Friday, June 28, 2013

La Gomera to get firefighting aircraft very soon

The Spanish ministry for agriculture, food and the environment has announced that an Air Tractor AT 802F 'Fire Boss' amphibious firefighting plane will be based on La Gomera for the summer season. This is very good news after last year's devastating fires on the island. The aircraft is expected to be operational at La Gomeras Playa de Santiago airport already from this Monday, July 1st 2013. The plane is described by its makers as follows:

''Amphibious Air Tanker
Equipped with Wipaire amphibious floats, Air Tractor’s AT-802F “Fire Boss” adds yet another dimension of capability for fire fighters. It can scoop 800 gallons of water in 12-15 seconds and be off the water and on its way again to the front lines in as few as 20-30 seconds.
With the ability to work as a land-based aircraft or a scooper, the “Fire Boss” can drop an initial load of retardant then remain close to the fire by scooping water from a nearby lake.''
Air Tractor Fire Boss (AT company photo)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fires all over the Canary Islands tonight

One of the bonfires with fireworks in Valle Gran Rey a few
years ago, where a 'fake house' was burned as a bonfire

Programme V.G.R.
If you see fires in the Canary Islands tonight, don't be alarmed -they're bonfires as it is St. John's night, or 'la noche de San Juan' in Spanish. As is the custom in Ireland, here in the Canaries bonfires are lit, too in honour of St. John. This custom even pre-dates Christian times as it also marks the longest days of the year.
Every district, townland and village lights their own fire(s) and there are competitions for the most spectacular fires. I've seen whole houses constructed from pallets, old doors, etc., complete with old furniture and straw-stuffed 'inhabitants' being burned on St.John's night. The people party around the fires with music, food and drink and often set off fireworks. The fires nowadays are strictly controlled and have to be applied for at the local town hall. The burning of tyres, plastics, and other hazardous material is prohibited and the fires have to be within certain safety guidelines. The fiesta de San Juan continues for several days in some parishes, as is the case in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera this year.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Athlete circumnavigates La Gomera - swimming !

Gomeran tri-athlete Libertad Ramos is well underway to complete his circumnavigation of the island. He started out from San Sebastian De La Gomera on Tuesday, June 18th 2013, swimming to the southern town of Playa Santiago on the first leg of the long swim. Yesterday he reached Vallehermoso on the northern coast, completing the fourth stage on schedule despite the adverse weather conditions which saw him battling strong winds and high waves. He now only has two more difficult stages to complete to become the first person to accomplish the feat of swimming around all of La Gomera' s coastline.

Tri-athlete Lbertad Ramos from La Gomera (

Libertad Ramos has successfully completed the 85 kilometre  6-day swim around the island of La Gomera, arriving at the starting point San Sebastian today, Monday June 24th. CONGRATULATIONS !

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dutch pop band releases single called 'La Gomera'

I don't know if Dutch group 'Mon Amour Band' ever have been to this island, but their latest release is called 'La Gomera'. Not my cup of tea, really, but here's their video anyway. Just let me assure you that it definitely wasn't filmed on La Gomera and that we don't have these silly little tourist-trains here, but the refrain goes 'Bring me back to La Gomera...'

Friday, June 14, 2013

La Gomera's whistled language with a French twist

French mandolin player, singer and composer Feloche has released an EP called 'Mythology' which features the whistled language of La Gomera, El Silbo, on one of the tracks ('Silbo'). Below a video with pictures of La Gomera which features the new composition. Feloche's website is HERE

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Minor fire on La Gomera & some good news

On Sunday, June 9th '13, there was a minor brush fire in the Chejelipes region of La Gomera island. The fire was put out within two hours with the aid of a helicopter and so did only limited damage to some agricultural land. The cause of the fire remains to be established.
However, the incident did highlight the danger the Canary Islands are facing with the beginning of the dry season and the rising temperature. This fire broke out at around midday and this gave the helicopter and fire crews a chance to act effectively. During the night the situation could get out of control more easily...
After this incident the island's president Casimiro Curbelo once again called for a helicopter to be based on La Gomera permanently and the island remains the only Canary island without its own helicopter.

A hydro-plane in action during the 2013 fires on La Gomera
There is some good news to report as well: The Canarian minister for industry, energy and tourism, Jose Manuel Soria announced a couple of days ago that a hydro-plane will be sent from the Spanish Peninsula on the first of July this year to be based in the Canary Islands until the end of the summer. This will greatly help in reducing the risk of minor fires becoming major blazes. Remember that the Canarian government repeatedly called for such an aircraft to be stationed here permanently and up to now the central government refused to send one. 
During last year's major blaze on La Gomera it took several days until the first such plane arrived here and the flames did spread beyond control.

See also Fire on La Gomera 2012

Monday, June 03, 2013

Spanish bureaucracy (- or bureaucrazy ?)

Here's an example of the sometimes maddening experiences with the authorities in Spain, which I found on an interesting site called Red Queen Musings from Tenerife:

Confused? – You will be.
''Yesterday OH and I went to the Ayuntamiento in Arona to get a Certificado de Viajes; this is the document that allows discounts to European nationals who are resident in the Canary Islands.  After taking a ticket and waiting for half an hour we were seen by a man who said he could not issue one because we had the A4 green form and needed the new wallet sized one.
Our Spanish isn´t that good and I was probably looking suitably dumbfounded as our residencia document supposedly never expires!  But this also shocked the couple who were standing behind us and questioned the man at the desk.  After a bit of toing and froing the man confirmed, No he says you definitely need the small green form not the one you have.
Today we decided that we would go to the police station in Las Americas and get the new paperwork.  Before we could do this we needed an up to date Empadronamiento (these only last 6 months).  It is the paperwork that proves that you have been registered on the Municipal Padron as living at your current address.  So again armed with a book to fill in the hours we would probably be killing until our number was called we headed off to the Culture Centre in Los Cristianos.
Now this is where it gets interesting and makes it extremely difficult to advise people on what they should and shouldn´t do in order to survive living in Tenerife.  We told the lady at the desk when our number 121 was called after an hour, that we wanted the paperwork to renew our Residencia.  She shrugged and asked why and when we told her she shook her head and said rubbish.  Our paperwork was all correct, it did not have an expiry date and she could issue us with the Certificado de Viajes, which she proceeded to do.
I am now convinced that Tenerife is the place where the term not knowing your arse from your elbow originated.
So this was our experience, I would hesitate to tell anyone else how to do it because they could have a totally different experience depending on the location of their town hall or even the mood of the employee, on a particular day...''