“Oh the whole world, it is sleeping;
But my world is you.”
– Bloom, The Paper Kites
It is incredibly difficult for me to imagine my future travels with a companion or two, having tried a taste of solo travel recently. One of my stops on this solo backpacking tour was Palma, Mallorca, which, I must say, was the crème de la crème: in the dead of winter I was greeted with much warmth from the people of the island and the magnificent weather. I like to think I have also left the island having made some friends or close acquaintances with whom I’d like to keep in touch in the future.
Still, the best gift this island offered was simply solace. I needed time and space and the freedom to do some serious soul-searching and to get my life back on track, and the crowd-less, narrow streets of the Old City and the tranquility of the Baños Arabes were perfect for this purpose.
In my wanderings I also decided to pay the Cathedral a visit. Wikipedia claims that the Cathedral was built in 1229 by King James I of Aragon — which must be when control of the island officially fell from Muslim rule into Christian hands — but another source I’d come across suggests that the Cathedral was in fact built upon what used to be the Mosque (as was the case with other cathedrals in Andalusian Spain as well, such as in Sevilla/Ishbiliyya). Legend has it that this Cathedral still faces the direction of the Ka’abah, which, though I didn’t exactly come armed with a compass that afternoon, I cannot refute.
Regardless of the origins of this Mosque — pardon me, I mean Cathedral — I still found its high-vaulted ceilings and the natural light piercing through the delightful stained-glass windows absolutely stunning. When I walked in, I must confess that I had to accord myself no less than 15 minutes on one of the benches with my head staring at the ceiling in endless wonderment. Finding myself in one of those moments during my travels I did not want to forget, I got my camera out and also my Moleskine, and spent some time reflecting on paper with my pen how the dancing light in the ceiling enlightened me with its vivid colors. Truly remarkable indeed.
It is moments like this that I cannot forget and, I suspect, will stay vivid forever in my memory.