A small rock in the Atlantic

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

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Market in Santa Cruz de la Palma

Tall ships in the harbour at Santa Cruz de La Palma 2008One of the tall ships in Santa Cruz de La Palma last year

For several years now, Santa Cruz de la Palma has hosted a Christmas market and a meeting of tall ships. This year, there are sadly no ships, but there'll still be a flea market on Christmas morning, from 9 am to 2 pm.

And a very Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Here on La Palma, it's been pouring with rain for days. At this time of year we expect it to rain sometimes, but we've had about three depressions roll over the island with scarcely a pause between them. The Taburiente river is in spate, and the road is closed where it reaches the sea at Puerto Tazacorte. And the road to the Roque de los Muchachos is also closed - this afternoon, the staff came down the Garafia side in convoy.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Where to find Nativity Scenes

I've just discovered a list of nativity scenes (in Spanish) here

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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Nativity Scenes



Christmas trees are a newish 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 display in Santa Cruz de la Palma last year.As you can see, it came complete with moving figures and running water. In fact the lights at the back are on a timer, and simulate sunset, night, and morning too. I didn't include that on the video, because it took too long and I didn't think the camera would film the low light levels anyway.

Usually a large nativity scene (belen in Spanish) includes at least one person squatting behind the bushes. If there's one here, I missed it.

They've just opened this years belen in Palacio Salazar, on the Calle Real. It's open from 10 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 8:30 pm until January 6th.

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Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Christmas Road Train

Road train, Santa Cruz de la Palma

If you were shopping in Santa Cruz last week, you might have seen a road train full of infants, grinning and waving, and shouting out "¬°Feliz Navidad!"

The road train belongs to the local bus company. It's available for hire all year, but it seems to be pretty solidly booked in the last week of school term.

The school where I used to work had a regular routine. We put Father Christmas hats on the kids (a fun way to make them easy to spot in a crowd) and loaded them onto the train. First a short drive into town, waving and yelling "Merry Christmas" at everyone in sight. Then we got off and went down the main street into the square, where we had a group photo taken. We carried along the main street towards the post office, with the kids handing out hand-coloured cards along the way. It was great to see random shoppers and tourists forget their tired feet and beam as a four-year-old pressed a wrinkled bit of paper on them.

Father Christmas / Santa Claus is a very new introduction to Spain. These days he does turn up for most kids and leaves a few sweets, but the main presents arrive with the Three Kings on January 6th. So when we got to the post-office, the kids posted their letters to the kings, (the first time some of them had posted a letter) and we got back on the road train for a drive down to the next village along the coast, which is the tourist beach.

Well it was great. Bemused tourists waved, and workmen digging a ditch cheered, and passing cars (and one bulldozer!) honked their horns in salute. I felt like the queen, although I knew most of it was for the kids.

But I couldn't help feeling sorry for the occasional adults who just glared. All religion apart, if you can't raise the tiniest twitch of a smile or wave for sixty-odd kids grinning at you, then I think you're sad in every sense of the word.

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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

An Unusual Christmas Tree

Agarve flower stalk made into a Christmas tree.

The Christmas decorations are up in Santa Cruz, and most of the villages too. I particularly liked this Christmas "tree" outside a shop on the main street in Santa Cruz. It's made from the dead flower stalk of an agarve plant.

Agarve flower.

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