Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dry winter causing worry

Farmland near Vallehermoso, La Gomera
While the very dry winter in the Canary Islands this year may be exactly what tourists expect and want to experience when they spend their holidays here, the prolonged drought is a worrying fact for locals and especially the farming community. 
Some rain fell in October and November but there was hardly a drop since then and February continues the same trend. Farming has been particularly badly affected and the Canarian minister for agriculture has recently stated in parliament that potato crops for example could be down by as much as 50-60 % this winter season. 
Here in La Gomera there were some heavier falls of rain in the island's north and northeast, almost filling some water reservoirs used for irrigation, but the rest of the island got very little rain, so that some farmers didn't even bother planting crops that need the winter precipitation. Some bored wells in lower farmland near the sea have also been reported to gradually become more saline and potentially damaging to banana crops.
The drinking water supply which comes almost exclusively from tapped springs here has remained fairly stable up to now. However the administration  of the municipality of Vallerhermoso in La Gomera's northwest, an area normally receiving abundant rainfalls in winter, has restricted the use of drinking water and banned its use for the watering of plants and gardens as well as washing cars as a precautionary measure during the drought.
Water reservoir for irrigation in Las Rosas in La Gomera's north is still almost full after heavy autumn rain in the area

Monday, February 08, 2016

Carnival in Valle Gran Rey begins today

Carnival 2016 begins in Valle Gran Rey today and continues until Saturday night. The main stage is in the harbour of Vueltas this year and the theme is 'Egypt'. The parade starts from the town hall in La Calera on Friday at 5pm (see programme above).

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday music session

These boys and many more will have a session today, Sunday Feb. 7th 2015 at Ramiro's bus station bar, La Calera Valle Gran Rey  at 2pm. Just a bit of fun and bring your instrument...

Friday, February 05, 2016

New rescue helicopter first time in action on La Gomera

The  brand new Sokol SAR helicopter on a rescue mission in Valle Gran Rey; La Gomera yesterday
Rescuers assisting the injured hiker yesterday

I witnessed the first action in La Gomera of the brand new search and rescue helicopter stationed on neighbouring El Hierro island yesterday afternoon. A 72 year old German lady had suffered a fall near the top of La Merica mountain on the popular but very steep mountain track between Valle Gran Rey and Arure leaving her unable to continue her hike. The emergency services were called on 112 and the helicopter was dispatched to set down rescue personnel who then gave first aid and got the casualty ready on a stretcher for the helicopter transfer to hospital. The victim's arm and ankle injuries were said to be 'minor', but police and the local voluntary fire brigade were also mobilised.
The new Sokol helicopter is one of three acquired by the Canarian government which were delivered from the manufacturers in Poland to the islands of El Hierro, La Palma and Fuerteventura  just a few days ago. These twin-engined choppers fly at a speed of 140 knots and can accommodate up to 14 persons. They will also be used in fire fighting, lifting about 1600 litres of water in a special attachment. The new state-of-the-art SAR helicopters also offer greater range and safety than the models previously used here.
The new helicopter picking up rescue crew and the casualty yesterday afternoon

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cruise ship Thomson Majesty back in Valle Gran Rey

Yesterday saw the return of the large cruise ship Thomson Majesty to Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera. This time passengers had more time to explore the area as the ship stayed the whole day and not just half the day as on previous visit. Many of her crew were out and about as well and both passengers and crew were very impressed with Valle Gran Rey as a cruise ship destination and the glorious weather yesterday.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Big Buddha Finding New Buddies In La Gomera

The two ton  Buddha of La Gomera
What's a huge marble statue of Buddha weighing two tons doing  in the middle of nowhere in a remote part of La Gomera's northwest, you may wonder...
Well, the (true |) story goes that someone who bought a house in the area had befriended the Buddha in South East Asia, bought it  and had it shipped in a wooden crate from Singapore to La Gomera. All went well until the transport by road on La Gomera to the new owners home came to the end of the paved part of the road near Arguamul in the parish of Vallehermoso and got stuck, unable to continue along the track to the final destination due to the heavy load. They tried this and they moved that but the truck was stuck.
Finally the Buddha in his wooden crate was offloaded and deposited by the roadside with the transport documentation marked as 'delivered'. There the two tons of marble statue remained for quite some time while a solution to the transport problem was sought. Various options were pondered, even including the carving up of bulky Buddha into manageable chunks for further transport which would then be reassembled at the final destination.
However, eventually it was decided that the scenic location where fate had decided to deposit the statue was just as nice as any other and would have to do. Buddha was freed from his wooden cage and there he remains sitting smilingly as if he had chosen exactly this location himself.
He's finding more and more new buddies and some of them travel long distances to see the rare sight. Locals and visitors even drop offerings, mostly in the form of coins, into his left hand which The Big Buddha of Arguamul then duly passes on to the local church. Who knows, in a few decades' time he may even become another patron saint of Arguamul and get his own dedicated fiesta.
A visitor tickling the belly of The Buddha of Arguamul for luck  (Images courtesy of  R.N.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

La Gomera carnival season 2016 begins

Carnival time in the Canary Islands has begun and this is a huge event that doesn't exactly keep to the traditional carnival timetable. It may go on well after Ash Wednesday, even getting close to Easter some years, as each community stages their own and wants participants from neighbouring towns. The main events are in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria and in Santa Cruz on Tenerife, the latter being the second-largest carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro (see their 2016 programme)
The 2016 carnival season in La Gomera begins today in San Sebastian de La Gomera. Below is the programme of events in the island's capital and I will post information on the carnival in the remaining towns on La Gomera when available:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fire quickly extinguished

The remote mountain village of El Cedro.
A fire broke out in La Gomera's Garajonay national park yesterday at midday affecting 1100 sqm of palm trees, sweet chestnut, heather trees, laurel and brush near the village of El Cedro. Fire brigades as well as national park personnel and police rushed to the scene and the fire was under control about an hour  and a half later, but due to the very dry conditions this winter the area around the outbreak was hosed down as well as a precautionary measure.
The El Cedro valley is normally one of the wettest areas in La Gomera receiving a lot of rain, drizzle and fog, but this winter conditions there, and in the rest of the island, have been exceptionally dry and warm.

Injured walker rescued

A woman out walking had climbed the mountain of La Fortaleza near the town of Chipude in La Gomera where she suffered a broken limb after a fall yesterday lunchtime. As the 51 year old German national could not descend the steep part of the mountain the emergency services rescued her by helicopter and transferred her to the island's hospital in San Sebastian de La Gomera where she received treatment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vallehermoso's Roque Cano

The volcanic plug Roque Cano towering over the town of Vallehermoso in La Gomera's northwest