Robert currently writes from a meme-free zone about history, culture, science and technology.
Mallorca: The most multicultural island on earth?
In Mallorca, a Spaniard officer stamps my American passport, asking dismissively about my flight from the UK. I soon somehow manage to buy a pair of Australian-branded, Chinese-made flip-flops from a Pakistani-Spaniard who speaks mostly Italian, or some Portuguese, pick your poison.
“Koala means harta calidad,” he says, “They are high-quality— these ‘Koala’, very high.” Or maybe offers me “koala tea”, I’m not entirely sure. We laugh together regardless.
The flip-flops turn out to both flip and flop flawlessly, so €13 (~$15) very well-spent. Harta calidad indeed.
Later I bend the ear of (or rather solicit general loquaciousness from) the proprietor of Al Hambra Doner-Kebab, a German-themed Lebanese traditional food/Italian food/Spanish food hybrid walk-up joint... so a kebab-and-gambón type pizza joint that incidentally also offers curry-wurst (I guess that would be Indo-German) with a side of so-called “French” fries (aka “chips”, in Britain, as the proprietor kindly points out).
He steps under the awning and away from the neon glow of Cala Ratlajada’s main pedestrian drag. Softly, he tells me the elevator version of his life story, lamb-and-shrimp pizza crackling dully from the stone oven all the while.
He says he left his Pashto-speaking homeland at 5, picked up a little Arabic as a boy, then moved to Italy for a bit, and then to Portugal, before he and his Italian wife finally settled here, on the German side of Mallorca, a Balearic Island with two official languages, ‘Castilian’ Spanish and Majorquín, a Catalan dialect.
He laments that this gypsy life has meant he has really learned no one language very well. But he tells me all this in crystal clear English, Spanish, and German, in language richer than a Rockefeller.
Welcome to Mallorca.
© 2018 Robert D Crouch