Sunday, January 15, 2012

La Palma day 4: Santa Cruz and Salt

At first we thought this was just a creatively built parking spot in front of our apartment.  I regularly threatened my friendly driver should he even consider parking there.  Just being a passenger in a car maneuvering into that spot would be enough to give me a heart attack, big whimp that I am!  Finally we discovered that this was not a parking spot.  It took us three days to see what it really was:

It's where somebody changes their oil!  Notice the bucket of oil and the pliers on the right side.   I love the fact that rather than just crawling under the car or driving it up on ramps (or having the mechanic change the oil as a whimpy non-mechanical person like me would do), they went to all the trouble of pouring cement to build this crazy oil change apparatus. 

On day 4 of our trip we decided to head out to the markets and look for some local produce and fresh fish. Our first stop was in the capital city of Santa Cruz.  We strolled around town and enjoyed the traditional Canarian architecture and also found the small market hall.  Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed:  the market was not bustling, hectic, and packed full of sights, sounds, smells and people like markets we've experienced elsewhere, it was pretty laid back and there wasn't anything that really piqued our interest.  
Here's a church in Santa Cruz, I particularly liked the gargoyles which you can see below:

After leaving Santa Cruz empty handed, we continued on to Mazo, where there was supposed to be another market.  We found this one easily, because there are signs on the main streets of the bigger towns directing you to the mercado municipal.   The farmers' market in Mazo was also small, but more to our liking, there was slightly more action and lots of fresh fruits.  There were even some German expats there selling their wares:  whole grain baked goods, tofu burgers and seitan patties.  We stocked up on local avocadoes, squash, bananas, tomatoes and lettuce and feasted on delicious produce for lunch.  Of course we saved the squash and tomato seeds to plant in our garden this year!  Only later did we discover that fish is sold on La Palma from trucks, much like ice cream trucks in America with a loudspeaker on top.  They drive around and announce they're selling fresh fish, I guess.  That might explain the truck we heard driving around twice in the week that we were there announcing something like "Wap wap wap WAP, wap WAP wap..."
 After pigging out on fresh fruits and vegetables,we went down to the southern tip of the island, as you can see above.  You can see the Fuencaliente lighthouse in that photo.
In Fuencaliente they make sea salt using the basins you can see here.  The salt from Fuencaliente is produced in a traditional way with no additives or chemicals.  Above you can see the evaporation basins, big basins where the whole salt making process starts.  


 In the next step the water is moved to the crystallization basins, where more water evaporates and salt crystals form. 

The salt crystals looked kind of like ice.  But they tasted very salty.

That street is paved in salt!

Winter is the off season for salt making, so we didn't see any salt being harvested, but there was still loads of salt everywhere.   If you're interested in some more information about this process, or some pictures of salt being harvested and the salt pyramids among the basins, then visit this site.

 After our visit to the salt pans, we stopped a little to the west and went searching for a lonely beach.  The only accessible lonely beach we could find was already occupied by a naked man and his girlfriend, so we continued on and settled down on the rocks.

We would have really liked to go down there, but that would have involved some pretty acrobatic climbing.

As always, we spotted some hungry crabs.

And to end the day, we watched the sunset.

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