Rooftop Crow’s Nests

January 26, 2019

Three hundred years ago, Santa Cruz de la Palma was the third biggest port in the Spanish Empire. Almost every ship traveling from Spain to the Americas stopped here. In the 19th century, it was still a major port, and many of the inhabitants waited anxiously for a ship bringing their merchandise, letters from family members who’d emigrated to Cuba or Venezuela, or the loved ones themselves, as passengers or…

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Nativity Scenes in the Canaries

Christmas trees are a comparatively new thing here, although probably most houses have one now. The main traditional decoration is nativity scenes. Some just show the stable, but some public ones are so elaborate that they include the whole village, and it’s always a Canarian village. Obviously that’s historically inaccurate, but no more so than all the English nativity scenes where Mary and Jesus are blond. This one was on…

December 26, 2018
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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, 2018
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Tobacco in La Palma

October 20, 2018

I don’t smoke, so everything I know about Palmeran cigars is from hearsay. But they seem to have a very good reputation. Certainly Winston Churchill was known to be a fan, and certainly they get shipped off to the Spanish royal family. Most of the tobacco farms on the island are in Santa Cruz, Breña Baja, and especially Breña Alta. Typically, the crop is grown in tiny fields and given…

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Santa Cruz Market

The inside of Santa Cruz Market
August 10, 2018

Santa Cruz market is on the Avenida del Puente, the main shopping streeet which runs uphill, perpendicular to the sea front. It was built in 1886 on the site of the hospital of Our Lady of Sorrows, founded in 1514. I think it’s a decidely nice building, with classical lines, and lots of light inside thanks to the big skylight. There are six little side markets plus a big open…

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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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