The Massive Downpour of 1989

In early September 1989, twenty-three years ago last week, the South-East of the island was surprised by a ferocious Gota Fría, bringing torrential rain and utter devastation with it. Entire stretches of road were swept away, trees were uprooted by the thousands and dragged away, three people were killed when a hotel basement in Portocolom was flooded, hundreds of animals drowned and chaos ensued everywhere. The area around Felanitx and Cas Concos des Cavaller was declared a disaster zone and Reina Sofía (the Spanish Queen) flew in from Madrid to visit the affected area and talk to some of the victims. Rain fell at 06h00 in the morning at a rate of 125 litres per square metre within just 30 minutes. That’s about the same amount of rainfall that one could have expected to fall in one whole year. I had never seen or lived through anything like it in all my life, nor had most Mallorcans.

You may know the mountain of San Salvador, the Felanitx monastery. Believe me if I tell you that twelve rivers originated from that one mountain (many of you would call it a mere hill, at 510 m of altitude) after that rain. One of these rivers passed through Cas Concos, demolished an old country stone bridge and took oak trees of a considerable age with its raging force all the way to the beach of Es Trenc, some 29 kilometres away. Ten days later, no rivers were left, only torrentes, dry riverbeds.

Today’s photo shows the external wall of the Felanitx cemetery. This cemetery filled up, then, like a swimming pool until the Marès built walls could not contain the masses of water any longer nor support the water’s weight. The very walls shown in the picture collapsed in the process and an avalanche of mud and debris swept onto the surrounding fields, including the corpses of four recently buried people. The cemetery of s’Horta was similarly wrecked.

I’m telling you all this because now is the time of the year when the Gota Fría might visit this island. Be alert.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23rd, 2012. The time was 13:23:37.

The Massive Downpour of 1989

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

Fra Juníper Serra was born in the village of Petra on November 24th, 1713. Padre Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25th, 1988.

Mallorca is currently busy preparing commemorative acts for his tricentennial birthday, next year. Padre Serra left his natal Mallorca age 36 as a Franciscan missionary for the “New Spain” in Mexico and never returned to his native island. In the Americas, he founded missions in Alta California such as San Diego de Alcalá, San Gabriel Arcángel, San Francisco de Asís, and San Juan Capistrano, which eventually would become the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Amongst a number of projects, a cinema film is presently in a phase of preproduction, launched by the Mallorca Film Commission, in collaboration with the Cluster Audiovisual de Baleares and the Mallorcan IB3 television channel, aiming to portray on-screen the life and vocation of the Mallorcan missionary. Let’s hope they can raise the finance. Michael Douglas once said, years ago, that he would be interested in bringing Juníper Serra’s biography to the screen.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 15:11:01. The photo (bottom) was added as a postscript. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 12:40:00.

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

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

The Sun Deity

Real Mallorcans do not much value or even, worship the sun. Far from it. They fear and respect the sun for its unforgiving strength and harsh impact on the land, the crop, plants and animals. On the island, country houses used to be built with few windows and small ones in size at that, just to keep the heat out.

Once a year, though, the sun is celebrated, almost as a deity. That will be tonight, the Nit de Sant Joan, when the sun’s Summer solstice is celebrated, or Midsummer Night. There will be fires on some beaches, such as in Cala Sa Nau. In Palma, there will be a Correfoc (Fire Run) at the Parc de la Mar. The Festival de Sant Joan (Festival of Saint John) is really tomorrow, June 24th. It will be celebrated in style at 06h30 at the Santuari de la Mare de Déu de Consolació just outside of the pueblo of Sant Joan, in the middle of the island, in an act called El Sol Que Balla (the dancing sun). If you go there you might be invited for a drink of hot chocolate and even, a freshly baked ensaïmada.

The photo was taken near Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 07:41:13.

The Sun Deity

Corpus Christi Concerts in Palma

Next Sunday, June 10th, the Spring festivity of Corpus Christi will be celebrated in Mallorca. Between now and then, ten concerts will be held in some of the city’s emblematic courtyards, such as in Can Oms, Palau March, Misericòrdia, Can Berga or the Estudi General Lul·lià.

Tonight at 21h00, for instance, a concert will be given by the Cor del Teatre Principal at the Claustre de Sant Francesc. The setting is absolutely stunning and even better, entrance admission is free, tonight as well as for all the remaining concerts. Next Sunday, the last concert of the series will be given by the Orchestra Simfònica de les Illes Balears in the Pati de l’Almudaina, also at 21h00, opposite Palma’s Cathedral.

More information about the remaining concerts on June 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th can be found here.

Tickets for the concerts can be obtained Monday to Friday from 09h30 to 13h30 at PICH, Carrer de l’Almudaina 9A, or one hour before the start of the concert at the venue of the day.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 1st, 2012. The time was 18:20:11. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of tourmandu.com.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Corpus Christi Concerts in Palma

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porciúncula

The church of Portiuncula in Playa de Palma is really called Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de la Porciúncula. The temple is also known as Iglesia de Cristal (Glass Church).

The church and its monastic annex were built in 1964 and inaugurated in 1968. Originally, the complex was conceived as a seminary to prepare students for priesthood. Somehow, over the years, the Catholic church in Spain and in Mallorca has suffered a set-back, though, and monasteries, convents, monks, nuns and priests in general are now on the decline. I am not sure where the few candidates who nowadays elect clergy as a professional career are being taught; I suppose it might be at the Seminari Nou round the corner from Carrer de Monti-sion in Palma’s old town.

The Portiuncula church is of a circular shape; its main feature are the 39 stained glass windows designed by Juan Bautista Castro, a painter. The visual effects are quite stunning. You should go and have a look. There is also a Museo de la Porciúncula offering archeological titbits, ethnological oddities and a hodgepodge of numismatic items, recommended really only for its odd eccentricity. If you want to have a look at perhaps 300 maggot-eaten Cuban cigars, this is where you will find them, neatly arranged in glass display cases.

Occasionally, concerts are held here and not only of a religious content. The acoustic qualities of the church are quite remarkable. Again, if you would have the opportunity to attend, I feel you might not be disappointed.

The photos were taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 25th, 2012. The time was 18:52:58, 18:21:09 and 18:30:21, respectively.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porciúncula

The Monestir de La Real

The Monestir de Santa María de La Real just to the North of Palma was founded in 1235 by designation of King Jaume I, the Conquistador. From 1265 to 1274, Ramon Llull lived and worked there, studying Latin, philosophy, theology and the law. Here, he wrote his first books, Compendi de la lògica d’Algatzell and Llibre de Contemplació en Déu. These treaties were written in Arabic and only later translated into Catalan. I understand that both manuscripts form part of the library that Llull bequeathed to La Real. I am not sure if or how one can gain access to the Bibliotequa de La Real, said to be one of the most emminent ones on the island but I am sure one could find out.

I do know, however, that one can gain access to the cloisters of that monastery. Although the convent appears closed at all times, visitors can ring the doorbell and will be admitted for brief visits as long as peace and quiet are respected. You should consider an excursion to this spiritual oasis, not far from where you might reside.

The photos were taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 2nd, 2012. The time was 12:57:11 and 13:11:27, respectively.

The Monestir de La Real