A small rock in the Atlantic

All about the island of La Palma, in the Canaries.

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Saturday, 26 April 2008

Cubo de la Galga

Cubo de la Galga is a very pretty walk along the bottom of the Galga ravine, between Puntallana and Los Sauces. By Palmeran standards, it's an easy walk.

"Walk! La Palma" is a good book, but the bit about the bottom end of the walk at Cubo de la Galga is out of date already. The Island Government (the Cabildo) have been busy.

There is now a car park at the beginning of the walk, on the road at km 16. You're unlikely to get lost for the first kilometre or so, because the path's actually asphalted, never mind signposted. It's a matter of taste, but this part was a bit too tamed for my taste, and I was glad when the asphalt stopped. In fact the path is currently so smooth you could actually walk for a couple of kilometers in stilettos, if stilettos are your thing. (I bought a pair of stilettos just before I came to La Palma. I've used them so little that seventeen years later, they still don't even need heeling.)

There are caves in the ravine walls. This one has a wall built across the mouth. at the time we wondered whether people had lived there at one time. Now I wonder whether it mightn't be the "windows" in the water channel, the Canal de Estado.

The book is absolutely right that the place would be famous if it weren't so close to Los Tilos. The path criss-crosses the stream bed (a trickle in April) and the ravine walls and trees tower over you.

This means that the roots are at eye-level.

When the signpost seemed to indicate that it was time to turn back, we carried on a little, up a much rougher path.

The path went under a little aqueduct.

Just above there is a flattish space, where we stopped to eat our sandwiches. Above that, the path divides. According to Charles Davis, you can make your way back to the road by another route, but we weren't sure of the way and I had to get back for the babysitter. So I can't tell you whether there are still fallen trees over the track.

Throughout the walk, there were lots of butterflies, mostly sitting still until the camera focused, and then fluttering off. But I got lucky eventually. This one is common in the western Canaries, but lives nowhere else.

Maculada de Canarias butterfly, Pararge xiphioides

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Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Art of Fire

Artefuego glassblowing studio is at the back of Plaza Sotomayor, where they hold the Argual flea market every Sunday. It's a good idea to combine the two, because they hold public demonstrations on Sundays between 10 am and 2 pm. They combine fragments of lava into their creations, and to the best of their knowledge, they're the only people in the world to do so. This makes every piece unique.

The workshop is open every day except Thursdays, from 10 am to 2 pm.

They do ask you please not to bring rucksacks, pushchairs or dogs into the shop. Just think of a Great Dane puppy having fun with all those shelves crammed with fragile ornaments!

Their website is: http://www.artefuego.com/english.html And yes, they have pages in English.

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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Word Book Day

The 23rd of April is world book day, because it's the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes (author of "Don Quijote"), the death of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Josep Pla, the birth of Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Mejía Vallejo and Halldór Laxness.

Actually Shakespeare died ten days after Cervantes, both on April 23rd.

How come? At the time, England used the Julian calendar, and Spain used the Gregorian one.

In Santa Cruz de la Palma, they set up bookstalls along the Calle Real. Many of them give a 10% discount. Now for me, this is frustrating. I drool over bookshops the way some of my girlfriends flip for shoe shops, but reading Spanish is slow, hard going. But one of the stalls has a few books in English.

And they'll be there all week.

I can just see myself succumbing to the lure of another book, the way I do to "just one more chocolate..." If you want to get there before me, you'd better hurry.

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Sunday, 20 April 2008

Strange Caterpillars

Yponomenta gigas caterpillars and web.

I'd never heard of caterpillars that make cobwebs before, but these do. Like many others caterpilars in the family of ermine moths, they form communal webs. I suppose it discourages birds from sticking their beaks in.

My book on Canarian insects doesn't mention them at all, but then they aren't easy to find unless you know where to look. They live on the Canarian Willow, Salix canariensis which only grows in the Canary Islands and Madeira in places with plenty of water. But there are lots of them in the Caldera de Taburiente, near the campsite at the Playa de Taburiente.

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