In 1969, Cala Galdana was a quiet and deserted sandy cove on the Balearic island of Menorca, off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. No human structures were in evidence, other than a footbridge over the small creek or slough that drained into the sea at Cala Galdana. You can see an iPhone shot of a print, from the lobby of one of today’s Cala Galdana hotels, at the bottom of this story—marred somewhat by reflections in the glass protecting the print, but you can get the idea of how this place was in 1969, which (historically speaking) is not so long ago. I mean, I can remember 1969…it was a very interesting year.
Today’s Cala Galdana is a European resort town. It’s not really unattractive, but it has been built up with vacation villas, restaurants, surf-and-sun shops, and a beach designed for cheek-to-jowl lounge chairs and umbrellas. For reasons unknown, the slough running into the bay has been moved to the right of the signature promontory (the creek was formerly on its left) and bridged with a massive structure. Several resort hotels sit like cruise ships on the land, with rows of identical balconies, and internal eco-structures (all-you-can eat buffets, a number of swimming pools and sunning areas) such that many guests never venture out of their front doors.
I do not know what the answer is. Tourism is the life blood of Menorca, and it seems unfair to ask the islanders not to have developed. Many resorts are created around the world with far less taste than Cala Galdana. Still, it sits badly with me that we rush to turn paradise into a paved parking lot, to chain the wonderful world that surrounds us, and to create ordered and iterative vertical grids in a land that once was wild and free.
Related: Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?