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Saturday, August 05, 2017

New ferry service now taking bookings (Updated)

The new Benchi Express which will serve the 'interior line' of La Gomera (Image: Fred. Olsen)
The reestablishment of a ferry service between the three southern ports of La Gomera will become reality on Monday August 21st 2017 when the new purpose-built vessel will make its first scheduled sailing and bookings can now be made on the Fred. Olsen ferry company website.
The brand new 90 ft ferry which will cover the so-called interior ferry line connecting the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago, and San Sebastian de La Gomera was launched in Barcelona recently and has a capacity for 150 passengers on the lower deck with an additional 100 passengers on the mostly-open upper deck. The vessel which was baptised Benchi Express has a cafeteria, and storage space for travelling pets, bicycles and light motorbikes. New floating jetties are being installed in the three ports to facilitate passengers which will also make the ferry wheelchair accessible.
The new service will run three times daily in both directions starting from Valle Gran Rey. Departure times are as follows:

Valle Gran Rey:                          06:30 am, 12:30 pm,  5 pm

San Sebastian de La Gomera:     10:45 am, 3 pm,   9 pm

Playa de Santiago (to San Seb.): 07:20 am, 01:20 pm, 05:50 pm
Playa de Santiago (to V.G.R.):    11:30 am, 03:40 pm, 09:40 pm

The new service operates seven days a week, but this is the initial timetable and I expect some changes once the winter season begins, so always check times again before booking. Prices: The basic single online fare is 10 Euros (or € 8 if you're over 60) for the journey between San Sebastian de La Gomera and Valle Gran Rey and 8 Euros from/to Playa de Santiago which comes down to only € 2.50 and € 2 respectively if you are a resident of La Gomera, according to the Fred. Olsen booking site. 

+UPDATE: There seem to be the 'customary' delays and it appears that the new service will now be running from Sept. 10th 2017, if it doesn't suffer another 'retraso'. 
Please also note that in order to make a booking you'll have to select 'La Gomera' in both the 'Origin' and the 'Destination' windows on the Fred. Olsen website, which then will lead to two further selection windows appearing where you can choose between the three ports served by 'Benchi Express'. As of now tickets on this service must be bought separately from the tickets you'll need to get from/to Los Cristianos if you're going from/to  Tenerife. This is all a bit cumbersome and should be made more convenient for intending passengers.
The new ferry's AIS tracking is now functional and her movements can be followed when they have it switched on (MMSI 225987686). She was still undergoing sea trials in the second week of August near the port where she was built and launched, but should soon make her way down to the Canary Islands.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

'La Villa' rocks again

The annual Villa Rock festival will take place in San Sebastian de La Gomera this Saturday, August 5th 2017, from 9 pm. This year five bands from the Canary Islands, including La Gomera's own Tonelada, will perform various styles of rock music and the event is free of charge.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Algae affecting many beaches

Algal bloom at Vueltas beach, one of the many beaches affected in the Canary Islands

 Over recent weeks large amounts of micro algae have been observed in the coastal waters of the Canary Islands which have affected many beaches. This is a natural phenomenon that is produced by biological, environmental and climate factors and causes the seawater to become discoloured and turbid. A report by the public health department of the Canarian government warns that one should not swim  or bath in seawater where massive amounts of micro algae are present and also to avoid any contact with the algae deposited on beaches by the tides. On La Gomera notices warning of the presence of algae have been placed at beaches in San Sebastian and Valle Gran Rey. 
The report also states that while micro algae are generally quite harmless, some may produce toxins that could ''produce negative health effects'' when swimmers make physical contact by touching or ingesting these through the mouth or nose or by inhaling aerosols which may be emitted by the algal bloom. Some dead fish have also been washed onto beaches which probably perished due to much lower oxygen levels in the sea areas affected by the algal bloom. 
A dead fish washed ashore (Images: HP)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fiesta del Carmen 2017 starts today

Summer time is the main fiesta time in the Canary Islands and now it is the turn of the 'Fiesta del Carmen' which is celebrated in many seaside towns, harbours and fishing villages. This fiesta involves a procession by boat and here in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, it is one of the major fiestas in the sheer endless fiesta calendar. Carmen is the patron saint of the fishermen of Vueltas harbour where the fiesta is celebrated in the port from this morning and festivities continue all next week. 
The boat procession is today, July 16th 2017, from 5pm and you can join in the fun by just queueing for a place on one of the many participating boats, but be prepared to get wet - not only on the outside - as the drink flows freely. There'll be a fireworks display in the harbour just before midnight tonight, followed by salsa-dancing all night until the early hours of the morning. Highlights on other days include a reggae night with two bands on Thursday, children's amusements, DJs, folklore groups, etc., during Valle Gran Rey's largest fiesta. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NEW FERRY LAUNCHED

The all-new Benchi Express at her launch yesterday (Image: Fred. Olsen Express)
Afloat and baptised !
The brand new ferry which will cover the so-called interior ferry line connecting the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago, and San Sebastian de La Gomera was launched in Barcelona yesterday. The vessel was baptised Benchi Express with the customary bottle of bubbly during a ceremony with representatives of the Fred Olsen company. HOOOORAY and congratulations !
The purpose-built ferry will accommodate 250 passengers on two decks and there will be an open area on the upper deck available to passengers, while a cafeteria on the lower deck will offer drinks and snacks. The vessel will travel at an average speed of around 20 knots and being just under 90 ft long will be very easy to manoeuvre, which combined with the shortly to be installed floating jetties in the three ports will assure very fast turnaround times.
The reestablishment of a ferry service between the three southern ports of La Gomera will take some more time to become operational as the new vessel is not fully fitted out yet and will have to undergo lengthy sea trials, etc., before she'll obtain her seaworthiness and safety certificates while the ferry line will have to pass the usual  bureaucratic hurdles, but by the end of this summer the sorely missed connection should once again be a reality and its future assured. If you're planning a trip to southern La Gomera later this year, I'd recommend to wait with your ferry booking until the new service's schedule has been published. Find out more about the interior ferry line (click)...
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)
By the way, from midnight last night the ticket price for inter-island travel in the Canary Islands has decreased for residents as the subsidies from the Canarian government will now cover 75% of the regular price, leaving residents to pay just a quarter of the fare for travel by sea or air between the islands. Pity that I'm not a resident anymore...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Local police trained to deal with heart attacks

...before the ambulance arrives. (Archive image)
'The Canary Islander' recently reported:
''In La Gomera, there are many tourists who visit the island with serious health conditions, and island residents could also have health problems, but this island tourist destination has experienced increased incidents of heart attacks or emergency situations when an individual’s heart stops beating for various reasons. The 112-emergency service reacts very quickly by sending ambulances with trained medical staff, but often local police can be at the scene of a health incident more quickly. People who experience heart attacks on holiday are more likely to survive if they receive medical help quickly.
Therefore, the local police in San Sebastian de La Gomera has just received updated training sessions on the use of semi-automatic defibrillators and cardiorespiratory resuscitation methods that should be carried out in emergency situations. Also, cardio respiratory resuscitation equipment is now carried in all patrol cars.
The local police have portable defibrillators that mean that they can move these easily and use them in a wide range of situations. These new defibrillators are in addition to those already installed at three municipal sports centres. In addition, four out of six municipalities in La Gomera have semi-automatic defibrillators in public spaces. So faster responses by local police for emergency health incidents when waiting for ambulances and trained medical experts to arrive.''

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Latest image of new ferry

The new Benchi Express vessel under construction for the Fred Olsen ferry company which is expected to come into service later this summer, connecting Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian de La Gomera three times daily in both directions. It is not clear when the above image was taken, but it appears to be some time ago. The Olsen company has also announced the installation of floating jetties and ramps in the three ports to facilitate the speedy berthing of the vessel which also will make it easier for passengers to board and disembark. (Image: Fred.Olsen)
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bloomsday in La Gomera

Today is Bloomsday in honour of James Joyce, when celebrations take place in Ireland and around the world to celebrate Thursday 16 June 1904, which is the day depicted in the famous Irish writer's novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.
This year a celebration will also take place in La Gomera, but not until Sunday, June 18th 2017, in the beautiful historic village of Agulo in La Gomera's north. The event starts at 7 pm in the Casa del Pintor Aguiar where excerpts of Ulysses will be be read in different languages as well as poems and other texts dedicated to Joyce's work, accompanied by music from Seamus Mac Aogain. 
The town of Agulo

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Canary Islands prepare for this summer's fire threat

Forest fires season 2017

Janet Anscombe reports:
''The Canarian Government has announced its forest fire fighting and prevention measures for this summer. The announcement was made in a presentation yesterday by Canarian President Fernando Clavijo with the Government’s Política Territorial, Sostenibilidad y Seguridad minister, Nieves Lady Barreto. Specialist helicopter units (Equipos de Intervención y Refuerzo Forestales – EIRIF) will cover all the islands, being physically based in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, the result of an investment of almost €3m over two years, explained the president.  The minister, for her part, emphasized that the creation of EIRIF represented fundamental progress in fire fighting and prevention in the Canaries, with the units’ capacity to intervene on any island when required being an important preventative measure which, although it couldn’t stop fires starting, allowed an improved response to extinction and early assistance to stop fires spreading. Each squad will comprise 24 personnel including a technician, a foreman, and 6 specialists, and so together with 3 coordination technicians and 3 physical trainers, there will be 78 additional operatives integrated into the islands’ existing intervention resources.The units will act as reinforcement for the existing Cabildo cover which each island has in its own right, and will be employed between June and October, the high season for forest fire risk, whenever a fire exceeds insular level and requires a coordinated regional response from the Canarian Government. This will be of particular importance should fires break out on more than one island simultaneously. There will also be a hidroavion from Madrid based in the islands, and the training exercises for that were taking place recently between Gran Canaria and Tenerife (Photo: Ejército del Aire)...''

Happy Dia de Canarias

Today is Dia de Canarias, the Canary Islands' celebration of all things that make the Canaries and their people so unique and different from their Spanish colonial masters. There were many events in virtually all towns and villages over the past few days to mark the occasion and celebrations continue today during the Canaries' national holiday.


Monday, May 22, 2017

New ferry soon a reality

Parts of the hull of the new 'Benchi Express' under construction. Image taken some time ago. Source: Juan Carlos Diaz Lorenzo
The reopening if the so-called interior ferry line between the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian de La Gomera will soon become reality as the purpose built ferry ordered by the Fred. Olsen ferry company is nearing completion at a shipyard in Barcelona. The new catamaran type vessel will have a capacity of 250 passengers and is estimated to cost around three million Euros. It has been announced that the purpose-built vessel will be able to dock very rapidly with a new automated mooring system and the help of floating jetties which the company will install in the three ports in La Gomera. The new ferry will not sail to Tenerife, but its sailings will be timed to connect with the large Fred. Olsen ferry to Los Cristianos in Tenerife with three voyages in both directions per day . As a further cost-cutting measure tickets will be sold online and through special vending machines in Valle Gran Rey and Playa de Santiago and these will also give up to date information on sea and weather conditions and real-time arrival and departure times. The new vessel will have a cafeteria and will be baptised 'Benchi Express', same as its predecessor a few years ago which however had only been chartered for a few years by the Olsen company. It is hoped that the vessel will come into service in July of this year. Hoorrrrraaaay !!!
Read more about the interior ferry line and its history (click).
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Major investment in La Gomera's national park

It has recently been announced that La Gomera's Garajonay national park will receive a further 2,1 million Euros in funding. The money will go towards conservation measures, the restoration of damaged and degraded areas, fire prevention, and general improvements.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dramatic video of ferry crashing into pier


The Naviera Armas ferry 'Volcan de Tamasite' crashed into a pier in port of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria last night after it had just left the inner harbour of Puerto de la Luz.
Thirteen passengers on board a ferry were injured when the large ferry slammed into a concrete quay at the port of Las Palmas. A spokesperson for Naviera Armas, the Canary Islands company that operates the ferry, said that a "loss of electrical power" caused the accident. Emergency services said five of the injured were taken to hospital with minor injuries. 
The above video shows the ferry hitting the breakwater head-on, sending huge chunks of the concrete protective wall tumbling down onto the service road of the pier.
The company also said that the ferry was able to dock under its own power following the accident as the fault had lasted only two minutes and that the stranded passengers had been accommodated in hotels. However, there were some very angry scenes directly after the accident with passengers screaming and shouting at staff and demanding to be brought ashore or rescued immediately.
According to local media there has also been a diesel leak from the vessel due to the accident and the port of Las Palmas has put emergency measures in place to contain the spill and clean it up before it could reach the inlet of a nearby seawater desalination plant.
The ferry company Naviera Armas has stated that the damaged ship is structurally sound and only damaged a section of the prow which will be repaired promptly, but revised timetables for their ferry sailings will apply until this vessel is back in service.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

German chancellor Merkel in La Gomera again

Merkel in La Gomera 2016 (Image: Darias/La Opinion)
German chancellor Angela Merkel is spending her Easter holidays in La Gomera again, together with her husband Joachim Sauer. This is the now the fifth time the 'world's most powerful woman' is spending her spring holidays on the island amid tight security. She is known to enjoy walking and exploring La Gomera's national park and ancient forest. She's also said to be fond of a local specialty called potaje de berros which is a soup made with watercress. The German chancellor arrived by ferry in La Gomera on Good Friday for a week's peace and quiet. The above image was snapped by a local couple who spotted Merkel by chance when taking some shots of nature in La Gomera's national park with their mobile phone during the German leader's last visit in 2016. It is said to be the only photo that was published of any of her five visits and appeared in the Canary Islands daily La Opinion. The German chancellor is staying at the island's largest hotel among many average tourists and is reported to be enjoying a normal relaxing holiday without much special attention.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

A very HAPPY EASTER !
Above twin lambs had just been born when we took this photo here in Ireland yesterday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Orca sighting off La Gomera


La Gomera, and especially an area in the Atlantic just off the southern coastline, forms part of one of best whale watching destinations in the world, where you can experience the sight of over 20 species of whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
Throughout the whole year there is a 90 percent chance of observing a variety of marine mammals and also turtles and flying fish. This is probably because the biodiversity here is extremely rich and especially attractive to cetaceans.
Some of these mammals live here on a permanent basis and among them are many species of dolphins such as bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins or common dolphins. Furthermore there is a uniquely large population of pilot whales living here permanently.
Other marine mammals congregate here temporarily while passing through his part of the Atlantic. A couple of days ago Jose Miguel, the skipper of both 'Tina' and 'Speedy' whale watching boats operating out of Valle Gran Rey's Vueltas harbour, spotted and filmed a small group of orcas in the area and posted the above video on his Facebook page. Orcas are rarely seen in the area, but have been encountered near La Gomera before.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Huge drinking water loss

Water tap in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey
In contrast to some of the other Canary Islands, La Gomera has an abundant supply of water. While the many open reservoirs are exclusively used for irrigation of the crops in summer, nearly all the drinking water and the domestic supply comes from wells and springs that produce water of excellent quality. Rainfall replenishes these, but the forest that covers the top of the island produces additional water when the mist and fog that are carried across the mountains by the trade winds condensate on the trees and percolate through the ground to feed the springs. 
However, the past winter brought very little rain to La Gomera and a recent survey revealed that half of La Gomera's drinking water available through the public water supply is lost and wasted because of an ageing and often faulty infrastructure. Measurements have shown that there are numerous leaks between source and households. The town of San Sebastian is now introducing 2.500 pressure reducing valves and diffusers in a measure which is expected to save 44.000 litres of precious water per day.
Other towns like Valle Gran Rey have also begun to replace old and leaking pipes, but it will take a long time until the full amount of water entering the distribution system will actually be contained within the grid and available to consumers. 
The water survey included water reservoirs and it was found that agriculture uses 82% of all available water, while about 18% is for human consumption, including the 6,3% used by the tourism sector. More than three quarters of all available water on the island of La Gomera comes from underground sources.
The island's capital San Sebastian is the only town so far which uses treated and purified waste water for the irrigation of its public parks and green areas, saving 0,6% of all available water. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Bar Maria to become fast food outlet

Above is the architect's proposal for Casa Maria in La Playa (Image: Martin Hartmann)
Legendary Bar Maria, which has been a popular meeting point at the beach in La Playa in Valle Gran Rey since the 1960's, has finally been sold for an undisclosed sum. The bar and restaurant has been closed since Maria herself died two years ago and was put up for sale subsequently. It has now been revealed that it was acquired by the McDonald's chain of fast food restaurants, who spotted the obvious commercial potential of this landmark building. 
Maximiliano Carne-Deres, the spokesperson for McDonald's in the Canary Islands, has stated that his company was particularly impressed with the large number of revellers gathering at Casa Maria around sunset time and the large amount of hungry and thirsty hillwalkers and hikers arriving in the area every day from the mountains. Mr. Carne-Deres stressed that the proposed refurbishment will blend in well with the already existing  infrastructure across the road, which includes a steak-house. He added that the McDonald's colours of yellow and red would go well with the sunset at the beach in front of the building, which is known as 'Playa Maria'. Ronald McDonald, the chain's emblematic happy clown, once erected at the premises would also ''form a harmonious combination with the many drummers and fire-jugglers who perform there at sunset, whom we intend to support and sustain with food vouchers''.
However, the island's government have attached certain conditions to the new licence and planning permission, namely that the former small front bar at the premises shall be retained  and must continue to serve alcoholic beverages ''to maintain the jovial ambience for which the location has established a tradition'', and that the fast food outlet will have to include some local produce in the menu. 
In response to these conditions Mr. Carne-Deres has revealed that the bar will remain separate from the restaurant to be run as a joint venture with the Tenerife-based Dorada beer company and that this will form the first 'McBar' in the world. For the menu a new burger called 'McCabra' (sic) with goat (=cabra) meat and smoked goat's cheese will be available as a new up-market option of fresh local produce on the menu when the fast food restaurant opens its doors at the former Bar Maria on April 1st 2018. Aren't you just ''lovin' it'' ?

Monday, March 27, 2017

FERRY NEWS: New boat looking for crew

The long awaited re-opening of the so-called 'interior ferry line', sorely missed since 2012, connecting the ports of La Gomera's capital San Sebastian, Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey is back in the news once again. This time it is solid news and the new vessel to be introduced for this service can't be that far away as the shipping company Fred. Olsen has begun looking for crew for the ferry. Three ads have been placed which state that the company is offering posts as deckhands/waiters, engineers (mechanics) and a captain which preferably should be based in Valle Gran Rey as presumably the ferry will be moored there at night. Now's the time to move to Valle Gran Rey if you've got a skipper's ticket, and/or got experience aboard boats looking for a job.
I'm now pretty certain that on my next trip to La Gomera I'll be sailing to my destination aboard the new vessel. 

Above the three advertisements for jobs on the new ferry connection by the Fred.Olsen company

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another sail training ship visits Vueltas

The three-masted 'Alva' from Stockholm in the harbour of Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey yesterday.  The 44 metres long vessel is crewed by students and operated by the Swedish marine instute. Vueltas harbour is attracting more and more large sailing vessels.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hailstorms in La Gomera

Hail on road near La Hayas (Image: gomeranoticias.com)
There was heavy rain and hail today in some parts of La Gomera, while in others like Valle Gran Rey it was mostly sunny. The island's government has stated that all roads are open but drivers should exercise caution.
(Image: gomeraverde.es)
Hail and lots of water on road in the La Palmita area of La Gomera (Image: gomeranoticias.com)

La Calera street festival

There'll be a street festival in the La Calera area of Valle Gran Rey this afternoon, Saturday March 18th 2017, with street entertainment, food and drink, etc. Live music starts at 5 pm and all are welcome to discover the little lanes of Valle Gran Rey's historic centre behind the town hall.

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day orange tree

Typical Irish... orange tree in La Gomera. Well, it has green leaves, white flowers, and orange fruit.
...and there'll be a bit of fun and music in the Bodegita del Medio at the 'baby beach' (Charco del Conde) to mark the occasion tonight, I've been told.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trapped on freezing Teide

Mount Teide seen from La Gomera recently
More than 100 people had to spend last night in freezing temperatures at about 11.000 feet near the top of Spain's s highest mountain after the cable car to the top shut itself down at around 2pm yesterday, apparently due to a fault in its safety system. 
All afternoon until nightfall the 35 people in each of the two cabins were rescued first, after firemen, police, park rangers and helicopters had been called in to help with an abseiling system to get the trapped tourists down from the cabins suspended at about 150 feet above the ground.
One by one tourists were lowered to safety during a four hour rescue operation. Each one was placed in a harness and then dropped through the hatch of the cable car. There were no injuries but some of those rescued needed treatment for shock and altitude sickness.
Of the couple of hundred people at the top station who had been waiting to come down many were able to walk down the steep rocky slope to the base station with the help of the emergency services, but many elderly and families with children had to face a very cold night near the top at about 3.500 metres altitude as night was approaching. They were supplied with warm clothing, blankets and food. About fifty members of the emergency services including psychologists stayed with those trapped at the upper cable car station overnight. At first light today the rescue of the 103 adults and 8 children has begun with those able to walk being guided down the mountain, and the remainder being flown out with helicopters.
The reason why the cable car system's emergency stop was triggered automatically is not known yet, and as initial inspections have not revealed any mechanical faults, the company operating the cable car has stated that the cabins had not been in danger at any time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Peek over the peak

Mountain ridge in La Gomera's north-east with Tenerife in the background 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fire quickly extinguished

Image: gomeratoday.com
A minor brushfire was reported in the El Lamero area of San Sebastian de La Gomera at around 7 pm last night. The fire brigade and emergency services arrived quickly on the scene and managed to prevent the flames from spreading. They brought the flames under control despite the difficult conditions with gale force winds gusting over 80 km/h in the area last night. The fire was declared as completely extinguished at around 10 pm.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wind and wave warnings

It is going to be very windy until about noon on Tuesday, 14th of March 2017. The Spanish meteorological service has issued several warnings of gale force northerly winds gusting to 90 km/h or more, especially on Monday (level 'orange warning). Further warnings have been issued of rough seas with combined swell and wind-driven waves to reach four to five  metres on exposed coastal stretches. Be very cautious on roads, secure that garden furniture, etc., and stay away from exposed areas !

Friday, March 10, 2017

Record temperature but warnings cancelled

During the current episode of Calima weather the concentration of Saharan dust in the air turned out to be a lot lower than had been predicted. It is however still significant, as you can see in the image above which I took around 2 pm today. Consequently the Spanish meteorological service has cancelled all dust load warnings that had been issued for most of the Canary Islands previously. That's the good news.
However, the temperature turned out much higher than had been forecast and a new record was set for the highest March temperature at Tenerife South airport yesterday, where 34,2ºC were recorded in the afternoon. Very high temperatures were reached in La Gomera, too, with La Dama in the south registering 33,1ºC and Hermigua in the north topping that with 33,5ºC. Humidity levels are very low, too, averaging around 20% only. As I write the temperature is already above 32ºC and yesterday's highs may well be surpassed later today.
High up in the mountains of La Gomera temperatures will be a bit lower, but the easterly wind will be stronger up there. Current indications are that the calima will gradually ease from Saturday evening bringing lower temperatures.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Warning of calima for a few days

The dust load forecast for Friday evening by the Barcelona Dust Forecast Centre of the Spanish met. service

The present light calima conditions are expected to worsen and a much heavier dust load in the air is expected as winds from the Sahara in the east will freshen. The already summer-like temperature is set to increase, particularly in the medium to high altitudes of La Gomera, and could reach 30ºC or even more in places. The fairly high dust concentration is expected to lead to much reduced visibility of only about 3.000 metres generally, and even only 1.000 -2.000 metres at times. A status 'yellow' weather warning of these conditions has been issued by the official Spanish meteorological service for tomorrow, Thursday March 8th 2017, and remains valid until Saturday evening. Friday is expected to be the worst day of this episode of calima conditions.
Current indications are that the dust will gradually clear later on Saturday, with a return to more normal temperatures and fresh to strong north-easterly winds from Sunday. It should remain mostly sunny in the south, and cloudy spells are expected in the north.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Man falls off palm tree he was working on

A young man of 26 years fell off a palm tree in the municipality of Vallehermoso, La Gomera, on Wednesday afternoon. He had fallen from a height of over four metres and suffered several injuries. He was transferred to the nearest health centre by ambulance and is said to be recovering well.
The accident happened as the man was working on the palm tree, presumably for the purpose of preparing it for the extraction of 'guarapo' which forms the base for local speciality food miel de palma (palm honey). The area above of the western village of Alojera where the incident occurred is renowned for its palm groves and several producers of palm honey are based in the area. 
Next time you enjoy the sweet delicacy bear in mind the hard work it takes to produce it.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

More details of dramatic rescue

The rescued  thanking their rescuers (Image: gomeranoticias.com)
More details have emerged of the dramatic rescue in the EL Rejo valley (see previous post). The two ladies are actually 23 years old and both are students from mainland Spain living in Tenerife. The had followed GPS instructions on their mobile phones when in the upper region of the El Rejo valley thinking their phones were showing them a shortcut to the main road through the valley after they had left the hiking path and became lost. One of them then slid about 20 metres down a steep incline and just managed to cling onto the branches of a tree above a vertical drop of 150 metres. The other girl tried to help her friend but ended up in a similar position above the gorge, also clinging to a tree. 
They had already called the emergency services on 112 at around 5 pm saying that they had left the path through the valley and were lost. They then tried to get to the main road before dark using the GPS service on their phones which subsequently lead them into their precarious trap. It was night by then and weather conditions were said to be adverse with high humidity and cold gusty winds, and they were beginning to suffer from exposure. 
A police helicopter from Tenerife set down three specially trained agents of the mountain police unit in the area in the early hours of the morning in 'very difficult conditions' who finally managed to locate the victims still clinging to the branches of trees above the gorge at around 04:20 am. At first light the rescuers began the laborious task of bringing the two ladies down the vertical drop of 150 metres to the bottom of the ravine in several stages with the aid of ropes and harnesses and from there a provisional path had been prepared to bring them to the waiting ambulance on the road where they arrived shaken but uninjured later that morning. Yesterday they visited the police headquarters in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to thank their rescuers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Trapped hikers rescued with difficulty

Part of the El Rejo valley (Archive)
Two young tourists were brought to safety unharmed yesterday morning after an extended and difficult rescue operation in the northern fringes of La Gomera's national park. The two 22 year old ladies had become lost in the 'El Rejo' valley in the municipality of Hermigua the previous night at dusk and subsequently fell or slid down the mountainside into a position from where they couldn't find a way out. Luckily the remote location has mobile phone cover and they could call for help. The emergency services arrived and managed to locate the trapped hikers, but found they couldn't reach the victims due to the rough and dangerous terrain and lack of light. The stuck girls had to spend the night in their uncomfortable position, but food, etc., was dropped to them and mobile phone communication was maintained at all times. A special mountain unit of the Spanish police was sent from Tenerife and with the help of the local services as well as the national park's forestry department a provisional path had to be constructed to reach the stricken hikers at first light yesterday, and finally the laborious task of bringing them to safety succeeded.  The two victims were said to be unharmed but shaken by their ordeal.
SEE: UPDATE WITH MORE DETAILS

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Road improvements near Arure

The village of Arure  (Archive)

The main road which leads through the mountain village of Arure and on to Valle Gran Rey is to be improved very soon. There is a stretch of road just before arriving at the first houses of Arure after leaving the national park which is currently very narrow with lots of dangerous bends where trucks and buses going in opposite directions can't even pass each other, often leading to delays and minor accidents. The added complication in this mountain area at about 3.000 ft altitude is the often reduced visibility due to mist and fog.
Now this length of road of about 1.300 metres is to be widened and the worst bends will be straightened to improve road safety. The government of the Canary Islands will spend 1,5 million Euros on the project and has already put the works out to tender with a stipulated time for execution of nine months. The sensitive environment so close to the national park will be respected by sticking as much as possible to the existing route and any palm trees that are in the way will be replanted close by. The works are badly needed on this busy road which is the main artery supplying Valle Gran Rey, the second most populous municipal area of La Gomera and the most visited by tourists. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Carnival season 2017 in La Gomera


In the island's capital carnival has begun

The carnival poster of Playa de Santiago and Alajero
Carnival headquarter of VGR is in La Playa this year
Vallehermoso's carnival poster

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Further harbour improvements

The terminal building in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey
The recently constructed terminal building in the outer harbour of Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, is to be brought into service soon, according to the island's president Casimiro Curbelo. He announced a further investment of 310.000 Euros for the harbour yesterday and the terminal will get the necessary connections to services as well as landscaping and furnishings. 
Lets hope there will be public toilets open at all times as currently there are none in the whole Valle Gran Rey area which serves a population of around 5.000 and is the main tourist attraction of La Gomera. Public toilet facilities are extremely scarce in La Gomera in general and should be provided a.s.a.p. to avoid further unhygienic 'wild toilets'.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rains force road closures

The steep and winding scenic road through 'EL Rejo' valley
Today's abundant rains have caused some traffic disruption in La Gomera. Apart from minor debris on the roads there was a larger landslide affecting the scenic 'El Rejo' road which connects the main north road and the main west road through the national park. This landslide is said to be not as significant as previous ones, but has forced the closure of this road past the volcanic cone of the same name. The road will be closed until further notice, pending the clearance of debris and a detailed inspection. For locals and visitors normally using this short-cut the closure means very long detours.
In San Sebastian the road past the main beach to the harbour called 'Avenida Maritima' is temporarily closed until flooding caused by heavy rain has subsided, which is expected to happen soon.
There were also flight delays at La Gomera's airport due to the rain and poor visibility.
UPDATE Thursday Feb. 16th 2017:
All roads are now open again, but caution is still advised as always after rain when the sun heats any remaining loose material which then expands and may fall onto roads and paths.