Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

From Island To Island

Painting 'Mid Atlantic' by Carol Cronin, reproduced by kind permission of the artist
Her gallery in Dingle, Co.Kerry is a worth a visit when in the southwest of Ireland
When you are reading this I'm already on my way back home to Ireland. I will of course keep in touch with La Gomera and will report anything important regarding my second home, La Gomera, on this blog.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hope again for reestablishment of ferry line

The former Garajonay Expres
The so-called 'interior ferry line', 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 La Gomera's ruling ASG party's deputy in the Canarian parliament Jesus Ramos has recently stated that his negotiations will 'soon bear fruit'. He also said that three different ferry companies are still interested in running the service and that their proposals for the reintroduction of this ferry connection are already being studied.
The 'interior ferry line' ceased operations early 2012 despite having been declared an 'obligatory public service' by the Canarian government some years previously and the decision to subsidise resident's tickets further.
The ferry route had been operated by three different companies over the years and attracted 150.000 passengers per year on average before it ceased operating. It is worth remembering that by taking the now sorely missed ferry  it took just about 30 minutes to travel from Valle Gran Rey to the capital San Sebastian, while the public bus needs about 110 minutes to get there. The route by sea would also reduce the amount of traffic that currently has to squeeze through the centre of the national park, and that Valle Gran Rey only has one access road which is very narrow in places and prone to rockfalls.
We're keeping our fingers crossed...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

La Gomera's water reservoirs now 70% full

The recent rains have helped to raise water levels in La Gomera's reservoirs which now have reached 70% of combined total capacity. Some of the water reservoirs are even completely full and overflowing. All these water storage facilities are exclusivly used for irrigation in agriculture. La Gomera's drinking water comes entirely from tapped wells and natural underground deposits and is of excellent quality.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Weather set to improve gradually

Image taken in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, yesterday 'between the showers'
There were frequent heavy showers yesterday and more of the same is expected today, but as was the case yesterday there will be sunny periods as well.The strong winds should ease later, but the sea will remain rough with waves of 4-5m height on exposed coasts. Showers will become more isolated, but will continue until Sunday morning with the mountains and the north of La Gomera most at risk. Wind and rain warnings should be lifted later today, but the warning of rough seas will remain in force until late Saturday.
There were some minor rock- and landslides affecting roads but thankfully no major incidents. The park around the Torre del Conde in San Sebastian de La Gomera where a palm tree was felled by gale gusts remains closed to the public, however.
The weather station at Alto de Igualero, La Gomera's second highest mountain, situated at about 1470m above sea level recorded over 40mm of rain in the past 30 hours and a wind gust of 94 km/h. It has become much colder with a flow of polar air streaming across the Canary Islands and the station up there recorded a minimum temperature of only 1,2 ºC last night which indicates that there was some ground frost in the mountains, a rare occurrence on La Gomera. Even down in Valle Gran Rey the temperature dropped to just below 12ºC last night and here the maximum values will struggle to reach 22ºC during the sunny spells expected, but it will feel fresher due to the northerly winds.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Some rain at long last

The first shower after a prolonged dry spell in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera at 9 am this morning
The very long drought this winter is finally ending as a cold front from the Atlantic is beginning to affect the weather in the Canary Islands. As I write the first of the rain is coming down in Valle Gran Rey here on La Gomera island.
There is a warning of some heavy showers and even longer spells of rain, especially in the North but all areas are at risk. Accumulations may exceed 60mm in twelve hours and 15 mm in just one hour and weather alerts have been issued.
The cold front is bringing polar air which will make it feel noticeably cooler, especially in areas exposed to the strong to gale force northerly winds expected later and there is a gale warning. The mountains in the western Canaries even will get sleet or snow at above 1300 meters.
The weather situation will remain unstable at least until Saturday.
Anyway, mountain hikes are not recommended until the weather has improved, and don't be fooled by brief sunny periods. Don't undertake any unnecessary car journeys as there may be rock/landslides especially after the long dry period. Find yourself a cosy cafe or bar, or go swimming in the rain, the sea's still warm.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Air ambulance defies strong winds

The air ambulance was called to the harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, at lunchtime yesterday after an elderly tourist with a heart condition became ill aboard an excursion boat, obliging the vessel to return to port. The emergency services had been called who sent a medical team, and the air ambulance also arrived despite the very windy conditions experienced yesterday. The patient was removed from the excursion boat under medical supervision and brought to the air ambulance which then transferred the seriously ill tourist to the university hospital on Tenerife. 
It is always amazing to watch the skill of the helicopter pilots of the emergency services, especially in the very windy conditions experienced yesterday which forced the chopper to come in at a very low altitude at what appeared to me a wobbly, crazy angle and later having to take off again in the dusty and gusty conditions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Modified ferry schedule until end of February 2016

The 'Volcan de Taburiente' in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera
The timetable for sailings by the Naviera Armas ferry company between Los Cristianos in Tenerife and the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma has been modified until the end of the month. Their ro-ro ship Volcan de Taburiente is currently out of service and is being substituted by two other Armas ferries. 
Intending passengers should check current timetables.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Pope Said Goodbye To The Sardine

Each community in the Canary Islands ends the carnival 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 clothes who 'cry their eyes out' as the sardine dies and carnival ends. This year Valle Gran Rey had an Egyptian sardine and even 'The Pope' attended its funeral last night.
Hot samba rhythms are always part of the carnival in the Canary Islands and each town has their own samba school. The one above came from La Palma island to attend the funeral and they were amazing.

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...
UPDATE: That was a really nice Sunday afternoon and lasted until sunset with singers, guitars, mandolins, flutes and more. The same again on Sunday Feb. 14th, 2016 and all are welcome.

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.