In Memoriam Tolo Calafat

One of the many things that keeps surprising me about Mallorca is the number of mountaineers hailing from this island who busy themselves with climbing the world’s highest summits. Their aspirations are quite clearly aroused by the majestic mountain peaks here in Mallorca, in the Serra de Tramuntana.

Tolo Calafat, one of Mallorca’s best known mountaineers, successfully reached the summit of Mount Annapurna in the Himalayas three days ago, age 39. On his descent from the 8,091 m peak, the mountaineer encountered a spell of drowsiness and was forced to halt for a rest. Sadly, the experienced climber never regained his full capacities and succumbed to exhaustion and possibly a cerebral oedema at 7,600 m of altitude. Changing weather prevented a rescue helicopter to embark on a search in good time. Loads of snow had fallen on Wednesday night on the upper slopes of Annapurna and weather conditions apparently were quite appalling. Señor Calafat’s death was confirmed yesterday morning from the team’s Camp 4. His Spanish companions, Juanito Oiarzabal and Carlos Pauner, as well as the Romanian Horia Colibasanu, faced a difficult descent, being also exhausted and showing signs of freezing and snow blindness. Luckily, fears that avalanches could affect their route down to safety proved mistaken; fortunately, they made it to Camp 4 from where they could be airlifted safely back to Base Camp.

Before reaching the top of Annapurna, Tolo Calafat had successfully scaled Cho-oyu (8,201 m), Mount Everest (8,848 m), Aconcagua (6,954 m), Mount Artesonraju (6,025 m), Mount Urus (5,495 m), Ishinca (5,530 m), Pisco (5,750 m), Mount Alpamayo (5,957 m), Aneto (3,404 m), Monte Posets (3,375 m), Monte Perdido (3,355 m), Mont Blanc (4,810 m), Monte Rosa (2,165 m) and Monte Elbrus (5,600 m), plus a whole string of other ambitious heights.

Tolo Calafat leaves a wife and two children.

The photo was taken from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es. The video was taken from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and mariogf01.

Muchas gracias.

In Memoriam Tolo Calafat

Light And Shadows

The island of Mallorca is not a very large place by any means, considering its land extension or the size of its population. But that’s only one side of the medal, so to speak. When it comes to infrastructure, the island suddenly at peak times quadruples in the size of its needs. Take energy, for instance, or waste refuse. The 800,000 inhabitants suddenly swell to 2,000,000 or even 2,500,000 heads during the high season (July and August), all demanding energy, water, hospital beds, food and petrol for cars, flights and ferryboats.

The question of hydrocarbon and its derivative products (petroleum, kerosine, diesel, oil etc.) in Mallorca amounts to a problem of logistics of tremendous proportions. Most of us are not aware of the nitty-gritty of storage, transport and distribution of petroleum related products, but let me assure you that there is a massive amount of hydrocarbon products needed in Mallorca for residents and visitors alike.

The company of CLH S. A. is in charge of bringing oil and petrol based products to Mallora, storing it in its facilities and transporting and distributing these products to the island’s airports, the harbours and the petrol stations all over Mallorca. CLH is a company based in Madrid with affiliations all over Spain. In Mallorca, CLH is based in Son Banya, just outside of Palma and not far from Son Sant Joan airport. Refined petrol products arrive in Mallorca by ship and are pumped from the Dique del Oeste to Son Banya via pipelines. Additional conduits distribute kerosine and oil from Son Banya to the PMI airport.

The photo was taken near Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 28th, 2010. The time was 12:02:49.

Light And Shadows

Art In Public Spaces

One of the many nice things in Palma de Mallorca is the all-pervasive presence of art and sculptures in public spaces. At the top end of the Rambla dels Ducs de Palma de Mallorca, for instance, you’ll find a large object by Basque artist, Eduardo Chillida, titled Lugar de encuentro V (1975). This sculpture was created by the artist as part of a series during the 70s and was acquired by the Banca March in 1976, to be exhibited in their headquarters in the Avenidas. In 1998, the work was donated by the bank to the Ajuntament de Palma. The artist participated in finding a place to position his œuvre and chose the Rambla, where it was placed in 1999 in Chillida’s presence. The artist died in 2002, age 78.

You may perhaps favour a different sculpture somewhere else in Ciutat over this one, made of concrete, but that’s alright with me. Luckily, there is a vast spectrum of different styles of work by a large number of artists, Spanish as well as international ones, to suit all sorts of tastes and inclinations.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 8th, 2010. The time was 14:59:53.

Art In Public Spaces

The Felanitx Townhall Graffitis

For the last year or so, the Casa Consistorial in Felanitx (Ajuntament, town hall), also known as La Sala, has been subjected to some exhaustive renovation and partial reconstruction. In the course of this reforma, an old prison area was discovered in the underbelly of the building, including some fetters, shackles and manacles to restrain the prisoners. Inscriptions and graffitis were found on the prison walls as well as on the enclosure of the town hall’s bell tower. The graffitis traced seem to mainly relate to the time of the Guerra Civil and the years of 1936-37, but some of them to much earlier times, possibly to the 19th or even the 18th century (see photo above).

The finds sparked off a thorough archaeological study culminating in the discovery of some remains of the building dating back to the Moorish and Islamic period. Apparently, the town hall was built over an antique Islamic Alquería. Of course we know that the name Felanitx has Moorish origins as well.

Building work on the town hall is expected to be completed later in the year. By the end of 2010, the Ajuntament de Felanitx will move back into the old town hall building. The bell tower as well as the prison cells will be made accessible to the public at some stage in the future, or so I was told.

The photo was taken from the Internet. My thanks go to diariodemallorca.es. The photographer is credited as Llorenç Oliver Servera.

The Felanitx Townhall Graffitis

The Palacio Real de La Almudaina

I spotted this beautifully painted ceiling at the Palacio Real de La Almudaina in Palma de Mallorca. I am not in a position to offer you any more specific information, but I would guess that the carpentry was fashioned in Mediaeval times, possibly during the 15th century.

The Arab word Almudaina means citadel or small fortress. Originally, this palace was the seat of the Moorish Vesir, before it was converted by Rei Jaume II to the Gothic appearance that can be admired today. But if one looks closely, this Alcázar (castle) still keeps elements of both periods and their alternative styles. I recommend a visit any time. Remember that on Wednesdays you can visit the Almudaina for free if you are a European citizen.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 27th, 2010. The time was 13:16:07.

The Palacio Real de La Almudaina

The Castell Del Rei

The Castell del Rei is one of Mallorca’s so-called rock castles. This fortress may well be the oldest of the lot, dating from approximately 975 A. D. Some sources describe this castle as being of Moorish origins, whereas others claim that its architecture in fact goes back to prehistoric times. In the beginning, this was probably more of a watchtower than a fortress. Later in life, though, a number of defense battles were fought there, such as the final resistance of the Moors against the Catalan troops that invaded Mallorca in 1229, or the siege conducted by the army of Pere IV, in 1344. The castell was finally abandoned during the 18th century.

The Ternelles property, where the Castell del Rei is situated, is privately owned by the March family. Up until a short while ago, access to the finca was restricted, but now, a maximum of 20 people per day are allowed to embark on this excursion, subject to application and approval. Please contact the Ajuntament in Pollença if you should want to go. Once you are issued with a permiso, you can go to the point where I took this photo, but you can’t go up to nor into the castle ruins. Let that slight impediment not deter you from going there; the Ternelles estate makes for a very rewarding excursion and the sight of the old stronghold is simply impressive.

The photo (top) was taken near Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 24th, 2010. The time was 13:27:48. The map was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mallorcaverde.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Castell Del Rei

The Talaiot of Es Pou Celat

Not very much is left of the Talaiot of Es Pou Celat, near Porreres. The stone wall made of massive boulders is very impressive. I’ve known this wall for over twenty years now and I have witnessed that every five years or so, one or other of the big rocks has disappeared. Three of the boulders are missing now, if my recollection can be trusted. I suspect some foul play going on. Shame on you, whoever might be the culprit.

Behind the wall, one can enter the site and walk in and around the excavation of two or three rooms. There is also a circular one in the field of the next door neighbour. It is presumed that more remains of this prehistoric settlement are still buried in the surrounding fields.

Guided tours are offered at a different Talaiotic site, Son Fornés, near Montuïri. One of the tours will be tomorrow, April 25th, at 10h00. You would have to put your name down for attendance, by telephone (971.644.169). If you can’t make tomorrow, or if the tour is already full, the guided excursion will be repeated on May 30th, and on June 27th. There will be a charge of 4.50 €.

The photo was taken near Porreres, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 18th, 2010. The time was 14:53:20.

The Talaiot of Es Pou Celat