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Winter is Coming

Winter is here and in this little island in the middle of the Mediterranean world, the world turns upside down when Winter comes. To be more specific, Mallorquins ,-we- are not used to bad weather and when the icy winds of the North blow, many faces change; flu´s and colds become common and the images of the beaches and cities are far from what the sunny Summer postcards portray. Moreover, Mallorca´s somewhat insufficient communications strive to adapt to February´s pouring rains. And poor of those that live in houses that were built between the 1920´s and 1960´s- these constructions usually lack a proper insulation and basically have nothing to envy from more modern houses, except, maybe, for the cosy and sparkling chimneys that will seduce the owners and protect them from the damp cold that will otherwise soak you to the bone. Mallorca changes radically this time of the year and the pristine beaches, the luxury yachts or the busy Summer months fade away to leave space for the short days and temperatures that touch 7ºC.  Interestingly, the Winter season is an idyllic time to visit little mountain villages like Banyalbufar or Deia to after have a homey and cosy lunch and then sit on the hearth, and loose yourself into the contemplation of an ashy fire. This is where the charm of Mallorca lies in Winter. Another great event that disrupts Mallorca´s peace is snow. Every year, we get a bit of snow in the mountainous areas and sometimes, quite rarely actually, snow reaches the city, leaving its streets and beaches white for….minutes…. when this happens, though, traffic that leads to the mountains collapses and locals seize the chance to enjoy a magical mountain fact that is sadly fading away with memories, unless told in stories to the younger ones. (Please see  blog picture of Valldemossa town taken yesterday)…..Local legend has it that when there was no electricity in Mallorca,  a kind of igloo shaped stone construction  known as “snow huts” or  cases de neu were used to store the snow and to sell it in Spring and Summer for use in medicine and in cooking. The distribution of the snow was done at night time in order to avoid its melting …..and a tough trade it was! The “carriers” would descend the mountains on female donkeys carrying tons of snow with the extra challenge of its slowly melting! Also present in the collective unconscious of locals is the accidental visit of Chopin to Mallorca.The Polish musician arrived the year 1883 in the company of his lover George Sand. What these northeners found in the island was a wet and nostalgic Winter that dragged them to practice our favourite Winter sport: chatting by a glowing chimney. Damp temperatures combined with the local character of those times, basically suspicious and distrustful of the modern and different, made Chopin and Sand´s stay become a 90 day ordeal. Years later this would be reflected in G.Sand´s book “ Un Hiver a Majorque”.  I guess that the couple expected an exotic island and instead found a rural, wild, cold and not very welcoming Mallorca. Back to now, I suggest you don´t hestitate in installing a chimney in your house or, if you are thinking of purchasing a property in Mallorca, it´s not irrelevant at all to check if it has a proper fireplace. A blazing log fire will give you warmth and company in the long Winter evenings, for as the local saying goes “ February will kill you more than the butcher” ;)!,  refering to the fact that it is cold and that one shoud wrap up warmly in Winter in Mallorca….beware then of travel agents that sell you warm weather in Winter….it´s freezing these days! A toast to Winter!

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