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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sail away

British West Country ketch Bessie Ellen sailing away from Valle Gran Rey this morning. The 120ft vessel built of timber in Plymouth in 1904 is one of the last surviving trading ketches and now offers charters, sailing holidays and training.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Toilet tips

Toilet keys spotted on a bar counter in Valle Gran Rey on an Irish beer mat: The screw is for the gents...
In many bars and restaurants all over La Gomera the toilet doors are mostly locked and if you need to go, you need to go...up to the counter and ask politely for the key for los servicios in order to relieve yourself. Once you're finished, you'll be expected to switch off the lights again and after locking up to return the key.
The whole procedure is due to the fact that generally toilets in bars and restaurants are for customers only and often a sign is displayed pointing this out. However, due to the fact that public toilets are almost non-existent on La Gomera  (except in the port terminal buildings of San Sebastian and Valle Gran Rey, the capital's municipal market, and the vistor's centre above Agulo - all during opening hours only), many bars and restaurants will oblige and let you use their facilities if asked politely, without you having to burden your digestive system further. Hence the toilets are locked to make sure that you take over responsibility for their condition once you've been given the keys. The lights are generally off to save energy, so you're expected to use the switch twice. It is a nice gesture to leave a small tip for the use of the toilets before leaving, as in some busy locations there's a steady stream of toilet users who're not customers and a lot of scarce water, as well as toilet paper and soap, can be used up in a day, and regular cleaning must be done by staff...
While I'm at it: Generally do not throw any paper or any other waste into the toilet bowl as this often leads to blockages in the system here. There is a bucket or bin provided where ALL associated waste should go. Only in a few newer toilets where no such container is provided can you flush down your used toilet paper.
And, unless you want to get angry looks or a straight refusal, please do not enter bars and restaurants bare-chested or in skimpy swimming gear. Cover up a bit. When coming from a beach, do remember to remove any sand and to dry yourself before entering.
Let's hope that public toilets will be provided in many locations on La Gomera someday soon. The situation during the many fiestas, during the upcoming carnival time, etc., can be quite disgusting when even entrances to shops and homes are  sometimes used as toilets, not to mention walls and beaches. Many of the popular hiking routes do not need any more 'human fertilizer' and associated litter either...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

More Poisoned Sunday Sessions

Sunday afternoon music sessions at Ramiro's bus station bar in La Calera near the bridge and Sunday market continue and tomorrow Jan.28th 2018 Poisoned Folk will start playing at 1:30pm again,  followed by an open music session and sing-song.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bus overturns: Several people injured (Updated)

The overturned coach. Image: twitter.com/112canarias
A serious accident occurred at around 10:30 am this morning when an excursion coach with about 20 passengers. overturned on a very winding and narrow minor road near the hamlet of Argoyada in the muninicpal district of Alajero in La Gomera's south. Several people were injured, two of them seriously, The cause of the accident is not known yet. Weather conditions were poor with strong and very gusty winds and some fog and drizzle. The passengers were said to be tourists on their way to begin a hiking tour. The two seriously injured are woman of 67 with back injuries and an over 70 years old male with serious fractures, including a fractured skull. 
UPDATE: 
As promised earlier here's my update: Most of the passengers got away with a shock or minor injuries and had all been taken to the nearest health centre before going home. The few more seriously affected are being treated and are 'comfortably in hospital'.
As I've got some 'inside information', and as the driver is known to me and the tour guide is a friend of mine, I'll better refrain from commenting further on the accident. 
However, I feel that it must be stated that thanks to the driver's actions a disaster was prevented and that both driver and guide acted in an exemplary fashion at all times. Thankfully serious road accidents are extremely rare here, and La Gomera's drivers are some of the best in the world.
Scene of the bus crash. Note the sheer drop to the left of the overturned bus. Image: gomertoday.com

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Praise from Britain

                    '' Head to La Gomera for gorgeous scenery / Getty Images/iStockphoto '' (The Independent)

''It’s the most depressing day of the year, so here are some of the 

best short breaks to beat the January blue''

...'' Best for winter sun: La Gomera

The Canary Islands are as varied in climate as they are in style. Those seeking warm winter weather may want to head to Tenerife, which rarely dips below 17 degrees and is fast becoming a foodie hotspot.
La Gomera, meanwhile, is much quieter and easy to reach from Tenerife and La Palma. The second smallest of the main islands, it's ideal for hiking, discovering the unique Silbo Gomera "whistling language" and quaffing wines from some of Europe’s oldest vines. ''...
Above image and text are from a recent article on 'Blue Monday' which appeared in the UK daily The Independent  on January 15th, 2018.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Carnival season begins soon

The carnival season 2018 begins soon and the first town to publish their 2018 programme is the island's capital San Sebastian de La Gomera where the theme for this year is 'Mexico' (see poster above). Highlights include the main parade on Saturday Feb. 10th from 5:30 pm and the 'Talcum Powder Day' on the 12th of February from 7 pm. Plenty other events for young and old, too, and  all-night dancing to the usual salsa bands on several nights during the carnival period, which in the capital runs from Feb. 2nd to the 18th.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bar at bus station reopened. Live music this Sunday

Not just decoration on the wall...
The small bar with terrace at the bus station in Valle Gran has reopened and host Ramiro is back behind the beer tap. The bar with the panoramic view over the Atlantic with El Hierro island in the background had been closed for several months and had been sorely missed by its loyal clientele of locals and regular visitors. The interior has been repainted and new tables and chairs are on the open terrace. An impromptu music session yesterday afternoon entertained the first guests and a beautiful sunset proved that this bar is one of the best spots to view the setting sun in all of La Gomera (click this for more...).
This Sunday afternoon, January 21st 2018, there'll be live music with Poisoned Folk from 1:30 pm and this will be directly followed by an open music session. Come on up to the bus station beside the bridge in La Calera and join in...
Yesterday's sunset seen from the bus station bar in Valle Gran Rey

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cruise ship visit hampered by gales

The AidaVita passing Valle Gran Rey this morning
The very windy weather has delayed the arrival in San Sebastian de La Gomera of Italian-registered cruise ship AidaVita. The ship had sailed from Gran Canaria as scheduled last night on a course directly to La Gomera's capital to arrive there at 8 am, but due to the combination of heavy seas and gale force winds was unable to berth in the harbour. AidaVita then sailed on along the northern coastline and is now completing a full circle around La Gomera, having just passed the south-western town of Valle Gran Rey and is rescheduled to arrive in San Sebastian at 12 noon, but current weather conditions aren't much better...
The highest wind speeds in the Canaries this morning were recorded at the weather station on La Gomera's highest peak Alto de Garajonay, with a sustained wind speed of 86 km/h at 8:30 am and a gust of 134 km/h at 8:10 am.
UPDATE:
AidaVita tried again to berth in San Sebastian de La Gomera just after 12 noon. The pilot came aboard, but the attempts to dock were given up before 1pm. The pilot was taken off again, and the cruise ship sailed away from La Gomera.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The average tourist...

Tourists enjoying the views at the 'Mirador de Abrante' above Agulo with Tenerife in the background

...stayed 11 days on La Gomera in 2017 and spent about 1.650 Euros on the island during that time. That's according to the latest statistics released by the island's government. The spending per visitor is up by 3% on the previous year and the spending averages 150 Euros per day, a figure which includes the cost of accommodation. The total number of tourists who stayed on La Gomera in 2017 was close to 700.000 which is quite impressive for an island with a population of only 20.000 and without direct flights from the European continent. My personal observation is that a lot more visitors now hire a car for the complete duration of their stay, and not just for a few days during their holidays here as they did only a few years ago.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Popular poison

Troubadour Tony on guitar and Toxic Tom on fiddle, aka Poisoned Folk, are back by popular demand tomorrow Jan.14th 2018 from 1:30 pm at the Sunday market behind the bus station in La Calera close to the bridge. They'll perform a semi-unplucked (sic) session/concert with an Irish guest bodhran player called Wild Willie on the terrace of Ramiro's bar. So come on up and get intoxicated...

Friday, January 12, 2018

It's a large cake...



...''and you're stood on the cherry on top''. Sign at the Mirador del Santo viewpoint in Arure,  above the village of Taguluche

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Chaos once again

Fred. Olsen and Armas ferries in the port of Los Cristianos

The past weekend once again brought traffic chaos to the port of Los Cristianos as many more people were travelling to and from the western Canary Islands through the Tenerife port due to the end of the Christmas holiday season. All the traffic has to pass through the bottleneck of the port access road in Los Cristianos and the congested port itself, where several lanes of disembarking vehicles have to go through the small roundabout into the single lane that then has to pass through the centre of the town. It often happens that two or three ferries arrive at the same time leading to delays in berthing the ships, and parked cars and trucks waiting to board add to the traffic congestion. The ferry companies' sailings also often serve two islands during one trip, i.e. stopping over at La Gomera on the way to and from La Palma. When two ferries arrive at the same time in Los Cristanos discharging hundreds of cars and trucks and even more foot passengers laden with luggage, delays are inevitable. Be warned and expect hold-ups of up to one hour if you need to catch a flight, as taxis and buses often can't get in nor out of the busy port during peak times. The traffic delays sometimes also upset the ferries' sailing schedules and the past weekend's heavy seas added further problems, resulting in some visitors missing their flights home.

The complications are particularly serious on weekends, the busiest time for traffic to and from La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro, but no-one appears to have a solution for the long queues of vehicles at a virtual standstill for up to an hour in some cases. Port Police do their best to keep the traffic moving but are severely hampered by the narrow exit. The often heavy traffic through Los Cristianos town adds further delays on the road to the motorway. The negative image generated by the hold-ups also worries the officials and has led to calls for the ferry companies to work together to ensure their ships do not arrive at the same time in Los Cristianos. La Gomera's president has suggested the new port of Granadilla in Tenerife's south could be used provisionally for at least some of the sailings. Los Cristianos is much too small a harbour for the current volume of traffic and additionally is used by numerous fishing vessels, excursion boats and pleasure craft. Passenger and vehicle numbers continue to grow every year and recent fare reductions for residents of the Canary Islands have produced an even steeper increase of traffic through Los Cristianos, a popular and very busy holiday resort, prone to congestion anyway.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The great fiesta is over

After a final few rounds anticlockwise around the idyllically-situated chapel in El Guro (below) in Valle Gran Rey, the statue of Nuestra SeƱora de Los Reyes (above) is now back home inside her sanctuary, ending a month of processions, festivities and fiestas. The images were taken on Saturday Dec. 6th 2018 which is the most important day of this Bajada, which is celebrated every five years. The prayers were heard and a few light showers ensued, but the ragged-looking bunting shows how windy it was over the past weekend.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Poisoned Folk Session today

Once again today, Jan.7th 2018 from about 1:30 pm Poisoned Folk will perform a semi-unplucked (sic) session/concert with an Irish guest bodhran player. 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 to the sound of the boys above...

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Exhibition by expressionist painter

Italian-born expressionist artist Marco Menato has asked me through this blog to draw your attention to his forthcoming exhibition in the 'Casa de Colon' (Columbus house) of San Sebastian de La Gomera. It opens with a vernissage on the 9th of January 2018 at 4:30 pm and runs until the end of the month. Marco lives in La Gomera's west in Alojera where he draws inspiration for his paintings which he signs as 'Brazza'.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Two concerts of World Music

Two free concerts of World Music will take will take place this week. The first one in Playa de Santiago on Wednesday January 3rd 2018 will feature three acts: Local musician Juan Mesa and his band, as well as Virginia Guantanamera from Cuba, and Brazilian group Brasileando in the town's square from 7:30 pm. 
The following day the same concert, but without Juan Mesa, will be staged from 8:30 pm in the harbour of Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey.