I meet Elena Davis on a mild December morning in Soller, the town where she went to live in 1959. Born and raised in New York City, ninety-six-year-old Elena Davis witnessed Mallorca’s most significant lifestyle changes of the ’60s and ’70s, from agriculture and fishing, to tourism.
From Manhattan to Soller, the best decision of my life.
On Mallorca, she wrote her fascinating book: ‘Witches, Oranges, and Slingers’. With a factual and down-to-earth approach, she recounts those transitions and her experiences over that long period. She covers a variety of themes, including Mallorcquin society, her work, and Mallorquin feelings about the foreign influx to the Spanish legal system.
Her eyes sparkle as she shares with me the story of a lifelong romance: Mallorca.
‘I planned to take a break from work, spend four months away from the hustle and bustle of New York’s city, and visit a friend,’ Elena recalls. A busy PR for a non-profit organization in Manhattan, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis – she was pretty sure that there was more to life than work.
It was ‘love at first sight when Elena arrived at her friend’s house in the valley of Soller, a place that this seasoned globe-trotter describes as ‘one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever known. As she had to earn a living, she reinvented herself more than once.
She gave English classes to young people while she took up Spanish herself. She opened and ran an English rental library in a bar, which became a meeting point for English-speaking people while running her own housing business, arranging accommodation for foreign visitors, and managing properties for absentee owners later.
Her story is dotted with anecdotes about her Mallorquin neighbors and her settling into her new environment; her life is filled with dreams and new beginnings. And although it was not always easy to adjust to conditions that were, at times, shockingly different from her previous life in the center of New York, she has never regretted her decision to come to live and to remain on our beautiful island.
‘Looking back over ninety-six years – she concludes in her book – ‘I can reiterate that that decision was the best one I have ever made during my lifetime.’
A few years after our interview Elena Davis passed away at the great age of 101.