A small rock in the Atlantic

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

Click for La Palma, Canary Islands Forecast

Friday, 6 June 2008

El Time Viewpoint

The viewpoint (or mirador) at El Time is perched on the northern edge of the Angustias ravine. Coming from Los Llanos, you drive down and down and down, round some pretty steep bends. After you cross the river, almost at sea-level, you drive up and up and up and up and up, until you're seventeen hundred feet up (535 m). There's a small car park on each side of the road.

The view is spectacular, all the way from El Paso to the coast. Even better, there's a bar right on the edge. Weather permitting, you can admire the view while you sip your coffee and eat cake (rather good cake, too). There's a craft shop beside the bar. And you can admire the view without going into either, if you're not thirsty.

A word of warning, though: the toilets are down steps. This isn't a problem for most people, but four years ago I had a broken shoulder and broken ankle at the same time, and I needed a lot of help to get down there. It's times like that when you really appreciate your friends!

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark with:

Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Facebook Furl It Newsvine StumbleUpon ToolbarStumbleUpon

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Anguish and Waxworks.

The Sanctuary of Anguish (Santuario de Las Angustias)

The Church of Our Lady's Anguish lies near the bottom of Las Angustias Ravine, where the river Taburiente runs out of the Caldera. (Well, they take a lot of the water for irrigation, so in the middle of summer it trickles. That still makes it the only year-round river in the Canaries). To find it, take the road from Los Llanos to Tijarafe. Just north of the bridge over the river, take the side road towards Puerto Tazacorte. The church is on the left, about 200 yards from the junction.

Inside view

The inside of the church is beautiful. The main statue in the altarpiece is Mary holding her dead son, by a Flemish artist from the 16th century. That's where the name of the church comes from. She's flanked by St Michael (16th century) and St Ambrose (17h or 18th century). But personally, the bit I find really striking is the painted ceiling.

That amazing ceiling

Beautiful carving is surprisingly common in churches on La Palma. It mostly dates from the days when the island got rich supplying sailing ships for the trip to America. This church has two other claims to fame.
The first is that for some reason, it's traditional for older couples to marry here. I mean couples over about fifty, who won't be having children short of a miracle.
The other is the collection of votive wax offerings on either side of the altar. Some were left by Canarian emigrates about to leave for Cuba or Venezuela. Others were left in gratitude for a cure, and to my English eyes, these look almost surreal. So if you prayed for a baby and finally got one, you'd leave a little waxwork baby. If your prayer for arthritis-free hands was granted, you'd leave a waxwork hand. There are at least two wax hearts, and at the top right, there's a breast. I can only imagine that somebody survived cancer.

The wax offerings

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark with:

Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Facebook Furl It Newsvine StumbleUpon ToolbarStumbleUpon

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


This is a gecko (Tarentola delalandii). They like to live in warm buildings or on sunny walls outside, and this one lives in my house. I think he must have got too close to one of my cats because his tail's regrowing. You see, if they're in serious danger of being eaten, their tails come off and provide a wriggling decoy while the gecko runs away.

He spent most of yesterday on this smooth vertical wall. They can walk across ceilings too, like Spiderman. I think he might have been asleep, since he never moved, although it's hard to tell because they don't have eyelids. I rather like to have him around, because they eat insects, including mosquitoes. When they hunt, they stalk the insect slowly until they get close enough, then the tongue flicks out and grabs the unfortunate bug, and that's that.

The really surprising thing about them is their call. It sounds like the chuckle of a mad axe-murderer, which is quite alarming when you're alone in the house and you haven't a clue what it is.

But of course you aren't in any danger at all - unlike the geckos. They're on the red list of threatened species.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark with:

Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Facebook Furl It Newsvine StumbleUpon ToolbarStumbleUpon