Dragon Trees

October 19, 2019

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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La Palma celebrates St Michael’s day

September 28, 2019

Tazacorte celebrates its main annual fiesta this month, since its patron saint is St Michael the Archangel, who is also the patron saint of La Palma. There’s something happening most days, but the famous bit is the dance of the Fufo horses on Wednesday 28th at 9:30 pm. While you’re there, you might want to visit the exhibition in a restored mansion called Casa Massieu, which is open from Mondays…

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Mulberries

July 24, 2019

  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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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…

June 27, 2019
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Fiesta de la Cruz

Detail of a cross decorated with jewellry for Fiesta de La Cruz, Breña Baja
May 1, 2019

Fiesta de La Cruz is a major festival in Santa Cruz de La Palma, Breña Alta, and Breña Baja. On the night of May 2nd (Monday), practically all the roadside crosses in Santa Cruz, Breña Baja and Breña Alta will be decorated, most of them gorgeously. The people who worked on them sit close all night, usually making a party of it and setting off lots of fire-crackers. This is…

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The Cistercian Convent

March 20, 2019

The Cistercian convent of the Holy Trinity at Buenavista in Breña Alta is surprisingly new. It was founded in 1946, and it’s the only closed order on the island. I was surprised to find out that there are only ten nuns who live there. The convent has a small shop. I first went there about ten years ago, in search of a rosary made of dragon-tree seeds, for a Catholic…

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