The snow well

August 19, 2018

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 2018

August 3, 2018

  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. Tomorrow (Saturday 4th August) is Pirate’s Day (Dia del Corsario) and there’ll be a reenactment starting at 6pm by the Naval Museum (the copy of Columbus’s ship at one end of…

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Local history: The Tazacorte Martyrs

Tazacorte martyrs: The martyrs go to heaven
March 2, 2018

In 1570, a party of Jesuit missionaries were on their way from Portugal to Brazil. They broke their journey in Puerto de Tazacorte. It was an unplanned stop: they’d been heading for Santa Cruz de la Palma, but the winds were against them. On arrival in Tazacorte, Fr. Acevedo was amazed to find that the owner of the estate was an old friend from Oporto, don Melchor de Monteverde y…

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Water Mines on La Palma

January 19, 2018

Although La Palma has more water than the other Canary Islands, many farmers used to be desperately poor and frequently hungry. The only water for irrigation was rainwater, and obviously they had no control over how much they got. Then somebody suggested digging into the hillside to find water. (If anybody knows who, please tell me.) The idea is that much of the rainwater seeps into the ground, and runs…

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Francis Drake on La Palma

Francis Drake tried to enter Santa Cruz harbour on November 3rd, 1585. This was after Drake was knighted and before the defeat of the Spanish armada. The Spanish regarded him as a pirate, with some justification. Drake left Plymouth with 23 ships and over 2,000 men, heading for the Caribbean. The prevailing winds meant that the logical route was via the Canary islands, so he headed for the biggest port…

November 29, 2017
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General Franco

I’ve been doing a little research into the Franco years, as background for a possible novel. It was worse than I expected. I knew divorce was forbidden under Franco, and that a woman who ran away from a violent husband would be brought back by the police, who, like as not, would tell the husband to give her a good hiding to teach her not to run off again. I…

October 8, 2017
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