Thursday, November 25, 2010

La Palma: repairs, tapas, volcano, and wine

Happy Thanksgiving! At this point it still looks like we’ll be leaving La Palma in the morning, so I’d better write about this place before we go on to new experiences. We’ve enjoyed our time here, but haven’t done all that much.

First, it took a couple of days to get together with the mechanic to fix our fuel leak. He found a couple of things and fixed them all, but couldn’t find a coolant leak that John has noticed, so we let that go. While we were waiting for the mechanic, John figured out the problem with the generator, but we need a part to fix it, so we’re deferring that to Las Palmas (de Gran Canaria), our next stop. If we can’t get the part, he has a work-around.

Besides hanging out with Jim we’ve been doing some stuff with another couple from California: Mike and Linda on Aquila from Ventura. They invited us over for sun-downers one evening, and then I discovered that a ruta de las tapas was going on here in Santa Cruz. This is the tapas competition that we enjoyed in Cartagena last spring, and I was pretty excited to find it here now. So the five of us (Orinoco, Solstice, and Aquila) went out for tapas last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The group sans John, the photographer: Shirlee, Mike, Linda, and Jim

The tapas we were eating, called Pescado salado a la crema de boniato. That’s fish salad something. Yummy, for short.

Yesterday we rented a car so that we could see a little bit of the island. Among the Canary Islands La Palma is known as the green island or the pretty island, and it’s both. Like all of the Canaries, it’s a volcano. We headed straight for the top and the collection of observatories that are there. Well, not straight. There is no straight on this island. In order to get to the top, we traveled an amazingly twisty road, even for people who are used to mountain roads. The views were spectacular.

Who knew the Atlantic was so blue

Tenerife in the distance

The mountain drops sharply to the water with not much arable land in between.

Telescopes for observing gamma rays

Multi-national observatories lined up on the ridge

And the caldera is right behind them

Looking north toward Madeira

On our way down the mountain we continued toward the west and stumbled upon the wine country of the island. We stopped for a bite to eat at a little restaurant and ordered tapas that had John raving: fried cheese (queso asado) and riblets with potatoes (costillos con papas). The sauce (called mojo) that they used on both dishes made all the difference. We even found a winery (Vega Norte) with a sales and tasting room and bought a few bottles.

Costillos con papas

This evening the group went out for tapas again to celebrate Thanksgiving. We managed three stops before our tour was cut short by a real downpour. We’d had dark clouds, wind, and sprinkles all day, but tonight it really dumped. As those of us from Oregon know, it takes rain to make things green; we just hope that the weather will clear for our departure in the morning.


Sheila, Canary Islands said...

Glad you enjoyed it. But they grow wines all over La Palma, and there's about 40 different varieties all told. But Vega Norte is one of my favourites.

Phil said...

Hello again from the not so dry land of the East Coast! Really enjoyed the photos you posted this last blog. At first, I couldn't imagine what the great reflecting mirrors were -- they looked at first to me like, stop sign shaped tunnels cut through the mountain! Except the image behind them was upside down!
My dad once ground a six-inch telescope mirror from a thick, flat piece of optical glass -- it took forever. But we are a reflector telescope family. It must be fascinating to see those big collectors, all from discrete flat mirrors adjusted precisely, I imagine.
My folks went to the Canaries once (commercial airlines) I've always thought that the very name, Tenerife, sounded... impossibly distant somehow. What a great photo, black, peeked and ominous, you've taken of her (I think volcanoes are girls, are they? (It would figure, LOL, cringe))
I got a kick out of your, "stumbled upon the wine country..." -- not sure you meant the double entendre -- probably a creative pooka within you, trying to get out!
What a fantastic Thanksgiving it would be. Maybe I just envy the fun and exciting, sunny-day aspect of your journeys -- easy for me.
On a technical note: I couldn't know if you were referring to the cracked intake manifold I think you suffered coming over. I had the thought that John's workaround might, itself, be a better permanent solution. Cast stuff bolted to engines suffers fatigue. I'm sure I am overstepping my bounds here -- you guys surely know what you're doing.

Can't wait to hear what happens next! Avidly reading,Phil

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