Mulberries

July 24, 2018

  Mulberries were originally introduced to the greener parts of La Palma to feed silkworms for silk production. The fruit is a delicious side-effect. Sadly, you rarely see it on sale, because it’s fragile and doesn’t keep. It’s also a strong, natural dye (and is used as such). If you pick your own, expect stained fingers and watch your clothes. In fact, if you’re staying near a mulberry tree in fruit,…

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The Dragon Tree Viewpoint

July 15, 2018

  There’s a rather nice viewpoint in Puntagorda, on the main road at km 78. Its most obvious attraction is the dragon tree, leaning much further over than the tower at Pisa. > But when I was last there, I was charmed by a tame red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus. They’re relatives of rooks and crows, but this particular sub-species only lives on La Palma where they’re called grajas. They’re…

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Flags Galore

Garafía's flag
June 27, 2018

  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…

June 26, 2018
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Imposing Gateways

June 15, 2018

 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

June 13, 2018

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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