Menorca has some of the most beautiful beaches and calas (typical Mediterranean coves) that I have seen anywhere. Traditionally, it has been a very hippie island with some Catalan tourists, while most mass tourism was directed towards Mallorca, Ibiza or other Mediterranean destinations. Also most of its beaches are protected biospheres, have no hotels and are accessible only after a 10-40 minute walk from distant parking lots.
So when I arrived in Menorca (my third trip there), I was expecting some kids on the larger beaches and many hippie nudists in the more remote calas. I have always hated a couple of things at the beach, all of which include audio and visual distractions, such as people playing paddle, listening to music, or putting up big tents and umbrellas. You usually don’t have these problems in Menorca, at least that was what I thought.
The first day, we went to Cala Mitjana, a spectacular cala. By the time we reached the parking lot at 11:00am, it was already closed. So we had to park in the nearest town and walk at least +30 minutes. No big deal, it’s worth it to be in a car free zone. Unfortunately, the cala was over crowded, and the wind was obscuring the water’s turquoise purity.
The next morning, I called my friend, Felix, whose wife is from Menorca. He recommended that I go north east to a beach called Sa Mesquida. But, he warned me, don’t go if the wind is blowing north. Now I am not much of a sea fairer, so I have no idea what that means. It was a windy morning down south on the farm where we were staying, so I assumed that the wind was blowing south. Well, it wasn’t. Sa Mesquida was very nice, with few people, but it was too windy and there were waves. Normally waves are great for the Atlantic, but in the Mediterranean, the waves bring in algae and the water darkens, so you lose that wonderful crystal clear swimming pool quality to the water.
In the afternoon, we decided to go to the only long sandy beach on the island which happens to be close to the farm – the 4km long Son Bou. Son Bou is really a perfect beach where the water is so clear you could drink it and is only knee deep for about 20m out. The only hitch is that it is one of the few beaches on the island that has a hotel next to it, and therefore it is full of families, Italians, and paddle players. Nevertheless, we found a nice spot, and because of the beach’s length, it felt much less crowded than Cala Mitjana. We even went back the next day to take little Leo.
On our final day, we decided to take advantage of Son Bou’s proximity and to spend the morning there before taking the afternoon flight back home. So we got there nice and early. We ventured off to one end of the beach where you tended to have more nudists – where there are nudists, there are generally less people overall. Once again, we found a nice quiet spot.
Now a word on nudism on European beaches. Going topless is not considered going naked. By my calculations about 35% of the women go topless. William (who was ironically reading Naked by David Sedaris) thought that the number was much higher, but I explained that it was an optical illusion. Because you saw two naked breasts for each topless woman and only one top for each woman with her top on, it just seemed like you were seeing a heck of a lot more breasts than there were really out there. In any event, no one really thinks much of going topless in Europe, no scandal, no Christian outrage, no greater questions about moral turpitude.
–Now this is where I lost the rest of my post. On Monday night, I had written the entire post with allusions to Buddhism and Seinfeld and about 10 more paragraphs. But then when I went to save the post, my computer froze and I lost it all. So now what do I do? I will try to summarize.–
It was a peaceful morning on the beach. The water was perfect. I was enjoying the nature in its purest state. Then out of the blue, I could almost hear, “5-0, 5-0”. And they arrived. The two largest human specimens I have ever encountered. I believe they were German, and they arrived on the beach as if it were Poland. I am not the praying type, but I prayed, “please don’t let them take their clothes off, please!”
First they set up a 15X15m, six pole tent with huge lounge chairs, and then proceeded to disrobe. There they were, in the outfits that God blessed them with on the day of their birth, albeit much much bigger versions thereof. Even the emperor’s men couldn’t have hidden the fact that these two were in the buck. Of course, I fully understand a couple of things:
- If one person has the right to go naked on the beach, everyone should have the same right.
- People like to go nude on the beach because it makes them feel closer to nature.
- We should not judge people by the size or shape of their bodies.
Then I recalled the Seinfeld episode about Good and Bad Nakedness. And this was really bad nakedness. These two were absolutely gigantic. They were in their mid sixties and both weighed well over the 260lbs range. He was covered in a thick down coat of body hair and was only wearing a nice pair of Bose headphones. As a matter of fact, between his body hair and overhanging monstrosity of a belly, all you could see were is testicles and nothing else below the equator – menos mal. I won’t even go into her, won’t go there! I tried to look away, but they were occupying the entire view.
I consider myself fairly tolerant. I even believe that one of the nice things about nudism on European beaches is that they teach us that we are not built like (or supposed to be built like) porn stars or models. People’s body are full of imperfections and that’s what makes them so natural. This reminds me of a story I heard from a Buddhist monk in university about a Buddhist who was too taken in my physical beauty. His superior made him meditate in front of a decomposing corpse for days in order to show him how the physical is always in a constant state of impermanence, suffering, and decay. And that is what I thought as I looked at the rest of the humanity around me.
There were people of all ages and sizes, and there were couples and entire happy naked families. They were celebrating the beauty of the nature in their own way, in their own natural state. Fine, if I didn’t want to bear witness to their nature, I could simply go back home to the States and to a good old fashioned morally upright American boardwalk. But, I think there is a middle ground:
- Taking up 15X15m of the beach is not acceptable. Just like blasting loud music or farting in a crowded elevator are not acceptable.
- Too much nature in the wild is also unnatural. It distracts from the pure beauty of the place. They should find a more remote beach to spread their shade across the horizon.
- The human being didn’t take that great evolutionary step when it first began to walk upright, but rather when it put on its first pair of trousers.
- This couple’s nudity was not meant to be discrete but to be noticed and offensive. I can’t think of any other reason why they would expose themselves to the world.
Or maybe I could. I figured that in some way their nudity was actually an outcry, a statement against society’s rejection of their size. They must think that if no one ever wanted to see them naked (no one’s calling them over for an orgy or out on a date), well, heck they would seek their revenge. They would find a beautiful and peaceful spot where people go to rest and enjoy nature in it purest form (at least where nature was still unblemished), and force us all to see what we didn’t want to see, what we were always asking not to see.
And I don’t think they were the only ones. After their arrival, every time I looked up and saw a couple I would never want to see naked, they’d park themselves next to me and show their goods in all their splendor. These people are all saying, “You don’t want to look at me, well tough luck. Look! You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You want the beach, well you’re getting with all of me”.
Ironically, with some many different body types of all sizes and shapes, you lose any sense of eroticism whatsoever towards the naked body. People are much sexier when they’re nudity is worn underneath their clothes. And the body is what it is, and nothing more. Unfortunately, it is the media that dictates what is attractive and what is not — and until we start seeing lots of naked people around us, we don’t begin to see the farce behind the media’s depiction for what it really is, and we don’t always see how very impermanent we are. Having said that, there are extremes that do nothing more than block the sun on a beautiful day.