The Spanish Health Service

I do not claim to know much about the Spanish health service. I do have some varied experience with the health facilities, though, here in the Balearic islands, and my verdict is one of utter esteem and appreciation.

The largest hospital in the Balearics is the one shown here, the Son Dureta Hospital Universitario with a facility of some 900 beds. The hospital was built in the Fifties and is now deemed out of date. A new, bigger and more modern hospital is currently being constructed, called Son Espases, which will replace Son Dureta upon completion, some time in 2010-11.

A lot of controversy has surrounded the new hospital project, not least for its proximity to the Monastery of La Real, dating from the 13th century. In case you wanted to read more about the Salvem la Real dispute, here is a link to the corresponding website (in Catalàn). 

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 30th, 2008. The time was 14:59:41.

The Spanish Health Service

Smuggling and Contraband

The people of Mallorca foster a long tradition of smuggling and similar activities of concealment.

For one, the island has a strategically important position not too far from the Strait of Gibraltar, separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Western Mediterranean Sea. Also, the island has a superb lineage of famous cartographers who knew the seas and in particular, the coasts like no one else.

In the 14th century pirates from North Africa and Saracens from Turkey competed with the Mallorcans for dominance in holding trade ships to ransom, until Corsairs were sponsored by state, king and crown.

Smuggling and contraband activities were particularly rife during the Twenties and Thirties when the State tobacco monopoly was heavily undermined by figures such as Mallorcan Joan March Ordinas, effecting state revenues in Spain and in the whole of the Mediterranean region. Banca March was founded in 1926 from the gains of such frivolities, and Spanish dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco benefited a great deal from March’s financial assistance. But, as we all know the Generalissimo is still dead.

The photo was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 16th, 2008. The time was 14:22:17.

Smuggling and Contraband

Xeremias and Xeremiers

Traditional Mallorcan music is unthinkable without the Xeremia (a bagpipe). Go to any village festa and you will hear them, together with small drums, flutes and tambours. The Mallorcan bagpipe is most likely a variation of an Islamic instrument, brought by the Moors a very long time ago. The bagpipes are very much in use on a regular basis, and are mostly played by young bearded men. As much as Mallorca is a location with a rich tradition of musical schooling for both, males and females, I have only seen one female playing a Xeremia in over twenty years.

The Xeremia player is called the Xeremier who will come in a formation with a small flabiol flautin and a compact tamboril drum, to be played by one and the same player.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Spain. The date: October 13th, 2007. The time was 12:34:57.

Xeremias and Xeremiers

Wind and Weather

Those of us who are into boats and sailing will know about the importance of the winds and will know their Tramuntana (N), Mestral (NW), Ponent (W) and Xaloc (SW). These are the winds that usually bring dry and mild weather conditions, mostly originating from the inner mainland of Spain, often accompanied by a certain föhn effect.

Winds from the Migjorn (S), Xiroco (SE), Llevant (E) and Gregal NE), however, are winds that have traveled across the sea and often bring clouds and/or rain.

Mallorca, being an island, is more prone to the effects of wind or so it seems. Thus, not only fishermen and sailors look out for the weather vanes, but the farmers do, and gardeners, too. In fact everybody does, and for this reason you will find plenty of wind towers, such as this one in Molinar, near Palma de Mallorca.

The photo was taken near Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 25th, 2008. The time was 13:10:23.

Wind and Weather

The Oratory de la Consolació

Santanyí in the south east of the island is a very particular Mallorcan pueblo, famous for artists like Cittadini, Sapere or Irueste, writers such as Blai Bonet, musicians like María del Mar Bonet, plus a history full of smuggling and contraband activities.

The nicest things about Santanyí may actually be found just outside of the village: the Parque Natural de Mondragó, Cala Mondragó and Cala S’Amarador, some 170 Talaiotic and pre-Talaiotic sites, and perhaps, best of all, the Oratori de la Consolació.

This ermita was built during the 16th century. It was here where the people of Santanyí took refuge from the threat of impending pirate attacks. The Santanyiers look after this small oratory very well, even today. A rota is on display in the small court yard, listing the names of Santanyí families in charge of taking care of the sanctuary, opening up the place, keeping it clean and locking it up again at night.

One has truly become integrated into this Mallorcan community once you have been deemed trustworthy to join the Consolació rota schedule. 

Access up the hill to the oratory is now somewhat restricted, since just over one year ago a neighboring quarry caused the collapse of the tarmac access road. You have to walk up nowadays, unless you own a mula

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 25th, 2007. The time was 19:01:32.

The Oratory de la Consolació

The Ariany Fountain of Good Water

The village of Ariany is proud of its Pou Bo, a fountain attributed to Islamic times. The Moors were particularly gifted about water conservation and irrigation, and some of their sassy installations still function today, almost 1,000 years later. The well is called Pou Bo because the water found there was considered to be of particular good quality. And it still is, even today. The pozo público lies on the edge of the camino to Petra.

The photo was taken near Ariany, Mallorca, Spain. The date: September 28th, 2008. The time was 15:21:40.

The Ariany Fountain of Good Water