Island Stories #32 – Juan, El Capitain & The 2CV

It is the 20th of September 1990. I am drinking in a bar (possibly Irish) on the infamous strip in the West End of San Antonio Abad, Ibiza, Balearic islands it is around 00:48. 

As the saying goes; three’s a crowd.  Well it certainly seemed to be for me in this instance.  I was the tender age of just seventeen and had gone away on my first holiday abroad (without parents) with two close pals to follow the pilgrimage to this white island in the sun that everyone back home was raving about.

Our two week tarriance was drawing to a close and in true teenage form I had virtually spent my entire holiday fund with more than a few days to go.  My two friends were, at this point considerably more flush than me and had buggered off to one of the clubs leaving me sitting on the exceptionally squeaky bed in the hot, sweaty confines of our rather tired, shabby little room at the hotel Florida in San Antonio, just up from The Egg.

 

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Sitting there alone, sipping warm San Miguel and smoking cheap Spanish cigarettes I grew quickly bored and decided to take some of my last remaining pesata’s and investigate some of the cheaper bars in the West End. 

It was heaving as usual and I ended up wandering into a random bar and ordering a grande cerveza.  After a while a slight, flamboyant Spanish bloke approached me at the bar and we started chatting.  His name was un-stereotypically Juan and as it turns out was a purveyor of various illicit substances which he attempted unsuccessfully to sell me.  I informed him of my current plight and he was shocked;  ‘We cant have this!” he announced loudly in very broken English and with a brotherly arm tight around my shoulder he told me that he was going to Amnesia that night and I was to accompany him.  He was waiting for a “friend” who would be able to get us into the club and get us free drinks all night (evidently).

At first I was extremely reluctant to join this virtual stranger on a trip to a club in the middle of the island with no money and no way of getting back home.  But then came the realisation that my pesetas were running exceptionally low, and the thought of returning to that humid, Turkish bath of a room was becoming less and less appealing by the moment.  After a few seconds of careful, deliberate thought I agreed to  join him.

His “friend” arrived loudly half an hour or so later in an ageing Citroen 2CV, thickly covered in chalky island dust, honking his horn loudly and repeatedly outside the bar.  Juan ran out and greeted him warmly.  As he stepped out of the ageing vehicle I realised to my horror that he was wearing a blue local police uniform.

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Juan walked back over to me in the bar, obviously concerned I asked Juan worriedly about the fact that his friend was the law and he merely winked and smiled at me;  “dont worry, he is the chief of police.” tapping his nose. 

I was readily introduced but due to my abject terror of the situation that was rapidly unfolding before my very eyes, I have absolutely no recollection at all of his name. 

I was hurriedly bundled into the back of the car and soon found myself hurtling down the side alleys of San Antonio at break neck speed whilst my two new found amigos engaged in loud, passionate Spanish conversation, gesticulating wildly, potentially killing all three of us at every turn of the wheel.

Here I was,  absolutely bricking it, sitting in the back of a yellow, beaten up 2CV, being driven by the supposed local Chief of Police and his drug dealer friend, speeding towards an island nightclub.

Not only did we get in, but ended up having quite the night,  copious amounts of free booze courtesy of El Capitain and plenty of “the other” from Juan.  In typical island fashion Im not quite sure what became of my two newly acquired friends, or even how I ended stumbling back into the foyer of the Florida, bleary eyed the next morning, but the one thing I do remember was that the night was an exceptionally good one.

Only in Ibiza….

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Damien Enright – The Three Kings Clerkenwell 20th February 2016

As most of my close friends know, I’m a little bit partial to a small island off the southern coast of Spain called Ibiza, some may even say obsessed.

From my very first visit back in 1990 to every subsequent yearly summer sojourn my obsession with the island and everything to do with that early heady balearic period only intensifies.

I have always had a habit of collecting any and every old piece of memorabilia (Ibiza tat) I can lay my hands on; old posters pulled from the walls of Amnesia, a wealth of pictures from Facebook groups such as Ku – Ibiza Best Years, postcards by Luis Amor of his detailed artistic interpretation of the indigenous Ibizencos, maps, flags you name it and of course books, lots and lots of books.

Last year I came across one such book by author Damien Enright – Dope In The Age Of Innocence.

http://www.libertiespress.com/shop/dope-in-the-age-of-innocence

Its a tale of a young man and his family arriving on the island in the early sixties when it was a haven for the hedonistic hippie cultural rejects of society.  It’s a captivating read and paints a picture of what the island was like before the gratuitous explosion of consumerism and the frankly obscene displays of wealth from the influx of Russian oligarch money and property developers such as the Candy brothers that the island sadly now suffers from.

Here is a brief synopsis:

Ibiza, 1960: on the beautiful Mediterranean island, the high-rise resorts are still decades away. By chance, Damien Enright, twenty-one-years old and Irish, arrives there with his wife and two children and finds a handful of down-at-heel foreign Bohemians leading wild, hedonistic lives. He and his wife get involved; their marriage quickly breaks down and he spends two heartbroken years in London before returning to Ibiza with a new partner and another child. They take LSD and inspired by dreams of a brave new world, cross to the remote island of Formentera to lead alternative lives.This is a decade before Howard Marks becameMr. Nice: the embryonic drug culture in the west motivated not by profit but by idealism. Sometimes, that early search for freedom ventured not just beyond the mind but beyond the law. To sustain their families on Formentera, Enright and two desperado pals head to London in a beat-up car and do some risky travellers cheque scams. Then, restless and unsure of his love for his partner, he makes a hair-raising trek to Turkey in the depths of winter to find hashish for the group. Things go badly awry and he find himself a fugitive, at the mercy of unreliable friends. Part road story, drug story, love story,Dope in the Age of Innocenceis fundamentally a parable about drug enlightenment, the loss and rediscovery of love and the tempering of innocence.

It’s an absolutely cracking read and held me until the very end, a definite must for those of the Balearic way inclined.

Much to my delight I very recently received news that Mr Phil Mison, Balearic mainstay and resident DJ at The Cafe Del Mar in the early nineties has organised a talk and a Q&A with the author, on all things Ibiza and book related.  The illustrious Mr Enright himself will be holding court on an evening of most excellent music to be held on the 20th of February at The Three Kings in Clerkenwell:

To guarantee entrance on the night email Phil himself on; philmison@hotmail.com

The night is also blessed with the musical accompaniment of Colorama and Shawn Lee, a must and not one to be missed for the Balearic faithful.