Ibiza 1963 – 2013

For the first time since the original two donkeys, Matilde and Rubí arrived here at Elca Seriu in March 2011, I am having a break. My good friends Cait and Carl will look after the four donkeys while I have a four day break from the routine.

This has been planned for a few weeks but I had not really warmed to the idea until halfway through today. For the past few days I was actually feeling guilty about leaving the donkeys and going away, and also thinking I couldn’t enjoy myself if I was parted from them. That has got to be a serious sign that a break is needed! From midday today I began to look forward to the break.

Tomorrow I sail from Denia – just a short journey up the coast – to Ibiza, where I lived from the age of eleven until I was fifteen. It was a magical forgotten island of peasants and fishermen, writers and artists, hippies and Vietnam draft-dodgers, with an occasional flight from Palma de Majorca in a battered old Aviaco DC3. No direct jets from Gatwick in those days…


How can this 12-year-old pretending to play a guitar be me? And what remains of the Ibiza I knew? This is what Ibiza town looked like as I remember it, in the days when I bunked off from school at the Instituto de Enseñanza Media Santa Maria and went fishing in Ibiza port.

17 ANTIGUA Ibiza_ Baleares

Ibiza has become synonymous with hedonism and debauchery, but somewhere in it all there must be a vestige of the old Ibiza. Surely? I am going in search of it. The image on the postcard below shows a group dressed in typical Ibicenco costume, with a DC6 aircraft behind them at Ibiza airport. I remember seeing that postcard on sale in the shops, circa 1964, and it captures the excitement of two different contrasting worlds at a moment when they were competing for the future of the island and the domination of the culture.


The dominant culture is now entirely hedonistic, secular, commercial and sadly associated with a superficial lifestyle of partying, sex and drugs.

In contrast, I arrive in Ibiza tomorrow 14th August, and I shall be looking for Mass on Thursday 15th August on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. It was one of the focal points of the annual round of social, cultural and religious life. What will I find on Thursday in Ibiza?

Catedral de Santa Maria, Ibiza

Catedral de Santa Maria, Ibiza

The iconic cathedral that dominates the old town of Ibiza is dedicated to the Virgen Maria. As a schoolboy I remember the feasts of Mary: the parades through the town, up to the cathedral, with the trumpets and military bands, the uniformed youth organisations, flowers and traditional costumes. What will I find on Thursday in Ibiza?

Will I find some remnant of a lost way of life? I don’t know. I have to go and see. It was here I first became aware of donkeys. Are there still any donkeys in Ibiza? The next four days will be interesting. I shall try to keep the blog up to date, but I am on a bicycle, carrying the minimum.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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8 Responses to Ibiza 1963 – 2013

  1. Anonymous says:

    have a nice time!

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Blimey that was quick! I just finished writing the blogpost! Thank you. At my age, arriving in Ibiza in August on a bicycle, with a just a sleeping bag and no accommodation booked, is a slightly optimistic approach. But hey, the rich never have the adventures.

  3. Have a good trip, bruvver rabit, and wotch out for stalkers.

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    Thank you good Eccles, but have no concern as I have armed myself with a shed catalogue and will swat any stalkers without remorse.

  5. Have a good time and enjoy the change from your normal routine. Bron xx

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks, Bron. Went to see the old house this morning. You can hardly see it behind the hideous exterior wall and garage gate now. Right opposite, the field is still there, and the old broken wooden gate to the field is the same one as when you went in to feed the goats. (I have a photo of that from about 1965.) I’m pretty sure that the people next door are still the same family: the house is unchanged, but I was there too early in the morning for a social call.

    Your old school building is still there (that Alfonso’s sister – forgotten her name – used to run.) Paul Georges villa is still there: in a terrible state. Playa D’en Bossa is a hideous mass of holiday junk and disco… I slept in theopen by the old 16th c. tower at the end of D’en Bossa and the disco beat from the beach carried on until 3 am.

    Just for you: see http://brotherlapin.com/ibiza-photos/

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    the disco beat from the beach carried on until 3 am

    Welcome to MY world …

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    Ha ha! Jabba, at least you have a Latin Mass nearby, so stop moaning! 🙂 (Just got your comment in time. Computer charged and ready to move on from here. Goodbye Sant Eularia del Rio of the Hammock.)

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