A small rock in the Atlantic

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

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Fiestas in Breña Baja

Los Cancajos
They'll be having yet another attempt to cremate the octopus in Los Cancajos on Friday 12th, starting at 8pm. This was supposed to happen during Carnival, but it's been postponed twice due to bad weather. The town hall assures everyone that the octopus won't have gone smelly, because it's been frozen during the wait.
[This is a joke. I'm sure it isn't a real octopus.]
Anyway, the procession will leave at 8 pm from the chemist's near the south end of the village.

San José
Spain celebrates Father's Day on March 19th, because that's St Joseph's day. Since the Spanish for St Joseph is San José, the village of San José will hold fiestas, starting on Friday 12th at 5 pm. There will be various sporting events and talks, an exhibition of oil paintings which opens on Monday evening, and films (in Spanish) . There'll be a special mass on Friday evening (the 19th) and on Saturday there's a hike, bouncy castles and a horse race. In the evening, there's batucada (serious percussion) a stage performance by the kids, and a disco.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

An Octupus and a Sardine

Poster for the Octopus's Funeral, Los Cancajos, La Palma Island
The Octopus's funeral has been rescheduled for Friday 26th.

The procession will leave the pharmacy at 8 pm and make its way to the beach, where the octopus will be cremated. There will be fireworks and dancing. Everybody welcome.
This is a new fiesta, so it'll be interesting to see

Meanwhile the sardine's funeral at Los Sauces will take place on Saturday 27th. The percussion music starts at 8 pm and the funeral procession starts at 9:30 pm in the main square by the church. Last time I saw it, it was wonderful.

And I believe that Barlovento will hold their sardine's funeral the weekend after, on March 5th or 6th. Watch this space.

Poster for the Sardine's Funeral, Los Sauces, La PAlma island

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Cancajos Salt Pans

The wind pumps that lifted seawater into the salt pans at Cancajos, Brena Baja, La Palma
The wind pumps that lifted seawater into the salt pans

You can visit a working salt factory on the southern tip of La Palma, but if you're staying in Cancajos, in Breña Baja, it's worth taking a peak at the ruined salt factory.

The sea front promenade runs south from the main beach along the top of a low cliff, and it's a very pleasant walk. It's smooth and flat enough for push chairs.

A couple of stone towers stand towards the southern end of the promenade. The one nearer the path looks as though it might have been a castle, or a watch-tower for whatever was behind the long stone wall on the landward side.

Actually, it's a salt factory.

The old water channel at Cancajos, Brena Baja, La Palma
The tower nearest the sea used to have a windmill on top. This lifted the water up into the channel so that it ran to the tank in the second tower, and a second wind pump sent it further inland to the building on the other side of the modern path. There, it was poured
into shallow pools, where the sun evaporated the water, leaving salt.

The factory was built in the early 19th century, but I haven't been able to find out when it stopped working. If anybody finds out, please let me know.

The shallow pans for drying out the sea water at Cancajos, Brena Baja, La Palma The shallow pans for drying out the sea water

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Thursday, 8 May 2008


If a beach is all you're after, then frankly you're better off in Tenerife. But if a beach is part of the mix, then we have two main beach resorts, Cancajos and Puerto Naos.

Our sand is like the Model T Ford - "Any colour you like, as long as it's black". When the sea mashes up black, volcanic rock, that's what you get. However, black sand warms up in the sun faster than yellow sand, which is decidedly nice for winter holidays.

Cancajos is on the east of the island, which is comparatively cool, cloudy and wet. (But I do mean "comparatively". It's still a much nicer climate than, say, Manchester.) That also makes the surrounding countryside much greener.

The beach

If you like to swim a long way off shore, the east side of the island is safer, because the ocean currents push you back towards the shore, rather than out to sea. If you're a less confident swimmer and like to stay closer in, the two artificial islands break up the Atlantic rollers. This makes it a great beach for kids.

And for small children, there's a large natural rock pool, perhaps fifteen feet across, with almost no waves at all. The depth depends on the tides, but the bottom is sand and slopes gently.

Lots of shops, cafés, and restaurants, some of them very close to the beach. Tourist Information office. A climbing frame shaped like a ship on the beach. A few free fresh-water showers, plus changing rooms available for a small fee.

Local Colour
There's a very pleasant walk along the top of small cliffs, to the south of the main beach, smooth and flat enough for a push-chair.

Transfer to and from the airport is only about ten minutes. You will hear the planes. They're not very loud, but it could bother light sleepers.

Buses to the airport and Santa Cruz every half hour. Several hire car firms have offices in the shopping centre. 4 km walk to Santa Cruz (the island's capital).

Where to stay:

Hotel Taburiente Playa (4 star)
Hotel Hacienda San Jorge (3 keys)
Aparthotel Las Olas (3 star)
Aparthotel Costa Salinas (3 keys)
La Caleta Apartments (3 keys)
Centro Cancajos Apartments (3 keys)
EL CERRITO Apartments (3 keys)
Largo Azul Apartments (2 keys)
La Cascada Apartments (2 keys)
Oasis San Antonio Apartments (2 keys)
Los Cancajos Apartments (2 keys)
Los Rosales Apartments (1 key)

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