Kiko, you tourist guide
Do we prepare a family outing on the Menorca British route?
We left Los Olivos restaurant. Hooky still licks for the pudding that we have been served dessert. Delicious! Do you know that it is one of the inheritances that the British left us when they ruled Menorca? I inform him. Come, I'll tell you a story.
Why did they want the port of Mahón?
Once upon a time, during the 18th century, Menorca belonged to the English Crown for 71 years. The British wanted the port of Mahon. In those times of struggles and trade between countries this place was a good refuge for boats. In the middle of the Mediterranean and safe from the winds. And so big that he could house his naval fleet all winter long.
"This is how Menorca got the “pudding", the cake you just ate," I tell him.
“It is a tasty legacy”, says Hooky
"And also the "gravy” a sauce made it with roasted meat juice. The British call it "gravy" and it's delicious ", I say him and I see how he is heading towards the kitchen
"I'm going to tell Tomás, the chef, to prepare meat with this sauce," he shouts as he runs away.
Exploring the British route of Menorca
The British footprint can be easy seen on the island. Have you been to Fort Marlborough? Have you seen the Princess Tower in La Mola de Mahón or the Torre de Fornells? Many of the military and surveillance buildings that were built more than 200 years ago can still be visited.
"Yes, I have explored the King's Island. The British called it "Bloody Island" and it's in the middle of the harbor, "says Hooky.
"They built a hospital there to take care of the soldiers of the British Navy who were injured or sick. Now they are refurbishing" he said.
"And very close to here, in Es Mercadal, I was seeing a cistern. It is a large deposit that collects water from the rain. It served to supply the troops, soldiers and horses, who traveled between Mahon and Ciutadella. It was built by the English more than 200 years ago and is still used! "Says Hooky.
Some progress that Menorca dues to the English Crown
It was the Governor Richard Kane, Irish and British military, who ordered the construction of this cistern. He lived in the Castillo de San Felipe, in Es Castell, and was an important person for Menorca because he launched many projects that benefited the island.
"He planned the Camí den Kane that now goes from Mahón to Es Mercadal but, at that time, it reached Ciutadella. It was the main road of the time and facilitated communication between the two distant lands of the island, "says Hooky.
"That's right, but do you know that the Menorcan did not want to use it? They were forced to work in this great project and when the British left they preferred not to use it, "I tell him.
"They also reorganized all the agricultural activity to make Menorcan countryside more profitable," insists Hooky.
That's right, but thinks they had to do it almost out of obligation because the British troops had so increased the population of the island that it was necessary to get more food," he said.
Hooky almost gets angry with me but we must recognize that the British government had a great influence on the life of Menorca and, in addition, his soldiers freed us from the harassment of pirates who came from Africa. Do you know that they used the Camí de Cavalls to watch the coast and to fend off attacks of enemy ships?
Why did the houses painted red?
Walking through Mahon we have seen many architectural elements that come from the English influence as the viewpoints, glazed balconies, which protrude from the facades of the houses. Here they are called "boinders" that comes from the English word "bow windows". Or the guillotine windows. Or the shutters painted green.
"And they painted some red ocher houses they say to differentiate themselves from the whitewashed houses where the Menorcans lived," says Hooky.
"You can still see some in the ports of Mahón and Ciutadella", I answer
Are you still playing the "mèrvils" in Menorca?
Although the British government allowed the Menorcans to continue using their language to it, some English words and expressions that still remain were incorporated.
"I know one," Hooky says raising a finger, "they say" Quatre jans i un boi "when they want to indicate that there were few people," four cats ". The word "jan" comes from John, a common name among the British military, and "boi" is small, "boy". It's a funny expression I've heard many times. "
"And even the children of Menorca play the" mèrvils "which is nothing more than the game of marbles. The word comes from the English "marbles" and the plays that are made with the marbles also keep retaining English names adapted to the Menorcan ", I tell him.
Certainly the English left an important legacy in Menorca during those 71 years and the military constructions that are still preserved form a British route that is worth knowing when you visit the island.
They left in 1802, the year in which Menorca became Spanish, but they left us many stories that I have been telling you on my excursions around Menorca. Which one do you like the most? Are you ready to explore the British Menorca with your family?