Written by Sr. Sylvia Jopillo,r.a.
Off the Kontxa beach in San Sebastian is a tiny island called Sta. Clara. It is about 20 minutes away by boat, and a roundtrip fare of 7 euros spells a beautiful day on the island.
The boat ride is pleasant, and the pier in Sta. Clara is full of kayaks navigating the clear waters and tiny boats moored with vacationers sunning on its decks.
Children packed the small sandy beach protected by a concrete safeguard enjoying their day in the sun.
One can feel the wind by taking concrete steps to scale the island. The pine trees shaded the trail leading around the island and opened to a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean. The constant pounding of the waves sliced into slates on the rocky face on the island's other side.
Further into the top of the island are a lighthouse and a tiny museum. Visitors can enjoy the view from the lighthouse and learn about the island and its avian inhabitants.
Summer always brings an influx of human visitors but all year long, seagulls and migrating marine birds inhabit and nest on the island.
There are wooden tables, benches for picnickers, and unobtrusive garbage bins under the shade of old pine trees.
The lack of garbage along the island's trails surprised me, and the care with which the visitors manage their trash. I observed a family clean up their table and keep all their food wrappings in a garbage bag to bring back to San Sebastian.
There are drinking fountains to refill water bottles and to wash off the salt spray from one's face refreshingly.
My friend and I conversed about many things in the quiet of the day. What we happily agreed on is the balance through which humans, the ecosystem of the island, and its avian inhabitants achieved to co-exist.
A consciousness exists among the visitors to care for the island and its friendly seagulls. Visitors pack Sta. Clara island during summer, but there is less human traffic for the rest of the year, which allows the avian inhabitants an undisturbed rhythm to recover from the human onslaught.
I loved the enchanting spots on the island where one could enjoy the windy atmosphere and contemplate the endless blue horizon with the sounds of the crashing waves below. I found it so soothing and refreshing. There is always something transcendent in being on an island with the sky above and the sea below!
As the day came to a close, we walked down the pier and took our boat back to the mainland, excited that a dinner of mariscos (seafood) and paella awaited!
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