This blog has moved to http://sheilacrosby.com, and joined with http://sheilacrosby.blogspot.com. I’ll be adding an automatic redirect soon, but for the moment I suggest you go to http://sheilacrosby.com and check out the photos of the 60s wedding in Los Sauces.
Mojitos are a popular drink during Carnival: sugar, lemon juice, rum and mint. This bar is famous for them all year round, so during Carnival they prepare them in batches. This was one of the smaller batches! Or you might be able to find a mobile bar where they use freshly squeezed sugar cane instead of sugar and water. This looks cloudy, but I much prefer the taste.
One of the things I like about La Palma, is that people often have a few drinks, but it’s rare to see anyone downright drunk. There’s an article about this at http://sheilacrosby.com/articles/drunks.php
And a quick reminder – the 60s wedding takes place in Los Sauces this afternoon at 6pm, followed by a public dance. Allow plenty of time to park.
There’s a dance in Los Llanos from 3pm and it’s Costume night in Santa Cruz from 10 pm
In the end we went into town at about 4pm and stayed until a little after 8pm. Here’s some photos.
Carnival 2015 is here.
- Santa Cruz de La Palma‘s programme is here. (The actual programme starts on page 3)
- Los Llanos‘s programme is here
- The programme for Los Sauces is here
- Barlovento‘s sardine will be on March 7th.
- Breña Alta had their parade yesterday
- This web site has details for Breña Baja
60s wedding, 6 pm Saturday 21st Los Sauces
Los Sauces sardine’s funeral Saturday 28th 9:30 pm
The north-west of the island is home to great many almond trees, and at this time of the year, they’re all blossoming.
The trees in El Paso and Garafía are beautiful, but the best display of all is at Puntagorda, which hosts an annual almond blossom fiesta. The date varies — the Town Hall sets it a couple of weeks in advance, to (hopefully) coincide with the best blossom. This year we’ve had a rather cold winter, so it’s a little later than usual. The fiesta goes on all weekend, from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th.
The main village of Puntagorda is quite spread out, but finding the fiesta is very easy – just follow the music. As you can see, it’s usually packed. But then several villages hire a bus to get to the fiesta. These are the buses that wouldn’t fit in the main bus-park.
There are bouncy castles for the kids.
And the social club is packed with dancers. I’d have joined in if there’d been a bit more space.
Last year, just as I left, the salsa band left the main stage, to be replaced by a rock band. I much prefer rock ‘n’ roll, so I was quite sad that I had such a long drive ahead and had to leave.
The persimmons are ripe.
On La Palma, persimmons are called Kaki or Sharon, and I believe the tree comes from Asia originally. They’re much nicer when really ripe. The catch is that by the time they’re ready for eating, they’ve gone squishy, so they don’t travel well. Personally, I love them with Greek yoghurt.
Spain stayed out of both world wars, so they don’t celebrate Remembrance Day in November. They have Peace Day instead, which schools celebrate on January 30th. In Primary school they wear something white, or mostly white (if the children remembered to tell Mummy), and usually they go into the village centre and sing a song.
At high school, the teachers try to work a peace theme into the lesson. For example, my son´s English lesson was the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. I’ve seen a few little Peace Gardens dotted around too.
San José in Breña Baja has a new statue to celebrate mothers. The square outside the Town Hall is called Plaza de Las Madres – Mother’s Square, and they have a special celebration for Mother’s Day.
Although La Palma has more water than the other Canary Islands, many farmers used to be desperately poor and frequently hungry. The only water for irrigation was rainwater, and obviously they had no control over how much they got.
Then somebody suggested digging into the hillside to find water. (If anybody knows who, please tell me.) The idea is that much of the rainwater seeps into the ground, and runs through tiny cracks in the volcanic rocks for miles and miles before it comes out as a spring. (There are lots of springs where you can refill your water bottle on a hike, especially in the Caldera, which saves carrying so much water with you.) Much of it reaches sea-level underground, and is wasted. If you dig a tunnel horizontally into the hillside, you might well find an aquifer. Crucially, since the water takes anything up to fifty years to work its way through the ground, these galerías still run in a dry year.
It worked. In some places, this meant three harvests per a year instead of one, and the children weren’t hungry any more.
It was a tremendous amount of work, hacking away at the rock with only hand tools and no idea of when, or even whether, you’d find water. But the prospect of a better life was enough to make people start, and keep going. The Pajarito galería is over 5 km long. I wonder how long that took?
These days, over half of La Palma’s water comes from the 170 galerías on the island. And very good water it is too.
Even better, you can help yourself. The local bottled water is so cheap that it’s not worth making a special trip, but my usual route to the Roque goes right past one of them. The water is channelled into a tank, and I refill old water bottles from the tap.
I originally came to La Palma to work at the astronomical observatory here. Almost as soon as I heard I’d got the job, my parents went to a travel agent to find out how much it would cost to visit.
The girl at the desk said, “Las Palmas de Gran Canaris? Certainly Sir. I’ll just look it up for you.”
“No,” explained my father. “The island of La Palma. My daughter’s going to work there. It’s the Civil Service, so I don’t think it’s a cover for the white slave trade.”
“But there’s no island in the Canaries called La Palma. Just the city of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.” And she got out a map to prove it. It showed the four islands where they sold package holidays: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fueraventura.
I can just picture my Dad trying to keep his temper at this point.
So my parents went across the road to the bookshop, who knew them well enough to loan them an atlas. They took the atlas to the travel agent, and said, “Look!”
“Oh!” she said, much astonished. “In that case it can’t have an airport.”
My father took a deep breath. “My daughter is not planning to swim there.”
The travel agent finally admitted to ignorance.
To be fair this was 1990. Not many travel agents would have done any better at the time. These days there are two direct weekly flights from London Gatwick, (with Thomson or Norwegian) and the island is on the map, literally.
But for the benefit of anyone still in the dark, the seven (not four!) Canary Islands are an autonomous region of Spain, but they lie about 125 miles off the coast of Morocco. La Palma is one of the smaller ones, at the top left-hand corner of the archipelago. It’s about 31 miles long, 16 miles wide, and an amazing 8,000 ft at it’s highest point.
And yes, it has an airport.
My Google map of the island is here.