of the universe or Soller Mark 2. The history of the Soller Valley always includes Bunyola, as it was part of the factory lands of old and had an industrial past the same as Soller. The factory owners recruited from both sides of the Coll mountain for their workers and supervisors. The brides of the time who came from Soller and settled in Bunyola used to say, ‘my house is in Bunyola but my heart is in Soller.’
Twenty years ago a local war broke out when the creation of the Soller Tunnel made the people from Bunyola pay to get to the other side of their world. Even though this was where so many of them worked and had half their life. The local feeling between these two communities is unbreakable and you mess with it at your peril. School buses bring the children from Bunyola to the Institute in Soller every day as they have no high school in their town.
New arrivals don’t understand this and ship their children to the Palma suburbs. They don’t appreciate how important this joint schooling is to the notion of ‘self’ and ‘being’ these communities have.
Of course in my visits and chats there this week I met many who had no idea what I was talking about. They had chosen to live in Bunyola for the village life of 6000 people and the beauty which surrounded them. The quick proximity to the beaches and beauty of Soller, the Port, Fornalutx and Deia was also a huge plus. They were also very happy to be just twenty minutes and 23 kilometres from Palma. Bunyola has become a mecca for young family relocations where the adults are internet nomads who work from home. Bunyola for them is the best of all worlds.
My visit was to look for autumn leaves on the trees and I was not disappointed. The main streets are full of trees turning autumnal and a lovely sight to behold. In Soller the trees are pruned at this time of year to avoid the accidents of slipping on wet leaves. Bunyola seems to manage by sweeping them up every day. The woods and walks are a feature of life here and I attempted a stroll to get to the woods, a bit of a challenge to the knees on this steep climb. Once on the trail the beauty and freshness after the rain is so very welcome.
I also wandered the streets alongside the Church and Market Hall and headed for the cemetery. This is along the main street where all the houses and apartments have spectacular views of the mountains and valley. The views from different spots are surprising. From the cemetery steps I could see Palma and out to sea. On a clear day you can see for ever, it appears.
Bunyola has a square next to the Church where people gather. It has a true village centre and well used cafes and bars. Cyclists often find their way through this place and hit the higher trails from here. Through the woods are a number of circular walks from Bunyola. The Penyal d’Honor is a popular hike which the mountain bikers love. Puig de s’Alqueria is the local mountain and this is the place the Soller and Bunyola walkers often meet.
My Nan’s Day out was essentially through the streets and morning life of this town. A number of friends have left the Soller world to live in Bunyola because it was said to be so much cheaper. These days I am not so sure that is the case especially with the Soller Tunnel being opened up and free to all.
Like most folklore the rivalry, and love hate relationships between neighbouring villages is alive here. Incomers dilute this up to a point but old traditions are hard to let go of. Music in the Church and the theatre plus poetry nights unite both sides of the mountain and they all dance the same local dances.
Originally this parish was known as Santa Maria de Bunyola but changed patronage to Saint Matthew in the 14th century. The fiesta celebrated on 21st September each year is a very special occasion where gender issues become confused and young men in brassieres race the streets.
Why? Don’t ask – the story of that one is probably lost in the mists of time.
I enjoyed my walking the streets of Bunyola, working out the reasons why many have made the choice to settle permanently here. It has its own station and from this point a very quick journey into Palma. The interesting part of the Palma to Soller route begins here as the train negotiates the tunnels and climbs the mountain before sweeping down into Soller.
This is a winter trip which is worth the time and you are welcome to follow in this ‘Nan’s’ footsteps…