The Red House in Mazo

The Red House, Mazo, La PalmaThe Red House, Mazo

La Palma’s embroidery museum is upstairs in the Red House in Mazo. (I’ll write about that in my next post.) Downstairs is a museum about the fiesta of Corpus Christi in Mazo. If you’re on La Palma for June 4th next year, for goodness’ sake go and see the archways. If not, I strongly recommend the museum.

Some of the things used to make the Corpus Christi archwaysSome of the things used to make the Corpus Christi archways, and a block for chopping them up.

The fiesta is in honour of the Eucharist — the body of Christ. Every year since the 1950s, they’ve decorate the streets with spectacular archways and carpets covered with flowers, seeds and leaves, and small parts of these archways are in the museum. Well, when I say “small”, they’re a small percentage of the whole. The cross below is about four feet high, but the biggest archway is about ten metres (33ft) high.

Corpus Christi CrossCorpus Christi Cross

And below, you can see the details of the cross. It makes me wonder how many hours it took to do the whole thing.

Detail of the crossDetail of the cross

The museum is signposted from the main road through Mazo, and in any case, it’s a pretty distinctive building. It costs 2€ to get in (1.50€ for residents) and it’s open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday, and 11 am – 6 pm on Saturdays. Phone 922 428 587

A fish used to decorate an archwayA fish used to decorate an archway.

An anthology of Children’s stories about La Palma

Front cover for The Seer’s Stone

Front cover for The Seer’s Stone

This is an anthology of children’s stories set on La Palma, all over the island and at times from 1493 to the near future. The paperback book is available in English and Spanish. (148 pages, A5)

Take a journey through La Palma’s turbulent past, into its present and out into the exciting future. Chedey will tell you how his world collapsed when the Spanish conquered the Island in 1493, Althay will explain what happened when the volcano erupted, Daida shares her visit from an extraterrestrial and Leyre will take you out into space.

As you travel you’ll learn what happens when:

  • Everyone expects you to tell the future but you don’t know how,
  • You don’t know when you have to save your friend, or how,
  • Most people think the world will end on Wednesday night,
  • There’s no more exploring left to do,
  • You find the lost island of San Borondón,
  • His Lordship decides you’d make good dragon-food,
  • Pirates want to sell you as a slave,
  • The volcano erupts,
  • Aliens kidnap you, or try to save the world, or get lost on their way to Las Palmas,
  • You get lots of weird birthday presents from people who don’t normally give you anything.

Cover painting and 14 B&W illustrations by Jorge Beda and Mercedes Martín.

Cover for La piedra ocular

Cover for La piedra ocular

Sheila Crosby is originally from Leeds, but she lives in the Canary Islands, just off the North West coast of Africa. She caught the writing bug at high school, and she still hasn’t found a cure. Over the years, she’s sold over fifty stories, plus a handful of articles. “The Seer’s Stone” is her second anthology of fiction.

You can buy either book direct from the author at Dragon Tree Publishing or at bookshops and tourist shops around the island. (Although the Spanish books have only just arrived, and may take a while to distribute.)

Jorge Beda exhibition

Two of Jorge Beda's big paintings

Two of Jorge Beda’s big paintings

The current art exhibition in the Calle Real is “Comida de Ballena” (Whale Food) by the painter and sculptor Jorge Beda who produced many of the public statues around the island. The exhibition features large expensive paintings, small ones for just 50€ and everything in between. It will be up until the end of the month.

A selection of Jorge Beda's small paintings

A selection of Jorge Beda’s small paintings

Spot the Lava Flow

Lava flow in El Paso, La Palma.
Just north of Fatima, El Paso

Ladies and gentlemen, can you spot the lava flow in this picture?

This lava flow at Fatima in El Paso is from the eruption of Volcan San Juan (St. John’s volcano) in 1949, but the whole island is volcanic. And, geologically speaking, it’s still in nappies.

The very oldest rocks on the island formed as a submarine volcano, some 3 three million years ago. Of course most of it’s buried deep, but if you know where to look, there’s a little patch of it you can see in the Barranco de las Angustias (the big ravine that drains the Caldera). Apart from that, the northern end is the oldest, at a mere 1,500,000 years old. Most of the south is younger, at 700,000 years old, give or take. And just to confuse the tourists, the Cumbre Vieja (old ridge) is younger than the Cumbre Nueva (New Ridge).

And the youngest bit of the island is Playa Nueva which means (very) New Beach. It was formed when Teneguía erupted from October 26th to November 28th in 1971. It’s just 37 years old – younger than I am. Luckily the eruption only killed one person, an old man who got too close and suffocated. My husband was a teenager and remembers it well. You could here the rumbling from Breña Baja, and the whole family went to see the show from the higher volcano of San Antonio.

Today, plants are just beginning to colonise the area near the cone, and the red rocks make the surrounding area look like Mars (See Which Planet Are You On? ).

Roadworks on the Roque Road

The big mean asphalt machine lays a strip 6 metres wide.

The big mean asphalt machine lays a strip 6 metres wide.


The road from Santa Cruz to the Roque (LP-4)is closed for repairs at the top between km 32 the Los Andennes viewpoint (the spectacular one that  looks out over the Caldera) and km 35, the Observatory turnoff. They’ve been working on the drainage ditches at the side of the road for some time, but now that they’re putting down a new layer of asphalt, the road is completely closed from 8:15 am to 7:30 pm this Tuesday 11th, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th of November.


The road down to Garafía isn’t affected. From Los Cancajos or Santa Cruz, it takes at least one hour and forty minutes to get to the observatory.

Relaying the road surface, seen from near the INT

Relaying the road surface, seen from near the INT

San Martin

Free chestnuts and wine at Mazo Farmer's Market

While most of Europe celebrates Remembrance Day, here it’s St. Martin’s Day – San Martin. (Spain was officially neutral in both world wars, so they don’t have a Remembrance Day).

San Martin is traditionally when the chestnuts are ready to pick, and the new wine from the summer’s grape harvest is ready to drink. (Although with global warming, the chestnuts have been in the shops for weeks.) So most families go off to the bodega (wine store) for a wine-and-chestnuts party. The more traditional ones blow conchs.

Because San Martin falls on a Tuesday this year, many people will be celebrating this weekend. Enjoy!


A quick visit to Santa Cruz

The famous balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma

The famous balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma

Cruise ships regularly call into Santa Cruz de La Palma, and I thought people might like suggestions on what to see while they’re here. Of course it might be useful to people staying elsewhere on the island, too.

The Tourist Information Office is a distinctive glass building, right outside the entrance to the port, and the staff are very good. But it does tend to attract longish queues when a cruise ship’s just arrived.

People tend to ask about the shopping. Well, there are some interesting shops ( I like Artesanía Christina), but it’s a town of about 12,500, so you’re not going to get Oxford Street. On the other hand we’ve got some lovely historical buildings. If you’ve got an hour or so, stroll along the sea front. You’ll pass the famous balconies, which are about 350 years old, and a small castle. Sir Francis Drake attacked the place in November 1585, but they sent him off with a flea in his ear.

A little father on, turn left at the traffic lights, and you’ll find a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, the Santa Maria. It houses a naval museum, which only costs 1€. Beside it, there’s a pretty square, the Plaza Alemeda, which is a very nice place to stop for a coffee.

There are two exits to the square at the opposite end to the ship. The side farthest from the sea leads to the Square and church of St Francis (San Francisco) It’s a lovely collection of historical buildings. The convent was founded 500 years ago, although I think most of the buildings date from the 16th century. The cloisters are now the island’s museum. In addition tot eh permanent collection, they hold all sorts of exhibitions, some of them very good.

The exit from the Plaza Alemeda, which is closer to the sea front and running parallel to it, is the Calle Real. This means “Royal Street” because the three kings travel along it to meet Baby Jesus every Christmas. Rather confusingly, this name doesn’t appear on any of the street signs,. and different bits have different official names – the bit nearest the Alemeda is called Perez de Brito. Whatever you call it, it’s full of nice old buildings, many of which used to be the town houses of stinking rich merchants and nobles. Many are now shops.

You’ll cross a main road that runs at right angles to the Calle Real, running up the hill. This is Avenida El Puente, and it’s the other main shopping street. But if you continue on the Calle Real, (now called Calle O’Daly) You’ll reach the Plaza de España almost immediately. Plaza de España means Spanish Square, and it’s triangular. The posh-looking building at the top of the steps is the Church of the Saviour, built and rebuilt in bits and bobs from the 16th to the 19th century.

Santa Cruz town hall.

Santa Cruz town hall.

On the other side of the road is the Town Hall (1559-1563), the first one in Spain to have an elected council. Pop inside and look at the murals on the stairway.

If you have time for a side trip, go up past the church and have a wander around the old streets higher up the hill. It’s also good aerobic exercise.

A little farther along the Calle Real, you’ll reach the main exhibition room which is a great place to get a unique souvenir, if you’ve got the pennies. The exhibitions last for two weeks each.

Continuing along the Calle Real, you’ll pass several more old manor houses, including Palacio Salazar, which dates from the 16th century. Eventually, you’ll reach the post office. If you look left, you’ll see the Tourist Information Office again.

The Santa Maria, Santa Cruz de la Palma

The Santa Maria, Santa Cruz de la Palma

Remembering the Dead on La Palma

A grave decorated with white dahlias

A simple grave, newly decorated

Halloween isn’t much of a fiesta here, although it’s becoming more popular. All Saint’s Day is. Traditionally, it’s when people remember their dead. So they decorate the graves in the morning, and most cemeteries have a special mass.

It’s fascinating to see, but please be sensitive. Some people may be recently bereaved and feeling fragile.


Spooky skull in the window

It’s Halloween

Halloween is not a traditional Spanish fiesta. Ten years ago, it was something the children learned about in English classes. But you know, kids love a chance to dress up, and they especially love an opportunity for legalised begging,(and I was just the same). Naturally they love the idea of Halloween, and so do the shop keepers (obviously). And slowly, Halloween is becoming more popular. Don’t be too surprised to see pumpkins, or to find pint-sized zombies and witches ringing the doorbell.

Mariana Arranz Exhibition

Poster for the Mariane Arranz exhibition, Santa Cruz de La Palma

Poster for the exhibition

I rather like the current exhibition in the Calle Real, by Mariana Arranz. For one thing, the paintings are very varied, but I liked nearly all of them. For another, they’re rather cheap.

Still life by Mariane Arranz

Still life by Mariana Arranz

The exhibition will be there until Friday. Do pop in if you’re in town.

7  of the paintings Mariane's exhibition, Santa Cruz de La Palma

7 of the paintings Mariana’s exhibition