El Cóndor Pasa

We’ve been living in the town of Felanitx for just about ten years now, having moved here from the countryside near Ca’s Concos des Cavaller. We love it here. The town is not yet firmly embedded on the tourist trail, the nearest playa and/or marina is a good distance away (13 kms), most expats prefer Santanyí (Germans) or Cala d’Or (Britons) to Felanitx, and generally, the place retains a sense of normality, with ordinary people doing their regular jobs and enjoying their everyday lives. The place could easily resemble Paradise, if only there were no Zampoñas (panpipes).

I can honestly not find anything wrong with Felanitx, with the exception of the weekly performance of South American panpipes’ groups. Every Sunday for the last ten years we have been bothered by tunes like El Cóndor Pasa, Hey Jude, Bridge Over Troubled Waters and the like, played on bamboo flutes by a charming ensemble of musicians from Ecuador. Don’t get me wrong. I love Ecuadorians, I love South America, I love panpipes and I love El Cóndor Pasa, but. There is this urgent but. The repetitious monotony of the same songs, played every Sunday for the last ten years in virtually the same order of play, week after week, the sickening sweetness of its pretend folkloric disguise and the commercial application of traditional Latin music to the tastes of the Western tourist are simply insufferable.

If you want to come to Felanitx, do yourself a favour. Do not come on a Sunday.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 16th, 2010. The time was 10:05:36.

El Cóndor Pasa

The Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Now is the season of the Pomegranate (Latin: Punica granatum, Catalan: Magraner, Castellano: Granada), a fruit which has been naturalised in the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. The fruit was featured in Egyptian mythology, praised in the Old Testament of the Bible and also, hailed in the Babylonian Talmud. In the Greek myth of Persephone, the pomegranate is called the fruit of the underworld, whilst in the Muslim Qu’uran it is called the fruit of paradise.

Pomegranates have been consumed by man since the beginning of history. We are now beginning to understand how beneficial this product’s juice may be to human health. Its juice is tangy, sweet, rich and full of flavour. This juice can be used as the base for sauces and flavorings for drinks, savory dishes, and sweets, while the whole seeds are a simple delight when eaten fresh or used as a colourful garnishing accent.

This ancient gorgeous fructus with its sensuous crimson coloured seeds is one of my favorite fruits. In June and July, its flower is equally delightful and pleasing for its paradisiacal beauty.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 28th, 2010. The time was 12:42:00. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of treknature.com and the photographer, Aimilios Petrou.

Thank you and efcharisto.

The Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

The Human Factor

Spain’s two largest Unions, the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CC. OO.) and Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) have called for a Huelga General (General Strike) for tomorrow, September 29th. This will be the first massive, all-out strike in Spain’s young Democracy, established in 1978 with the Spanish Constitution. The strike is mainly about the recently introduced austerity measures. Among other things, the new Labour Reform, passed by the Spanish Parliament a few weeks ago, involve substantially lowered payout entitlements, as well as the proposed delay of retirement to the age 67.

Turnout is expected to be large, even though media sources believe that some would-be participants may be reluctant to join in for fear of losing their jobs. The unemployment rate in Spain is the highest of any European country and currently stands at 20.3 %. In the age group of 16 to 25 years, the proportion of people out of work stands at 41.5 %. Quite worrying, really.

Spain’s Unions have agreed to maintain certain minimum services in public transport, hospitals, supermarkets, petrol stations and other essentialities.

It is my own estimation that in reality, only the large cities in Spain will come to a moderate standstill. Here in Mallorca, only Palma should be affected, if that. You should avoid traveling by plane, boat or train, if you can. If you have to travel, I reckon that chances are 50:50 that your voyage will be somewhat disrupted or at least delayed. If you need petrol, better fill up your car today.

Good luck.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer.

Muchas gracias.

The Human Factor

The Route of the Patios of Palma

From now until October 30th, you might want to consider booking one of the guided tours in Palma that I spoke of a while ago, visiting the wonderful patio courtyards. The patios in Palma are normally closed to the public but some of them will be opened for this special activity. There will be two itineraries (Palma Alta and Palma Baixa) every day except Sundays. The tours are on offer in four languages (Catalan, Castellano, English and German). Each route lasts about 2 hours and is offered at a cost of 5 €. There are discounts for the over-65s. Reservations have to be made by telephone (971.720.720). The Meeting Point for the Palma Alta tour will be at the olive tree in Plaça Cort; for the Palma Baixa route it will be outside the Casal Solleric. Time schedules and other details can be downloaded from this website.

Allow me to quote from a 1896 novel by Jules Verne (Clovis Dardentor, chapter VI):

Some houses presented the fantastic dispositions of Moorish architecture, for Arabs had lived in the island for more than four hundred years. Through the open gates one could see inner courtyards, the patios encircled by light columns, traditional fountains crowned by elegant iron armatures, gracefully curved scales, arcades overgrown with climbers in full bloom, windows with carved stone frames of an incomparable airiness, some of them also decorated with a moucharabie or mirador, a window-ledge in the Spanish fashion.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 24th, 2010. The time was 14:21:54.

The Route of the Patios of Palma

The Font de la Princesa

The Font de les Tortugues in the Plaça Joan Carles I in Palma de Mallorca used to be known as the Font de la Princesa. The fountain was built in 1833 in honour of the Princess of Asturias, the later Queen Isabel II de Borbón, Reina de España from 1833 to 1868.

The fountain is actually a replica; it was later rebuilt in its present form after being destroyed in times of political uprising, the so-called La septembrina (September revolution) of 1868. The unrest led to the overthrow of Queen Isabel II. After two interim regents and the establishment of the first Spanish Republic, Isabel’s son was proclaimed King Alfonso XII in 1875.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 11th, 2010. The time was 12:04:07. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of todocoleccion.net.

Muchas gracias.

The Font de la Princesa

The Amerigo Vespucci Tall Ship in Palma

Last Tuesday night, the Italian tall ship Amerigo Vespucci sailed into Palma de Mallorca, on its way from Cadiz to Italy. The vessel is a school ship of the Italian Marina Militare. The tall ship will be here until tomorrow, September 26th. Today, Saturday, public viewings will be allowed between 14h00 and 17h30 at the Muelle de Ribera de San Carlos in Dique del Oeste at the far end of Palma’s puerto. I would urge you to go; you will probably not see many boats of a greater beauty, here or anywhere, anytime soon.

May I have you know that I had problems yesterday finding the Amerigo Vespucci in Palma. The vessel was not anchored where I had expected it to be, opposite the Auditorium. I asked a number of people and was given different answers and conflicting directions. Eventually, I had to walk a long way, all the way to the Dique del Oeste where I found out that I was too late and was not allowed into the harbour area at all. To cut a long story short, I did not manage to see the vessel from a close range or even board it; far from it. I will have to make another attempt later today and see what happens. It is for this shortcoming that I can only offer you the photo (top) of the Amerigo Vespucci’s rig of my own hand; the photos (centre) and (bottom) had to be borrowed and begged from the Internet. I am sorry; I do apologise.

The Amerigo Vespucci was built in 1930 at the (formerly Royal) Naval Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia (Naples, Italy); she was launched in February, 1931, and was put into service in July of that year. The ship has a crew of some 450 men, including 350 cadets. The vessel has been in Palma on fourteen occasions so far, including the present visit. The first call was in 1939.

According to Wikipedia, the Amerigo Vespucci has been continually active except for the time during the second World War. Most of her training cruises are in European waters, but she has also sailed to North and South America, and navigated the Pacific Ocean. In 2002, she undertook a voyage around the world.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 24th, 2010. The time was 19:04:46. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Manuel R. Aguilera. The photo (bottom) was also borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of barcabalear.blogspot.com.

Muchas gracias and moltes gràcies.

The Amerigo Vespucci Tall Ship in Palma

The Península de la Victòria

At this time of year the island of Mallorca shows its natural beauty from its best side. The sun is still out most of the time but the heat of the Summer has receded. Now, walks and hikes can be done under pleasant conditions. There are hundreds of possibilities for an outing, and each one of them is more rewarding than the other.

Yesterday, we took a walk at the Península de la Victòria in the North of the island, between Alcúdia and Port de Pollença. We started our walk from the Santuario de Nostra Senyora de la Victòria, now converted into a small Hostatgeria (Petit Hotel), and headed for the Talaia d’Alcúdia. The area is classified as a Zona de Especial Protección (special protection area) for birds such as the Cormorán Moñudo (Common Shag) or the Águila Pescadora (Osprey). The Península de la Victòria is also an area where one can find plenty of Cabres Salvatges Mallorquines (wild Mallorcan goats), in fact so many of them that they can be hunted in a Coto de Caza Mayor (Big Game Reserve) either by rifle or with dogs and a lasso allowing for the animal to be caught alive.

On the way back from the the Península de la Victòria a number of small coves and secluded beaches invite for a swim. The water temperature is still pleasant enough to take a dip. It is near here where the Alcúdia Xtreme Swim Open Water was held a few weeks ago, an annual competition across the seven kilometre stretch of the Badia de Pollença from the Platja Formentor to the Platja de Sant Pere (near Mal Pas).

The photo was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 23rd, 2010. The time was 18:16:58.

The Península de la Victòria