C19th Streetlights in Santa Cruz

November 16, 2019

Santa Cruz de La Palma was the 6th town in the world to have electric streetlights, starting in 1894. It wasn’t some noble idea of progress: the shopkeepers in the centre of town got together and arranged the lighting in order to extend the shopping day. The lights were powered by a hydro-electric plant outside town. Most lights on La Palma are designed to send all the light downwards, where…

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An Ombu

November 5, 2019

There’s an ombu growing outside St Catherine’s fort in Santa Cruz de La Palma. What’s an ombu? Well it’s as big as a tree and it looks like a tree, but it sort-of isn’t one really. For one thing, the trunk isn’t wood – you can cut it with a knife. this one has a main tunk 90 years old, but the base is about 420 years old. Eventually the…

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Ship building in Santa Cruz de La Palma

October 15, 2019

Santa Cruz used to be the third biggest port in the Spanish empire, after Cadiz and Antwerp. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it also used to be quite a big shipyard. Some 90 ships were built there between 1809 and 1948. In fact I was recently told that the chestnut trees weren’t introduced for the chestnuts: they were mostly for the wood, for shipbuilding. One of the biggest was…

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Pirate’s Day Reenactment

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. The island council, in exile in Tazacorte, tried to raise the money and negotiate a lower price. Meanwhile, a group of goat herders from Garafía led by Baltasar Martín, came…

August 3, 2019
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Fiesta de la Cruz

Detail of a cross decorated with jewellry for Fiesta de La Cruz, Breña Baja
May 1, 2019

Fiesta de La Cruz is a major festival in Santa Cruz de La Palma, Breña Alta, and Breña Baja. On the night of May 2nd (Monday), practically all the roadside crosses in Santa Cruz, Breña Baja and Breña Alta will be decorated, most of them gorgeously. The people who worked on them sit close all night, usually making a party of it and setting off lots of fire-crackers. This is…

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Photos Of Los Indianos 2019

March 5, 2019

The traditional drinks for Los Indianos are Cuban: rum and coke (I don’t like coke) or mojitos. Proper mojitos, with rum, fresh sugar cane juice, mint and lemon. It was worth queuing. This year I went down to town at midday, much earlier than in previous years. the place was crowded, but not annoyingly so. Of course the whole point of Los Indianos is to throw talcum powder at each…

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