Stripped Down

rebajas

Rebajas (Rebaixes, Sales) are in full swing in Mallorca. The January Sales in Spain always start the day after Three Kings. Apparently, sales during the first week of Rebajas was quite satisfactory for Palma’s shop keepers, but ever since, everybody does nothing but moan. Turnover reportedly seems to be poor, everywhere.

La Crisis, I suppose.

Even though this shop had the Rebajas sign in its window, there were no goods on display. In fact, the whole shop seemed stripped down, ready to be closed down for good. Life is tough, sometimes.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Balears, Spain. The date: January 14th, 2009. The time was 14:17:23.

Stripped Down

Social Justice

juezes

I had the dubious pleasure of attending a legal dispute at the Juzgados in Palma de Mallorca, the other day. The purpose-built Court is housed in a new building called Sa Gerreria, adjoining the borough of the same name, previously better known as Barrio Chino.

Not many of you will have had a brush with the law in Spain, I suppose, be that as a plaintiff or as a defendant. But a visit at the professionals of Law and Justice can give you a sense of being involved, and being more than a mere bystander or uninvolved visitor. Of course, it always helps if one masters the court language, which everywhere in Spain is Castilian and if you come out on the winning side. Luckily my case was victorious.

Whilst my dispute was not of a marital matter, I had the impression that most people attending court that day were in this particular building for matrimonial quarrels. A sad picture it was, somehow.

The building itself appeared quite attractive from the outside, if of a massive size. From the inside, the place felt vacuous, resonating the characteristics of a multi-storey car park.

The Balearic justiciary employees are planning on some work-to-rule action for February 4th, i. e. next Wednesday. Spanish judges have announced a strike for the month of June, later this year, all over the country.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 14th, 2009. The time was 10:34:48.

Social Justice

Water Source

fuente

In Mallorca, amongst many other benefits, we also have privileged access to sources of pure mountain water.

Clearly, one needs a well or a spring to tap into the resources, but I know of at least three locations where one can bottle the purest spring water, right here on this island. The locals, of course, have a knowledge of these locations ingrained into them from an early age. Mallorcans know from a life-long experience whether the water they fetch from the mountains is any good or not.

Should you want to sample the tastes for yourself, simply visit the Monasterio de Lluc near Escorca, or the Ermita de Betlèm near Artà, or go to the main road connecting Valldemossa and Deià. Bring plenty of empty water bottles.

The municipal water supply on the island is also better than that in Birmingham, I dare say, or Bremen, Bergen or Bologna, unless one lives in Palma de Mallorca, where the water is said to be too saline for human consumption unless boiled.

The photo was taken in Escorca, Mallorca, Spain. The date: December 23th, 2008. The time was 10:20:19.

Water Source

In the Trenches

trenches

The scene shown here can be found at the Museu d’Història Militar in Palma de Mallorca (Castell de Sant Carles). The setup is a recreation of a defence position during the Guerra Civil.

Nowadays, the fortress in Portopí is not actively used for military purposes any longer, even though Spanish troops based elsewhere in Mallorca – the Regimiento Palma 47 – are expected to be involved in a peace mission in Kosovo in 2010. The Infantry Regiment comes under the Comandancia General de Balears, part of the Ministerio de Defensa in Madrid.

Admission to the Military Museum and the Sant Carles fortress is free.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 21st, 2008. The time was 12:29:49.

In the Trenches

View From the Top

can_llobera

It is not all that easy to find access into one of the grand houses on this island. In the countryside, such mansions are called possessió, whilst in town a better house is called a casa senyorial.

I had the good fortune to be allowed to sneak into one such casa senyorial, Ca’n Llobera in Pollença. Apparently, the Llobera family was the wealthiest family in the town of Pollença. For reasons unbeknown to me their family stead was sold to the Ajuntament de Pollença some years ago. The stately home now stands empty which in many ways is a shame.

Ca’n Llobera is still furnished the way it must have been in the old days, perhaps fifty years ago or a hundred, along with a grand piano and a four poster bed. I particularly enjoyed some of the details, such as the patterned floor tiles, varying from room to room.

If you would like to sneak a visit and have no clue as to how to gain access, you could always do it the tourist way. In the country side you could pay a visit to Els Calderers, between Vilafranca de Bonany and Sant Juan, or Sa Granja, near Esporlas. One town house open to the public would be Ca’n Marquès in Palma de Mallorca. For each of those houses, entry admission is charged but, in my opinion a visit would be worth both, the time and the outlay.

The photo was taken in Pollença, Mallorca, Spain. The date: January 17th, 2009. The time was 12:54:49.

View From the Top

In the Year of the Ox

moharram1

The first day of the Chinese Year of the Ox falls on January 26th, 2009, i. e. today. More people in Mallorca than ever will celebrate the festivities, if one is to believe the official statistics. According to the 2008 census, some 3,587 Asian people lived in the Balearic islands, the majority of which here in Mallorca.

The Chinese culture follows the Lunar calendar, as do Muslims. But according to the Arabic lunar calendar the New Year started one moon ago, on December 29th (in Western speak). The two cultures, albeit united in the moon, beg to differ in calendar terms, though. As you can gather from my photo, the Islamic calendar today marks the 29th day of the month of Muharram in the year 1430 of their Hijri calendar. And one more difference: whilst the Chinese celebrate New Year joyfully over a period of 15 days, Muslims do not give much attention to the changeover from one year to another. With six daily prayers (five obligatory ones, plus – at least – one voluntary one), followers of All’ah seem to favour praying over partying, any time of the year.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 19th, 2009. The time was 15:20:32.

In the Year of the Ox

The Common Juniperus Tree

juniperus_communis

The Juniper tree is a pretty common sight in Mallorca. To me it is one of the nicest trees on the island, but sadly, it seems somehow underrated. It is not a tree that one would normally find in a private garden; I don’t know why.

In Mallorca, as in mainland Spain and in the Canary Islands, the Juniperus communis species is the more widely spread Juniper tree. But I have seen a number of different Juniper types in Central Europe, some of which of a stunning beauty, which do not seem to grow here. In all, there seem to be some 50 different species of Juniper trees. I like the scent that emanates from them. Take a walk in the dunes of Es Trenc, and you’ll know what I mean.

juniper_berries

Juniper berries are a spice used in a wide variety of culinary dishes and best known for the primary flavouring in Gin (whilst Mallorca is not big any longer in terms of Gin brewing and distilling, the neighbouring island of Menorca is very much so). Juniper berries are also used for a sauce to accompany quail, pheasant, veal, rabbit and other meat dishes. I am currently drying some self-picked berries to see if I can use them for culinary purposes.

The photos were taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 9th, 2009. The time was 15:57:43, and 15:13:28, respectively.

The Common Juniperus Tree