NOTE: I took no pictures in Ibiza (for various reasons) so have included some others that I think are appropriate for the story.
Alongside my three American friends I flew from Amsterdam to Ibiza via the northern city of Barcelona. The flight was booked early in the morning from our apartment in Amsterdam, miles up a set of vertical stairs. Ibiza’s grimy Apartmentos Ebanos was reserved for 2am.
A Dutch girl with blue eyes and blonde hair, Elina, sat next to me on the plane. She went to school in Barcelona and was returning to “get away from the weather” in Holland. A brushstroke of light freckles ran from one dimpled cheek to the other, across a little button nose. We talked for 3 and a half hours but in Barca she walked off into the city and left us waiting for The Balearic Islands. Conversations on planes are strange and doomed to end in goodbyes. Conversations on planes are sometimes a lot like life.
We arrived on the island at midnight.
The receptionist at Apartmentos Ebanos couldn’t find Jeff’s name on the list of reservations.
“M.I.L.L.E.R,” Jeff spelled out.
“Ahhh, here it is,” he said. “However, you are not booked for staying until 2pm tomorrow Mr Miya.”
“God damn it, Jeff,” the black-haired brother said. “How can you fucking do this all the time, Jesus.”
Jeff looked at the blond brother and me. Both of us were quiet. All three of us had made the booking that morning. Jeff shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “We better drink this then,” he said, lifting up the two-foot bottle of Malibu he had bought for 70 Euros at Amsterdam Airport.
“Sirs,” the receptionist said. “I cannot guarantee their safety, but you can leave your bags in the backroom if you wish. Then go and enjoy the island.”
It made sense so we moved our stuff with the help of our scrawny new friend and slipped back out into the warm air, looking for something to mix the rum with. I remember wanting to dance.
Ibiza is just a series of screenshot memories for this point forward, like the ones people see just before they die.
That night Jeff was annoyed after we got sucked into an empty bar with some buy-one-get-one-free deal on horrific cocktails. “We seem like goddamned tourists,” he said, pushing the alcohol through the gap in his scowl.
Two hours later and we were dancing to Carl Cox at Space. People moved like flick books as the white light flashed. Indoor fireworks illuminated the big black DJ up in his tower. Beanpole ravers funked with heavy jaws and girls and boys lost themselves alone. By now the brothers had lost us and it was just me and Jeff, again. That was until Angelica grabbed us both by the arms.
An hour before we met that particular Peruvian girl, firm and as confident as any, all four of us were just past the main strip on Playa d’en Bossa buying awful drugs from a skinny Spaniard on a moped.
Jose Gonzalez had to get his I.D out because I didn’t believe he could possibly have that name. He lost his keys until the black-haired brother gave them back to him.
“Gotta be more careful with your stuff, bro,” he said.
We went to get disappointed on a quiet part of the beach. The moon came out from behind a cloud and lit us up. Its light also revealed a beached drunk just a few metres away. He was bearded, wet and sandy. A fisherman, perhaps. I leant against the wall and thought about how the moon was everywhere.
“Where are you guys from,” Angelica asked. Her lips were dull red and her brown eyes sharpened by a charcoal frame, flicked delicately outwards. “He’s from America. I’m from England.”
The three of us walked down the lounge stairs, through the bitter smoke and squeezed into one of the great horizontal lines for the bar. The music got louder, faster and more violent.
Lost to the sound and then found again outside.
Back with the brothers but without Jeff. Crowds of girls in white hot pants and boys in tank tops swarmed past. African boys whispered drugs and locals looked on as they walked past.
“He ran off, man,” Blondy said.
“Ye. When you were walking out Jeff had already gone.”
“No idea. Him and my brother kind of shouted at each other and then he fell over and then just bounced.”
The old beach bum was either sleeping or dead when we went back looking for Jeff. We searched bushes we had apparently hidden booze in earlier. Jeff had run away. The three of us just followed the sound of the waves and watched the sun rise on the beach.
“He’s an idiot for doing that,” black-hair said. “Ye,” I agreed. “He’s a twat.”
A morning of hell and a pathetic attempt at a fight
When the shops opened I went with a kid I had never seen before to buy some beers. Flashes of splashing in the warm Mediterranean. The brothers waving goodbye. Then I woke up alone. Hungover and weak. I tiptoed two miles the wrong way looking for Apartmentos Ebanos through a swollen eye. The grooved pavement scolded my feet as the heat beat down upon my brutally pathetic psyche. Holidays like these are so close to the hysterical edge that falling off is almost inevitable. Having no T-shirt had somehow become ridiculous, despite the hot sun, and the depression was setting in. No taxi would stop for me. I fell into the beach again, and, sitting on a white, cotton sunbed, folded neatly and left untouched, was my purple T-shirt alongside my wallet and sunglasses. My laugh screamed and I whipped the shades over that swollen eye, burnt shut as I had slept earlier on that day.
A rangy taxi driver with melting stubble let me in and, once I had pointed the way, quickly realised I was wrong and twisted a U-turn on the bright road.
“I’ll be back in one second,” I said, jumping out of the taxi and disappearing into the complex, past the oval swimming pool and up two flights of stairs.
After more than 15 hours I finally entered our room. The glass door of the shower to my right was frosted with drips and the room smelt of soap. The two beds in the main room lay empty and a solitary silhouette sat on the balcony outside. As I approached I looked into the other room on the right. The brothers were laying on the bed looking at cameras and ipads.
“Holy shit, where were you man,” Blondy said.
“I have no idea. You left me on the beach.”
“Not for long though. We came back and you were gone.”
“Oh, well thanks for putting my stuff on the chair. That was a lifesaver.”
I walked outside. Jeff was sat on one of the three chairs that surrounded a white metal table. He was drinking rum and watching the cars and the birds and the birds walk by.
“Where the fuck did you go?” I asked.
“Dude he annoyed me so much last night that I had to just leave.”
I laughed but didn’t find it funny.
He continued: “So anyway I ended up going to Bora Bora and dancing all night. It was awesome. Then I met some people and chilled and then just came back here. I like to hang with people who wanna have a good time, man. You know what I mean?”
“Where did you get that Coca-Cola from?” I asked.
“From the store.”
Then it was flashes of splashing in the pool and abusing the other guests, stumbling into the room and shouting at the black-haired brother. Next thing I was kneeling down with him choking me saying “You’re going to sleep and you’ve lost asshole.”
Then I woke up and remembered trying to head butt my old friend and telling him to stop being a prick. Jeff looked at me and laughed his high-pitched laugh.
“Yo, lets go to Swedish House Mafia tonight.” he said, passing me a white mug of warm rum and coke. I hadn’t eaten a meal since the second day in Amsterdam.
“Where are the brothers?” I asked.
“They went to do laundry and look for a pharmacy. Black-hair has messed his leg up pretty bad.”
The apartment had started to smell a little like rum and sand, which has been a pretty familiar flavour since slavery but wouldn’t be abolished anytime soon.
Swedish House Mafia and the Sea
When the sun goes in Ibiza gets brighter. Mr ‘lookie lookies’ walk around with arms full of sunglasses and pockets full of drugs. Jeff and I sat at a restaurant on a street corner watching thousands of arms and legs sway by. The brothers were walking on the other side of the road when Jeff called them over.
“Thanks for the headbutt last night, asshole,” black-hair said as he approached, a smile on his face.
“Ye, man. I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s no big deal man I know what you can be like. Plus you’re a pussy so it’s just kinda funny.”
I pointed at the untouched pizza on my plate and offered it up.
“Nah man I’m good, thanks,” black hair said. “We are gunna eat when we go pick our laundry back up.”
“Cool , well me and Jeff are thinking of going to Swedish House Mafia tonight if you wanna come,” I said.
“I got some weed so we are going to stay in tonight and relax before the flight to London tomorrow. Plus my leg is hurting still.”
“Ok, well the flight is at 5 so I guess we’ll wait at the apartment then leave at around 3?”
“Nice, see you guys later,” said black-hair. He had been my best friend in America for the past two years.
The bust up had cleared the air and made it cooler.
“By the way,” Jeff said as the brothers re-joined the crowds. “We ain’t THINKING of going to see Swedish House Mafia, bro. We ARE going.”
Jeff ate half of my pizza and I left the other half to dry. The sun’s rays ticked away with every tock of time, and by the time we got to Ushuaia a deep orange lit the hotels outside arena and everyone inside it. People sat dipping their legs into the kidney swimming pools while others circled around the palm tree fountains. All waiting. We bought drinks for 10 euros apiece and looked up at the balconies that bordered the whole place. Every one of them was packed with girls and boys and everything else.
As the orange light turned to blue the costumes shone brighter, pink and yellow. The temperature began to rise. All 5,000 of us fidgeted in anticipation. Then the fireworks blew up and the dancers slipped down from the stage roof on 1,000 metres of grey fabric, clothed in hooded bikinis, waiting like everyone else for the three Swedish bastards. And when they arrived we built a ceiling of sound that rose in waves and crashed back down against us. And we danced alone with moulded faces shaped like smiles, swaying for miles, filling spaces.
On the way out we met two girls and walked with them to a bar filled with squashy red chairs and white walls. They had a bag stained with red that got redder when whatever was inside crumbled between my fingers. Shit music was diluting the ringing in our ears so we left and fell into the beach, trusting the waves. A kid wearing just shorts came up to me, English, with bright green pills. A half each later and Jeff was cuddling and I was swimming. Flashes of splashes and her naked body. Long blond hair and a slim hips covered in the Med. Then I was covered in Spanish water, washing the sand away, laughing with Jeff in our apartment as I fell in the shower. The short, brunette northern girl clattered into a table and folded it shut with a crash. Jeff kept saying “ooohh man I’m never leavin’ this damn place.” I sang Robbie Williams, I think. Then started to fall away from reality.
We grabbed black-hair’s weed and the room stopped running and started purring. Still, though, the green fuel kept my body rigid and spinning like a clock chasing the future out of time. Then the walls began to shake and the windows rattled. The blond girl, after the weed, had transformed into a fucking grizzly bear. Cramped into the corner, way too close to Jeff and deafened by the beast, I peeled away and met the rising sun on the balcony. The cars and birds of normal life prayed as they passed but my body was already done, left with a mind obsessed with blind destruction but always, consequently, desperate to die.
The horrific sun burnt the stone and I had to go back inside with my eyes closed. “Fuck,” I tried to shout but coughed as my toe connected with something. Sprung open with the pain, my glazzies were greeted with a room without a visible floor. Mine and Jeff’s clothes covered the white tiles, along with the table that hit my toe, an ironing board, sheets, pillows, an empty 2-foot bottle of rum, sunglasses, shoes, broken white mugs, a toothbrush and a couple of soaking wet towels. Jeff was asleep but the brother’s room was empty. I curled up into the empty bed, closed my eyes and let out a pathetically short breath.
“Yo, we just walked past recepti-.” “Where have you been,” I interrupted.
“We went to get food and smoke the rest of the weed but it’s all gone so thanks for that. You guys were loud as fuck last night, assholes,” black-hair said. That expression of assholes was a lot fiercer than when the air got cleared last night. As well as the now very heavy atmosphere, no sleep and some drugs were pulling me through the ground. It was about to get worse.
“Anyway, we have to check out by 11am and its 10:50am now so you two better get your shit together.”
“Whaaaaaat,” I cried into the pillow.
“Well maybe you two shouldn’t have got so hammered and trashed the damn room so much.”
Me and Jeff bounced off of each other to stay upright as we slapped our wet stuff into our bags, which were ten times as heavy as before.
We all sat around in the downstairs restaurant for the next four hours as normal people chatted and ate food. The barman didn’t say hello to me and I wondered why. At these times it’s like the body refuses to have energy unless it’s used for depression, paranoia or self-loathing.
Still no sleep. The airport was packed and brutally hot. I went to puke in the toilets six times while we waited in the line to pass through security.
I passed my battered passport to the airport police-twat-nice person.
“Sir, you have to remove your sunglasses,” he said, understandably.
Sweat splashed on the grainy marble floor when I removed the turtle shell Roy Ban’s from my face. “I hope you enjoyed your time in Ibiza, Sir. Please come again when you are ready.”
I couldn’t even a muster anything more than a groan in the direction of the merciless sarcasm. Through the glass windows a plane landed suddenly and I jumped sideways. Just another English kid who couldn’t handle it.
I couldn’t survive a three hour flight inside a plane with no escape. Doors Armed. ‘Get a job and stay in Ibiza. Go home. Sleep on the beach for a week work and save enough money to come home next week. You have to go home now.’
My head argued with my body right up to the moment I boarded the Ryanair flight back to Stanstead, London. The women on the plane looked petrified when the boy with sunglasses sat down next to her, sweating with a look of utter fright slapped across his rather wonderfully tanned face. For three and a half hours I sat with my hand over my mouth and waited for the “Welcome to London, da da da da da” Ryanair greeting.
The next four days in London we listened to deep house music, rode rickshaws past the Natural History Museum and didn’t watch the Olympics.
I’ll write about that soon.