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The windmill at Buracas

The windmill at Buracas was designed by Isidoro Ortega Sánchez (1843-1913), an engineer from Mazo. Isidoro was self taught, but he clearly thought it through very thoroughly.   The windmill’s largely made of tea, the heart wood of a Canarian pine. It’s much cheaper than stone, easily available in most of the island, and it lasts really well, and the construction’s rather simple.   There’s a mechanism to turn the sails…

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A wooden windmill

The gofio museum at Buracas

Gofio is the traditional staple food in the Canaries, like potatoes in Ireland or rice in Japan. It’s made by toasting cereal grains and then grinding them. You can use almost any cereal: wheat, barley, rye, maize, oats. You can also use lentils, chick peas or lupin seeds. My personal favourite is the 7-grain wholemeal variety. It’s such an important part of Canarian culture that I wasn’t surprised to find…

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The Large Size Telescope under construction, Roque de Los Muchachos, Garafia, La Palma

Progress on the Large Size Telescope

To my surprise, I don’t seem to have given an update on the Large Sized Telescope for a year when the foundations were complete. They’ve done a lot since then! Much of the support structure for the main mirror has been built now, and as you can see, it’s an impressive size. When they’ve fitted all the segments, the mirror will be 23 m (76 ft) across. There’s still lots…

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Rooftop Crow’s Nests

Three hundred years ago, Santa Cruz de la Palma was the third biggest port in the Spanish Empire. Almost every ship traveling from Spain to the Americas stopped here. In the 19th century, it was still a major port, and many of the inhabitants waited anxiously for a ship bringing their merchandise, letters from family members who’d emigrated to Cuba or Venezuela, or the loved ones themselves, as passengers or…

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Water Mines on La Palma

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…

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