The Procesión Del Silencio

The first of the Easter processions in Felanitx was held last night, the Processó del Silenci (Procesión del Silencio, Silent Procession). In Spain, tradition has it that one of the processions during Setmana Santa (Easter week) is held in complete silence and solemnity, with the quietness only broken by a deep and throbbing drumbeat. To the uninitiated, the visual effect combined with the soundlessness and the pulsating drumbeat may give the impression of eeriness, especially as it all happens at night with the streets only dimly lit. On the other hand, one could call the procession solemn and peaceful, dignified and awe-inspiring. Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder.

There are more parades to be held in Felanitx, later on during the week. The Processó de la Sang tomorrow evening, a procession where long church candles are held by all participants, is probably the best attended of all Felanitx processions.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2010. The time was 21:19:22

The Procesión Del Silencio

Mountain Rescue Services

The island of Mallorca is a peaceful place, a fun location and, for many, a holiday paradise. One can easily forget that there can be some dark sides to this idyllic setting as well, unfortunately.

The Mallorcan mountains, for instance, are often cause for misadventure and accidents. Luckily, the local fire brigades, the Protecció Civil and in particular, the Guardia Civil and its Grupo de Rescate e Intervención en Montaña are there to help in such adversities. Between 50 and 100 rescue operations have to be carried out every year in Mallorca’s mountains, would you believe it? Often, people are ill equipped for some ambitious hiking. Sometimes, weather patterns change for the worse without previous forewarning. Thankfully, quite a large number of missing people or victims of accidents can usually be found and rescued without severe injuries or lacerations, but five or six fatalities occur every year, give or take a few.

Mishaps can be avoided by careful planning. The Govern de les Illes Balears and its Department of Civil Protection offer a Servei d’Emergències de les Illes Balears (SEIB, Emergency Service). If you are planning on a mountaineering excursion, you could telephone 112 and alert the services of the planned itinerary, timing and other circumstances, and your expedition will be monitored and safeguarded. I understand that the British Consulate has signed a Conveni de Col·laboració agreement with SEIB to assist British tourists and residents alike.

The photo (top) was taken from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the Guardia Civil. The photo (bottom) was also taken from the Internet, courtesy of caib.es.

Muchas gracias and moltes gràcies.

Mountain Rescue Services

Vía Crucis For Peace

I went to participate in the Vía Crucis pilgrimage in Felanitx yesterday, up to the Puig d’es Calvari. Vía Crucis is the Latin name for the Way of the Cross or the Stations of the Cross, also known as Vía Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows. It refers to the depiction of the final hours of Jesus and the 14 Stations of the Cross that marked the legendary route of the Passion. The object of the stations is to help the faithful make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the main scenes of Jesus’s sufferings and his ultimate death. It is probably one of the most popular devotional rituals in the Roman Catholic world. The pilgrimage may be done at any time, but most commonly, is done during Cuaresma (Lent), especially on Good Friday. In Felanitx, the occasion was celebrated on yesterday’s Palm Sunday as next Friday (Viernes Santo, Good Friday) is reserved for the big Davallament, the Felanitx Passion Play. Yesterday’s ascent to the Oratorio del Puig des Call came under the motto Vía Crucis Per La Pau (Vía Crucis for Peace). Whilst I applaud the peace message, I felt a bit of a fraud as I am not Catholic, not religious really, and couldn’t join in singing the hymns as the congregation stopped at each and every one of the 14 stations. I am glad I went, though. It was a joyous occasion meeting many of my neighbours on a gorgeously sunny afternoon. The work on the resurfacing of the camino was not finished, by the way.

Other places in Mallorca also reenact the Stations of the Cross, the best known being the procession up to the Puig del Calvari in Pollença. In Palma de Mallorca, a theatrical performance has been performed on the steps of the Cathedral annually for 25 years now, in an arrangement done by Llorenç Moyà. Next Friday, April 2nd, at 12h00, you might want to make your way to Palma to see this event forming part of the Easter traditions in Palma and of Setmana Santa (Holy Week). Attendance is always free of charge.

The photos were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 28th, 2010. The time was 17:25:04 and 17:32:24, respectively.

Vía Crucis For Peace

The Easter Week

In Mallorca, the last Sunday before Easter is called El Dia del Ram (Palm Sunday). Olive branches are blessed and given to the churchgoers, or anyone coming along for the asking.

In reality, Easter celebrations started already a few days ago. The first Easter processions were held in Palma (Processó dels Estendards) and in some pueblos last Friday, and more will be held today and tomorrow and every day of next week, all over the island.

Felanitx was busy last night rehearsing its annual Davallament (depicting the Passion of Christ and the taking of the body down from the cross), to be performed next Friday (Divendres Sant, Good Friday). Today at 17h00, Felanitx will celebrate a Vía Crucis, up to the top of Puig d’es Calvari.

I attended a Concert de Pasqua last night at the Església de Son Negre (Manacor), given by the excellent choir, Tenim Cantera, and directed by the very devoted Irina Cotseli. The Coral Polifònica was performing Lieder and Nocturnes by a number of composers from the Renaissance period (Orlande de Lassus, Jacob Arcadelt etc.) as well as by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you ever have a chance to see – and hear – Tenim Cantera, you should not give it a miss, Easter time or not.

I will refrain from giving you a complete run-down of this year’s Easter events on the island. There are plenty of activities of interest, processions, church services, concerts, plays and other performances that are worth attending. Even after more than 20 years in Mallorca, I am still in awe of the drama and the visual impact of the local Easter processions. Full listings can be obtained from your local town-hall, the local newspapers or the Internet. For Easter processions in Palma, try this link.

The photo was taken near Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 27th, 2010. The time was 19:20:37.

The Easter Week

The Artillery Battery Of Cap Blanc

Throughout history, the island of Mallorca has been concerned with the defense of its coast lines. Naturally, if ever an enemy was approaching, the attack would have come from the sea.

During the 20th century, as many as a dozen artillery battery defense installations have been based around the Badia de Palma alone, including Sant Carles, Torre d’en Pou and Cap Blanc (Cabo Blanco, see photo) etc. The military installations came under the responsibility of the Cuerpo del Regimiento de Artillería de Costa de Mallorca.

The installations of Cap Blanc were abandoned in 1996, even though the premises still remain the property of the Spanish Ministerio de Defensa. In close proximity to the Cap Blanc military installations, there are also those of Cap Regana, Cap Roig (also known as Punta Llobera) and Cala Carril (also known as Ensenada del Carril), all of which are in equal disuse now.

Some of the Cap Blanc artillery guns or cannons are now on exhibit at the Museu Militar de la Fortalesa de Sant Carles. Quite impressive, really.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 10th, 2009. The time was 18:10:23. The photo (bottom) was taken from the Internet. Thanks are due to perso.wanadoo.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Artillery Battery Of Cap Blanc

The Gabella de la Sal

Next to the Porta de l’Almudí, also known as Porta de la Gabella de la Sal, at the bottom end of the Passeig des Born in Palma de Mallorca you’ll find the Antic Quarter d’Intendència (Quartermasters headquarter), also known by the name of Gabella de la Sal. This attractive old building has been occupied by the Spanish Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces) for the last 150 years or so, but not any longer. It seems that the Spanish Military is slowly withdrawing some of its activities from the Illes Balears. The old property with its rather impressive patio (courtyard) has been acquired by the Govern Balear for the stately sum of 2,568,069 €. Just where do they get all that money from?

Historically, during the 17th century the Gabella de la Sal used to be a Tax Inspector’s office where tax was levied on any transaction involving salt as a commodity. In Spain, a salt tax was imposed by the Kings until 1869. As of the end of the 19th century, the property was renamed as Quarter d’Intendència and thus, served as an arms, ammunition and gunpowder warehouse, before it turned into a logistics base for the Armed Forces. Now, the historic place will be converted into a Centre de Recursos d’Art Contemporani (Contemporary Art Centre). Let’s see how that will turn out. Current restoration work is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 17th, 2009. The time was 11:21:07.

The Gabella de la Sal

Magistrates’ Court

Local and national TV stations have been congregating for the last few days, in front of the law courts in Avinguda Alemanya in Palma de Mallorca, together with reporters from the printed media and Mallorcan radio stations as history was happening with Spain looking on. A tremendous media frenzy has been going for two days now, and will be going into its third day today.

All the fuss is about Jaume Matas, the former President of the Govern de les Illes Balears (1996-1999 and 2003-2007). Senyor Matas was also the former Secretary for Medio Ambiente (Environment) in the Spanish government of José María Aznar (2000-2003). The politician and former President of the Partido Popular in the Balearics (1999-2007) is accused of misdemeanours on a large scale. Charges include corruption, bribery, breach of trust, misappropriation of public funds, money laundering plus an assortment of other crimes and wrongdoings. In the main, the accusations are based on the Caso Palma Arena, the cycling arena built under Matas’ stewardship on the occasion of the 2007 Mundial de Ciclismo. The stadium’s original cost estimate was 27,000,000 €, but later a budget of 48,000,000 € was approved. In the end, bills were presented in access of 110,000,000 €, representing an astronomic cost overrun even by Spanish standards.

Jointly with Matas, his wife and his brother-in-law stand accused of similar charges and are being interrogated at the same time as him, together with the former director of Gesa-Endesa, a close friend of the Matas family. In all, a total of 30 people, politicians and otherwise, have been accused so far of wrongdoing in relation to the Palma Arena scandal.

Only a week earlier, court hearings proceeded elsewhere in Palma, involving María Antònia Munar, the recently retired Speaker of the Parliament in Palma, a former President of the Consell de Mallorca and an erstwhile President of Unió Mallorquí, a minor but influential political party in Mallorca. Her case is not related to the Palma Arena velodrome, but charges are severe and on a large scale as well. She is now free on a bail of 350,000 €, plus an embargo of 2,500,000 €.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 23rd, 2010. The time was 12:59:40.

Magistrates’ Court