I was enticed up the steep stone steps by a handwritten sign saying ‘Orange Juice café’.
“Hola,” I called.
“Hola!” came a voice from within the stone hut.
“Una zumo de naranja, por favor.” I asked, as he emerged from the hut.
“Yeah, sure”. I’d forgotten for a moment – despite the far removed landscape I’d been walking through – that Mallorca isn’t an untouched, far flung holiday destination. Of course he’s fluent in English.
I was walking the Deia to Puerto de Sòller leg of the GR221 route which runs along the mountainous north coast of the island. Oranges are plentiful in this part of Spain and so too are orange juice sellers. But, unwittingly, I certainly picked the most interesting one to tarry with while I sipped.
Givé has lived in his coastal farmstead for the last fifteen years. The tardis-like stone hut in which he does his juicing is a recent conversion and he showed me pictures of the one-walled ruin it had once been. He’s a man of many talents, and not least playing in the infamous local band Pa amb Olí.
He asked me what brought me to the area. I explained that I was a photographer on commission. He rolled his eyes a little but when I told him which publication it was for, he realised I was serious.
“There are no travellers anymore, just tourists.” He said, as we ruminated on our experiences of tourism. Deia has been a draw for foreign artists and creatives for decades, at least since before World War II when Robert Graves first set up home here, probably longer. The picture Givé revealed, however, was less of a creative haven and more of an idyll with a darker side.
Globalisation and tourism are killing local culture, he told me. Locals can no longer afford to live in the centre of Deia because out-of-towners are buying up properties as Airbnb rentals. The late-night sound restrictions imposed at the open-air, rooftop café Sa Fonda means that the parties aren’t as wild and the jamming isn’t as good. It’s the increasing complaints from holiday makers that has led to this.
I’ve heard this kind of story in other parts of the world, too. Tourism can, of course, create jobs and lift local populations from a life of poverty, let that not be forgotten.
A German couple joined me on Givé’s terrace and while he busied himself making their juice I thought a bit more about what he was telling me. I was thankful for the last vestiges of ‘traditional culture’ that meant our paths had crossed, slurped the dregs of the delicious juice and ambled on my way.