In Arona, on the Southern slope of El Teide, a German gallery owner and art-collector constructed a truly magical place to convey a unique vision – “Mariposa” is a cultural project, a sculpture-park, which aims to bring together artists, scientists and politicians from all over the world in order to discuss the state of our world and to develop ideas – they call it “future-workshop and think tank”. There are numerous guest-houses here, lecture-space and, above all, art… In today’s image, a group of light-sculptures by Vera Roehm called “Night is the Earth’s shadow” – the laser-cut sentences have a white satin glass backing and the aluminum cubes are brightly illuminated from within. Thus the sentence shines out at the observer in different languages – from English to Hebrew to Arabic – in different fonts selected specifically for each language.
AT WORK II
Christmas is a soothing experience here on Tenerife. Not much of the consumerism to be seen here that seems to have taken over places at this time of the year. It was the first time in the course of the “deep dark _ pale blue”-project that I spent the holidays abroad; and it was truly interesting to see how things are being handled here. The complete “shut-down” of public, outside life between the 24th and 26th of December feels really weird, as, normally, the streets, cafés and shops are BUZZING with life, noise and energy. And all of the sudden, the “beehive” seems to have gone quiet. Not unlike other places, everyone gathers with family members around long, well-stocked tables (and, yes, decorated palm trees). Now everyone is back at work – including me, who spent the holidays in bed with a heavy flu. Today’s image shows Luis picking potatoes in the in the volcanic soil on the Southern slope of El Teide.
While I continue my journey of discovery up and down the ‚Teide‘-volcano, here’s another image from the observatory. What a profound experience to stay up there… When night falls and these cutting-edge instruments „wake up“ to explore the night sky, you really do feel closer to the stars. Very interesting also to see people working up here during pretty much all hours of the day. Some astronomers work at night (depending on which telescope they use), and during the day a lot of maintenance has to be done on the telescopes. This lady in today’s image has just finished her work when the moon came up.
Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was not only one of the leading scientists/explorers of his time, but closely related to Spain and Tenerife. Anno 1799 Humboldt started a journey to South America „commissioned“ at the time by the Spanish King. Before crossing the Atlantic, Humboldt stopped in Tenerife for one week. Here – in order to prepare for the Andes – he hiked up the Teide together with a local guide. Tenerife must have left a lasting impression on Humboldt, as his extensive diary conveys. A ‘Mirador’, an ‘outlook’, has been built at a spot where it is said that Humboldt wrote: „I have travelled to so many impressive countries, but never have I seen a landscape of such diversity and harmony as in the Northwest of Tenerife.“
One more from Vilaflor… As there is hardly ever any rain here above the clouds, water for agriculture is most precious. The fields here consist of labyrinth of terraces, which have been carved into the mountain. The stone-walls separating and leveling each terrace are being built by hand using an ancient technique – I couldn’t believe it, but it truly is rocks only. No cement-support at all, yet very solid. You can see small stone pits all around, so that the constructors of the terraces did not have to carry the rocks too far. Each sector of terraces is supported by a huge, round water-tank – especially (yummy!) black potatoes grow well in the volcanic soil of Teide, plus their need for water is rather modest.
VILLAGE ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Vilaflor is the highest village on the island (1400 meters). Located on the Southern slope of Teide, it looks down onto a ‘sea of clouds’ most of the time. Locals like to call it “living above the clouds”. There is (almost) constant sunshine in Vilaflor, and, vice versa, incredible night skies to be seen… Amateur-astronomers love to come up here from all over the island, and the even local hotel has a good-size telescope on its roof. Many locals make a living from potato-farming, and currently everyone is busy harvesting.
QES – Searching for New Worlds
Qatar Exoplanet Survey (QES), project-partner to “deep dark _ pale blue”, is a search-project for planets outside of our solar system, so-called Exoplanets. Their instruments are located at Teide Observatory (amongst others), as seen in today’s image. Getting ready to discover New Worlds in the face of the mighty volcano…
RAIN OF STARS – live from the Canaries
Just words today… The Geminids Meteor Shower is taking place these days, and “The Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute (IAC) has published a statement on Monday 12 December 2016 explaining that the maximum activity of the Geminids is expected for 00.05, Canary Islandslocal time on December 14, 2016, and remembers that, next to The Perseids, is one of the great annual spectacles of rain of stars.” The event will be emitted live from the skies of the Canary Islands through the European project STARS4ALL and the channel sky-live.tv – enjoy (and don’t forget to make a long-enough wish-list)!
ROOM WITH A VIEW
A couple of hours ago I checked into the “Residencia” at Teide Observatory – what a breathtaking view from my window… However, since there are astronomers working here at night, by nightfall all the blinds have to be shut and the light inside has to be down to a minimum in order to guarantee the best conditions possible for astronomical observations. More from here tomorrow!
Crossing the “Teide”, which divides the island in terms of climate-zones and ecosystems, you could say. Ascending from the lush, almost rainforest-like North (see previous post) of the mountain-slope; descending in the South of the mountain, where the landscape is almost desert-like. Harsh for the many small-scale agricultural enterprises.