The first thing that struck me was the dogs. They were everywhere.
A meeting place of Las Dalias in the heart of the Ibizan countryside for the Silver Mines Walk had a group of about 30 of us gathered to tackle the14km jaunt ahead. Collies, a Basset hound, a few smaller dogs whose breed I couldn’t identify, and a small white rough haired puppy accompanied us.
Attached to their owners by leads on the side of this busy road they were eager to be off. Greeting each other sometimes tentatively with a sniff here, a nose rub there, the occasional growl – overall blatant friskiness and exuberance was the shared canine mood.
We set off uphill, whereupon the dogs were unleashed, free to roam, to get to know each other properly and most importantly smell and investigate anything and everything that came to their attention.
Onwards we ambled down small country roads, through umbrella pine-shaded woods, stopping to peer over the side of an occasional deep well, and sliced shafts of old silver mines from two thousand years ago. It might have been that long, I know it was to do with the Venetians, but I was too busy talking to a fellow walker about my fits of dizziness and suspected iron deficiency that I failed to take everything in.
“It’s a known symptom on Ibiza” B told me. “Women suffer from iron deficiency here, the soil is so red and holds so much of it, but interestingly because of the density, the vegetables can’t absorb it. That explained everything and I was grateful to be enlightened.
I haven’t been on a hike yet where I didn’t reveal parts of myself to a complete stranger. All around me in a file of twos and occasional threes everyone did the same.
We paused now and then, our guide pointing out wild fennel, almonds, garlic, asparagus, and edible yellow wild flowers. Rosemary and thyme were relegated to the ordinary such was their proliferation. At break time in a hidden picnic area deep in the woods snacks were shared; dogs getting up close and personal hoping for treats.
Continuing on to our destination – the most recent silver mine utilised until the 50’s – the midday warmth of the sun encouraged shedding of layers, more jolity and relaxed banter. Oranges were rescued from where they’d fallen on deep red earth, peeled and their juiciness shared.
The small white rough haired puppy nestled into his owners arms. At only seven months he’d done well: trotting and skipping along with the more mature pooches. He’d learnt something, made new friends and now rested, comfortably exhausted, nurtured by his experience, relishing the joy of a shared experience.