One day, while driving across the island of Ibiza, I stumbled upon a vast, abandoned building complex: El Hipódromo de San Rafel. I could not resist but to explore it.
It later turned out that el hipódromo, inaugurated in April 1984, has been the epicenter of equestrian race activity on Ibiza for over three decades and to this day, trot races are held nearly every weekend.
When I visited on a Wednesday morning in the middle of May, there was not a soul around. I walked through the horseboxes, which have seen better days, past turned over sulkies, through dusty bleachers, and along deserted stables.
Derelict, run-down, and abandoned, it looked like its glory days were long over – I found it hard to imagine that this place would be full of life every weekend…
I sat down on a flight of stairs and closed my eyes. Soon I could hear it, the excitement during race day, the click clacking of horseshoes over the concrete floor, the jockeys hushing back and forth, the whicker of race-anxious stallions, their panting nostrils. I opened my eyes again but except for the wind banging against a few loose corrugated iron sheets there was nothing but eerie silence.
But then I did hear a whicker and after looking around the labyrinth of horse bays I found Gary, a small pony. I guess that’s what his name was, it was scribbled on the wooden door of his box. Gary seemed happy about the company and curiously inspected me over the gate as.
I continued over to the long line of stables to find that every other one or so had a horse in it.
So not that deserted after all. And not much longer before the lights go on, the sound of trotting horses fills the oval and bus loads of horse-mad locals and tourists arrive to make a buck on their bets.
Myself, I prefer the silence and watching the dust race through the abandoned hallways.
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