Monday, January 21, 2019

Wave of bicycle thefts

There's been a spate of bicycle thefts in Valle Gran Rey in recent times. Last weekend the robbers were at it again. The above picture shows what was left of our bicycle on Saturday morning. Both wheels were gone as were the handlebars with all brake and gear levers. The frame remained locked to a lamp post in an area which is normally considered safe. To add insult to injury, the bike had been serviced by a local bike store with new tyre fitted just a few days before. When reporting the crime to the Spanish police (Guardia Civil in La Playa) we met a cycling enthusiast who had brought his own bike on the plane with him for his holidays in La Gomera, only to have it brazenly stolen from outside a bar in La Playa where he had spent only a short time inside on Friday night. The complete bike was taken while there were lots of people in the busy lane where it happened and the bike was locked securely, or so he thought. There have been several more reports of bicycles either completely vanishing or of valuable parts being stolen from them in recent times.
While La Gomera is still relatively free of crime and nearly all its inhabitants are very honest and trustworthy, the above incidents are a worrying trend. However, La Gomera is a relatively small island and sooner or later the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice. The times of only a few years ago when hardly anybody bothered to lock their bicycles and when a bike disappeared it had just been 'borrowed' by someone a bit too lazy to walk from pub A to pub B where it was found intact the following morning, seem to be gone though.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Earthquake felt in Tenerife and Gran Canaria

The red star shows the epicentre and the pointers indicate locations where the quake was reportedly felt
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake was felt his morning at 6.36am according to the Spanish National Geographic Institute (IGN). The institute's stations spread across the Canaries registered a seismic movement with its epicentre located in the Atlantic between the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, at a depth of 14.3 kilometres.
The tremors which lasted about one minute were felt in several municipalities of both islands and some people there were woken up by the quake. According the National Geographic Institute’s records, the earthquake reached a peak magnitude of 4.6 within a few seconds of starting. Another three very minor quakes were detected in the same area at between 1.7 and 1.9 magnitude before the stronger one. There were no reports of any damage.
The sea area between these two islands experiences minor earthquakes very regularly and today's slightly stronger one would still be seen as part of normal seismic activity in this area, so please ignore any alarmist reports that some irresponsible media sources have published (e.g. The Express (UK) ran the sensationalist headline: ''TENERIFE EARTHQUAKE: Atlantic smashed by 4.2 magnitude quake near La Palma volcano''.) Yeah La Palma, where doom to 'smash' us all is supposedly brewing below the surface, had to be mentioned again. Sorry but the only word for that headline, and for the La Palma doomsday scenario hype of a few years ago, is BULLSHIT !

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A welcome return to normal winter weather

Valle Gran Rey at 9 am this morning after a light shower
This winter all of December and the first half of January easterly dry winds with spells of Calima have dominated the weather in The Canary Islands, worsening the general drought. Finally the winds have returned to the more normal northerly directions, clearing the air and bringing some well-scattered light showers today. Even though high pressure is set to continue to dominate our weather, some more light to moderate showers of short duration are expected which will mostly affect northern areas, but the odd one might also fall in the south. This weather pattern is forecast to continue over the coming days. Moderate to fresh northerly winds will bring the temperature down a bit, but there will be good sunny periods, too, especially in the south where the temperature will reach the low twenties in the afternoon. The sea temperature still averages 20-21ºC around La Gomera, so it's not too cold for a swim.

A reminder: Please save water, as even La Gomera's abundant water supply is not an infinite resource and there hasn't been any significant rainfall for more than five years...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Three concerts of classical music

As part of the 35th edition of the International Music Festival of the Canary Islands three concerts of classical music will be on offer in the Casa de La Cultura near the town hall in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey. All three events (see above) start at 8 pm and tickets at 15 Euros each are available at the door. The first concert by the string quartet 'Quiroga' takes place today, January 16th 2019.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hiker falls to death

Vueltas harbour seen from  La Merica mountain (Archive)
The emergency services were alerted yesterday afternoon after a hiker had fallen from a cliff on La Merica mountain in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera. In a difficult operation the body of a female hiker was recovered with the help of a search and rescue helicopter and brought to the harbour of Vueltas. The victim was reported to have fallen from a great height into a ravine with difficult access.  Her male partner was said to have been brought off the mountain by rescue helicopter, too, suffering from shock.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tobacco to the dependent !

I spotted the above sign in a supermarket in San Sebastian de La Gomera recently. What it says in Spanish is that you you should ask the shop assistant (dependienta) for any tobacco products from the locked display, but that got lost in translation. The German version below the English one is even worse as it literally says ''Please tobacco to the addict, thanks''.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Epiphany fiesta programme 2019

In Spain and some Latin American countries, the 6th of January is called El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings). It marks the day when the Three Kings or Magi, as related in the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew, arrived to worship and bring their gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the sky.  In Spanish tradition on January 6th (Epiphany) the kings  Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar (representing Arabia, the Orient, and Africa) arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Children (and many adults) polish and leave their shoes ready for the Kings' presents before they go to bed on the eve of January 6. The next morning presents will appear under their shoes as the kings  take the role of Santa Claus here. Most towns in Spain arrange colorful parades representing the arrival of the Reyes Magos to town a day or two before, so children can see them on their camels or carriages and hand them letters listing their wishes.  Wine, snacks, fruit and milk are left for the Kings and their camels. In Spain, children typically receive presents on this day, rather than on Christmas day, though this tradition has changed a bit in recent years, and children now receive presents on both days.
In Valle Gran Rey the Kings begin their tour in the mountain village of Las Hayas on Jan. 5th at late afternoon and then continue through all the villages and barrios of the valley to collect the letters addressed to them with their wish list.
V.G.R.'s oldest church is in El Guro and dedicated to Los Reyes. Every year the Fiesta de Los Reyes in honour of them takes place there and this year the proceedings begin on Jan. 6th when the 'Ramo' (an elaborate offering of local agricultural produce) is made in the morning at the cultural centre in La Calera, from where the procession to the chapel of Los Reyes starts at midday with the typical dance steps and chants. After arrival there's a mass in the chapel in El Guro followed by folk music and later dancing to the usual salsa bands and general partying until the early hours of the following day. The usual food and drink stalls will have plenty of stock...