By Regina Winkle-Bryan
I was on the Spanish island of Ibiza for work, staying at a fancy and fashionable hotel on the shores of Playa d’en Bossa. I took the elevator down to the lobby from my room on the ninth floor, and as I checked my teeth and hair in the elevator mirror the light hit my roots in just the wrong way. Is that a gray hair !? It looked like it might be.
For years I’ve thought that I’d never go gray, because my father is past 65 and does not have one gray hair on his head. He’s as brunette now as he was when he was 20. It is only fair that I inherit this no-gray gene, because I have also inherited his ears, which stick out and are large and elfish, and his eyebrows, which are curly and grow like wild corkscrew vines across our faces.
Unruly eyebrows = no silver hairs in my book.
But there it was, glimmering in the dim elevator light. I weeded out the hair in order to pluck it and examine it outside, but just as I had my fingers on it, the elevator stopped, the doors flew open, and a deeply tan woman wearing a pink bikini, flip-flops, sunglasses and nothing more entered. Perfectly tanned, thin, toned, and blonde, she was not worrying about much, especially not gray hairs and genetics. I suddenly felt old and frumpy and pasty white. When we arrived in the lobby she exited the elevator first and I then realized that the bikini was actually a thong.
Welcome to Ibiza.
That first ride with Miss Elevator was a fitting introduction to my time on Playa d’en Bossa, where the boobs are fake, the party never stops, and the average age is 19. The many pools my hotel offered were full of hotties like Miss Elevator, and there was not one sun bed available. I decided a stroll by the seashore would be a good idea. I’d kick off my sandals and walk towards the city in the surf. I might even remove my tank-top and work on my tan.
Walking along the shores of Bossa is a lot like strutting your stuff on the catwalk. The audience watches greedily, and sometimes judgmentally, from chic sun loungers that are rented for €150.00 a day and come with a ‘complimentary’ bottle of champagne. There is a constant parade of scantily-clad folks marching up and down. Where are they going? Perhaps to have cocktails at one beach club, or hear a DJ at another one. Who knows, but they were on the move and looking good. I decided to keep my clothes on and wandered along the sand.
It was only about 5:00pm but the party was already well underway (or perhaps, had never stopped). Men tossed footballs in the waves, played paddleball on the shoreline, danced, and most of all, drank. Plastic cocktail cups and bottles of booze littered the sand. Music poured from speakers lining the beach. Each club, bar, and hotel seemed to have their own DJ conjuring up mood music. Groups of friends stood with their rum and cokes along the water talking, singing, and in some cases fighting. Most were seriously wasted.
A woman in a lime-green bikini attacked a man who may have been her boyfriend. Sand started flying. Her friends watched uninterested. Near the brawl a gang of women wearing headbands of plastic daises (surely a hippy faux pas) sat on sun loungers holding balloons. I stopped and watched them for a minute and then realized that they were getting high on nitrous. “Whizzzzzzz” went the balloons as they inhaled. “Pop pop pop” went their braincells in unison. As I gaped at the debauchery in front of me, I tripped over a large glass bottle of Passport Scotch, stubbing my big toe. I made haste up the beach, hoping to find something to eat.
Along the beach I stopped at restaurants and examined their menus.
Chicken Curry €9
Full English Breakfast €15
Fish and Chips €10
I was in Spain, and apart from a suspicious looking paella, there was no Spanish cuisine to be found. I thought I’d try my luck off the beach, as shoreline restaurants tend to be more expensive and touristy. I walked along Bossa’s main thoroughfare and saw more of the same plus a wide array of souvenir shops selling Cheap Plastic Crap from India or China or somewhere far away from Spain.
Along the strip there was more parading and peacocking. Vendors stood on the sidewalk stopping groups of potential customers and asking them to buy tickets to get into Space, or Pacha, or Ushuaïa, and a bunch of other clubs that I didn’t recognize. I’m not much for clubbing and I’m even less interested if it costs €60 to get in…that doesn’t even include a drink! Not that anyone offered me tickets. I’m over 30 so I guess I wasn’t their target, or maybe it was the way I was dressed, that is, with a shirt, shoes, and shorts on. Even off the beach most of Bossa’s revelers go shirtless or in nothing more than a swimsuit.
As I struggled through the crowds worrying about my single gray hair and new invisibility a man stopped me.
“Hey, how are you?” he asked.
Under normal circumstances I would have kept walking. But I was intrigued as to why, when everyone else ignored me, he noticed me.
“I’m fine. This is a crazy place.”
“Crazy! Yes. Where you from?”
“No, I know where you’re from!”
“You already said that one.”
He was starting to look worried.
“Is it an Anglo-Saxon place?”
“Yes, well, mostly.”
“Ha! I knew it! The thing is, I did not guess because you have a strong English accent.”
“I’ve said about three words to you.”
“See!? You say ‘about’ like AB-ouT, like the English.”
“No I don’t.”
“So,” he asked, changing gears “First time in Ibiza?”
“What do you think?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe in Cancun, but…”
“No, this MUCH crazier than Cancun!”
“Is that right?”
“I’ve never been to Cancun,” he admitted.
“You know why people come to Ibiza?” he asked. I sensed he wanted to tell me, so I just shook my head.
“Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol.”
“What about rock and roll?”
He didn’t seem to think it mattered. I told him I was on Ibiza working, that I was a journalist and I was covering a story.
“You want to write about a great DJ? He does 80s and 90s music.”
He was talking about himself.
“No, I don’t like music from the 80s.”
Defensively, he shot back, “The 80s don’t like you either!”
“Yes they do, I was born in the 80s.”
“It’s true? Me too! 1981, May.” I then realized that there were at least two people in Bossa over 20.
“Ah,” he did the math, “So you are older than me.”
“No, you’re older. Better lay off the Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol, this Ibiza lifestyle is messing with your math.”
“Haha! So you have plan for tonight? Maybe we do something?”
“I’m going back to my hotel now, ciao.”
He looked crestfallen and burnt out and I felt sorry for this washed up DJ for about two seconds before I slipped back into the river of hotties and made my way to the hotel. As I walked the sun went down. Up on the ninth floor in my room I stepped out onto the balcony and admired the view. Laser lights were illuminating the sky, music was booming down the street, somewhere someone was screaming in drunken ecstasy, “I LOVE Ibiza.”
I turned my gaze away from the sea to the mountains just behind Playa d’en Bossa. They were black with an orange and rose-hued sky behind them, the tail-end of the sunset. The bright shades across the heavens reminded me of Miss Elevator’s pink swimsuit, but also whispered something else. It was hard to hear over the din, but the island murmured, “There is so much more to me than Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol you just have to come and find it.” I promised that I would.