The first line of Charles Dickens story of A Tale of Two Cities has once again come floating into my mind.  The past week truly has been ‘the best of times and the worst of times.’

On 30 June, a bomb was set off under a Guardia Civil (sort of like the federal police) car, killing two officers.  Several people in the vicinity were injured.  I am quite aware of the location of the bombing, as it was in front of the Guardia Civil office next to the post office I use frequently.  The government immediately clamped down the island, with the airport and ports closed.  I have a good boating friend who phoned me to say that even the yacht harbours were not allowing any boats to come in or go out. 

Even a week on, the police presence here has been substantial.  The Spanish media is full of daily stories about who they believe are responsible for the bombing, and the other day, they published photos of the suspected terrorists.  Luckily, no one I know.

Because Mallorca is a strong tourist destination for Brits and Germans, this bombing will undoubtedly play havoc with the island economy.  Within two hours after the bombing, the story was receiving massive coverage on UK television stations.  The immediate suspect organisation who the authorities believe was behind the bombing is ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, which roughly translates to ‘Basque Homeland and Freedom).  This year is fiftieth anniversary of ETA’s founding, and for years, they have been terrorising the part of northern part of Spain, but lately, their reach has grown.  Regardless of whom is responsible for the car bombing, it was not a good day on my island.

A few days later, the other aspect of Dickens intro line surfaced.  Did you ever see the movie Amélie?  I loved that movie.  It is the story of a young French girl who tries to help others, but lives a very introspective life.  I liked the story so much that I almost named my first car here after her, but instead settled on Amelia (which actually does suit her more).  And whilst Amélie the movie was very special and great entertainment, there is now a real Amélie in my life.

If you think back through some of my previous “letters from the village,” you know that one of the lingering side-effects that I have had to deal with from my GBS experience was a little problem with balance.  For the past four or five years, I have been able to do almost everything, with the only lingering issue being that my body didn’t like it when I tried to be on a boat.  Yes, I was able to do the Lisbon to Panama cruise of two years ago, but that was on a ship of 200 metres.  I was even able to do well on the Nile cruise of last year, but that was on a pretty stable riverboat.  The thing that I missed was that I haven’t been able to be on a ‘normal’ sized boat.  I have terribly missed not being able to be on boats, and have longed to have that balance problem go away.  I think it may have. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had dinner on a friend’s motor boat, and noticed that, whilst I still had some balance problems, things were better than they had been in the past.  The next day, I found myself on another motor boat and it was miraculous…I didn’t feel the need to hang on for dear life for fear of toppling over.  A few days ago, I was back on the second boat and again found that I was able to stand without wobbling.  And because of the fact that my newly found ‘health’ had come at the same time the boat I was on was for sale, I decided to once again resume my boating life.  I bought the boat…and am going to name her Amélie.

Now for those of you who really know me, you may be looking at the photos and saying, ‘hey, where are the sails?  Where is the mast? ’  Well, there aren’t any.  Yes, I have gone over to the dark side.  I never was that keen on powerboats, largely because you didn’t get to experience what sailing is all about (silently slipping across the water, feeling the breeze on your face, raising sails, cranking winches, polishing stainless and varnishing teak).  Amélie will not require these efforts at all, which at this point in my life, truth be told, is just fine with me.  I will at least be back on the water.  Which for me, is a good thing.


Mr. Dickens, doing his version of being 'on-line'


Ms. Poulain, mesmerizing us with her smile


sunrise in Andratx this morning



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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, James B. Rieley