punch-up with Unwanted Tom at the Delfín Verde had cast a black shadow
on my originally all positive feelings about the island. It had
also generated a certain celebrity as well, for gossip had spread the
news of the incident. Hungry Hannibal said It had been the first
time anyone had interfered with Unwanted Tom during one of his drunken
and destructive sallies into Ibiza town from his home in Formentera,
Ibiza’s little sister island. I had invited him to lunch and we
were strolling along the quay in la
Marina, the port area, to the restaurant
of his choice. Everyone we met seemed to be delighted that the
bully had been trounced and showed their approval by greeting us warmly
as we passed, smiling cordially and giving us the thumbs up signal.
I began to feel like a local hero and Flipper, always sensitive to my
feelings, couldn’t have been more proud. He barked his ‘happy’
bark exuberantly, and frisked about us. I was to learn that people
took sides with great verve on Ibiza, and that it was very rare, as with
this incident with Unwanted Tom, for unanimous approval to be accorded.
Foreigners congregated where the food was both good and inexpensive and
it was Hungry Hannibal’s idea that it would be a good idea for me to
meet some of them. Meeting them, he said, would soothe the barbed
wire vibes which my untoward experience with Unwanted Tom had produced.
He particularly wanted me to meet a permanent fellow Delfín Verde
resident, a man called Ernesto, who, as one of the more senior
foreigners, was not burdened with a descriptive nickname, as I was now.
It touched me that he was so anxious for me to have good feelings about
what he always spoke of as “his” island.
“Don’t you worry about that,” I said, “if Flipper and I ever have
another chance to make it back here, you can bet we’ll take it!”
is difficult to remember exactly what all my impressions were as we
sauntered along the quay in la
Marina about 2 o'clock that afternoon.
But I do remember with delight the feeling of relaxed elation which
enveloped me as we went. On my right, only a few feet away from me
as we walked, was the inviting green water of the port, awash with the
ever present, ever soft, ever enchanting Mediterranean sunlight.
In it were thousands of very small fish in dozens of very big schools,
flashing by in every which way, just beneath the surface. Their passage
was magical, for it was silent, swift and rigidly choreographed, as if
there was a single nautical mind that was instantaneously coordinating
the individual actions of thousands of the little creatures.
my left were the crowded buildings of the Port, now many of them decked
out with Christmas decorations. Clothes lines were everywhere,
with intimate items the rule. Children, grown ups, chickens, dogs,
cats, fishermen, fishnet menders, all flourished together in stable
social harmony. While bars, eateries, shoemakers’ shops, dairy
shops, hardware shops, key making shops, all kinds of unimaginable
shops, were jumbled together in a concatenation which could only have
been consummated in the course of many years. The prevailing
feeling was one of relaxed, conscious enjoyment of the gifts of the
Gods. I felt at home. I felt I was in the family.
how could I call these Port buildings, buildings? In all the
architecture of the Port, there was not a single right angle that I
could discover. They were, rather, a large congenial collection of
dilapidated domiciles. Their colours had faded into one another,
becoming pastel in the process. Though white predominated, it was not
pure. It was white tinted with black. And, just as they
shared their colours, they shared their structural integrity; they
leaned lovingly on one another. Huddled somewhere in this mass of
crumbling masonry was the only one-bright-colour structure in the lot,
the all-green Delfín Verde - whose proprietor, Hannibal had informed
me, I was soon to meet. But it was Ernesto whom I met that
afternoon, at a charming, quite dark little place called, Es Quinques.
It was located in a narrow, dirt surfaced street called the Calle de
la Cruz, a block off the port and just across from a bar which later
became my second home in Ibiza, then called Bud’s Bar, after its
corpulent American owner, but later renamed Wuana’s Bar.
we entered Es Quinques, ducking our heads under the low doorway
overhead, the delicious cooking odours which greeted us immediately
spoke well of my trust in Hungry Hannibal’s food/eating expertise.
I smiled at him approvingly and I saw him actually blush with pleasure.
At a nearby table we saw a man with sharp, aquiline features, gaunt in
body, yet withal so quietly authoritative that one felt immediately that
here was a man of stature. Hungry Hannibal led me to his table,
and he rose as we stopped before him.
“Ernesto, this is Harold, a visiting photographer and your next door
neighbour in Delfín Verde,” said Hannibal, much to my astonishment.
It appeared that Ernesto and I were closer than I had thought.
“Harold, this is Ernesto, photographer, art dealer, writer.”
man of many parts,” I said.
“Welcome to Ibiza,” Ernesto said, shaking hands warmly. “I hear
you had a busy time.
was shocking,” I said. And Flipper jumped up into my arms.
this is the little dog I’ve heard so much about. I mean the one in
the car, looking out of the window!”
After that we all sat down, Flipper at my feet. A plump Ibicenco
lady with a brilliant smile, jet black hair and eyes and a motherly
manner, was at our side and waiting to take our orders. Her name
was Pepita. She poured us red wine, tinto, all around.
She did the same when the food came. She did the same when she
cleared the table after the food had been finished. And the food
was, well, Ibicencan. There was an especially interesting roast
beef, as I remember. Juicy, rare, but, well, not easy to chew.
Delicious to the taste, however. And wonderful mashed potatoes
with a special gravy that satisfied. Best of all was the mini size
of the check, which proved to be something like two or three or even
four hundred pastas. I can’t remember the exact amount, but
whatever it was; it was insignificant for what it purchased.
Living on Ibiza those days, for foreigners with strong national
currencies behind them, was as inexpensive as it was delightful.
conversation turned to why there were so many writers and painters, both
local and foreign, living on Ibiza. Ernesto explained it this way.
“Well, you see, there are many things that make it so. There is
the location. The island is near and yet not near the rest of the
world. It is easy to reach and very hard to leave. So that
keeps the creative people here after they get here. And since
there are always more of them coming than there are of them leaving,
little by little, we have more and more of the creative people living
here permanently. And that is the way it has always been.
“Then there is the social atmosphere. The island is traditionally
a free place. Even in the time of the expulsion of the Jews from
the peninsula in 1492, a time of terrible political life in all of
Spain, Ibiza was known as a safe haven. Many of the oldest
families here have Jewish ancestors from that time. So over the
hundreds of years, liberal elements from all walks of life have tended
to be attracted to Ibiza and especially the creative people from bad
times in Europe. Ibiza has always welcomed them. It is their
it is not too much to say that the light which illuminates Ibiza is a
light of such beauty that artists become addicted to it. Once they
have been here they see there is no other light to paint by. They
fall in love with the light. The light becomes their master, their
lover, their teacher, their friend. The light becomes their
life. And they tell their friends, other artists, their
sweethearts, their children, and their whole acquaintance about the
light here in Ibiza. And so more and more artists become enslaved
by this beautifying sunlight with which we live almost every day on this
“Finally, there is the question of living costs. Ibiza is so
inexpensive that even a pauper can live like a prince. That
will probably change, given that more and more talk has been about the
promotion of tourism. But in the past and for the near future at
least, Ibiza is still the choice, from a cost of living point of view,
of even the most impecunious of creative people. For all these
reasons, Ibiza is a magnet to artists, writers, and creative people in
so lunch came to an end. I felt I knew a great deal more about
this White Island than I had known an hour earlier. Ernesto was
illuminating. I was honoured that he had asked me to come to his
rooms in the Delfín Verde to see the paintings of the artists he
represented. It was only much later that I discovered that Ernesto
had been imprisoned by the Nazis in Austria during the war because his
mother had been Jewish, that he had subsequently joined the French
Foreign Legion, and that he had come to Ibiza in 1952 and decided to
stay. He completely abandoned his previous life. He
entered the art world, making many trips to Europe to see the work of
the painters he represented. He became the prototype of the
foreign bohemian so common to Ibiza during the 1960s, spending the day
strolling through the streets of la
Marina, meeting incoming ships to help
visitors find accommodation, and frequenting the cafés of the quarter.
He was widely known simply as Ernesto, few people ever knew his surname,
which was Ehrenfeld.
had come to Ibiza in 1964 and I would soon decide to stay, also.
How that came about, I will tell you in the next chapter of “I