The Balearic Mountain Championship

The annual car race up the Sant Salvador mountain near Felanitx is the fourth out of six races making up the Campeonato de Baleares de Montaña 2012 (Balearic Mountain Championship). So far, races were held to Valldemossa, to Monte Toro and to the Castell de Son Mas in Andratx. After Felanitx, two more races remain in this year’s competition, up to Puig Major (October 6th-7th) and to Cala de Sant Vicenç (October 20th-21st).

Tomorrow, September 1st, will be a day of training sessions, starting at 16h30. The proper race will be held on Sunday, September 2nd, at 09h30. Thirty cars have registered to compete here in Felanitx. And the winner is …..

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mallorcarallye.com.

Muchas gracias.

The Balearic Mountain Championship

Feeding the Starved

Pa de Sant Antoni

This may not be the image that the Mallorca Tourist Board would want to see highlighted, but there you go.

Ever since unemployment rose to unprecedented levels here in Mallorca, almost four years ago, more and more families and single mothers with children find it increasingly difficult to feed themselves. In a sometimes really difficult situation hundreds of destitute people depend on the help of charitable organisations on the island, such as the Catholic Church, the Lions Club, banks such as Sa Nostra Solidaria and Caixa de Colonya, the Salvation Army or ONGs such as Comedor Zaqueo and Projecte Home Balears.

Every weekday morning, the Frailes Caputxins in the Convent dels Caputxins (Capuchin monastery) just off Plaça d’Espanya hand out a sandwich to up to 400 hungry and impoverished souls. The convent has a door in Carrer Bastió d’en Sanoguera where a bocadillo and a piece of Ensaïmada is handed out for free without any questions asked bar your name. In addition, every Monday afternoon, you can see dozens of shopping trolleys parked outside the Puerta de Pa de Sant Antoni, ready to carry home warm food which is offered for about 300 families (see photo top). On Saturdays, warm food is offered to more than one hundred old age pensioners.

The Comedor Zaqueo in Plaça Mercadal is offering breakfast to some 150 homeless, and evening meals to 300 hungry souls (see photo bottom). Demand for food and shelter is on the increase; the Associación Zaqueo is also offering a bed to over 5,000 homeless residents every year.

Mallorca is not just all sun and sea and chill-out parties. Some find the going quite tough. Perhaps you can spare a thought.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 27th, 2012. The time was 10:37:15. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and Zaqueo.

Muchas gracias.

Feeding the Starved

The European Day of Jewish Culture 2012

Next Sunday, September 2nd, the European Day of Jewish Culture 2012 will be celebrated in Europe, in Spain as well as here in Mallorca. This year’s event will be under the theme of The Spirit of Jewish Humour. According to the German poet Heinrich Heine, German humour is as heavy as German beer, English humour is misty like whiskey, French humour is light, fizzy and shiny like Champagne, whereas the Scots are deprived of any sense of humour (quoted from the jewisheritage website). Heine was born into a Jewish family, but later converted to Christianity in 1825, age 28.

In case you want to learn something, a Shofar (photo top) is a traditional Jewish blowing horn made of a mature ram’s horn, used as an instrument for religious purposes. And the photo (bottom) shows USA Rabbi Joseph Wallis, centre, at the site of a former synagogue in Palma in 2011 which had been replaced by a Roman Catholic church during the 16th century.

A concert will be given by Ana Alcaide at Castell de Bellver on September 1st, 21h00, as part of the European Day of Jewish Culture. The synagogue in Palma will hold a day of Open Doors on September 2nd, 10h00 to 14h00. There will be guided tours through Palma’s Jewish Quarters on the same day at 10h00 (Catalán and English), 11h45 (German and Spanish), 17h00 (Catalán and German) and 18h45 (Catalán and Spanish), starting from Plaza de Cort. A documentary about the fate of the Chuetas will be screened at Teatro Xesc Forteza, at 20h30.

There will also be a Ciclo de Cine Judío. The following movies will be shown at the Teatro Municipal Catalina Valls in Palma (Passeig Mallorca), quite possibly in a Spanish dubbed version:

04/09/2012: El mundo según Barney/Barbey’s Version (Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy 2010).
13/09/2012: Judíos en el espacio/Jews in Space, or Why Is this Night Different from All Other Nights? (Gabriel Lichtmann, Argentina 2005).
18/09/2012: Te quiero, Alice B. Toklas/I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (Hy Averback, USA 1968).
27/09/2012: El Rabino y el Pistolero/The Frisco Kid (Robert Aldrich, USA 1979).

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 7th, 2008. The time was 13:08:55. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of nytimes.com and the International Herald Tribune. Many thanks also to the photographer, Marta Ramoneda.

Thank you very much.

The European Day of Jewish Culture 2012

The Day When Felanitx Is Ruled By The Penyas

Today, the town of Felanitx is celebrating its patron saint day, the Festes de Sant Agustí. Every year, August 28th turns into a bit of a bit of a pandemonium here, partly because there is a lot of drinking Pomada and other alcoholic beverages and partly because on this day, Felanitx is really ruled by the Penyas.

There are a number of penyas in Felanitx, perhaps six or eight, but El Cosso is the original Felanitx Penya and by far the biggest. The symbol of El Cosso is Sa Kika, a live domestic cock, carefully carried round the vila in a small cage placed on a velvet cushion. For the last thirty years, there used to be a bullfight on this saint’s day in Felanitx, where the Cosso made a noisy appearance, but not any longer. There are no more bullfights in Felanitx.

Last year, there was an incidence after the church mass, when local dignitaries and politicians from Palma were reputedly harassed by some local Penya youths. A local police officer saw fit to use some teargas much to the surprise of onlookers. The disturbance ended in court and a number of rather draconian sentences were handed out to a dozen youths of 5,000 € each. It is rumoured that the Palma elite will not make an appearance at today’s church service which would really give the local Penyas the upper hand.

Tonight at 21h30, a Correfoc will be run from Plaça Santa Margalida to Plaça Pax. See you there, perhaps?

The photos (top and centre) were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 28th, 2012. The time was 10:37:25 and 09:41:39, respectively. The photo (bottom) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 28th, 2011. The time was 09:10:47.

The Day When Felanitx Is Ruled By The Penyas

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

The 2012 wine harvest has started. It is always the white grape that gets harvested first, from August 15th onwards, roughly speaking. That is grapes of the Chardonnay, Macabeu, Malvasia and Giró varieties, amongst others. Some vintners swear by the moon and may have started harvesting this year’s grapes on August 17th, the August New Moon. Others consider that a lot of humbug and call it an unproven folk tale with no background in science.

Be that as it may, the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori recently authorized the use of three indigenous Mallorcan grape varieties for wine making under the label Vi de la Terra de Mallorca: Gorgollassa, Giró Ros and Viognier. The island’s wine makers have campaigned for legalization of these grape varieties for quite some time, up to ten years if I am not mistaken. Approval had to first be gained from the European Commission in Brussels, then from the Spanish Government bodies in Madrid, then from Industria, the Mallorcan regulatory body, until finally, six weeks ago, the Island Council Agricultural Department approved the amendment, recognizing and regulating the geographical criteria for wines made in Mallorca.

Wine had been produced from these grape varieties in recent years, but its sale was so far prohibited. Now, any supposed illegality has been lifted. You should try some wine made from Gorgollassa or Giró grapes; they are quite impressive. The Viognier variety I do not know myself; I can not vouch for this one.

The grape shown in today’s photo is probably a Manto Negro. This variety is distinctive, but is hard to grow and it oxidizes easily.

Manto Negro is difficult. It takes to the character of the land very well, but it’s like a wild animal, savage, and you have to educate it.” (Maria Antonía Oliver, Bodegues Ribas).

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2012. The time was 19:58:41.

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

Hen Nights, Mallorca Style

If you spend enough hours at Palma’s airport like I did the other night waiting for a friend whose plane was delayed for two hours, you’ll be treated to all sorts of sights. Such as Kristen, the bride to be, and her female friends, quite probably heading for Magaluf on a Hen Night outing.

Over the last five years, Mallorca has come to specialize in Hen Nights and Stag Does, on a par with Ibiza, Barcelona, Benidorm, Amsterdam and Budapest. Mallorca may be less extreme in its offering when compared to Amsterdam and Budapest, but the sun and the sea more than make up for it, and there is always Sangria and sex. Hen Weekend packages are available from £ 69 (88 €) per person, excluding flights, with no upper limit for the more discerning hedonists. Mind you, there was not much discernment recognizable as far as Kristen’s cheerful troupe was concerned.

The photo was taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 20:11:04.

Hen Nights, Mallorca Style

The Torre de Cala Pi

The Torre de Cala Pi is one of three coastal defense towers in the municipality of Llucmajor, together with the Torre de Cap Blanc and the Torre de s’Estelella, and is one of 45 ancient torres on Mallorca’s coastline.

The Torre de Cala Pi guards the entrance to the cove of Cala Pi and stands at about 19.5 m above sea level. The tower was built after several attacks by the Ottoman Turks in 1543 and was completed in 1663. To my knowledge, the tower was never successfully conquered, not by pirates or Maurish marauders, anyway.

The photo was taken in Cala Pi, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 17:45:04.

The Torre de Cala Pi