C19th Streetlights in Santa Cruz

November 16, 2019

Santa Cruz de La Palma was the 6th town in the world to have electric streetlights, starting in 1894. It wasn’t some noble idea of progress: the shopkeepers in the centre of town got together and arranged the lighting in order to extend the shopping day. The lights were powered by a hydro-electric plant outside town. Most lights on La Palma are designed to send all the light downwards, where…

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Franco’s body will be moved

October 24, 2019

Ever since he died in 1975, Franco the dictator has been buried in the Valley of the Fallen, some 64 km from Madrid. On Thursday he’ll be moved to the family mausoleum. This is controvercial. The right w ing say that moving Franco’s body will just open wounds while others say that it will close the wounds of hose whose family members died on the republican side. Officially the Valley…

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Ship building in Santa Cruz de La Palma

October 15, 2019

Santa Cruz used to be the third biggest port in the Spanish empire, after Cadiz and Antwerp. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it also used to be quite a big shipyard. Some 90 ships were built there between 1809 and 1948. In fact I was recently told that the chestnut trees weren’t introduced for the chestnuts: they were mostly for the wood, for shipbuilding. One of the biggest was…

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Happy Birthday, Teneguia!

The eruption of Teneguía, Fuencaliente, 1971
October 8, 2019

  The oldest rocks on La Palma are 3,000,000 years old, which is very young for geology. But the youngest rocks are just 48 years old, and it’s their birthday this month. The Teneguía volcano erupted during October and November of 1971. My husband was a teenager at the time, and he remembers going to see it from the San Antonio volcano, and he remembers hearing the deep rumbles at…

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The snow well

August 14, 2019

On the road up to the observatory (the LP4) between Fuente de Olen and Pico de la Nieve, you can see a 17th century snow well. It worked like an northern European ice house: pack the snow in hard during the winter, cover it up, and then collect it in the summer and sell it to rich people. The main difference is that in northern Europe you don’t need a…

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Pirate’s Day Reenactment

In 1553 French pirates led by François LeClerc (known as Pata de Palo or wooden leg) attacked Santa Cruz de La Palma and took the whole town over. Then they refused to go until they were paid a huge ransom. The island council, in exile in Tazacorte, tried to raise the money and negotiate a lower price. Meanwhile, a group of goat herders from Garafía led by Baltasar Martín, came…

August 3, 2019
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