Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Dreamtime: Son Serra de Marina

The Dreamtime is when the world was created. It is an explanation of how things came to be and a time before there was time.

Over two days at the end of August three years ago, a meeting was planned in a camping area in woods not far from a beach. This camping area was located not far from the Bronze Age talaiot known as Cova de sa Nineta. This was a meeting called the "didgeridoo encounter". The Dreamtime was the dream time twice over in this part of Mallorca.

On a beach not far from the clearing in the woods, one can stare at the mountains as they rise shaded by silvery haze: spectral giants of boscage concealing more tombs of the pre-Neolithic. One can dream of these mountains, as seen from the beach, to one side of which is a sea of opaque luminescence. This is the place of Mallorca's Dreamtime, an essence of when it was created, an explanation of how it came to be. This is an aboriginal spirit land, where somnolence can consume and where there is an uncertainty as to being awake or asleep. Being in reality or in a dream.

This Dreamtime is a place where time is suspended. It came into being but it never moved forward. It stays as it was, for this is Son Serra de Marina. The beach is Sa Canova. The sun shines, but the shallows off Sa Canova show that a sea can shine. It radiates. It transmits light. It is luminescent but it is also transcendent. It is beyond normal experience. It exists in its own Dreamtime.

Son Serra de Marina inspires curiosity because of its very curiousness. It is urban but it isn't urban. And it is this quasi state of urbanism that allows it to transcend the clichéd appeal and descriptiveness of more obviously urbanised resorts. Not that one can really call Son Serra a resort. It is hard to know what to call it.

Semi-urbanisation of an almost perversely repetitious style - perverse because to hint at a pejorative of repetitiousness for this wondrous curio is in itself perverse - drifts, as sea grass residue drifts with the winds and the movement of the waves and dunes shift with unseen subtlety, from the built to the unbuilt. At the beach end of this semi-urbanisation, rusticity takes over, punctuated only by the obelisk mystery of a post-Civil War tower.

Because nature and artificiality have not collided in the same way as, for example, a pine walk, Son Serra's superlatives are abstract. They cannot be overworked. They cannot be defined with predictability. They reside within a spirit world, within a Dreamtime.

The curiosity of Son Serra can be explained. Its being has a functionality, even if today, owing to the lack of true urbanisation, it defies obvious functionalism. Joan Massanet Moragues was the man who made Son Serra. He was a supporter of both of Spain's dictators - Primo de Rivera and Franco. He was mayor of Palma for ten years from 1954. It was he who brought about the first small houses in the 1940s. And it was he, as owner of Son Serra, who properly urbanised it in the late 1960s. Before this urbanisation, it wasn't called Son Serra. It was called Colonia de la Mare de Déu del Carme (there are variations on this name). It then became known as Serranova before finally being named after the Son Serra estate, one of the oldest country houses in Mallorca.

The story of its ownership explains much. Son Serra was not totally untypical in being, in effect, a privately owned village. It was when more contemporary needs arose that questions as to how it was to be looked after or developed cropped up. Santa Margalida town hall has responsibility for Son Serra, but it remains more or less what it always was - a private estate with residences for which there was no plan other than it was there.

As a consequence, and although there are now any number of streets of villas and apartments, Son Serra has never become anything. It is still just there. And it is this which gives it its Dreamtime quality. It is tranquil but it is oddly vibrant. It is caught in its own Dreamtime, one of beach life of the past, one in which it is possible to imagine Eagles' records playing from a 1970s jukebox. It has bequeathed a beach life of kitesurfing and other water sports but also an unmistakable flavour of how beach life once was. The Sol, the restaurant at the end of the world by the main beach, is an expression of beach coolness without any sense of irony or of embarrassment.

This is Son Serra. A place where time has been suspended. 

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