Jurassic Park

The island of Mallorca, and the Balearic Islands in general, were probably formed some 400 to 300 million years ago. Allow me to quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 edition (yes, 1911):

The strata which form the Balearic Isles fall naturally into two divisions. There is an older series, ranging from the Devonian to the Cretaceous, which is folded and faulted and forms all the higher hills, and there is a newer series of Tertiary age, which lies nearly horizontal and rests unconformably upon the older beds. The direction of the folds in the older series is in Iviza nearly west to east, in Majorca south-west to north-east, and in Minorca south to north, thus forming an arc convex towards the south-east. The Devonian is visible only in Minorca, the Trias being the oldest system represented in the other islands. The higher part of the Cretaceous is absent, and it appears to have been during this period that the principal folding of the older beds took place. The Eocene beds are nummulitic. There is a lacustrine group which has usually been placed in the Lower Eocene, but the discovery of Anthracotherium magnum in the interbedded lignites proves it to be Oligocene, in part at least. The Miocene included a limestone with Clypeaster. Pliocene beds also occur.

Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was formed during the Triassic period (250 to 200 million years ago), whilst the Jurassic period in Mallorca lasted from about 200 million to 150 million years ago. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll be able to find prehistoric evidence in the form of fossils just about everywhere. Ammonites were abundant, such as the one shown in my photo, possibly one of the Phylloceratidae family, or is it a Polyplectus discoides?

If you want to find out more about ammonites, fossils and other testimonials of the Jurassic period in Mallorca, you could either consult the Internet, have recourse to a competent book or simply visit the Museu Balear de Ciències Naturals in Sóller. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10h00 to 18h00 and Sundays from 10h00 to 14h00. The last time I went there, admission fees were 5 €.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2011. The time was 12:32:05. The location was in Carrer Major, laterally adjoining the Església Parroquial de Sant Miquel. The fossil is about 20 x 30 cm in size.

Jurassic Park

On Cyclophobia

It shames me considerably to have to admit that I am somewhat cyclophobic.

I do agree that Mallorca offers an ideal location for cycling excursions. Its varied landscape from the flats of Campos to the mid-sized hills of the Llevant and the Pla, and the demanding challenges of the Serra de Tramuntana must come close to Paradise where the heart of a cycling enthusiast is concerned, or so I imagine. And there are hundreds of miles of secondary roads signposted as cycling routes, plus there are considerable lengths of cycling tracks in and around Palma. Mallorca offers, in parts, a year-round Tour-de-France environment en miniature and tens of thousands of cycling tourists make the most of this enticing temptation. Where the would-be Armstrongs go wrong, though, is the small matter of the Highway Code. During the Tour de France or any some such cycling race, roads are off-limits for the rest of the traffic. Not so in Mallorca. When the cycling hordes invade this island every year during springtime, the regular traffic continues. Roads are not being cordoned off for the cycling enthusiasts. Traffic incidents are provoked. Rage gets incited. Accidents do happen all too frequently. Between January and April 2011, 160 road accidents involving cyclists have been reported in the Illes Balears so far, including three deaths. That’s 15 accidents in January, 23 in February, 65 in March and 57 in April. One must simply fear for the numbers to accumulate month after month, year after year.

I do not plead for a ban on cycling on Mallorca’s roads but, I would appeal to the common sense of any and all of our visitors to simply adhere to the rules and regulations that at home they so willingly accept. I am simply concerned for our well-being and safe-keeping, theirs as well as my own.

The photo was taken in Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 7th, 2011. The time was 12:42:19.

On Cyclophobia

The World Folk Dance Festival

The Festival Mundial de Danses Folklòriques (World Folk Dance Festival) is being staged these days in Palma, until Saturday, April 30th. The first World Folk Dance Festival was held in Munich, Germany, in 1985. Ever since 1987, the event has been held bi-annually in Palma de Mallorca with participants from all over the world.

This year, there are participants from Russia, Austria, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Senegal, Armenia, Taiwan, England, Scotland, Wales, mainland Spain and, of course, Mallorca. Performances can be seen tomorrow morning as well as in the afternoon in Plaça d’Espanya, Plaça de l’Olivar, Plaça Major and Plaça de Cort, and on Saturday morning in Plaça de Cort and Plaça Major. On Saturday at 18h00, there will be a farewell parade with all participating groups at the amphitheatre of the Parc de Sa Riera, where prizes, diplomas and trophies of the Competició Internacional del Festival Mundial de Danses Folklóriques 2011 will be awarded.

For further information, consult the http://www.worldfolkdance.com website.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of uknorthernlights.com, showing performers of Northern Lights Youth Dancers from the UK, who won a Silver Medal in Palma, in 2005. I think they are from Yorkshire.

Thank you very much, Northern Dance Centre and Humphrey Carpenter, the photographer.

The World Folk Dance Festival

Rapeseed (Brassica napus)

The farming of Rapeseed (Brassica napus) does not enjoy a great tradition in Mallorca, as far as I know. With the prolificacy of olive trees for abundant olive oil production, there was not any need to produce rapeseed oil for human consumption. In fact, the plant is considered an alien species to the Balearics. Now, however, there is a different situation altogether with the plant being farmed for the production of biodiesel, an alternative for powering motor vehicles.

On a grey day of the kind we had over the Easter weekend, there is no happier sight than a field of rapeseed in full bloom with its bright yellow flowers, a welcome visual substitute for the absent brightness of the sun.

The good news is that the sun is making a welcome return, any moment soon.

The photo was taken near Porreres, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 10th, 2011. The time was 13:12:08.

Rapeseed (Brassica napus)

The Resurrection

Without much doubt, Easter is probably the most important religious festivity in the Mallorcan calendar, and the most family oriented celebration as well. For a start, the 40 days of Lent ended, at last, on Good Friday, reason enough to prepare Robiols (sweet pies), Panades (savoury pastries) and Crespells (sweet biscuits) for the festive weekend. Then, there are the Easter processions, all of which involve hooded cloaks and some of which, chains, flagellation and bare feet. There are theatrical passion play performances, Davallaments, Enterraments and vigils.

On Easter Sunday, most Mallorcan pueblos and parishes celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the Encontrada between the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus. This is a joyful procession, now without hoods or cloaks, where brass music is played by the Banda de Música and when pigeons are released en masse to celebrate the happy occasion. A Missa Solemne (solemn mass service) is usually celebrated after the Encontrada, concluding the religious part of Easter and Setmana Santa for another year.

Easter Monday is not traditionally a church holiday in Spain but, has acquired holiday status in recent years to allow for the celebration of Pancaritats. In Mallorca, this is a tradition involving citizens convening at monasteries and hermitages to share food with one another and with other, less privileged members of the local community. In Felanitx, a Pujada Solidaria journey on foot was organised up to Sant Salvador, the nearest Puig to Felanitx and the seat of the Santuari de Sant Salvador, the monastery dating from the 15th century. It is my guess that more than one thousand Felanitxers participated, including yours truly.

Next Sunday, Diumenge de l’Àngel will be celebrated in Felanitx and elsewhere with more church services of the more formal kind and with more festive gatherings. More food to be shared between all, no doubt.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 24th, 2011. The time was 10:46:01. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, showing the Encontrada being celebrated in Palma’s Cathedral, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Resurrection

The Days Of Books And Roses

Every year, April 23rd is celebrated as the Diada de Sant Jordi, here in Mallorca, or as St. George’s Day in places such as England, Canada or Portugal. Spain as such does not join in the celebrations but, Spanish provinces formerly belonging to the Corona de Aragón do, such as Valencia, Catalunya and Aragón. There, and here in Mallorca, the Day of Sant Jordi is celebrated as the Day of Books and Roses. On this day, and weather permitting, books are offered in open-space book markets, discounts are offered on all book purchases and each book buyer is gifted with a red rose.

This year, there was a but, though. This year, April 23rd coincided with the Easter weekend and Mallorcans were busy either with recovering from late night Easter processions, solemn burial commemorations and midnight church services or else, were occupied with sumptuous Easter banquets or the preparations thereof. Thus, Sant Jordi book fests were spread out during the week last week, one day at a time. I made my discounted purchases a week ago last Sunday, just in case you wanted to know, here in Felanitx.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2011. The time was 13:00:31.

The Days Of Books And Roses

The Pietà

Good Friday celebrations centre around the Davallament, here in Felanitx, a performance of the Passion Play which has been staged, here, ever since 1975. The Davallament is the story of the Last Supper, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, Jesus’ capture, his crucifixion, the taking off the cross of the dead body, the Pietà and, finally, the burial. All of this was staged two days ago in front of Sant Miquel, the parish church of Felanitx, except for the burial. After the act of the taking off the cross, the Processó de l’Enterrament proceeded from Sant Miquel under the participation of hundreds of hooded members of the local brotherhoods to accompany the statue of the dead Christ through the narrow streets of Felanitx, to conclude at the Església de Sant Agustí. There, in the convent church, the Enterrament (burial) was commemorated with great panache and gracefulness.

Early this morning, at 09h00, Easter celebrations in Felanitx will finish with the Processó de l’Encontrada, starting from Sant Agustí and ending at Sant Miquel. The Encontrada is the festive encounter of statues of Jesus and Mary, who arrive in separate processions but, are united when meeting at the church steps, and enter the church together.

The Encontrada will also be celebrated today in various other pueblos on the island, such as Santanyí, Manacor, Porreres, as well as Palma, amongst others.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 22nd, 2011. The time was 21:42:23. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx by Mateu Bennàsar Sansó during the late Seventies.

Moltes gràcies.

The Pietà