Sunday, December 31, 2017

New crown, new year

As part of the VII Bajada Fiestas, the statue of Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes receiced a new golden crown during the open air mass before the folklore festival at the bus station yesterday. A first for me: 'Attending' mass while drinking beer at the bar, from where I took these images.
By the way, the main New Year's Eve fiesta of Valle Gran Rey takes place in La Playa this year. There are fiestas to count in the new year in the main towns of all the municipal areas of La Gomera with the usual salsa bands and open air dancing tonight, but there will be lots of other parties, too...
Yesterday's open air mass

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The pits

Woman, 39, dies after dog attack in La Palma 
TenerifeNews reported recently:
''A 39-year-old woman has died after being attacked by one of her own mixed pit bulls on La Palma.
The animal had to be shot by the police before they could gain access to her home. The animal had inflicted “significant leg injuries” on its owner. It is believed she could have bled to death.
The woman, who was Spanish and had four children, lived in a rural property in the area of La Camacha. The emergency services were called to the scene following reports that a woman had been attacked by a pit bull and needed urgent health care. On their arrival, medics found she had already died because of the injuries received. A full investigation is already underway to determine what happened.
The woman apparently owned several dogs, one of which “turned on her”, according to sources.The pit bull is one of the breeds on the potentially dangerous list and there are strict regulations about their care, including the wearing of muzzles in public.
The attack happened within the confines of the woman’s own garden. Both the victim’s husband and four children, aged between four and 20, are receiving psychological help. Neighbours, who reported hearing cries for help, said the dog usually accompanied the woman everywhere, slept with them at night and was normally docile.
The local council issued a statement lamenting the death and offering condolences to her family. A number of events were cancelled as a sign of respect.''

Friday, December 29, 2017

Folk Fiesta

This Saturday, 30th Dec. 2017, there will be a day of Canary Islands folk music held in honour of Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes with four participating folklore groups from Tenerife, Lanzarote, and La Gomera and is part of the VII Bajada fiesta. The event is free of charge and will start around midday behind the bus station near the bridge in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Party on the pier

As part of the great fiesta there'll be a 'youth fiesta' in the harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey tomorrow, Dec. 29th 2017, starting from 9 pm. Well-known rock band 'Ni 1 Pelo de Tonto' from Tenerife will perform first, followed by two DJs. The event is free of charge and worth a visit, and despite the title and the funny poster all ages are welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

...and she's going down again

The great fiesta continues and so do the processions. Just a short while ago Nuestra Sñora de Los Reyes passed over the bridge in Valle Gran Rey to spend a while in the lower parts of the valley east of it, continuing her BAJADA of 2017/18 program (click for more). Apologies for the poor quality mobile phone images.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Santa's gone to the beach...

...after a busy night Santa came by bike to have rest on a  beach in La Gomera where dogs and reindeer aren't permitted

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my readers a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS with these images of Christmas decorations in the town of Vallehermoso in La Gomera's north-west

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bang, bang, here she comes

After having been processed through all the mountain villages of Valle Gran Rey, Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes arrived back in the lower Valley last night where she will have a well deserved rest in the little chapel in El Chorro (La Calera)  before continuing down to the next large fiesta in La Playa. All is part of the bajada, the great fiesta which goes on until Jan. 8th 2018. As usual, there was a feast spread out for all those attending the event and exploding rockets illuminated the night sky, welcoming her with with loud bangs amplified by the surrounding cliffs. Sorry about the shaky image, but more rockets were exploding close behind me...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Valle Gran Rainbow

There were a few light to moderate showers in La Gomera's north and in the mountain regions over the weekend, and a few drops of light rain in Valle Gran Rey producing rainbows like the one above. However, the forecast is  for mostly dry weather in the coming days and while the few showers brought a bit of welcome moisture to the parched landscape, the drought continues.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Market will be poisoned

...this Sunday, Dec. 17th 2017 from about 12 noon, when Poisoned Folk will perform a semi-unplucked (sic) session/concert with an Irish mystery guest 'drummer'. Come on up to the Sunday market behind the bus station in La Calera close to the bridge (not under) where host Ramiro keeps the cold beer flowing. 
...and then, when these boys are plucking away at all the money that went into the hat and the market traders are packing up, an informal sing-song might begin with gallons of guitars and even more beer, the likes of which can only be heard at Ramiro's...

Friday, December 15, 2017

It's 'white night' time again

The annual 'White Night' Christmas shopping promotion takes place in the harbour village of Vueltas and neighbouring El Llano area in Valle Gran Rey from 5 pm until 11:30pm tonight. Friday Dec. 15th 2017, with lots of activities and entertainment for young and old, various live music acts, and the local award-winning samba drummers marching through the streets. Many shops will stay open late with special offers and promotions (see above programme).
A similar so-called 'Noche en Blanco' (night in white) will take place Friday, Dec. 22nd 2017, in the La Playa area of Valle Gran Rey.
...and, 'noche en blanco' does not mean it's a fancy dress event where white is worn, and don't expect any snow.

Free gospel singers in La Gomera

Gospel music fans are in for a free treat tomorrow when the Tony Washington Gospel Singers will be performing in La Gomera's auditorium on Saturday, 16th December 2017. The concert starts at 9pm in the 'Auditorio Infanta Cristina' in San Sebastian de La Gomera as part of the Gospel Canarias Festival, but unlike tonight when the same gospel group perform in Los Cristianos on Tenerife with ticket prices starting from 15 Euros, tomorrow's concert in La Gomera is free of charge, so come early.
This is the first time the group is bringing their music to Spain, though they have been regular visitors to other European countries. They're known pioneers of the “Gospel & Rhythm” style, an eclectic fusion of gospel-singing with a powerful rhythmic instrumental base, a gospel form that is described as one of the most original and creative artistic expressions in the south of the United States, continually evolving and influenced by the latest trends in Motown, R&B and even Rap.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Atlantic Challenge race started

All the rowers waving 'Goodbye' to San Sebastian de La Gomera (Images:
The 2017 edition of the transatlantic rowing race known as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge has started from San Sebastian de La Gomera from 11am this morning after a 48-hour delay due to inclement weather conditions. There are 25 teams, male and female,  beginning to row almost 5.000 kms across the Atlatic to Antigua, hailing from more than a dozen countries, including solo rowers and teams of two, three and four rowers. This year there are two entrants from the Republic of Ireland competing in the race: Single rower Damien Browne ('Gulliver's Travels') and foursome 'Relentless Rowers' from Cork. There's also one team of four called 'Home to Portrush' rowing under the flag of Northern Ireland. For the first time this year's race boasts teams from China, Romania, Switzerland and Spain in the competition. All the entrants raise funds for charities of their choice. To find out more about the teams and to track the race you can go to
May the wind be always at your back. Come on 'ye boys from Cork !

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Huge rocks smash funeral home

The largest of the lumps of rock that hit the funeral parlour (All images in this post ©
Dying is a life-threatening experience, as they say, but thankfully there were neither corpses nor mourners in the public funeral parlour (=tanatorio) of Guada in the upper part of Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, when a few huge lumps of rock broke loose in the mountainside above it and tumbled down into the back of the building just after 11am this morning, causing severe structural damage. The facility had been constructed only a few years ago - in the wrong spot, apparently.
There was some light to moderate rain during the night before and now you know why I often give you a warning that it can be just as dangerous near mountains AFTER some moderate rain as it is during a heavy downpour. 
Anyway, you can rest assured that dying here in La Gomera is not a problem. Uniquely on this island the local government guarantees a free funeral, including wreaths and a state of the art hearse, to anyone who happens to die here. 
May I recommend the Guada funeral home, once repaired, to members of the poor old Rock band called 'The Rolling Stones', should any of them ever decide to call it a day ? 
The Roman proverb: ''All things are cause for either laughter or weeping.'' is my excuse for the above comments, but these images (© Gomeratoday) are indeed humbling:
So much for the saying 'Back door visitors are best friends' - They missed the door coming in !
Track of the rockfall (red)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Atlantic Challenge rowing race start delayed by gales

A team of three rowers practising for the Atlantic Challenge off the coast of La Gomera in fine weather recently
The start of the world's toughest rowing race, the 2017 edition of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which was due to have taken place in San Sebastian de La Gomera this morning has been postponed until further notice due to northerly gales, rough seas and big swell. To quote the race organisers:
''Rowing the Atlantic is extremely challenging. It would be wrong to launch a fleet into conditions that are so extreme so early on. In order to give all rowers the best and safest possible start, the race has taken external advice and guidance from numerous sources and put the race start on hold, a decision backed up by the port authorities who would not have allowed the race to start.''
Initially there were 28 entrants for various charities to the race, from solo rowers to teams of four, but three teams had to pull out of the race at the last minute, leaving 25 boats from countries as far afield as the US and China ready to begin the 'toughest row on earth'.
International media are in La Gomera to cover the race start, including the BBC TV and National Geographic, and my guess is that they'll have to wait a couple of days until sea conditions are more favourable for starting the competitive row, as gale force northerly winds are forecast to blow until Wednesday night. This morning the weather station not far from where the race is to begin in the island's capital recorded a gust of 80 km/h at around 6 am, and about and hour later the station on the second highest peak in the centre of La Gomera registered sustained winds speeds of 79 km/h and a gust of 111 km/h.
UPDATE: The race will now start on Thursday, Dec. 14th 2017, from 11am. Read more...
Race headquarters in San Sebastian de La Gomera

Monday, December 11, 2017

Burnt again

The blaze early Sunday morning (Above image: 112Canarias)
In the early hours of yesterday morning the emergency services were alerted to the fact that there was a large fire in the area behind the council's yard where refuse trucks and other machinery are parked in Valle Gran Rey. The blaze was consuming all the organic material and tree cuttings which the council stores there awaiting to be shredded for composting. It is presumed that the fire was started deliberately and only about six weeks ago the same happened there. Indeed, the material collected there was set on fire on several occasions over the past years. The local voluntary fire brigade brought the blaze quickly under control but a pall of smoke was still hanging over lower Valle Gran Rey most of Sunday morning. The storage and chipping of the organic material and its composting is somewhat controversial here as a few farmers reckon that pests and plant diseases are spread that way. However, controlled burning of organic waste can be applied for and a professional fire crew will choose a date, direct the proceedings, and have a fire engine on standby. Luckily there was no wind at all early Sunday morning, but with the extremely dry conditions now, a few stray sparks could have caused a lot of damage.
Fire brigade and the council's JCB still at work later Sunday morning quenching  smouldering debris

Friday, December 08, 2017

Drought leads to water rationing in capital

Parched terraced farm land in La Gomera's north
The severe drought which is affecting the Canary Islands has now begun to affect the drinking water supply even on La Gomera, which normally has an abundant supply of spring water. Recently the council of the capital San Sebastian de La Gomera introduced emergency measures to ensure a sufficient supply to the taps of the town. Water in specific districts will be cut off in rotation at night from 11pm until 7am when supplies have fallen, in a measure to allow the supply to be maintained everywhere during the day. It is generally prohibited to use drinking water to wash cars, water gardens, etc. Public green areas will be irrigated with recycled and purified waste water. The town has already installed pressure-reducing valves in many locations to conserve water and is continuing to repair any leaking pipes.

Rainfall has been below average in the Canary Islands for four consecutive years now and the situation is grave, particularly for agriculture. In October and November of this year only 25% of the average amount of precipitation for this period fell in the Canaries. Crops have failed or couldn't be sown, fruit trees died and many irrigation-water reservoirs are completely empty. The low humidity, unseasonal heat and lack of rain have also led to a proliferation of pests and plant diseases. The beekeepers of La Gomera report that honey production is down to just 40% of normal because of the drought, and many wild bees are literally dying of hunger while beekeepers are having to feed their bees with sugared water.

Tourists and visitors hardly notice anything abnormal, except for the less green countryside, as the taps and showers still run. I don't want to sound alarmist, but I would appeal to all to please use La Gomera's water sparingly and help conserve what's left of the island's precious resource. Unlike the other Canary islands we don't have desalination plants to supply the tourism infrastructure on La Gomera, and even if some rain may fall soon it will take a lot of rain over a longer period of time to percolate deeply to feed the springs and to return the water deposits to normal levels.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Colourful pageant tonight plus concert and dancing

Tonight a spectacular pageant will be staged at 8 pm in the harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey re-enacting of the arrival of the medieval painting above many years ago.
According to local lore a foreign merchant brig or a pirate sailing ship (depending on the narrator) anchored in the the natural harbour of Valle Gran Rey and the sailors rowed ashore urgently looking for provisions and water, sometime in the middle of the last millennium. The area was very sparsely populated in those days, and the the locals were very poor but they made the sailors welcome and brought goats cheese, honey, water and more to provision the ship. They were promised the religious painting  above in return for the goods and a feast to celebrate the deal was held on the beach.
When the locals were asleep the sailors re-took the painting and tried to steal away, but the previously calm weather suddenly changed to continuously stormy weather that made it impossible for their ship to leave the bay. They eventually repented and  returned the painting to the locals, praying to be forgiven. Miraculously the weather immediately calmed again and they could continue their journey. 
The much venerated image has since been housed in the oldest church in Valle Gran Rey up in El Guro, and the valuable medieval painting is the focal point of the 'VII Bajada' fiesta which officially starts tomorrow (see: The Great Fiesta begins).
The pageant will be directly followed by a concert on the pier entitled 'Cabañuelas en La Gomera' featuring Pedro Manuel Afonso from Gran Canaria. After that there'll be salsa bands and dancing 'til late...well, early morning more likely.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Learn to leap

From tomorrow Dec. 7th 2017 the annual national gathering of the federation promoting the traditional Canarian shepherds leap (salto del pastor Canario) will take place in the municipal regions of Vallehermoso and Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera. There will be workshops and classes concerning this spectacular form of pole vaulting as well as other forms of culture and traditions in the Canary Islands. More than one hundred 'leapers' will be travelling cross country using the long poles. Here's how they do it...

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Three bands to play festival in Hermigua

Three bands from three islands will bring rock and contemporary world music to Hermigua this Wednesday,
Dec. 6th 2017, from 7pm. The event is free of charge and held in the open air in the upper part of Hermigua.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The great fiesta begins in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera with a special fiesta of our patron saint 'Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes' in earnest this weekend and will continue until the 7th of January 2018 ! 'Los Reyes' (Epiphany) is also the celebration of Christmas in the Canaries and X-mas presents are given on that day, Jan. 6th. 
This year It is the 'bajada' which is celebrated only every 5 years and means that the image and the statue of the saint is going to be taken from the church in El Guro to be processed through every hamlet and part of the parish and staying temporarily in many different churches and chapels. Some associated events like a torch run have already taken place in preparation for the month-long event.

The processions are noisy affairs with loud firecrackers being shot into the air along the route. A traditional dance is being performed by many worshippers during the processions, accompanied by 'chacaras y tambores', the former being a locally made very large type of castanets, of which there is a 'male' and a 'female', the 'female' having a slightly higher pitch. The 'tambores' are homemade goatskin drums with a muted snare sound.The percussion beats a steady, restrained rhythm that could put you almost into a trance.To all this the participants chant a repetitive song that has a distinctly North African feel and probably originates in pre-Christian times. So the processions go from place to place, stopping here and there for prayers, followed by shouts of 'VIVA...'
Ahead of the processions, and even ahead of the statue of the saint, the 'ramo' is being carried which is an artfully bound bouquet of fruit and vegetables of considerable weight, and even the fabrication of this offering is celebrated with music, food and drink by the volunteers and onlookers. 
Culture aside, the fiesta is a perfect occasion for just having a good time. The secular parts of the proceedings usually begin after mass and mostly start with Canarian folk music followed on stage by salsa and merengue bands  who play for the dancers and revellers until the early hours of the morning through professional (and loud) sound equipment, often even until the sun has risen. Stalls serve food and drink throughout the proceedings and young and old are having a party.
The main programme for the 'bajada' 2017/18 can be found here: VII Bajada

Sunday, December 03, 2017

A few welcome showers

Finally we had a couple of light showers in Valle Gran Rey, like the one in the image above which I took last night showing the precious drops of rain. There's a nice fresh smell in the air this morning. The coming week should be mostly sunny.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Large port and marina planned for Playa de Santiago

The existing harbour in La Gomera's southernmost town of Playa de Santiago will be dwarfed if the plans for a large extension of the pier and port will get funding. The plans have been around for quite some time but nothing has happened yet due to lack of financial support. Recently there have been renewed political efforts to have funds for project included in the 2018 budget of the Canarian government and to apply for some EU aid under the cohesion heading.
The project when first drawn up had a price tag of around 106.5 million Euros and will involve massive movement of rock and concrete, of which the municipal region of Alajero, in which Playa de Santiago is situated has more than plenty. The new port, if built, will provide berths for ships and ferries of up to 340 ft in length, a marina with berths for about 350 pleasure craft of various sizes, a dedicated comercial fishing section and ancillary works. 
If only they would finish the port of Valle Gran Rey, which badly needs a marina and has been awaiting the final 'phase two' for many years, first...
Below an impressive animated introduction to the ambitious plans for Playa de Santiago

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cruise ship season in full swing

La Gomera is fast becoming a very popular cruise ship destination and this winter season more cruise ships are visiting the island than in previous years. It now regularly happens that two cruise ships are arriving in the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera, forcing one to anchor outside the port and having to bring guests ashore by ship's tender. This was the case yesterday when P&O's Aurora was occupying the cruise ship berth on the pier and the Ocean Majesty anchoring just outside the harbour's mouth in glorious weather.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Benchi Express ferry winter timetable

 Benchi Express passenger ferry in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera
The new passenger ferry which connects the La Gomera ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian de La Gomera on the so-called  interior line has now become more reliable with three return trips a day and a fixed winter schedule (see below). Sailings are mostly on time, weather permitting. The only gripe is that some sailing don't directly connect with ferries to Tenerife, but the new ferry must firstly serve commuters between the three towns. They do serve good coffee, though, and lots of tourists too are using the service for excursions and exploring and to start or finish loop walks.
The Benchi Express winter schedule

Monday, November 27, 2017

Back to blue skies and drought

The first image shows the sky in Valle Gran Rey at dusk last night and the second was taken this morning. The low which stayed west of the Canary Islands for several days causing alarm and threatened to bring a lot of rain and wind is now dissipating. There were lots of thunderstorms near the islands still last night, but only a few scattered moderate showers came down over the weekend, and the drought continues. The high pressure over North Africa won out and the dry air from it consumed and blocked the moisture-laden air that the Atlantic depression had steered our way. Locals here were not impressed, but some are now depressed as their crops suffer.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Disco floor collapse in Tenerife leaves 22 injured

The collapsed floor seen from below. Image: Tenerife fire brigade (
22 people were injured and treated in hospital when the floor of the Butterfly Disco Pub in the Playa de Las Americas area of Adeje on Tenerife collapsed at about 2:30 am this morning when the place was full of Saturday night revellers.
Among the  injured were locals as well as tourists from France, Belgium, Romania and a 59-year-old British man. Two were seriously hurt, but miraculously no one suffered life-threatening injuries when a 40 square foot section of the disco's concrete floor collapsed under the feet of customers and all fell into the basement below. Police and local authorities are investigating the cause of the incident.
The 40 ft hole from above.  Image: Tenerife fire brigade (

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gloomy sky

The sky just before 8 am this morning. There was a lot of  lightning and some thunder in the early hours. See previous post.

...and this image was taken about 15 minutes later

Friday, November 24, 2017

Severe weather alerts Nov. 25th and 26th 2017

Latest water vapour satellite image.
A vigorous Atlantic depression of about 1000hPa has formed WNW of the Canary Islands and is slowly moving closer, while a large anticyclone is almost stationary over North Africa. The resulting southerly airstream is drawing subtropical and very humid air from near the Cape Verde Islands. Current models and predictions are for heavy showers and at times persistent precipitation to affect the western Canary Islands, including La Gomera, and for gale force southerly winds. Thunderstorms can also be expected as the very active cold fronts associated with the low pressure system clash with the warm subtropical air. The Spanish meteorological service has issued 'yellow' wind and rain warnings for La Gomera and even status 'orange' warnings for the islands of La Palma and El Hierro, all warnings valid from midnight tonight until Sunday night. (see 'Weather' on top sidebar, which I will try to keep updated regularly). An 'orange' rainfall warning for La Gomera has been added for the first half of Sunday, with amounts of up to 30 mm in one hour and 100 mm over the 12 hour period of this additional warning. A 'yellow' warning of thunderstorms for Saturday and Sunday over La Gomera was also just issued. For Tenerife 'yellow' warnings for wind have will be activated for Sat. and Sun. and a 'yellow' rainfall warning just for Sunday.
The whole situation is a bit difficult to predict as the high pressure over North Africa may
ultimately decide who gets what, if anything, in the Canaries. 
Alerta Maxima (click)
But you have been warned...
Rockfalls and landslides can be expected, especially with rain combined with strong winds after the prolonged drought. Roads may also be slippery when the dust dissolves during the first rainfalls. Be extremely cautious and avoid unnecessary journeys, walks, etc....
Update: The government of the Canary Islands has increased the alert level to the highest (Alerta Maxima) for rainfalls on the islands of El Hierro, La Palma, and La Gomera from midnight tonight until further notice. Emergency crews will be on standby and other measures, like the closure of the path from
Valle Gran Rey under the cliff to Argaga, have been taken.
+ UPDATE: Alert cancelation see 'Weather' on sidebar