While my friends were being courted by wealthy entrepreneurs named Jorge, the only people on Ibiza who seemed interested in me either looked like they survived the workweek on small doses of daily MDMA or were Andalusians who had recently fled the mainland after committing a homicide. You know, that gritty, I’ll-cut-you-into-pieces look.
It goes without saying I felt betrayed by Ibiza’s promise of hot, young, available suitors.
You see, I was fresh out of undergrad and living on Ibiza teaching English, so I opted for the next best thing: frolicking with a fortysomething man who lived in a cave.
Along the cliffy coastline of Cala d’Hort, his abode was in a small space scooped out of the rock. From the plateau above, it was undetectable, only accessible by those who knew it or were brave enough to barrel down a cliff. Friends and admirers from all over the world decorated it with couches, trinkets and well-wishing messages.
Across from Es Vedrà, the island rock famed for its magnetic powers and the birthplace of the Phoenician goddess Tanit, it was prime real estate. At night, the moon made a white lightning bolt in the calm ocean, halfway illuminating the rock.
I tried to resist his advances. The thing about living in a cave is that sometimes you smell a bit sour, have sun-damaged, leathery skin and wear a lot of tattered, Jamaican-flag-inspired clothing.
To understand this story, you have to understand Ibiza. While it’s known as a clubbing capital for celebrities, it’s also a hippie paradise. Rejects from the United States and mainland Europe found refuge on this island in the 1960s and carved out a parallel society.
Today, hitchhiking and squatters are common, and having a shaman perform an ayahuasca ceremony in a family home isn’t unheard of. So when I met him — let’s call him Alfredo — and heard he lived in a cave overlooking the mystic rock Es Vedrà, citing reasons along the lines of oneness with nature, it didn’t seem so far-fetched.
Our romance started similarly to many others: while he stared deep into my eyes near the margarita vendor at a Flower Power party in Sant Josep. His turquoise eyes piercing through me, he told me I was “molt bonica” (very beautiful) and then kept staring.
I left to go do fervent high kicks and pony gallop to Simon & Garfunkel and Rolling Stones songs. Under the psychedelic lights of the outdoor tent, the air was brisk — cold enough to warrant a winter coat — but I was so sweaty I stripped down to a thin shirt. Throughout the night, I felt him watching me out of the corner of my eye. By the time 4 a.m. rolled around, he made his intentions extra clear by trying to kiss me.
At first I tried to resist his advances. The thing about living in a cave is that sometimes you smell a bit sour, have sun-damaged, leathery skin and wear a lot of tattered, Jamaican-flag-inspired clothing that one of his friends referred to as “drug rugs.”
But then he made me an organic brunch at his friend’s house with ingredients he grew on a small plot of land. It was so delicious I shrugged off any reservations with a “well, whatever” attitude. Ibiza, or so you may have heard, has that effect on people.
So we began a halfway romance, one I mostly tried to conceal from others. Even though his lifestyle was made acceptable by Ibiza’s permissibility, he was still a bit off. But so were a lot of people on Ibiza, by my judgments.
I saw Alfredo several times over the course of a few weeks, but that’s the other thing about living in a cave. Logistically, it negates many of the conveniences that are afforded to modern love.
He had a cell phone but either never had enough money to put credit on it or it ran out of battery. Once or twice a week he walked nearly four kilometers, or almost three miles, to the nearest restaurant to charge it, but we went days without talking.
I was working for a politically conservative family and living in their house, so bringing any man, let alone a scraggly, bearded, 6′2″ man who speaks like he’s running a yoga retreat, was out of the question. Seeing each other, then, meant I had to drive across the island to the cave or wait until he hitchhiked or caught a ride with a friend to another area.
The cave gave me the sense I was somehow privy to another dimension of this island that most weren’t. Yet I sensed that having to squat-pee in the dirt didn’t align with my longterm goals, even if it did give me great practice for hiking the Camino de Santiago. It took a few instances of peeing on myself and waking up to house music from nearby partiers to see that cave life was not for me.
And, as it turns out, sometimes it’s not just the setup but also the caveman himself that makes a relationship impossible. So, while saying goodbye to sunsets over Es Vedrà might have been sad, it did free me up to start looking for my next mistake.