A-pause-calypse Day 21

La Palma now has 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is worse than the other Canary Islands in proportion to population. The Cabildo (Island Council) has suspended flights to and from Madrid, which is a hot spot for the disease. Most tourists left La Palma as soon as the lockdown was announced, many on special flights, but apparently some 150 have stayed on. They’ll find it hard to leave now…

April 4, 2020

Where did the benahorita come from?

Benahoara ceramic in the museum in Los Llanos, La Palma
April 1, 2020

The people who lived on La Palma before the Spanish arrived in 1493 called the island Benahoare, and themselves Benahorita. (Or according to some people Benawara and Benawaritas. They insist their spelling is correct. I find this odd, because to me the correct spelling would be the one the people themselves used, only they didn’t write.) The Benahorita probably arrived on La Palma somewhere between 1000 BC and 100 BC,…


The Cloud Waterfall

March 28, 2020

Because the island sits in the trade winds, damp air hits the northeast of the island and has to rise, where it turns into clouds. Because La Palma has a north-south spine called the Cumbre Nueva, the cloud quite often reaches up to the ridge and then tumbles over as the cloud waterfall. This is extremely pretty, and best viewed from around the western side of the tunnel. You can…


A Breathtaking Window on the Universe

The cover of 'A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: Second edition
March 24, 2020

t-here’s a guidebook to the observatory for normal people. I think it’s a rather good book, with clear explanations, lots of photos and some good anecdotes. However you shouldn’t pay much attention to my opinion because I wrote it. Table of Contents for the Second Edition of “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: a guide to the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos”. Any words in bold are explained…


Lockdown Day 6

Everything is still weirdly quiet. There are now 11 cases on La Palma, one of whom is in intensive care, one in an isolation ward, and the rest isolated at home. The police are getting stricter, handing out big fines to people caught going out for no good reason. And people are talking about this going on for months rather than weeks. I keep hearing from people who think it’s…

March 20, 2020


March 17, 2020

We’ve been in lockdown since Sunday. Actually it’s really quite peaceful so far. We only leave the house to work, or go food shopping or the chemist. You can take your dog out to pee but not for a walk. You can go to the hospital, obviously, but if you think you might have COVID-19, they’ll come to you. If you’d asked me last week I’d have said we had…