May 2003 Sta. Tecla, Ibiza and Formentera
finally went to dinner at the fancy restaurant with no sign in Barcelona,
near where we keep the boat [see "Barcelona's
Secret Restaurants"]. There was no menu, just a very attentive
waiter who brought dish after lovely dish of mariscos and bottle
after bottle of lovely champagne. Finally, he informed us that there
were three more plates coming, before the main course; did we want
them all? We said "yes" to the fried calamari and little octopi
but "no" to the cod. Then came the main dish, which was deep-sea
bass, and delicious, and of course followed by dessert and coffee.
All this was accompanied by oodles of cava (champagne) then wine,
and, with dessert, liqueurs. A memorable evening!
was over, and we were ready to resume our Mediterranean adventures.
We did a bunch of last-minute things including trying to book tickets
back to California in August, hoisting the genoa (which we had dropped
and bagged last fall, to reduce windage if there was a winter storm),
and putting away all the things that are OK to leave lying about
while we're in a marina but will tumble at sea. Also lots of other
tasks, like replacing missing screws in the stanchion bases and
taping all the cotter pins. We also bought a TV that works on US,
British, French, and European signals (for 25 Euros); but we really
have no place to put it, so we got some friends to store it away
until we return to Barcelona next November.
were off! We backed out nicely, pointed the bow toward the open
Mediterranean, and motored out the channel. Then Andi noticed that
the engine temperature gauge was pegged at its upper limit, so we
turned off the motor and coasted in next to a very smelly fishing
vessel in the Marina de Pescadores. After the motor cooled off,
we refilled the coolant and tried again. To our surprise, this time
the temperature gauge settled down to where it's supposed to be,
and we were off for real.
We set sail
for Sitges, just a few miles along the coast southwest of Barcelona.
Sitges is a renowned party town and 'the gay capital of Europe'.
We tied up in the marina there and walked into town, where we bought
some beer at twice Barcelona prices and watched the world pass by.
Lots of hetero couples holding hands, but no gay couples doing so!
Andi thinks the hetero couples were making a statement, sort of
like flying the flag in enemy territory, but Rob thinks it might
just be a cultural thing. Next morning we motored off down the coast
in no wind. The marina fee at Sitges had cost over 60 Euros, the
kind of expense we can't survive for long; so the next night we
anchored off a beautiful sand beach, exposed to any weather from
the south, but perfect in the total calm we encountered. We dinghied
in and enjoyed a great sangria in a beach bar. It was much better
than any we'd had before, maybe even good enough to convince us
to try sangria again!
The next day
found us in Tarragona, hiking up the hill to the cathedral. Ordinarily,
this would be mere tourist curiosity, but this time we were on a
Mission. To explain why, we have to take you back to Barcelona,
with its many cathedrals. Each of those cathedrals have little chapels
along both sides, with votive candles in front of an iron grille,
and statues of saints in the back, and we had discovered several
such chapels dedicated to Sta. Tecla (or Techla, or Thechla), and
in each of these, she's holding a severed arm in her (perfectly
good) arms. Now, this is not as unusual as it may sound - Saint
Lucia is always portrayed carrying a tray with two eyeballs on it
(she had her eyes put out but could still see), and another saint
has a tray with two breasts on it (radical mastectomy? Who knows?),
so a mere arm is no big deal. The difference, of course, is that
Thekla is Andi's middle name and was her mother's given name --
so this gave us a vested interest, as it were. Nobody in Barcelona
seemed to be able to explain the arm, but then, cathedrals are not
big on such explanations. So we'd kind of forgotten our interest
in the question until we were in Sitges and discovered that the
church there was dedicated to Sta. Tecla. It was closed, unfortunately,
but when we arrived in Tarragona we discovered that the local cathedral
the Catedral de Santes Pau y Tecla. Surely there we could find the
By now, Andi's
quest had become a standing joke on board. She had taken up arms
on the issue, as it were. Whenever we thought of something to do,
our friend Suzie would exclaim "There's no 'arm in it" and we frequently
could be heard pointing out that the marina, or the beer, or whatever,
cost an arm and a leg. We also had frequent recourse to the old
adage "Three-warned is three-armed."
In fact, the
huge cathedral, cloister and museum were very poorly signed, and
the only guidebook they had was in Castillano (well, not counting
the one in German that they handed us first). This guidebook was
very poorly organized and tended toward explanations such as "Organ,
17th Century", and "Chapel of St. Peter". It did say that the main
alter was decorated with images from the life of Sta. Tecla, but
we couldn't make out anything there that seemed to have to do with
arms (or any other particular body parts, for that matter). We did
learn that a bone from Sta. Tecla's arm is kept in one of the chapels,
from which it's removed and paraded around the streets once a year
on Sta. Tecla's Day, which culminates a week of revelry in September.
Also that the emblem for both Tecla and Tarragona is the Greek letter
Tau, which, indeed, is emblazoned everywhere in the city. Tecla
is a big deal in Tarragona, for sure; but the symbolic arm remained
After the cathedral,
we hiked around some Roman walls and viewed the almost intact Roman
Amphitheater before returning to the boat. Next morning, Andi and
Rob visited the Circ Romana, or Roman Circus, and its attendant
museum. The signage there was very instructive, and we had a marvelous
time wandering around on and under one end of the huge circus (chariot-racing
stadium). Then Rob walked back to the boat while Andi took off back
up the hill to get some photos of the cathedral.
While she was
at it, she stopped in at the tourist office and asked where she
could learn more about Sta. Tecla. They directed her to a library,
where the people were very helpful, bringing her books about the
lives of saints as well as newspaper articles published during the
annual Fiesta de Sta. Tecla. From all this she gleaned the following:
Tecla was the
first female Christian martyr. She was a disciple and friend of
St. Paul, who granted her the right to proselytize -- the first
woman to whom that coveted right was given. The Romans captured
her and started to torture her; but no matter what they tried to
do, she just made the sign of the cross and their efforts were foiled.
They even tied her to a stake and tried to burn her, but the flames
were pushed away from her body and she didn't even get a first-degree
burn. Then they set a lion onto her while she was tied to a stake,
but the lion just licked her feet. Eventually, she was released
and lived to the ripe old age of 72 years, a saint in her own time.
But no mention of an arm, amputated or any other way. The best we
can come up with is that the arm bone in Tarragon was so prized
in Catalunya that sculptors took to portraying her with her arm
in her arms.
The next morning
we set sail for Ibiza, 130 NM away. We had a great passage, with
some motoring and some good sailing, and anchored safely in a large
cove near the northern end of the island after about 26 hours. We
crashed that night, got up early and sailed the short distance to
Ibiza town next morning. We took advantage of the settled weather
to anchor one bay to the north of town, and took a ferry across
to the ancient walled city and castle. This is an impressive structure,
about the best medieval site we've been to, and very well signed
in English. It is yet another Unesco World Heritage Site. (We're
beginning to think that this designation is handed out much more
freely than we had been led to believe by the folks in St. George,
Bermuda, which had just received the "honor.") The castle sits high
atop a steep hill, and there's an entire old town of white-washed
buildings that gleam brightly over tiny twisting streets in the
bright Mediterranean sun. We hiked all the way to the top and then
wandered back down through the old town. At the end of the walk
down the hill, we sank gratefully into chairs at a dockside cafe
for well-deserved beers.
in a pretty bay on the south side of Ibiza, and next morning we
sailed across to the little island of Formentera. This is a low-lying
island that reminds us of the Bahamas, with crystal-clear water
and very little tourist development (none of it visible from where
we were anchored). We were in a very secure bay with some 50 other
boats, a village about 5 kilometers away, and a nice sand beach.
All of Formentera beaches are clothing-optional, and there are lots
of people all around us getting an all-round tan. We joined them
one afternoon, and Rob even took a dip in the hot-mud baths back
in the dunes. He came back to where Andi and Suzie were seated,
completely covered in mud and looking like a grayish-black aborigine.
(Amazingly, the smelly stuff washed off readily in the clear Mediterranean
water.) That evening, we joined friends from the marina in Barcelona
for a barbeque on the beach. Next day, we went off by dinghy into
town to buy cigarettes for Suzie, fresh veggies and rum for us all.
than 9 months in harbor, Akka had the usual crop of new problems.
The bottom hadn't been cleaned since the previous July (in Ireland),
there was water in one of the fuel tanks, the engine-driven refrigeration
was acting up again, and the GPS wasn't communicating with the computer.
But the sails were like new, all key systems worked well, and it
was good to be back at sea.