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Geckos on La Palma

This is a gecko (Tarentola delalandii). Geckos are quite common in the warmer parts of La Palma. They like to live in warm buildings or on sunny walls outside, and this one lives in my house. I think he must have got too close to one of my cats because his tail’s regrowing. You see, if they’re in serious danger of being eaten, their tails come off and provide a…

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Garafía's flag

Flags Galore

  You see a lot of flags on La Palma. Most English visitors will recognise the flags of Spain and the European Union. But the Canary Islands are an autonomous region within Spain, and they have their own flag too. You see it a lot, especially around May 30th, which is Canary Day. And then each island has its own flag. Here’s the flag of La Palma: And as if…

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A Traditional Sport on La Palma

  I never got to the fiesta for San Antonio del Monte in Garafia, but my friends Helen and Theresa took this video of a dragging contest some eyars ago. Basically, the oxen have to drag a heavy weight against the clock, and the fastest team wins. Obviously this tradition goes back to the days before tractors when oxen were the heaviest machinery on the island, but these days its a…

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The old wood-fired still at the Ron Aldea distillery, Puerta Espindola, San Andres y Sauces, La Palma island

The Puerto Espindola distillery

It’s been some time since I wrote about the rum factory (the Aldea distillery) at Puerto Espíndola, in the borough of San Andres y Sauces, and some things have changed. Unlike most rum factories, they still start with sugar cane rather than molasses. After all, sugar cane has been grown on La Palma since the 15th century, before the West Indies did. At present it’s harvesting season, and the factory’s…

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Imposing Gateways

 In the 17th century, landowners in La Palma got rich on sugar cane. These rich families used to leave the heat of Santa Cruz de la Palma and spend the summer on their country estates, particularly in Breña Baja and Breña Alta. The houses are still private, but in some cases the gateway is clearly visible from the road. It’s a social symbol of wealth and power. These old families…

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The Best Baroque Altarpieces in the Canary Islands

This is the main altarpiece in The church of Our Lady of Candelaria (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria) in Tijarafe. According to the books, it’s the best baroque altarpiece in the Canary Islands. It’s certainly gorgeous, and huge. It was made by Antonio de Orbarán, and he worked on it from 1626 to 1628. It cleverly combines niches with statues and painted panels. The church itself was built around…

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