The windmill at Buracas

January 28, 2018

The windmill at Buracas was designed by Isidoro Ortega Sánchez (1843-1913), an engineer from Mazo. Isidoro was self taught, but he clearly thought it through very thoroughly.   The windmill’s largely made of tea, the heart wood of a Canarian pine. It’s much cheaper than stone, easily available in most of the island, and it lasts really well, and the construction’s rather simple.   There’s a mechanism to turn the sails…


The gofio museum at Buracas

A wooden windmill
January 24, 2018

Gofio is the traditional staple food in the Canaries, like potatoes in Ireland or rice in Japan. It’s made by toasting cereal grains and then grinding them. You can use almost any cereal: wheat, barley, rye, maize, oats. You can also use lentils, chick peas or lupin seeds. My personal favourite is the 7-grain wholemeal variety. It’s such an important part of Canarian culture that I wasn’t surprised to find…


Progress on the Large Size Telescope

The Large Size Telescope under construction, Roque de Los Muchachos, Garafia, La Palma
January 22, 2018

To my surprise, I don’t seem to have given an update on the Large Sized Telescope for a year when the foundations were complete. They’ve done a lot since then! Much of the support structure for the main mirror has been built now, and as you can see, it’s an impressive size. When they’ve fitted all the segments, the mirror will be 23 m (76 ft) across. There’s still lots…


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…


The Three Kings on La Palma

January 4, 2018

Gaspar visiting Santa Cruz de la Palma Although Father Christmas does visit Spanish children, he’s a new arrival. Traditionally the presents arrive on the morning of January 6th, when the three kings visit baby Jesus. This is why the sales haven’t really started yet – Christmas isn’t over here. And on the evening of the 5th, they ride in procession through most of the major towns and villages in Spain….


Holy Innocents on La Palma

The 28th of December is Holy Innocents’ Day, which commemorates the massacre of the innocents by Herod in Matthew’s gospel (although according to Wikipedia, it’s probably not a historical event). In Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, it’s the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day. For example, one year I told my husband that the police had been around asking whether he’d been jogging in the nude. Now my husband does go…

December 28, 2017