Where the Heck is La Palma Anyway?

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 young man 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….

January 18, 2020
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Holy Innocents on La Palma

The 28th of December is Holy Innocents’ Day, which commemorates the massacre of the innocents by Herod in Matthew’s gospel (although according to Wikipedia, it’s probably not a historical event). In Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, it’s the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day. For example, one year I told my husband that the police had been around asking whether he’d been jogging in the nude. Now my husband does go…

December 28, 2019
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Nativity Scenes in the Canaries

Christmas trees are a newish thing here, although probably most houses have one now. The main traditional decoration is nativity scenes. Some just show the stable, but some public ones are so elaborate that they include the whole village, and it’s always a Canarian village. Obviously that’s historically inaccurate, but no more so than all the English nativity scenes where Mary and Jesus are blond. This one was on display…

December 17, 2019
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Canary Bell Flower

December 10, 2019

This is the Canary bellflower, Canarina canariensis, which has no close living relatives. It scrambles over things, like bindweed, with a stem up to 3 m long, and produces these lovely flowers in December. All the examples I’ve found so far this year are in Los Tilos, on the road up to the visitor centre and around the back of it.

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Spot the Lava Flow

November 19, 2019

Just north of Fatima, El Paso Ladies and gentlemen, can you spot the lava flow in this picture? This lava flow at Fatima in El Paso is from the eruption of Volcan San Juan (St. John’s volcano) in 1949, but the whole island is volcanic. And, geologically speaking, it’s still in nappies. The very oldest rocks on the island formed as a submarine volcano, some 3 three million years ago….

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Pitahayas

The fruits of several different cactuses are called pitahayas. The yellow ones in the picture are Hylocereus megalanthus, and the pink ones are Hylocereus undatus. To be honest, I was rather disappointed by the (lack of) flavour of them both. Some time ago I had what I think was a Hylocereus costaricensis, which was deep red all the way through, and much tastier. I wish I had a bigger garden,…

January 20, 2019
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