A Porker in Mallorca
June 06, 2012 at 10:22 PM
“Is that a real pig’s head?” I squint into the near distance, the sun feels hot on my shoulders and it seems as if I’m part of a film set.
The bay at Soller in Mallorca sparkles in the noonday sun as children play on the beach and small boats bob up and down on the clear azure water.
The sight of the pig’s head has not put me off my lunch and I tuck into albondigas (meat balls) and bread. Suddenly there is a load bang and I jump. The Christians have thrown a firecracker into the street, which has the desired effect. People laugh nervously and carry on with their lunch. A waitress dressed in national costume hurries across the street with a tray of food, a broad grin on her face. After serving her German customers, she joins in the revelry, clapping her hands and laughing with the merrymakers. Moors and Christians have joined the throng of tourists at the bar and are united over their glasses of beer.
There is much camaraderie amidst the firecrackers, the sword brandishing and the flirting with the bar maids. The air is now thick with smoke and a child cries as yet another firecracker is let off. This could never happen in England. Health and Safety would simply ban such enjoyment. It was all so deliciously politically incorrect.
The pig’s head is wheeled about on a well used skate board. I try to work out the meaning of the display but can only imagine that it is an insult to the Moors.
“Is that a real pig’s head?” I repeat to my husband.
“Yes, of course.” He replies, unfazed by the display.
We had arrived in Soller after a train journey through stunning scenery, the chug-chug of the old train lulling us into a trance. The hour’s journey passed quickly as we travelled past orange groves, villages, smallholdings, grand houses with green shutters, mountain ranges and wide plains. Warm air suddenly became chill as we entered yet another tunnel, the atmosphere musty and dank. It was a relief to enter the sun once more until, at last, we arrived at Soller to catch the little tram to the harbour. Not knowing that today was the fiesta of the Christians and the Moors, we were surprised to see so many of the villagers in fancy dress; the Moors with blackened faces, as if they had been busy chimney sweeping. Roses, as red as blood, decorated the little train station platform, their sweet fragrance mingling with nearby orange blossom. A pity the place was buzzing with tourists.
After lunch, we reluctantly boarded the tram to take us back to the village where houses displayed flags representing the Christians and the Moors, recognizable by the St George cross and the crescent respectively. We passed market stalls displaying crafts, so close we could have reached through the window and taken anything we wished. Soon we entered the village square where a magnificent church stood vigil. It was time to catch the train back to Palma with its splendid yachts and high rise hotels. But, for a short space of time we had been transported to another era when the Spaniards did battle with the Moors.