The Old Alcúdia Power Station

I wonder if you sometimes are curious about where all the energy comes from that is being consumed here in Mallorca in an ever-increasing rate of mega watts. Yes, you flip the light switch or press a button, but where does the juice actually come from?

The Central Térmica Alcúdia (the old Alcúdia Power Station) near the port of Alcúdia was Mallorca’s main power station from the Sixties to the late Nineties when it was replaced by another plant, called Es Murterar, also in the area of Alcúdia, near the lagoon. The old Alcúdia Power Station was built under Franco in 1957. Electrical energy was produced by way of coal firing, hence its position near the coast. Coal was transported from the Spanish mainland to the Port d’Alcúdia by ship, and still is. The new Es Murterar power plant is also fed with coal.

Currently, there are four thermal power plants on Mallorca, Es Murterar, Son Reus, Cas Tresorer and Son Molinos. Since last year, there is also a connection to the mainland by under-water cable.

Nowadays, the old Alcúdia Power Station is a bit of an eye-sore, especially as it is situated in a rather popular tourist area. A few years ago, a competition was held, designs were drawn up and a winning entry was selected. Plans were approved to convert this power plant into an industrial museum. Of course, there is no money available now for any such fancy plans. I hope the architects, Alonso Hernández y Asociados from Pamplona, got paid for their winning entry (photo bottom).

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and Comunicació Endesa (top) and ahasociados.com (bottom).

Muchas gracias.

The Old Alcúdia Power Station

The Carthusian Apothecary

When the Kingdom of Mallorca ceased to exist, the royal palace Palau del Rei Sanç in Valldemossa was ceded to the church and in 1399 it was transformed into a Carthusian monastery known as Cartoixa de Valldemossa. The monks were forced to relinquish the monastery after just over 400 years when the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizabal dispossessed a large number of church properties in 1835. The property passed into private ownership shortly before Frederik Chopin and George Sand arrived in the Winter of 1838. Today the Cartoixa serves as a museum, not least for its association with King Sancho and Chopin. Amongst many intriguing aspects of the Cartoixa I would like to highlight the old apothecary shop or pharmacy. The pharmacy was installed by the monks during the 17th century. Old bottles, potions, balances and medicinal instruments of the period are well-preserved, including some 135 ceramic jars from the 18th century (see photo).

The photo was taken in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2012. The time was 12:59:22.

The Carthusian Apothecary

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume

The Festes de Sant Jaume are celebrated every year on July 25th. Sant Jaume is the same as San Jaime in Spain and Santiago or Santo Xacobeo in Galícia. In Mallorca, the saint is acclaimed in pueblos such as Alcúdia, Algaïda, Binissalem, Calvià, Portocolom, Santanyí and Sa Pobla. In most of these places, festivities start a week or so before the saint’s day and they might conclude a few days after.

Last night, the town of Santanyí celebrated the end of its Festes de Sant Jaume with an act called Tic-Tac which was dedicated to the young population of the municipality, starting at 23h00. At the stroke of midnight, Sant Jaume‘s celebrations were concluded with everybody present eating 12 olives to the strokes of the church bells.

The custom dates back a few hundred years when everyone in Mallorca ate 12 olives at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Olives were a staple food here on the island, as they still are to this day. The customary 12 grapes at midnight had not cottoned on here as it had in mainland Spain or as it has now.

To my knowledge no other pueblo in Mallorca upholds the old tradition of eating 12 olives, neither at the occasion of New Year’s Eve nor at Sant Jaume‘s. Should you happen to know better, please let me know.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 28th, 2012. The time was 18:33:28.

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume

The Other Half

The other day, a commemorative act was held in Portocolom to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Spain’s first civil school for amphibian planes, the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil. The occasion was reason enough for the President of the Consell de Mallorca, Maria Salom Coll, to descend upon this Eastern harbour town together with a few mandarins in her entourage. The festive act with self-important speeches by the political class was marred by a cacophony of ear-piercing whistles, shouting and booing by up to a hundred mostly young protesters. The audience attending was clearly divided into two groups of pretty equal numbers. The scene was a fair mirror image of today’s society in Spain and more to the point, Mallorca. La Crisis in Spain and here on the island seems to be affecting one half of the population whilst the other half happily pursues a routine of daily life as if everything were normal. I was shocked to see how seemingly far removed the political class present in Portocolom appeared from half their populace. They were all smiling and irritatingly cheerful, totally ignorant of the motives of the protesters who appeared to belong to the 21.3 % (24.6 % in all of Spain) of unemployed, or rather, 48 % in the case of youngsters under the age of 35, which seemed about the age range of the whistlers.

Massive protests have been seen frequently over the last six months wherever the president of the Govern Balear or his counterpart at the Consell de Mallorca made public appearances, either in Sa Pobla, Inca, Felanitx, Sóller, Andratx or Muro. Political decisions effecting cuts and changes in education, language, the health system, paired with effects of inflation, unemployment, taxation and dispossession have caused a lot of ill will amongst many citizens that the ruling body shrugs off without any further discussion. The argument goes like this ‘We have been elected with a majority and will now do as we please‘. A pity though that half the adult citizens did not vote Conservative and seem to feel utterly misrepresented.

It appears only fitting that just two days earlier, the government in Madrid had set up a new Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (Ministry of Homeland Security). I think that sooner or later the street protests in Spain will not be restricted to mere whistling.

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 25th, 2012. The time was 19:27:48.

The Other Half

Jaume el Conquistador

Jaime I de Aragón el Conquistador died 736 years ago today (July 27th, 1276). He led the Catalan conquest in 1229 when he was only 21 years old, taking Mallorca from the hands of Arabs or rather, the Berbers. He conquered Menorca in 1232 and Ibiza in 1235). I can’t tell you much more about him. Please allow me to quote from Wikipedia:

James I the Conqueror (Catalan: Jaume el Conqueridor, Aragonese: Chaime lo Conqueridor, Spanish: Jaime el Conquistador, Occitan: Jacme lo Conquistaire; 1208 – 1276) was the King of Aragón, Mallorca and Valencia, Count of Barcelona and Urgell, and Lord of Montpellier from 1213 to 1276. His long reign saw the expansion of the Crown of Aragón on all sides: into Valencia to the south, Languedoc to the north, and the Balearic Islands to the east. By a treaty with Louis IX of France, he wrested the county of Barcelona from nominal French suzerainty and integrated it into his crown. His part in the Reconquista was similar in Mediterranean Spain to that of his contemporary Ferdinand III of Castile in Andalusia.

The most beloved king of Mallorca was father of eight male children from his second wife Violante of Hungary, daughter of King Andreas II of the Árpád dynasty.

As a legislator and organiser, he occupies a high place among the Spanish kings. James compiled the Llibre del Consulat de Mar, which governed maritime trade and helped establish Catalan-Aragonese supremacy in the western Mediterranean. He was an important figure in the development of Catalan, sponsoring Catalan literature and writing a quasi-autobiographical chronicle of his reign: the Llibre dels fets.

I don’t think any official celebration will mark the occasion in Palma today. Jaume I is rather commemorated on September 12th with the Diada de Mallorca (Mallorca Day) and on December 31st with the Festa de l’Estendard (Festivity of the Ensign).

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 23rd, 2012 and May 17th, 2012. The time was 11:31:13 and 13:13:33, respectively.

Jaume el Conquistador

Promoting Breastfeeding

I can’t say that I go to Santa Ponça a lot. Had I known what was going on at the beach of Santa Ponça the day before yesterday, I would have gone there for sure.

A few dozen women nursed their babies during a promotion day for breastfeeding held by the Associacio Balear d’Alletament Matern (ABAM) in Santa Ponça (see photo). As I wasn’t there I had to borrow a photo of the event from the Internet. I hope L’Agence France-Press or the photographer won’t sue me. If they do and I have to go to jail, would you come and visit me?

Just to make it plain and clear: I would not have gone to Santa Ponça because I am a geek, a voyeur or a dirty old man. I am all that but, no, I would have gone because I would always support and help promote the cause of natural breastfeeding. Our three children were all breastfed, I myself was nursed the way nature has provided for as well and so should every living being on this planet. I am sad and disturbed to see so many young mothers here in Mallorca bottle-feed their babies as young as perhaps two months or less. A lot of them smoke as well whilst they nurse, bottle-nurse that is, their brood. I can’t get my head around it. Do we really want to live in a plastic world? No wonder our politicians act like morons most of the time; they were probably all bottle-fed.

Just in case you don’t go to Santa Ponça all that much either: a national (or international) breastfeeding day will be held on October 2nd this year, with a communal breastfeeding being held in Parc de la Mar, right by the Cathedral.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of lapatilla.com and the photographer, Jaime Reina/AFP Photo.

Thank you very much,

muchas gracias and

merci beaucoup.

Promoting Breastfeeding

Happy Seaplane Landings in Portocolom

Unless you live near Port de Pollença, there aren’t many opportunities to see a seaplane landing or alighting anywhere in Mallorca. Unless you lived in Portocolom in 1922-23. Then, there existed a seaplane navigation school in Portocolom, believe it or not, the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil, only the second such civil facility in all of Spain. Sadly, there was not much uptake in students willing to, or affluent enough to afford to, learn the handling of a seaplane and all that is involved, such as amphibious operations, aeroplane mechanics, maritime navigation, you name it. For lack of students or money or both, the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil de Portocolom closed down for good after only six months of operation. What a shame. The founder of the seaplane school, Àngel Orté Abad, a pilot, went to Catalunya instead to set up shop there.

Portocolom is celebrating the Festividad de Sant Jaume today, July 25th, and over the next few days. To mark the occasion, the landing of a historic seaplane is scheduled on the water of the harbour of Portocolom, this afternoon at around 19h00. I shall be there. A plaque will be unveiled at the spot where the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil de Portocolom used to be located, in Carrer de la Mare de Déu, to coincide with today’s happy landing.

And a meeting will be held at Portocolom’s new Centre Cívic tonight at 22h00 with an address given by Miquel Buades Socias (Hidroavions a Portocolom – Inicios de la aviación en Mallorca, 1919-1923). I think, admission will be free. I might just go there as well. It sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

The top three photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es. The photo (bottom) was borrowed the Internet, courtesy of ajfelanitx.net.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

Happy Seaplane Landings in Portocolom