Sentimental Journeys

I must confess that I am intrigued by old things of a bygone era, be that a classic car, an old fountain pen, a motorcycle with sidecar, a Thirties wireless radio, a Wurlitzer jukebox, an old-fashioned printing press, you name it. Saying that, you’ll be surprised when I tell you that you’ll find none of these in our house, except perhaps for a fountain pen from the Seventies.

Here in Mallorca, my heartbeat goes up every time I see an old farming instrument, a plough perhaps or an old wine barrel, a horse cart like the one shown in the picture or a loom of yesteryear. You may call me old-fashioned, sentimental, a romantic even, but, there you are.

Even more than the old objects I admire people such as some of my friends here on the island who lovingly restore and cherish such old treasures. One friend collects and lovingly reconditions old motorbikes, another proudly stores and restores vintage cars, yet another overhauled his old horse cart with great care and dedication and has just laid his eyes and his heart on yet another, slightly bigger carriage, as old and equally beautiful..

Talking about the cart in my photograph, I have you know that you won’t be able to take this vehicle on any public road in Spain, not even here in Mallorca. There is a law prohibiting old spoked wheel carts, wooden or otherwise, careering up and down public roads as long as their wheels are rimmed with an iron band. Should you want to cruise with such an old cart, you would first have to refit the vehicle with modern type, rubber-tyred wheels. Of course it can be done but, it will not quite be the same.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 6th, 2011. The time was 12:52:58.

Sentimental Journeys

Seasonal Fish, Freshly Caught

A week ago (August 25th) was the first day when commercial fishing of Llampugas (Common Dolphinfish; Latin: Coryphaena hippurus, also: Lampugus siculus [Valenciennes]) was allowed. If you go for this Autumnal fish as a private person, you would be allowed to go for the fish at any time here in Mallorca as long as you are in possession of a valid fishing license. As a professional fisherman, however, you would be restricted to the official season which goes from now until the end of November. One can already find Llampugas in some of the fish markets on the island. The Llampuga is a migratory fish, usually at home in the Atlantic where it can grow up to a size of 2 m but, also at home in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean (see map below). Prices for Llampugas at Mallorcan fish mongers seem up on last year, possibly due to it being early days and availability still being scarce. Once everybody catches enough of the fish, prices should come down to their usual affordability (around 8 €). Some people claim that the Llampuga is also a farmed fish but, I have no evidence of any farmed Llampuga, here in Mallorca.

When I spoke to one of the fishermen in Portocolom the other day, I was told that Llampugas are being caught between 4 and 14 nautical miles out into the Mediterranean Sea. In the old days, four men were needed to manhandle the special surface net. Nowadays, only two people are needed because the fishing boats are equipped with stronger engines and the nets are now made of nylon, thus being more hard-wearing, stronger and more durable.

September 1st is the official day of the start of the Raor fish season (Pearly Razorfish; Latin: Xyrichtys novacula). That is an all-together different kind of fish. The Raor season evokes a frenzy amongst many hobby fishermen here in Mallorca. The Raor tastes decidedly different from any other fish and certainly different from the Llampuga. The Raor sells for ten times the price of the Llampuga, at 80 € and more; its season extends from September 15th to April 1st.

The photo (top) was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2011. The time was 11:30:43. The map was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of obis.org.au.

Thank you very much.

Seasonal Fish, Freshly Caught

The Pandemonium of the Correfoc

Dimonis de Hiachat is a group of youngsters from the pueblo of Santa Margalida cultivating the art of pyrotechnic fireworks and Correfocs (fire-runs). Felanitx had a Correfoc last night as part of their annual Festes de Sant Agustí, and the Dimonis de Hiachat were once again put in charge of accomplishing the task. And man, do they know their business.

The Correfoc fire-runs are amongst the most striking peculiarities one can find in Mallorcan festivals. Before I came to Mallorca, I had never experienced a fire-run. Now I have witnessed a good number of Correfocs and each one seems to be more stunning and more chaotic than the previous one. But the chaos is only seemingly uncontrolled. In fact, every single facet of the fire-run is well rehearsed and well orchestrated or else, it would not work. The dangers would be too forbidding if every tiny detail would not be competently supervised. If you have never been to a Correfoc, you should experience one any time soon. Dress properly in a protective manner and let the pandemonium start. You will be utterly smitten, I promise.

The Correfoc is not only a visual affair and a frightening one at that but, an acoustic one as well. The fire-runners come accompanied by a group of drummers, both male and female, who give rhythm and beat to the fire-runners’ actions. It is an awesome event, both, daunting and impressive, scary and breathtaking, spectacular and stunning. The best place to watch and feel the exciting performance is from within the group, i. e. right in amongst the performers. Give it a try; you won’t regret it.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 28th, 2011. The time was 22:18:41. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/dimonisdehiachat.

Muchas gracias.

The Pandemonium of the Correfoc

Sa Quica

For the last 25 years, Sa Quica, also known as La Kika, has been an indispensable mascot of the Cosso in Felanitx during the celebrations of the Festes de Sant Agustí. Again so this year, when, earlier this morning, all of Felanitx was woken by a big bang, announcing the charge of the Cossos in search of Sa Quica, the cockerel. Once retrieved from the Font (fountain) in front of the parish church, the cock was triumphantly paraded through the streets of the Pueblo until the youngsters halted for a break in Plaça d’Espanya where breakfast was taken including an alcoholic beverage or two. In previous years, Sa Quica has been a live cockerel (photo below) but, this year it was back to a stuffed animal, for whatever reason.

Celebrations will continue all day today as will the drinking, the charging and the merriment. Normally, the day would end with El Cosso and the cock ending up at the Macarena (bull ring) but, this is no longer an option whilst the bull ring is in its state of disrepair. Instead, the Ajuntament puts on a silly show or other, this year it being the Piratas. At night, a church service will be held in honour of the town’s patron saint, the Cossiers will show their little danses, a Correfoc will celebrate the fire gods and the demons, and another, final, Verbena concert will be staged, this time including Horris Kamoi.

The Osborne bull in Algaïda also celebrated the Quica, or so I think (see photo below). I’m not quite sure as to what Sa Quica says NO to. Is it a reference to the bullfight which isn’t happening anyway? Perhaps you can explain.

The photos (top and centre) were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: August 28th, 2011 and August 28th, 2010. The time was 08:06:16 and 12:06:47, respectively. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mallorcadiario.com.

Muchas gracias.

Sa Quica

The Torre de Canyamel

There are a good hundred defence towers and fortifications all over Mallorca, some going back to Moorish times. Most of them are in a pretty bad state of disrepair and only a handful of them are in good nick. The Torre de Canyamel is in excellent condition, considering its age. The fortified casal (manor house) dates from the 13th century and was probably built on the site of a former Moorish fortress. The building served as a family home but, was also used as surveillance and defence tower at a time when attacks by pirates and Saracens were rife, until it was abandoned during the 15th century. With the invention of firearms, defence matters relied less and less on ramparts. Before that, the fortified tower was the centre of an extensive agricultural property. With the passage of time, outbuildings and other units were added. The Torre extends over three floors with a height of 23 m, with a smaller Torreon sitting on top of the main square tower.

The Torre de Canyamel was extensively refurbished at the beginning of the 20th century. Since 2009, the Torre is open to the public as a museum, offering rather good and informative insights into the history of the building and its surrounding estate, the landlord’s lifestyle including domestic objects and carpet looms as well as military furniture and weapons. Admission charge is 3 €; opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10h00 to 15h00 and 17h00 to 20h00, as well as Sundays from 10h00 to 15h00. At the moment and until the end of September, there is also an exhibition of large format art pieces by Pollença artist, Joan Bennàssar.

Tonight, Mallorcan singer Maria del Mar Bonet will give a recital of songs there, based on texts by Mallorcan poets (20h30; admission 25 €). Although seats are limited, there were still a few tickets unsold when I rang yesterday. You could try your luck by ringing 971.841.134.

The photo (top) was taken near Canyamel, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 25th, 2011. The time was 13:54:05. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of torredecanyamel.com.

Muchas gracias.

The Torre de Canyamel

The Tour de Felanitx

Cycling has always been big in Felanitx, not least because of one of the town’s heroes, Guillem Timoner, a six-times World Champion in motor-paced cycling over medium distances (50 km) in 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1965 (he also came 2nd in 1956 and 1958), the most successful cycling racer of all times in this category.

Every year, on the occasion of the Festes de Sant Agustí, the town of Felanitx holds a Cursa Ciclista (a mini Tour cycling race) over 50 km on an urban racecourse, and so again yesterday. Guillem Timoner did not participate, age 85, but came to watch the new generation of cycling enthusiasts of which Felanitx has so many. The race was staged in two age groups, adults (shown here) and adolescents. I was pleased to see that in the latter category there was also a female, or were there even two? Sometimes you cannot tell the gender as the cyclists whizz past the onlookers, generating quite a bit of a whoosh. It’s actually quite hard to get the action on to film, as it were.

Anyway, the last three days of the town’s festes start from today with Anegats and the Els Pets giving an almost sold-out concert tonight at 23h00. Tomorrow, Saturday, a Golf Tournament will be held at Vall d’Or golf course, the Cavallets will tour the pueblo together with the Dimonis and the Caparrots, to be followed by a church service at the town’s convent church, some Bal de Bot by the local groups, Abeniara and S’Estol de Gerricó and another Verbenas concert. Sunday will see the Cossos start the day bright and early, touring the Gall (cock) through Felanitx before breakfast, a church service at the church of Sant Agustí, a performance of Pirata (Pirates) at 18h00 (admission free), a Correfoc and another final concert with groups such as Horris Kamoi, La Timbras Band and a few others more. Depending on which direction the wind will blow, we are bound to be facing three pretty sleepless nights from tonight. Oh well, it’s only once a year.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 25th, 2011. The time was 18:58:10.

The Tour de Felanitx

Saint Juniper

Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer was born in Petra, Mallorca, in November of 1713. He is better known as Fray Junípero Serra, a name he took on in honour of Saint Juniper when he joined the Order of Friars Minor, commonly called simply the Franciscans, in Palma in 1731. In 1738, he was ordained a priest and acquired a degree and PhD in theology. In 1749, he traveled to Mexico as Apostolic missionary together with other Franciscan monks.

The first house on the right in today’s picture is often pointed out as being the birthplace of Junípero Serra when in fact he stayed there from the age of 5 until he turned 18 and joined the Franciscans. The house where he was actually born does not exist any longer.

The pueblo of Petra is very proud of its famous son. The town celebrates Saint Juniper’s acolyte with a number of memorial plaques, erected in recognition of the missionary’s accomplishments in Mexico and in the province of Las Californias, present day’s state of California, USA, including not only the not-quite birthplace but also, a museum dedicated to the man who was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1988.

A visit to the pueblo of Petra is well worth your while even if you are not much of a devotee of the Catholic faith yourself, simply for the historic ramifications that originated from this very place.

The photo was taken in Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 30th, 2010. The time was 18:48:56.

Saint Juniper