Thursday, February 28, 2013

More fruit trees for fire victims

La Gomera's government will distribute more than 2.300 fruit trees for immediate planting to farmers and residents who lost crops and trees during the devastating fire last summer. The trees will be distributed in the town of Chipude from 11am today, and will cosist of 15 varieties, including apple, almond, cherry, plum, peach, etc..
In several separate distributions in Valle Gran Rey nearly 1500 tropical fruit trees have already been distributed and planted.
More fruit trees will be given away in several locations soon and the total number re-planted will reach well over 5.000 .
UPDATE 8pm: Further goods news today is the ministry for environment's allocation of nearly 580.000 Euros for the repair of damage in La Gomera's forest 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rhythm and Dance Show comes to La Gomera

UPDATE 02-03-'13 @ 11pm: 
I'm just back from the performance in San Sebastian and let me tell you that it was one of the best shows I've ever seen ! Highly professional and very entertaining, and the stage set, lighting and sound deserve to be mentioned too. 'Cambyuon' got a standing ovation on La Gomera, even though Gomerans are very slow to clap their hands any more than politeness demands ! My hands are still sore anyway, as the ovation continued in the rhythm of the encore and long after that.
Don't miss 'Cambuyon' if they perform anywhere near you in the future.

Monday, February 25, 2013

World's largest yacht visits La Gomera

...or is it a cruise ship ? Well, judge for yourself. It is the MS 'The World', which is a bit like a cruise ship, but the 165 suites are privately owned residences. The owners - when aboard - decide on the itinerary by holding a ballot and the vessel travels all year round to wherever the owners decide to go. The ship is often called 'the cruise ship of the millionaires' and the accommodation is referred to as a 'residensea'. The 644 feet long vessel today anchored off La Gomera (for security reasons, I suppose) and the presently just over 100 owners and guests aboard are being ferried ashore and back by the ship's own water taxis.
More info and a glimpse of life aboard here:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Special offer extended by ferry company

'Naviera Armas', the Canary Islands ferry company, have extended their special offer for all inter-island ferry connections until the 21st of March. Residents can travel for just 7 Euros and tourists for only 14 Euros per trip, and the price for a car is the same as for a passenger.
Meanwhile their competitor 'Fred Olsen Express' have a limited offer of tickets for the same price which ends on Feb. 28th.
To view these offers just click on the relevant link on the sidebar.
Summer 2013 - while the extremely low prices are no longer available, some very attractively low fares are still available on select dates. Keep checking both ferry companies.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Carnival Photo Slideshow

Some impressions taken during and after yesterdays carnival parade in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera. Today the carnival here ends  with the 'funeral of the sardine', which is again followed by dancing to two major salsa bands until the early hours of the morning...


Monday, February 18, 2013

Longevity on La Gomera

In the small town of Agulo on the north-side of La Gomera there were two great celebrations recently: First the 70th wedding anniversary of a happy couple, both partners being 92 years old.
Today it was the 104th (!) birthday of María García Henríquez who is said to be in good health and looking forward to her 105th !
People really do seem to live longer on La Gomera.
UPDATE 22-02-13: Today it is the 100th birthday of Adelaida Aguilar Darias in San Sebastian de la Gomera. Congratulations !

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mother of two killed by minor rockfall on La Gomera

A 30-year-old mother  was killed early this morning by a few rocks that fell from an overhang under which she was sleeping with her two youngest children. The rocks fell only a few feet but directly on top of her and the emergency services found her dead when they arrived on the scene. On of her children received minor injuries while the other escaped unharmed. The victim was of German nationality.
The incident took place in an area that is locally known as 'Playa de las Arenas', but better known as 'Schweinebucht' which is German for 'Bay of Pigs'. Access to the area is extremely difficult to gain, particularly at high tide. It has been a popular place with hippies since the 60's and the caves in the bay  house a hippy encampment to this day.
UPDATE 17-02-13: The initial press reports contained some errors: The victim wasn't 30, but in her late thirties and she has at least two more children at home in Germany. She was a regular visitor to La Gomera and had spent some time at the scene of the accident when she was about 19. She was well known and liked locally.
In the red oval the location where the mother of two was killed in her sleep. The fallen rocks can be clearly seen, as can the gaps they left in the rockface (whitish colour).    Photo ©

Friday, February 15, 2013

Transatlantic solo rower set to break world record

See also latest UPDATE: New Transatlantic World Record !

Charlie Pitcher is well underway to break the Transatlantic solo rowing world record. In his attempt he will have to row the 3000 nautical miles from La Gomera to Barbados in less than 40 days. 
He initially set out from the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera on Feb. 2nd but decided to turn back after six hours of battling strong currents and headwinds. He finally left port
on Feb.6th when conditions were much more favourable. By now he has already covered more than one fifth of the distance and has at times reached speeds of over 14 knots when surfing waves. Charlie is hoping to raise funds for charities in his daring attempt.
You can find out more and follow his progress on his website:
Here's a video of Charlie Pitcher on his boat in La Gomera:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Five crew die on cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty'

During a routine emergency-training exercise aboard the cruise ship 'Majesty', which is visiting the port of Santa Cruz on the neighbouring island of La Palma, five crew members have lost their lives on Sunday, Feb. 10th 2013. A further three crew were injured.
The life-boat fell from a great hight after one of warps parted as the boat was being launched from the davits and the second warp then broke as well due to the heavily swinging weight. The boat crashed into the harbour causing the death of four crew initially and a fifth died a while later after having been rescued by the local life boat which also managed to save the lives of the remaining three crew.
The 'Thomson Majesty' had arrived from Gran Canaria the same morning at 8am with about 1500 mostly British passengers (plus about 500 crew) and was due to proceed to the island of Madeira later that same day. She will have to remain in the port of Santa Cruz on La Palma until the investigations are concluded.
Since the sinking of the 'Costa Concordia' in Italy all cruise ships are carrying out emergency drills in every port they visit.
UPDATE 25-02-13: The 'Majesty' is now back to 'business a usual' after extensive safety checks. 
The life-boat that crashed can be seen capsized on the right (white keel, in front of open hatch) Photo © Marcos J. Rodríguez /
...and here's a BBC news video with more details:

Friday, February 08, 2013

Carnival in Canary Islands

It's carnival time in the Canary Islands and this is a huge event that doesn't exactly keep to the traditional carnival timetable. It goes 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. In Santa Cruz this year some events have been cancelled because during the election gala for the carnival queen one of the contestants' elaborate costume caught fire and she was severely burnt.
But wherever you'll be in the Canaries over the next few weeks watch out for local posters and announcements. The actual parades and main events couldn't be missed anyway - the sights and sounds are obvious.
Each community end their festivities with the 'funeral of the sardine' when a large papier-mache sardine full of pyrotechnics  is burnt and pushed into the sea, accompanied by the wailing of 'grieving ladies', i.e. men dressed in women's black clothes.
Images from my archive of the carnival in...
...Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera in 2007

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Calima: Weather from the Sahara

The much dreaded 'calima' weather  occurs when there is an easterly stream of air coming from the Sahara desert bringing with it a cloud of fine, flour-like dust and sand and sometimes even locusts. It is often associated with easterly gales and hot dry air from the Sahara. In winter it is not too hot because at this time of the year the desert is cooler, but in summer it can feel like a blast from an open oven. The air also becomes extremely dry and can cause breathing difficulties, dry mucous membranes, eye irritation and flu-like symptoms. The sun becomes obscured to appear like a milky disk and visibility is greatly reduced. Dust from the Sahara has on some occasions even reached Northern Europe, including Britain and Ireland, depositing yellowish dust on cars, etc..
In the Canaries the worst affected areas are usually the regions in between 1500 and 3000 feet of altitude, where it can become oppressively hot, while the lower regions benefit from a cooling effect by the Atlantic, which also supplies some moisture. The Eastern Canaries are generally more at risk. On La Gomera the phenomenon usually lasts only 2-5 days and is often followed by a shower of rain which clears the air but leaves a grimy deposit everywhere. 
The following saying is true for the Canary Islands, too: ‘When the wind is from the east, 'tis neither good for man nor beast’.
More details on the Saharan air layer

+Here's the official advice for Calima weather conditions and heat waves:

  • Carry water with you, and drink it often ! Still water is best.
  • Stay in the shade and places protected from the sun  as much as possible and/or stay cool indoors.
  • You can go for a refreshing swim, but make sure to slowly adjust to the water temperature
  • During daylight hours lower window blinds and/or close curtains and shutters.
  • Open the windows of the house at night to keep cool.
  • Use air conditioning or fans to cool the atmosphere - if unavailable, hang wet towels indoors.
  • Avoid dramatic temperature variations when entering or leaving places. Adjust gradually.
  • On the street avoid direct sunlight. Wear a cap or a hat, wear lightweight, light-colour clothing made of natural fibres, i.e. cotton.
  • Try to walk in the shade, be under an umbrella on the beach and rest frequently in a cool place.
  • Never leave children,  elderly,  pets inside a closed vehicle. 
  • Avoid prolonged physical exercise .
  • Take regular light meals,  drinks and foods rich in water and mineral salts, such as fruits and vegetables. They will help to keep you hydrated and replace the salt lost through sweating.
  • Avoid alcohol and very hot foods as well as high-calorie foods.
  • Help others. If you know of sick or elderly people living alone go to visit them regularly.
  • If you take medication, ask your doctor if it can affect thermoregulation or whether to adjust or change.

Saharan dust over Canary Islands (2004) © 
Normal visibility Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera
Visibility during a fairly heavy spell of CALIMA (taken Feb. 5th,2013)