Archaeology at the Roque de los Muchachos

A spiral rock carving, Roque de los Muchachos, Garafia, La Palma
April 17, 2017

For centuries, goatherds have brought their flocks to the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point on the island of La Palma. As the lower pastures dried out in summer, they moved to fresh pastures on higher ground. These days, farmers can drive home for the night, but of course that wasn’t the case 50 years ago, much less 500 years ago. They came up some time in June, and…

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Almond blossom

Almond blossom around an old barn with a dragon tree. Garafia, La Palma island
January 31, 2017

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. In places, the whole hillside turns pale pink. In fact Puntagorda hosts an annual almond blossom fiesta. The date varies — the Town Hall sets it a couple of weeks…

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Dragon Trees

October 25, 2016

The north of La Palma is one of the best places to see dragon trees. These exotic-looking plants grow throughout the Canary Islands, and also in Cape Verde, the Azores, Maderia, and western Morocco, but  on La Palma, they’re still reproducing naturally. The Canary Islands used to have a large, flightless bird, something like a Dodo. This bird ate dragon tree fruits, so the seeds evolved to have a hard protective…

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Almond Blossom in Garaf??a and Puntagorda

Almond blossom around an old barn with a dragon tree. Garafia, La Palma island
January 19, 2016

The almond trees have blossomed early this year. Most of the almond trees are in Puntagorda and Garafía, although there’s a good number in El Paso too. They produce small, rather bitter almonds which are out of fashion and don’t fetch a good price, (although I enjoy a saucer of toasted almonds with a glass of wine) so that most people don’t harvest the almonds, or only harvest for their…

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The Roque in Winter

Most of La Palma has good weather nearly all year. But the observatory is up at 2400 m (almost 8,000 ft) and occasionally in winter dramatic storms come howling in, dump half a metre of snow overnight, and disappear almost as fast as they came. If you’re planning a trip to the observatory between November and March, be sure to check the road conditions before you leave. You can do…

November 28, 2015
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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…

June 14, 2015
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