A religious grotto in Breña Alta

August 22, 2017

La Palma has a network of marked hiking trails. The LP 19, in Breña Alta runs up from San Pedro, past a series of springs, into the lower end of San Isidro, and back down to the main road. Like most of these paths, the scenery is beautiful and keeps changing. And this path included bonuses. Several of the springs feed laundry bowls. Since it’s easier to carry clothes than…

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The Romeria de San Antonio

July 16, 2017

A romería is a cross between a religious procession and a party. Typically, they hold a special mass and then take the statue out for several kilometres along a traditional route, followed by floats which hand out free food and wine, and lots of people, some in traditional dress, many of them singing and / or dancing. Since it’s a big event, most of them don’t happen every year, but…

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Where did the benahorita come from?

May 7, 2017

  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…

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Palmeran Sow Thistles (Sonchus palmensis)

Sow thistles look rather like a dandelion gone ballistic. That is, the individual flowers look much like dandelions, but they’re growing on a shrub anything up to 2 m (6 ft) tall. And now they’re flowing all over the island, especially on the east, up to about 1,000 ft. Like so many other plants here, La Palma has a different species from everywhere else – Sonchus palmensis. The local names…

March 27, 2017
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Blessing the Animals

January 17th is the fiesta of San Antonio Abad (St. Anthony the Abbot) in Fuencaliente, and at midday the priest holds a special, traditional service to bless the animals in the church square. I was curious, so a few years ago, I went. I didn’t know whether to expect pets or farm animals, but there were both. At twelve promptly, the priest came out, gave a short sermon on looking…

January 15, 2017
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Spot the Lava Flow

November 23, 2016

Just north of Fatima, El Paso Ladies and gentlemen, can you spot the lava flow in this picture? This lava flow at Fatima in El Paso is from the eruption of Volcan San Juan (St. John’s volcano) in 1949, but the whole island is volcanic. And, geologically speaking, it’s still in nappies. The very oldest rocks on the island formed as a submarine volcano, some 3 three million years ago….

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