Only the tennis shoes and bike by the path told us that it was not a cadaver washed up and left naked in that uncomfortable fold on the sharp rocks, deep brown thorax protruding, stomach concave as a famine victim, head bald as Ghandi. Still, we averted our eyes much as one might from the scene of an atrocity and he lay there oblivious as a strip of sun-dried fruit.
The path was sinuous and interspersed with lacerating volcanic outcrops and never turned left, inland, but always towards the next iridescent cala which was where the bouncy bronzed beach-ready young people passing in noisy Indian file wanted to be. Cala-blasé, we had set off with the objective of reaching the stone-built tower just visible in amongst the trees inland. Maybe it would be a prehistoric taula or a Moorish watch-tower. Or something honest and Anglo-Saxon built by the British, like the fortress on the island at Fornells. But the path would not fork left.
It was hot and the dusty Menorcan sand dryly abraded my flipflopped feet. My tee-shirt stuck sweatily to my back where the rucksack restricted ventilation. My shorts damply bunched between my legs, my glasses slid down the perspiration of my nose. We rounded a corner, and there he was, suffering none of this, genitalia swinging rhythmically at eye-level as he stepped down the slope, naked except for his sturdy walking shoes and sensible sun-hat. He mumbled something in German and we looked away.
Nakedness on the beach here seems to have won widespread acceptance, not just amongst the Germans. But mostly. And not just amongst the unattractive, the middle-aged, the wrinkled. The saggy. But mostly. But on a public foot-path? At what stage, I wonder, did this man divest himself of his final budgie-smuggling garment? In the car-park? Was there a moment on his route that he said to himself ‘ach ja, Hans, you are 150m from the village, now you can rid yourself of those pesky testicle-restricting trunks’? Could he remove them swiftly over his stout shoes, teetering on one leg, or did he have to sit down and unlace? Was he proud of his pudenda? Did he pay attention to the appearance of those parts that do not normally appear? Was a beard-trimmer involved? Not from what I saw, and really, libertarian as I am, there ought to be a law …
Later on, having just swum and checked the anchors in the cool clear waters of lovely but small Cala Covas, we saw a lady fisherman on a small boat bristling with lobster pots. She stood up and below her hi-visibility rash-vest were her two round, fleshy buttocks, dimpled and healthy; she smiled at us as we passed in the dinghy and we smiled back. ‘Weird’, said Mrs C.