When Faith and I last had an overseas holiday (Lanzarote, March 2013) I wrote of how it was (rather surprisingly) raining on our arrival.
Nothing like that this time although the Pilot of “Thomson” (our aeroplane) took us past a spectacular thunderstorm just before he started his descent from 37,000 feet to Mahon Airport and I did notice ominous trickles in a couple of storm drains observed from the coach to our hotel in Cala Galdana.
In the UK we usually pay for 2 or 3 days of really hot, sunny summer weather with a day or night of thunderstorms to “clear the air”. In the Mediterranean, however, “hot” days are much hotter than the UK ever gets and the thunderstorms that balance them out are, consequently, even more spectacular!
Friday, our day of arrival was fine and we hoped that the place was moving from the previous weeks’ brief rainy interlude back into the scorching sunshine that had been the norm for this summer. That change did not take place on Friday (which was lightly overcast but warm) and Saturday morning looked promising until around lunchtime when we noticed from our poolside sunbeds (where I was writing the first parts of this series) a fast approaching filthy black cloud!
There was no possibility that a cloud of that colour and behaviour was not going to be full of both water and high voltage static electricity so abandoning the sunbeds seemed to be a VERY good idea! We were just about inside the hotel by the time the first raindrops fell and watching from the covered safety of our 4th floor hotel room’s balcony when the flashing and banging began!
It seemed to be passing over us for hours – and the RAIN had to be seen to be believed!!!
Very seldom indeed does the UK manage a downpour that runs on uninterrupted for 8 hours without easing up even a little – but that’s what Menorca got!
While we could not be said to be trapped in our room in any way, the hotel does not do lunches – all the daytime eateries after breakfast has finished are outside the building – so we had to fall back on a lunch from our own resources. If you’ve read the title of this piece the type of crisps and chocolate bars that we consumed while enjoying one of nature’s more violent shows will not come as a surprise to you.
The resort of Cala Galdana lies at the end of a long, deep gorge that cuts back quite a way into the island. The end of that gorge looks like a river running through the town but is in fact an arm of the sea separated from the main beach by a spur of rock with a restaurant on it.
The beach, Cala Galdana’s claim to fame, is a semi-circular cove (like a large version of Lulworth in Dorset) but with fine, white sand which glows through the blue of the water and looks gorgeous.
At least, that’s what it NORMALLY looks like!
When we awoke on Sunday, the morning after the storm, the sun shining on the sea showed it to be an unpleasant blood red! Assuming that we would be advised if this was in any way dangerous I did wade out in it for a bit of a swim and could see that it was actually no more cloudy than the North Sea on a normal day – the only unusual factor was the colour!
I asked in the hotel and was told that the red colour is that of the island’s topsoil; the lengthy downpour had washed large quantities of this down the gorge into the “river” inlet. There being no tides to speak of in the Med to assist its passage, this muddy current of rainwater simply flowed down over the denser seawater and swung round into the cove, covering the whole surface with a layer of red silt that only gradually settled and cleared. It took a couple of days but soon got back to the normal “White shining through Turquoise”.
For reasons that I shall make clear in the next article I was going to subtitle this piece “Red sea at night, Swimmer’s delight” but am rather too impressed with the one I have used instead!