Pumpkin Time

It’s pumpkin time again. Halloween, tonight, October 31st. Halloween is not really a vital tradition here in Mallorca, nor anywhere else in Spain but, with globalisation abound, you can now find halloween parties on the island as well. Children have not adapted to the tradition, yet. No Trick or Treat. If anything, Halloween is a party thing here with youngsters dressing up in witches’ costumes or vampires’ outfits.

Carabasses, the Mallorcan pumpkin variety, will be celebrated in November. The Fira de Tardor will be held in Muro on Sunday, November 13th, incorporating the Concurs de Carabasses (pumpkin competition). Last year, they had pumpkins in excess of 200 kilogrammes a piece, albeit from the mainland and thus, outside of the competition. The Ajuntament offered dried seeds of those monsters, later in the year. If you had put your name down, you would have been given five giant pumpkin seeds to try your own luck with. We did, and we had three successful off-springs, weighing in at almost 20 kilogrammes each. Nor bad for pumpkin dummies such as ourselves.

The photo was taken in Porreres, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 30th, 2011. The time was 11:14:56.

Pumpkin Time

Rosarios For The Kids

Around this time of year, in the lead-up to Tots Sants (All Saints Day), you will find bakeries and patisseries offering a wide and colourful array of Rosarios (strings of beads for praying, or rosaries), albeit of the sweet variety. These Rosarios are for the little ones and are traditionally presented to them by their grandparents or their godparents. As far as I know, this is a typical tradition of Mallorca and not really seen in the rest of Spain, give or take the proverbial exception to the rule. It is said that this often highly elaborated sweets arrangement was first recorded during the 17th century. It is thought that it has to do with the customary visit of all the family to the cemetery on November 1st (All Saints Day), when the deceased family members are remembered and revered. The sweets were given to the little ones as a reward for their patience during the cemeterial visit or simply to keep them quiet and occupied. The best rosaries are handcrafted strings fashioned of handmade pralines, boiled sweets, candied fruit, chocolate, marzipan and such like. Prices are usually calculated by the weight of the stringed object and range from 9 to 50 € in a quality Pastissería or from 3.50 to 9.95 € in one of the supermarkets. Naturally, these cheaper varieties are not handmade and mostly consist of boiled sweets.

Good sources of artfully elaborated Rosarios are Pastisseries Pomar in Campos, Pastissería Ramís in Llucmajor or Pastissería Can Franquet in Palma.

The photo was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 29th, 2011. The time was 14:46:59.

Rosarios For The Kids

Death Valley

What do you tell a friend who asks whether it will be safe to hike in the Torrent des Pareis in November? A hard one to answer if you feel in any way responsible.

The track up or down the Torrent des Pareis is a dangerous one at any time of the year. In the rainy season – October to February – I would rather advise against a hike there. But even if it is not raining, there are deep pools of water in the torrent from previous downpours which can only be traversed with neoprene clothing. Even without such obstacles, there will be wet stones, rocks and pebbles, where one’s feet have no safe grip and one can easily stumble. I would suggest that in the wet season one should only attempt a hike there in a group including someone who knows the torrent well and who can give clear guidance and can warn of dangerous segments along the canyon. A climbing rope should be carried and harnessed where necessary.

About six weeks ago, there was one fatality, albeit in a different torrent, when a group of hikers had become separated. Every year, there are dead hikers in Mallorca, and often they stumble in the Pareis.

In November, I would rather suggest a hike from the bottom up, starting from the beach of Sa Calobra with an ascent from the lowest part. Depending on the weather and on any slippery conditions and/or water pools and streams, one may be lucky and manage to traverse the gorge for up to 2 or 3 km, all going well. When conditions worsen, one simply has to turn back and enjoy the dramatic landscape on a halfway measure. But even then this is already an exciting, adventurous and rewarding hike, if somewhat exhausting.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Sa Calobra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 5th, 2008. The time was 16:11:42. The video was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and sanmakoki.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Death Valley

Trobada Internacional de Tir de Foners

The Iª Trobada Internacional de Tir de Passetja (1st International Meeting of Slingers) will be held in Sóller from today until Sunday. The main event and competition will be on Sunday, October 30th, at 11h00 at Camp Esports Jaume Oliver in Sóller. The Trobada in Sóller is rather an event for males, but there will be a complementary competition for juniors as well as one for women. Stone pebbles will be used for the competition. After each round of stone slinging, there will be a round where tennis balls will be slung.

Historically, stone slinging is said to be a truly Mallorcan or Balearic activity but, somehow, the activity has spread across the waters and is now being practiced as a sport in countries such as Italy, India, Peru, Mexico, Rumania, Britain and Germany. In the Middle East, stone slinging is used as a technique for hunting. Who would have thought.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com, C.C.D.S. and the photographer, Joan Oliver (photo top), and tirdefona.org (photo bottom).

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Trobada Internacional de Tir de Foners

Autumn Fruit And Versatility

Sometimes I keep photos flagged for use at a later stage and then, with the passing of time, I forget where the photo was taken. Take today’s photo as an example. I was pretty sure that it shows a sundial of Es Sindicat in Felanitx, the cooperative wine making bodega founded here in 1919 and built between 1921 and 1922. But then, I wasn’t absolutely sure and thus, I had to do some cross-checking my photo library and archive to ascertain the where and what and when.

I got it right this time. There are occasions when circumstances prevent me from locating the vital data and make it necessary to postpone a blog entry until the time when I get all the facts right on the chosen photo.

The Sindicat sundial is carefully crafted by a presumably unknown stone mason under the guidance of the commissioning architect, Guillem Forteza, probably in 1922. The carving shows grapes, figs and other fruit and berries together with leaves and other unidentified plant material. I quite like the detail and the general craftsmanship. Sadly, the sundial is in a lamentable state of deterioration, as is the whole building. This time it is not La Crisis that we can blame but, ignorance and greed on the part of the current owners.

By the way, the Mallorca Daily Photo Blog was nominated yesterday for the Versatile Blogger Award by Anita Mac, a loyal reader and fellow blogger from Canada. The blog entry yesterday was my 1,600th Mallorcan daily snippet, and this is the first official recognition in the blogging world or nomination for such that has been bestowed on MDPB. Whilst I am grateful to Anita Mac for the nomination, I am still busy doing some web searching to try to find out what the Versatile Blogger thing is all about. I’ll let you know when I have managed to shed some light on the issue. For now, thank you very much, Anita Mac. I like your photos, too, and I am somewhat envious of all the adventures you have embarked upon so far.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 5th, 2011. The time was 12:23:18.

Autumn Fruit And Versatility

Caulking

There’s no point in sailing a boat out in the sea if the boat then sinks. To make sure this does not happen, one has to give special attention to sealing the cracks between the planks. This ancient art of caulking is called calafatear in Spanish or calafatament in Catalan. The technique is still being taught here in Mallorca, albeit on a dwindling scale.

The age-old craft of building boats with traditional materials such as wood is not so much en vogue any longer. Yes, there are some wharfs where one can order a traditional Llaut constructed with a wooden hull and covered with wooden boards. Calafat fibres from plant material are then wedged into the joints between the planks. Practical experience is needed to master this technique. But the number of traditional boat builders is down from about 40 in all of Mallorca to five or six. Maybe we are the last generation to be able to witness this tradition. Our children may well be left bewildered and ignorant when we will tell them about the art of calafatament in times to come. Oh, well.

In Japan, the government nurtures old master craftsmen and their artful trade to ensure that such traditions do not die out and, instead, are passed on to the younger generation. Not here so, in Mallorca, not in Spain, and hardly anywhere in Europe. It would not be too late to do something about it now, but, I doubt that anyone cares, up there in the ranks of policy making.

The photo was taken in Alcudia, Mallorca, Spain. The date: September 26th, 2009. The time then was 12:30:51.

Caulking

Protected Housing in Can Ribas

Weaving and industrial fabrication of textiles were a big industry in Mallorca at the end of the 19th century with perhaps a dozen factories sharing the market between them. Can Ribas was one of the biggest such factories with production facilities in Palma de Mallorca, Sóller and Esporlas. Amongst other lines of fabric, Can Ribas specialized in the production of sturdy cloth for uniforms and other products for the military. In Palma alone, there were three or four large Can Ribas weaving factories, amongst them the one in the barrio of Soledad (see photos) where cloth was spun from the 1880s and exported to the Americas, to Britain, France, Germany and mainland Spain. Can Ribas was also the largest producer of Robes de Llengües, a weaving process similar to that of Ikat. The Telas de Lenguas fabrics form part of the island’s cultural heritage and this is the only line of textiles that Can Ribas still produces to this day, in Esporlas.

The Can Ribas factory in Soledad closed its doors during the 1970s and was then used as a large warehouse for salvaged demolition material such as doors, windows, beams, shutters, kitchen and bathroom fittings, roofing, railing and what have you. The reclaimed building elements were particularly in demand by proud foreign finca owners from Northern Europe who had come to Mallorca to try their hand at Mallorcan farmhouse chic.

Some three or four years ago this old Can Ribas cloth factory was acquired by Palma’s Patronat Municipal de l’Habitatge, a municipal housing trust, with a view to build 160 protected housing units. Construction work commenced in 2009 but does not seem to have progressed much since the change of government and city council, earlier this year. I suppose the squeeze in matters of funding may well have found another victim.

Still, Can Ribas is well worth protecting. Perhaps one day matters will sort themselves out. It can’t be all bad, for ever. There is always hope.

The photos (top and centre) were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 25th, 2009. The time was 17:36:40 and 17:41:56, respectively. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and Estop Fotos Aéreas.

Muchas gracias.

Protected Housing in Can Ribas