|Christmas tree at S.V. Pescador|
|Christmas cupcake tree - Millennium Cafe|
We had Hutspot from the Netherlands, Croatian cole slaw and potato salad, meatballs, Chinese chicken and rice, Australian meat pies and Netherlander style dessert.
|Toni - S.V. Pescador|
Peter(see pic below) gave everyone a Christmas hat, which we wore as we walked to each boat - seriously entertaining the folks sitting in the cafes. At each boat we had a Christmas quiz which got the competitive Christmas spirit going and gave a much needed break between meals.
|Chilii - S.V. Pescador|
|Valenq - S.V Pescador|
|Dessert table at Peters boat|
|Yanaka and Hank - S.V. Hotel Juliet|
|Basket of fresh vegetables|
|Sasha and Roger - S.V. Ednbal|
|Millennium Cafe - Almerimar|
|Pastries from Berja|
|Eating an Australian meat pie|
The next day Branko and I were invited to spend the afternoon with Conchi (exercise buddy) and her husband Francisco (Paco). Conchi has a good friend who runs her families bakery business (over 100 years old) in a nearby town called Berja and they were hosting a get-together with friends. But first, Conchi and Paco took us to their green houses and picked a basket full of vegetables for us - all fresh right off the vines. (See below for more information about the greenhouses.)
Then a stop off at the honey factory to see how honey is made and of course, buy some. So many varieties, lavender, eucalyptus, orange, thyme and more. I was unaware that honey tastes could be so different; and found the following of interest:
Aromatic compounds that are unique to a species of plant are what give a flower it's distinctive scent. Many flowers have compounds that are only found in the actual flower and are what literally make a flower smell. Since these molecules are usually mixed with the sugars that make up the nectar, they're going to make their way into the honey and imbue it with the same scent and flavor of the nectar source. Not only the flavor but also the properties.
Preyucatan Mayans used honey from a white stingless bee that fed only on a certain flower. This flower had a psychoactive substance similar to LSD. The honey also contained the active substance - the Mayans would drink a fermented version of it and trip. They even built their tombs to look like bee hives. One of their gods was a bee.
Organic soaps, oranges and honey were added to our basket of fresh vegetables. I just stood there with my mouth open, glad the bees were outside.
|Paco picking vegetables|
Off to Berja and the bakery; I had already tasted their goodies the week before when Conchi dropped off boxes of Spanish pastries, as a surprise YUM!
Friends arrive, champagne and wine appear, platters and platters of savory and sweet pastries are placed and replaced on the tables.... Everyone was kind, generous and happy to speak with us - truly, we are so very lucky and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Thank you Conchi and Paco!
|Panaderia in Berja|
|Me and Conchi in the greenhouse|
|Maribelle with tapas and beer|
Christmas Eve, Branko and I spent the evening together - recuperating :-) In this region of Spain Christmas Eve is for family and is called "La Noche Buena," literally translated as "The Good Night." Christmas Eve is celebrated with a large family feast, which is eaten late in the evening and can last a couple hours. It is traditionally not a time for gift exchanges, that happens on January 6th, the Epiphany.
A typical Christmas Eve dinner, has several courses starting with some simple tapas or appetizers, first course, main course, and ending with dessert, coffee and drinks.
Today we spent a few hours with Fumi, Paqui, Maribelle and Tony - enjoying a few drinks and tapas. The weather has been beautiful, warm and sunny - no rain, snow or ice - a little different for us but we can adjust :-) We finished our afternoon with a coffee and sweet at our favorite cafe, Millennium. .
|Fumi and Paqui|
Nativity scenes are important here, each store, home and office have one. In Sevilla there were shops upon shops selling only doll house size animals, bundles of straw, dishes, pots, people, Roman soldiers and food...if I was still playing with my dolls I would have loved all these items. In El Ejido last week we stopped to gaze at a Nativity scene in a shop window. It included not only the Roman soldier intent on stabbing someone, but a cow giving birth (the calf was only half way out) and a pig feeding its 13 piglets. Serious business these manger scenes.
Having a lovely time and wish you were all here to enjoy it with us - Margaret
Greenhouse overview - courtesy Almerialife website:
Over the past 50 years, AlmeríaAlmería region, has been developed for agriculture. An estimated 20,000 hectares of extra-early market produce is grown in greenhouses and it accounts for over $1.5 billion in economic activity.
Greenhouses start: First grapes and at the beginning of the 1960′s green house culture began. The greenhouse production supply Europe, with fruits and vegetables especially during the winter months.
Why Plastics: Plastic was chosen as the most practical and cheapest material. The plastic cover enables growers to control the temperature, consumption of water through hydroponic irrigation, pest control and protection from the wind.
Agriculture: Use of natural resources and modern technology enable between 2 and 3 annual crops. The secret has been controlling fertilisers and the use of hydroponics in the growing cycle. Plants have their roots sitting in water enriched with nutrients. Greenhouses use irrigation water "drip feed irrigation or hydroponics and evaporation water.
Production: At the beginning of the summer, plastics are changed (every 2 or 3 years), soils and reservoirs are cleaned and repairs are made. At the same time, seeds are bought. Germination is organised for later transplantation of the plants into the green houses and wait until September for the first fruits to ripen. The first crop is in September, followed by the second in Spring. Every year production is two and a half million tons of vegetables, representing a value of more than 1,600m €. The green house surface area comes third in the world after China and Japan.