It is about setting off from civilization: leaving behind human routine with its overwhelming quantity of obligations, technology and notifications. “You need to change your mind, not the sky overhead” Seneca tells his Lucilius. I do not go far, but back instead: that is when you rediscover the pleasure of looking around and keeping an image for oneself, without sharing it immediately. When you stay in silence, have nothing to do. You think. No other things are happening, besides the here and the now.
I try to find adventure and treasures of nature here nearby.
The Columbretes were now shining ahead, emerging bluntly from the depth of the seabeds, in the great indifference of the Balearic sea. I could see Illa Grossa in front of us and all the little islets surrounding it. The archipelago formed about 1 million years ago, generated by the volcanic activity of the area. During the great part of its history, the islets, already known by Romans and Greeks, were populated only by snakes, hence the name Columbretes, deriving from the latin for serpents.
In the mid-XIV century a lighthouse was built on Illa Grossa, and only then was the island inhabited by a small community of people who, among other things, introduced farm animals, burned the lush vegetation and caused the total extinction of the huge quantity of snakes who had been living on the island before. Very well done, I must say.
The waters surrounding this volcanic eye of copper
and crystal teem with a universe of living beings.
Nowadays only the lighthouse keepers live on the island. Three or four people inhabit the small house near the lighthouse, taking turns every 15 days. The house of the guards is the only place in miles where you could get some wi-fi, but we actually didn’t miss it.
The time on the island passes slowly. We have long walks along the ring-like shape of the island, we talk and enjoy the beauty of this forgotten place in the middle of the sea, which was declared a nature reserve at the end of the 80’s. Besides the great underwater walls —where an important submarine wildlife thrives undisturbed— the islets are home to a stable population of Eleanora’s falcon. Offering a place for reproduction to a great variety of seabirds and host an impressive quantity of scorpions: sleeping during the whole winter, the scorpions are found everywhere in summer and spring. For this reason we were not allowed to walk off the path as the chances to be stung were high, and it didn’t sound too attractive either.
The yellow warm light that embraces the islands gives way to the dark. All together we share our feelings about the experience of the day, the images we saw and the feeling of beautiful isolation. We are tired, we go back to the Narinan to have some dinner and to get sleep.
Everything is silent outside. While I am in my cabin, laying on my bed, I hear a small boat coming in: fishermen who work outside the nature reserve find shelter in the arms of Illa Grossa, get some hours of sleep and then go back out to sea. We are all here now, and while our boat fluctuates above the dark blue crystalline waters, I manage to fall asleep.