A-pause-calypse Day 21

La Palma now has 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is worse than the other Canary Islands in proportion to population. The Cabildo (Island Council) has suspended flights to and from Madrid, which is a hot spot for the disease. Most tourists left La Palma as soon as the lockdown was announced, many on special flights, but apparently some 150 have stayed on. They’ll find it hard to leave now…

April 4, 2020

Where did the benahorita come from?

Benahoara ceramic in the museum in Los Llanos, La Palma
April 1, 2020

The people who lived on La Palma before the Spanish arrived in 1493 called the island Benahoare, and themselves Benahorita. (Or according to some people Benawara and Benawaritas. They insist their spelling is correct. I find this odd, because to me the correct spelling would be the one the people themselves used, only they didn’t write.) The Benahorita probably arrived on La Palma somewhere between 1000 BC and 100 BC,…



March 17, 2020

We’ve been in lockdown since Sunday. Actually it’s really quite peaceful so far. We only leave the house to work, or go food shopping or the chemist. You can take your dog out to pee but not for a walk. You can go to the hospital, obviously, but if you think you might have COVID-19, they’ll come to you. If you’d asked me last week I’d have said we had…


Crap! It’s here

March 13, 2020

It was bound to happen, I suppose. There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island. They were self-isolating at home before they were confirmed and the health authorities are hopeful that they can contain it. Obviously in this situation too many precautions are better than not quite enough. Schools, museums etc. have been closed. There are no visits to the observatory until further notice. Sporting events are cancelled…


Handkerchief Trees

March 11, 2020

On one of my tour guiding jobs I was puzzled by a girl asking about the handkerchief trees. “I know they’re not really growing hankies,” she said, “but it looks like it.” It took me a while to work it out, but “handkerchief tree” is actually a very good description They’re actually little bags. Anything in the plum/peach/apricot family tends to attract wasps which lay eggs in the fruit, so…


Sardine’s funeral 2020 in Los Sauces tonight

March 7, 2020

Tonight is the sardine’s funeral in Los Sauces, one of my favourite nights of the year. The funeral procession will begin at about 9:30 pm with the cremation at 11:00 or so. Los Sauces have the biggest sardine, and it dances. instead of being carried behind a lorry, perhaps forty people carry the bier, and they toss it around as though it were on a story sea.