I went into exile from Hong Kong after a long deliberation, but choosing Mallorca as my new place to live was done almost on a whim. Island, tick, no snow, tick, population friendly, tick, beautiful place: Tickety tick tick tick. By an incredible stroke of luck, I ended up in the best, coolest and most beautiful area of Palma: El Terreno.
Apart from some grotesque buildings from the 70s and 80s, this place is like a village with its narrow cobblestone streets and bougainvillea exploding out of every garden.
My office overlooks a church and a staircase with 270 steps. Outside is the Carrer de Robert Graves, named after the Mallorca dwelling poet who wrote I, Claudius. I used to live in a street called Joan Miró who, to be honest, is not among my favourite painters. Yes I can admit it now that I no longer live there but was kicked out by a lying cheating landlord who told me he was getting Covid divorced. I have to hand it to him (Miró) though - he did go to Japan to buy a whole shop's worth of ink. But now I live in a place named after a writer! Much better.
El Terreno, as well as being close to the water and boats, close to a medieval castle surrounded by a large forest and walking terrain and situated 25 minutes' walk from Palma Centre, is a doggie paradise. After a lifetime in Hong Kong where dog haters rule the streets, parks and beaches, resulting in most people there growing up afraid of dogs, I was pleased to find a place where dogs are welcome everywhere (except, admittedly, beaches). My local pharmacist encouraged me to bring Koldbrann into the shop so he wouldn't have to suffer outside! People bring their dogs into banks!
Having a dog is like a golden key, it opens up the whole neighbourhood. Most of the people I know and socialise with here in El Terreno, I have met through the medium of dog. One barrio (neighbourhood) guy I always talk to is Mr. Lau. To think, the first two and a half years I lived here, I called him 哥們 Ge Men - something like "Dude" in Mandarin that only Beijing men are supposed to call one another but I do it anyway because I think language belongs to everybody and hey! I'm a foreigner and know nothing, and he answered me in a strange Mandarin that I didn't really understand - it turns out the guy was from Hong Kong! Ahrrrghhh so many months wasted!
I found out through his son, whom I got chatting to through the medium of dogs, of course. Small wonder Mr. Lau didn't speak Mandarin, having lived here in Mallorca for 40 years and being totally immersed in everything Spanish. He doesn't play Chinese poker though. What a waste. A real Hong Kong guy not 30 metres away, but...
Talking of Cantonese and beautiful barrios, here is another reason why I had to leave Hong Kong; the rampant destruction of Lantau Island where I lived. Designated by them to be Hong Kong's Green Lung in the year 2000, the HK government set out to cover it in concrete, metal and quite simply rubbish right away. These photos were taken in days of yore, before the destruction began in earnest:
One of the great tragedies of my life. But more about that later! Now, today's Cantonese:
鄰居 leun goi neighbouring dweller - neighbour
Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian!