Thursday, June 13, 2019

Recent fires in Valle Gran Rey

''Fears grow that Valley Gran Rey is target of an arsonist

A shocking fire on picturesque La Gomera has reinforced a view that an arsonist could be at work in the municipality of Valle Gran Rey.
The blaze affected 20,000 square metres of land and led to the evacuation of several houses and three apartment complexes, some of them being used by tourists.
The authorities have praised the swift actions of the emer-gency services for controlling the fire before it spread even further. Fortunately, no-one was hurt and there was no damage to any properties.
However, there are fears that it was started on purpose and follows on from another fire a few weeks ago.
The Mayor, Angel Piñero voiced “his sincere gratitude, on behalf of residents and the corporation, for the effective-ness and predisposition of Civil Protection, volunteer firefigh-ters of Valle Gran Rey, the Environment Brigade of the Cabildo, the Police Local, Civil Guard and other groups that collaborated to stop the advance of the flames, as well as all citizens who helped and collaborated for hours.”
He added: “Valle Gran Rey is suffering sabotage and intentional arson for months. The Civil Guard will investi-gate the causes of this event, but what is clear is that the town does not deserve what is happening.”
The fire began during the night on the coast of Valle Gran Rey and affected an area of 20,000 square metres.
The flames were detected at 10pm (May 19th 2019, Ed.) in the place known by residents as Quiebracanilla, next to the road that leads to Playa del Inglés, about 200 metres from the coast. 
The head of the volunteer firemen of Valle Gran Rey, Guillermo Barroso said the fire “was very virulent” in the first hours, due to the existence of “strong gusts of wind”. 
At one stage, the flames threatened to spread towards the apartment complexes of El Guirre, Los Tarajales and El Cieno. Because of this, they were evacuated, together with several houses, and parked cars were removed.
The first fire was recorded in this municipality a few weeks ago at a private property (at the municipal recycling compound on April 30th, Ed.) in the area of El Altito. There has also been continuous sabotage carried out against the drinking water supply network during the last months. ''

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Local election results La Gomera 2019

Casimiro Curbelo
The independent La Gomera socialist ASG party of the island's president Casimiro Curbelo (image on top) was the clear winner in the recent local elections, followed by the socialist PSOE. The graphics below (source: first show the results for the election to La Gomera's cabildo (island government) followed by the results in all five municipal areas of La Gomera, where in some it is not clear yet who will form the new local government ('escaños' = seats). Left environmental group SSP (Si Se Puede) won two seats for the first time in Valle Gran Rey and Vallehermoso as well as one in San Sebastian de La Gomera, plus two seats in the cabildo.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Golden Skink

Some time ago I snapped the above image of a 'Lisa Dorada', a golden skink. Only La Gomera  is home to the endemic spotted golden skink  (Chalcides viridianus coeruleopunctatus) which is a subspecies of the West Canary skink or Chalcides viridanus, a species of skink in the family Scincidae. Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae and the infraorder Scincomorpha.
Their natural habitats are temperate forests, temperate shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, temperate grassland, rocky areas, rocky shores, sandy shores, arable land, pastureland, rural gardens, and urban areas where they're found in altitudes up to 2,000 m. They reach a mximum of 18 cm in length and even though they need lots of sun like to 'charge their batteries' the Gomera skinks are extremely shy and vanish like a flash when there's the slightest disturbance.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

''La Gomera'' shortlisted for film awards in Cannes

The 'El Silbo' monument at sunset beside the chapel of Igualero with just-risen full moon

A movie called ''La Gomera'' (aka ''The Whistlers'') by Romanian film director Corneliu Porumboiu has just been shortlisted for the awards at this year's Cannes film festival alongside films by well known directors such as Ken Loach and Pedro Almodovar.
The comedy ''La Gomera” tells the story of Cristi, a police officer who arrives on the Canary island to learn El Silbo, the unique whistled language and ancient form of communication still in use all over La Gomera island (find out more here...). His mission is to release Zsolt, a controversial businessman under arrest in Bucharest.
''La Gomera” is a co-production by 42 KM FILM- Les Films du Worso (France), Komplizen Film (Germany) and Arte Grand Accord and is listed as a French/German/Romanian co-production. The one hour and 37 minutes long movie was shot in Bucharest and on location in La Gomera.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Green light for green energy

Wind and sun power this electric car charging-point in Hermigua
La Gomera's island government has provisionally approved the allocation of initially 500.000 Euros in subsidies for the installation of photo-voltaic panels by private house owners and businesses. Grants of up to 60% of the cost of the installation of solar energy systems will be paid out with a maximum of 12.000 Euros for small to medium enterprises and up to 24.000 Euros for private household installations. This announcement by the island's president Casimiro Curbelo was made last Friday and is a further step towards La Gomera's ambitious plan towards becoming independent of external energy sources. This well-intentioned plan has sadly suffered delays in the past due to the energy-supplying companies dragging their feet while their ageing diesel-powered electricity generating station keeps belching out thick smoke in the island's capital, so above news is most welcome.

Further, reported some time ago:
''The Canarian island of La Gomera is aiming to be powered 100% by 'green' energy sources within 12 years, slashing its power costs by 37%.
La Gomera, just off the coast of Tenerife, will be the second island in the region to try to go completely 'renewable' after El Hierro attempted it between 2014 and 2016.
The latter survived for months on wind energy alone and, in 2016, covered 39% of its electricity needs using wind farms – then, in January and February this year, had all 10,700 of its inhabitants supplied entirely by renewable sources for 18 consecutive days.
But La Gomera's plans are far more ambitious – the westernmost island in the Canaries (Ed: no, that's La Palma) currently depends upon fossil fuel for 99% of its power needs and, aside from a handful of solar panels owned by private individuals, has just two wind generators of 0.4 megawatts (MW) of power.
Despite La Gomera being famous Europe-wide for its extensive forests, being the home of the Garajonay National Park and a pioneer in 'eco-tourism' dating back over 20 years, its obvious potential for powering itself through entirely renewable sources is wasted more than anywhere else in the Canary Islands.
The regional government wants to turn La Gomera into another Iceland by 2030, mirroring Europe's northernmost country's 100% green energy supply.
By then, it aims to have enough wind farms to create 8MW of power, sufficient solar panels to generate 5MW, and for 20% of the island's cars to be electrically-powered.
The overall objective is for the island, whose population is twice that of El Hierro and which has tourist resorts with capacity for 800 visitors (Ed: surely an error - see this post), to be entirely fossil-fuel free and rely on green energy for its electricity, heating and transport – lorries and buses will be electric or hydrogen-powered.
Hydrogen generators, water pumps and storage systems are being analysed as back-up for when there is insufficient wind and sun to cover the whole island's energy needs.
The considerable cost of this ambitious project would be offset within around seven to 12 years thanks to lower production expenses, meaning that by 2042 La Gomera will start to see a return on its investment.''

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Abundant rain in La Gomera's north

While all of La Gomera got some decent precipitation over the past few days, the northern regions received a lot of rain yesterday. The weather station at the visitor's centre above Agulo reported just over 70 mm of rain yesterday and the station in Hemigua recorded almost 40 mm. The above video by shows one of the many waterfalls in Agulo yesterday.
The next few days should bring sunny spells but also further showers to La Gomera and some of these may again be heavy with a risk of isolated thunderstorms. Caution is advised when out and about, even when it is not raining, as rocks and soil may have become unstable due to the rain and will expand during sunny spells.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Angela Merkel planning retirement in La Gomera

The German chancellor and the many variations of her trademark uniform of blazer and trousers. 
We still don't know if the the German chancellor Angela Merkel will find the time to spend a private Easter holiday once again in La Gomera, as she did last year when she visited this island for the sixth time (click to read more about it...), but we do know that La Gomera is her ''favourite island''. In a recent interview broadcast on German TV she was asked if she would consider moving to La Gomera after her term as chancellor ends in 2021, she smiled and said that she could well imagine doing just that in retirement. The fact that at least one of her aides has recently taken up part-time residence in La Gomera adds to the speculation.
I can now reveal that the current 'most powerful woman in the world' is indeed planning a move to La Gomera, but not for retirement. Instead of putting her feet up in the sunshine with a good book and just relaxing, she is instead planning to start a business here.
As she has managed to create a unique fashion style during her many public appearances in a uniform-like outfit of blazer and trousers, she now intends to promote and commercialise this style under her own label once she has left the political stage completely. Indeed, during her last visit to La Gomera she has viewed several shop premises in Valle Gran Rey which are for sale or lease. The most touristically developed town in La Gomera's south-west attracts more and more conservative German tourists who would be the ideal customer base for her outfits. There is also a large number of ageing female German residents in La Gomera who would benefit from updating their attire with the help of the planned new designer label outlet 'AB', i.e. Angelas's Blazers.
Last year Mrs Merkel and her husband Wolfgang Sauer were also enquiring about the possibility to produce the garments in La Gomera for exporting bespoke blazers worldwide and the commerce and industry department of the island's government has pledged its support as they expect some local women who already have the necessary skills will find badly needed well-paid employment with the new label. Local gossip has it that 'Modas Merkel SL' is supposed to initially open a small atelier and workshop in La Gomera's north which is renowned for its skilled craft workers.
Angela Merkel's boutique in Valle Gran Rey is set to open on April 1st 2022, but I am sorry I am not a liberty to divulge in which part of Valle Gran Rey the premises are located. We'll also have to wait and see if the formidable lady will occasionally appear in one of her own blazers behind the counter herself...
Merchandising Mrs Merkel is well underway in La Gomera. Above is a fun postcard which I bought a couple of weeks ago at the organic farm shop close to the bus station, one of the shops where they sell a good selection of Merkel-themed cards by a local artist called 'Alex' (?) I believe (sorry, but there's no copyright or other information printed on the cards).

Friday, March 29, 2019

More rain showers expected

More welcome rain showers are expected today and a status 'yellow' weather warning has been issued for toady, Friday March 29th 2019, for rainfalls of up to 15mm in one hour. Isolated thunderstorms may also form. Caution on roads and hiking paths is advised.
For the coming days more showers are forecast, but again with good sunny periods at times.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Rain at last

After weeks of extremely dry and dusty conditions some  significant amounts of rain fell all over La Gomera this morning. In the southwest up to 16.4 mm ( in La Dama) had fallen and most of the island had received between 7 and 14 mm by 10 am. There's a status 'yellow' weather alert for the western Canary Islands for rain up to 20 mm in one hour and for isolated thunderstorms, valid until tonight. Caution is advised on roads and hiking paths.
For the next few days some further rain showers may be expected, but with good sunny periods too.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Ferry to VGR back in service

The direct ferry between Los Cristianos and Valle Gran Rey which had been out of service for some time due to the annual testing and inspection of the vessel in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, arrived back in the port of Vueltas late last night and is operating scheduled sailings from today and bookings can be made through the Armas website once again.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hello Halo

Hello there, just to let you know that I'm still on the ball, BUT I'm having minor 'accidental' health issues and major issues with my internet connection - hence the absence of more regular posts.
FERRIES: The connection to V.GR. is suspended temporarily due to a 'technical revision' of the vessel serving the connection. It is expected to be back in service with a new timetable very soon. Keep the fingers crossed !
WEATHER: We've had around 20mm of rain today in V.GR.. A good bit, yes, but only temporarily relieving the drought. Hurray anyway, and I've shared a few beers with local farmers who were grinning like children at Christmas.
***Much more happened lately, but my window of web space is narrowing, i.e. my neighbour wants me to talk to him rather than me talking to you via his connection... 
More and more details  soon, hopefully. 
By the way, above image of a halo around the moon was taken about 40 minutes ago. Good night.

Friday, February 01, 2019

The port of Valle Gran Rey

The port of Valle Gran Rey situated in Vueltas handled about 158.000 passengers in 2018, most them using the new high speed car ferry service introduced by Naviera Armas towards the end of 2017 and the smaller Fred. Olsen passenger ferry which arrived in the autumn of 2017. The latter also sails to La Gomera's southern port of Playa de Santiago which handled almost 41.000 passengers in 2018. I took the above image of Vueltas ln late December 2017 when a small luxury cruise ship passed by at sunset.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Closer but insignificant quake off north coast

Just a few days after the locally felt tremor off the north-western coast of La Gomera another seismic tremor averaging just 1,6 (with a peak value of 2,2 mbLg at GOM station) on the Richter scale was registered less than 25 hours ago a short distance off La Gomera's north-north-eastern coast in a depth of 15.2  kms. Quakes of such a minor strenght are inappreciable and happen frequently in and around the Canary Islands, but are rare near La Gomera's coastline. Read more...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Film castings in La Gomera again

La Gomera's island government through their La Gomera Film Commission has announced castings for extras and secondary actresses for the shooting of a Neflix series here in spring. The first casting will take place in the visitors centre near the beach in the island's capital on the 4th of February 2019 and the following day in the tourist office in La Playa, Valle Gran Rey. See poster above for the times. They're looking for women of all ages over 18 and for girls  between 8 and 12 years old. All applicants must bring copies of their Spanish DNI, or their foreigners registration number (NIE), their social security number and a document showing that they have a bank account. Selected budding film stars will be paid and the work which is handled here by Sur-Film is insured. More information can be had by contacting above email address. 
This time males need not apply. The above image was taken during the casting for Ron Howard's 'In The Heart Of The Sea' in 2013 when I was very lucky to get a lot of work as a double.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The beer ship is back

Above: The three-masted 200ft sail training ship Alexander von Humboldt II, sometimes nicknamed 'the beer ship', heading for Vueltas, the harbour of Valle Gran Rey, at about 8:30 am this morning. Read more about the vessel...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Fred Olsen now offering service to Spanish mainland

The Fred. Olsen ferry company is now connecting the Canary Islands with Huelva on the Spanish mainland in competition with FRS-Iberica which sail the same route, previously operated by Naviera Armas ferries and still listed in their schedule. Queenie's Tenerife blog has more:
''Fred Olsen Express has launched a new triangular route to mainland Spain, with the collaboration of the Baleària shipping company and now links the port of Huelva with the two main ports of the Canary Islands, Puerto de la Luz on Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
This new route will be operated aboard the ship ‘Martín i Soler’, owned by Baleària. The ship is to depart the Puerto de la Luz, in Las Palmas, every Tuesday and Sunday, at 12 noon and will take 44 hours to reach its final destination the Andalusian port of Huelva, after a 4-hour stopover in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The ship will set sail from the Peninsula on Fridays at 8:00p.m. and head to Gran Canaria where it will have a four-hour stopover then return to its moorings in Tenerife.
The route will offer various services including a restaurant, bar, shop, internet connection, outdoor areas, a children’s area and a pool as well as cabins and various seating options either tourist or superior.''

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Minor earthquake felt in La Gomera

The red star (left) shows the epicentre of the minor earth tremor
A minor earth tremor averaging 2.8 on the Richter scale occurred at a depth of only eight kilometres in the Atlantic very close to La Gomera's west-north-western coast at around 11:10 pm late Tuesday night, January 22nd 2019
This is nothing to worry about, as La Gomera's former volcanoes are long extinct and the island has not experienced any volcanic activity for far more than a million years, being one of the oldest islands in the Canaries. La Gomera existed long before the volcanically very active neighbouring island of El Hierro was even born. However, the abundant seismic activity in and around the Canary Islands rarely comes as close and in such shallow depth as Tuesday night's minor earth tremor.
Generally volcanic activity in the Canaries is of a 'mild nature', but magma movements deep under and around the Canary Islands cause regular tremors. It is however a rare occurrence that such a quake is registered by the seismic station situated in the mountains of the national park with an epicentre so close to La Gomera, and last night's tremors were felt by the population in La Gomera's sparsely populated west and north, see the pointers in the map above, which the show locations of verified reports published by the Spanish National Geographic Institute (IGN). This quake also registered at all seismic stations in neighbouring islands, with the peak value 3.9 having been recorded at the station in La Gomera (EGOM)  a few seconds before 23:10h, at the start of the tremor.
The last minor quake recorded close to La Gomera was recorded in September 2017, see previous post...
EventoFechaHora UTCHora Local
MagnitudTipo Mag.
Int. max.
es2019apdcj22/01/201923:09:4723:09:4728.2262-17.50792.8 mbLg 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Meet my neighbour

There's kestrels nesting near where I live in Valle Gran Rey and the other day one of them took a break on my power line just a few feet away from me to let me snap him while keeping a watchful eye on me. At night a huge owl sometimes perches on the same power line.

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...