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

Cool in the Pool

You may be surprised when I tell you that we do not possess a swimming pool. We had guests staying with us the other day, for a week or so. Friends of theirs, who were here on holiday, were aghast to hear they stayed with us in a house without a piscina. The truth is that I would quite like to have a cooling-off swim basin but my wife is not in favour of my idea. You may also be shocked to hear that we don’t have air-conditioning in our house, either. I am totally against the environmental insanity and the harmful effect of air-conditioning, health-wise. Luckily my wife agrees with me on that one. Okay, it is hot out there right now, I grant you that. But temperatures will drop within a week or two; so, what’s the big deal? We keep our shutters shut all day long, and there is always a slight breeze and sufficient circulation of air in the house.

As for swimming: there is a large municipal piscina less than a mile down the road from our house with two large pools, a jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna. And even better, there is the sea less than twenty minutes from here, by car, with two dozen bays and coves and beaches within half an hour’s drive, and some 250 beaches in Mallorca, all told. Would you rather swim in the pool or would you rather float in the Mediterranean Sea? That’s an easy answer, I would have thought.

The photo was taken near s’Alquería Blanca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 22:40:14.

Cool in the Pool

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

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

Mallorca’s coastal towns and harbours will be celebrating the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen tomorrow, July 16th, together with a maritime procession in honour of the Mare de Déu (Virgin Mary). Port de Sóller, Port d’Andratx, Cala Figuera (Santanyí), Port d’Alcúdia, Portocristo, Colònia de Sant Jordi, Portocolom are just some of the pueblos where a festive holiday will be celebrated and where businesses will be closed for the day. The Virgen del Carmen is really another Marian devotion of the Virgin Mary, or in this case, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Virgin Mary’s role as patroness of the Carmelite Order.

The Virgin Carmen is the patron saint of seamen and mariners. In order to honour the Virgin, a nautical procession will be held. Everyone can participate in this procession with his or her own boat. The boat procession will leave the harbour with the Virgen del Carmen prominently displayed and adorned until the open sea, where the Virgin’s flower crown will be thrown into the water. Afterwards, more festive events will take place in the harbour, including the typical Ball Pagés.

Molts d’anys.

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Colònia de Sant Jordi, Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 16th, 2008. The time was 21:11:18 and 21:06:51, respectively.

The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

Sal de Cocó

I may have reported about Sal de Cocó and its benefits before. Sea salt in Mallorca is called Sal de Cocó when it is being collected from the Parque Nacional del Archipiélago de Cabrera and sold in the pueblo of Ses Salines, a Cocó being the name of a hollow in the rock. As it happens, this natural sea salt is not only washed into small rock pools on Cabrera island but in lots of places here in Mallorca as well, wherever there is a rocky sea-shore and especially in the south-east of the island. You may be lucky to spot one of those rock hollows full of the flakes of the salt of the Mediterranean Sea on one of your meanderings, just like I did the other day. You can gather the salt flakes by hand, bring them back to your home and clean your find of any impurities. If you happen to find lots of salt, you can pack it into small glass containers and give these offerings to some of your friends as small gifts when they next invite you for a nice meal. Beats Flor de Sal d’es Trenc or Llum de Sal as a gift any time, hands down.

If your Spanish is up to it, you can read more about the virtues of Sal de Cocó on this blog.

The photo was taken near Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 18th, 2012. The time was 16:45:09.

Sal de Cocó

Cala Deià

Cala Deià is a very picturesque, tiny pebbled beach near Deià. The beach is famous for its association with Robert Graves who came here for his daily swim during the Fifties and Sixties. The Cala was further immortalized by Anaïs Nin in an erotic short story called Mallorca. The cove is a beautiful sea inlet, surrounded by rocky cliffs, giving it a feeling of a hidden paradise; a torrent flows into the sea during the rainy season and there are some fantastic terraces. The views are truly stunning. Two bars serve refreshments and some food, including some fish which can be excellent. The water is crystal clear. The walk down the winding path to the Cala is well worth it, especially in mild weather. I went there just after Easter when the cove was absolutely deserted and peaceful; of course, then, the water was too cold for a swim. When I went there last week, the sun was too hot for a long walk and the small beach was too crowded for my liking. In the Summer, the beach is teeming with local visitors, some rich and famous, and the obligatory tourists. I may give it another try in September.

The photo (top) was taken near Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 4th, 2012. The time was 14:40:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of platgesdebalears.com.

Muchas gracias.

Cala Deià