As Tom Hanks and his friend Wilson know every castaway ends up on an island, with a bit of luck. From there, there are several possibilities: for example that the island is deserted or that is inhabited by cannibals.
Well, we have to tell you about all these things: about The Cabrera Archipelago National Park, its main island and cannibalism.
It may surprise you the idea that in the Mediterranean, which is a civilised sea since always, there has been episodes of anthropophagy. And it is even rarer in the Balearic Islands, which are so close to the Peninsula, with its tucked away coves and its holidaymakers.
But the archipelago has much more to give than those cliches tell us, and it turns out that Cabrera and its islets are a place which has suffered very few alterations over time. An impressive place, no doubt, but also a very special place. Very special…
But let’s go back a couple of centuries. The Spanish army has just hit the mark in Bailén, leaving the whole of Europe speechless because the troops of Napoleon, unbeatable until then, have been crushed under the Andalusian sun. The news is tremendous, but we all know that the headlines do not tell everything. And what happens is that the victorious side is confronted with a dilemma with the prisoners: as they have surrendered, it looks ugly to kill them and forget about giving them back to Bonaparte who already has many of them.
So the decision is made to abandon them, for five years, on the island of Cabrera. A beautiful place but not exactly full of opportunities to fill the belly. So as soon as the supplies are scarce, the soldiers confined here, who are several thousand, start to really have a hard time. To contemplate the scenery it is not very comforting when you have nothing to eat, and the archipelago is overflowed with food, but it is somewhat underwater. Without even a lousy knife, a diving suit or anything, the poor French soldier ends up going crazy with hunger, and after the first deaths by starvation, they have no choice but to turn into cannibals. Today the remains of their barracks can be visited, even though the prisoners themselves tried to burn everything to forget that place and its ordeal.
It is hard to imagine such horror looking at these beautiful waters in which turtles and dolphins swim, and walking through these lands where also stepped Barbar pirates, Romans and Carthaginians. It is even said Hannibal himself could have been born very close to here, on the island of Conejera.
More recently, between 1972 and 1986, this place was used exclusively by the military for training exercises. There were several social movements, launched by Greenpeace, who didn’t find funny to see how the ecosystem was destroyed between manoeuvres and gunfire. Finally, in 1991 the place was declared a Maritime-Terrestrial National Park, thus officially closing the war games.
Two other places to see around here are a Byzantine necropolis and the Castle of Cabrera. And with this last fortification, we are going to finish this audio guide telling you that this hexagonal stone mass has withstood so many sieges, only in the sixteenth century it had to be rebuilt ten times. And it was so dangerous to be a vigilant here, that it was one of the best jobs on the island, and still, in many occasions, prisoners were sent to do the job and lower their sentence in exchange for playing the guy taking care of this place.