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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Local elections 2015

Today voters are asked to cast their votes in the local and council elections in Spain and the Canary Islands. Politics in mainland Spain have changed a lot and politics in the Canary Islands even more so. However,  the political upheaval on La Gomera in recent times was   an especially thorny issue full of surprises and it couldn't have been more complicated.
The 'political landscape' has changed completely on the island and this blog was at times lost for words and at other times wise enough to shut up. The times in between we filled with issues that avoided the party-political debate and the biased news, just to stay sane and independent.
Local politics are all too complicated on La Gomera to explain even in a 300-page book and by the time this would be published it would be ages out of date - such is the rate of political turmoil on the island. Suffice to say that there are several new and 'ex-old' political entities and sub-parties standing for election, changes of affiliation, new formations, parties that don't see themselves as parties, local political veterans re-inventing themselves and others not wanting to run for office again. Add to that all the fantastic promises and the exposure of newly-found, long existing problems - mostly denounced without proposing a solution. Just gimme your vote now !
Today those who have any opinion at all - and that includes a lot of people from abroad who are resident and have registered their vote - can and should have their say and influence in what promises to be a landmark election with a greater variety of contenders than ever before in Spanish local and colonial history. 
Count me out, as I'm not a permanent resident anymore !
However, I'm keeping a close eye on the results on La Gomera and will post the outcome in detail here once reliably available...

Monday, May 18, 2015

La Gomera - the energy...


I  found above short promotional video on YouTube recently. It shows off some of the many contrasting landscapes of the island.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fire alert

With the arrival of summery weather conditions and the dry season in the Canary Islands the risk of fire has increased and precautionary measures have now been taken to prevent blazes. As in most summers on La Gomera, the public barbecue areas have now been closed and all open fire is illegal since yesterday. Cigarette ends must be carefully quenched and camping is prohibited except on designated sites and all waste materials like bottles, plastics and paper must be properly disposed of in bins. Even the use of chainsaws and welding equipment is not allowed in and near forested areas. 
All these measures came into force yesterday and apply for the whole summer season. Please be vigilant and report any sightings of fire or smoke immediately by phoning 112.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Be aware of the UV index

The UV index will be extremely high with a value of 11 today and for the coming days, so avoid being in the sun for too long and use adequate skin protection against the sun's harmful UV radiation.
As the summer weather is usually too boring in the Canary Islands to write up daily weather 'news' I have substituted that with the current sea water temperature ('surface' is at up to two metres depth) and the current UV index.
The sea also plays a part in the UV radiation because it will amplify it by reflection. Be aware that if you're anywhere near or on the water that the average given in the UV index can actually be much higher where the sea reflects it.
When the day's predicted UV Index is at a given value, the relevant recommendations for protection are as follows in the chart from Wikipedia:
UV IndexMedia graphic colorRisk of harm from unprotected sun exposure, for the average adultRecommended protection
0–2.9Green"Low"Wear sunglasses on bright days; use sunscreen if there is snow on the ground or reflection from water surfaces which reflect UV radiation, or if you have particularly fair skin.
3–5.9Yellow"Moderate"Take precautions, such as covering up, if you will be outside. Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
6–7.9Orange"High"Cover the body with sun protective clothing, use SPF 30+ sunscreen, wear a hat, reduce time in the sun within three hours of solar noon, and wear sunglasses. (Australian slogan: Slip-Slop-Slap-Seek-Slide.)
8–10.9Red"Very high"Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, a shirt, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Do not stay in the sun for too long.
11+Violet"Extreme"Take all precautions: Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers, sunglasses, and a very broad hat. Avoid the sun within three hours of solar noon.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Research vessel open to visitors

The oceanographic research vessel Angeles Alvarino (above, image: ieo.es) which is the most modern of the fleet of the Instituto Español de Oceanografía will visit the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera and and will be open to the public on Sunday, May 3rd 2015.
From 10am to 12:30pm and again from 4:30 to 7pm  every ten minutes groups of up to 12 visitors will be invited to come aboard to view the vessel and its scientific equipment. Crew and scientists will explain their work and the facilities.
The ship was recently employed in investigating the new submarine volcano and the biodiversity around it, just off the coast of El Hierro island and visitors can view the latest images and findings from there.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Minor oil slick threat could reach La Gomera

...BUT let me stress that this is just a relatively small amount of fuel oil spilled from a sunken large fishing vessel, and NOT a major slick from a tanker. Nasty all the same but sadly happening regularly all over the world when vessels sink. thinkSPAIN.com has more details:

Canary Island oil slick threatens Tenerife and La Gomera 
By:
 thinkSPAIN , Sunday, April 26, 2015 
AN OIL slick of several kilometres wide is spreading out of control towards other islands in the Canaries, warns the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The fuel spillage from the Oleg Naydenov, a Russian fishing vessel which caught fire in the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and was towed out to sea to prevent damage to other ships in the harbour, was said to be moving south-west away from the islands, but other patches have been seen in the last 48 hours.
Initially threatening Maspalomas beach in Gran Canaria, the oil slick is now spreading towards Tenerife and La Gomera.
The WWF has called for 'urgent steps' to be taken to protect the 'exceptional natural wealth' in the area, near the towns of Abona and Punta de Rasca in the south of Tenerife, whilst tourism authorities fear the spilled fuel will pollute beaches on these three and other islands.
Given that the Canary Islands' main income is from beach tourism, contamination of this nature could be disastrous for the economy.
Patches of fuel on the water surface of between four and five kilometres in width were seen yesterday (Saturday) to the west of the Cabo Descojonado in Gran Canaria, but coastguard workers have now upped vigilance in Tenerife and La Gomera as the oil is spreading rapidly towards them.
Decontamination forces have scooped out 40 cubic metres of fuel, and say most of it is on the surface.
They have also bailed out over 200 kilos of spilled fuel from the beaches in Veneguera, Mogán and La Aldea in Gran Canaria.
Huge rocks which were impossible to clean have been removed altogether to be disposed of.
Veneguera lives largely off fishing and is mostly untouched by mass tourism – and many residents only eat what they are able to catch, meaning they are now facing potential ruin and a shortage of food.
So far, two Loggerhead turtles and six different types of birds have been found coated in oil.
Two of the birds have died, but one of the turtles has been successfully treated and released into a clean part of the sea whilst at least one other bird is said to be recovering well and should be able to fly again within about a week.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Jumping through fire


Following an old custom the fires are lit in the town of Agulo on La Gomera in honour of the town's patron saint San Marcos on April 24th every year, and many of the town's population are rising to the challenge and jump over the bonfires. Visitors are welcome to join in tonight and there's even a version with smaller fires for the children. If you're a bit older or just not as daring, you can wait until the fires have burnt down a bit and try the 'light' version. The organisers recommend to cover your hair and avoid wearing flammable synthetics.

After the spectacular fire-jumping, there'll be dancing all night and and plenty of cold drinks to quench the resulting thirst..

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Maria of Playa Maria

Yesterday I reported the death of Maria and I just found a very poignant obituary written by one of her grandchildren, Marcos Brito, who is a DJ and music producer living in London, on his Facebook page. He wrote the following:


Marcos Brito :  
Thank you for the tomato jam ♡ 
My grandmother, Maria, passed away Thursday evening, after being ill for sometime. Her life was well-lived and her choices and hard work have had such a massive impact on so many people over the course of her life, from the family she raised - my father, my aunt and uncle, to extended family and friends that you she touched, to the many many thousands of tourists that have stayed at her pension house or dined at her restaurant or even just enjoyed a beer at sunset from the bar over the past 50 years - as one of the first commercial buildings in the area, Casa Maria helped develop the existing tourism in Valle Gran Rey - one of the important sources of economy for the people of Valle Gran Rey. The beach where her home lay was named 'Playa Maria' after her. All she did was work, she was a true slave to the kitchen - which made her an excellent cook and she has made some great dishes in her time, including always making my favourite whenever I visited - tomato jam. She never went to the beach that was metres from her front door, the nearest she got was walking out to feed the seagulls the food leftovers at sunset. Even the seagulls loved her. She was as famous as they get on her island. Many people will miss her. I will miss her and all that she brought to this life. xxxxxxxxxx
I took this photo at Bar Maria just a few years ago after a lovely chat with her © lagomera1.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Maria deceased

Maria of the landmark bar and sunset meeting spot Bar Maria (aka Bar las Jornadas and Casa Maria) in La Playa has died on Thursday afternoon. For many years she was the host and cook in the most popular bar in Valle Gran Rey and was loved by all who ever had the pleasure of meeting her. 

The bar was run by her son Pepe in recent years, but was closed just a couple of days before her death as the lease had ended. The future is uncertain as more than a dozen family member have shares in the property and have so far not come to an agreement whether to sell or keep it in the family.  Anyway, Maria will be missed by all. R.I.P.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Canarian folk in concert

A concert of Canarian folk music by the group 'Amalgama', with special emphasis on the traditions of La Gomera, will take place in the cultural centre near the town hall in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey this Saturday, April 18th 2015, at 8 pm. All are welcome.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

I'm back home in Ireland and it's been exceptionally warm and sunny here for the past few days. Below are some snapshots taken yesterday.
Nothing much new on La Gomera, but I will keep in touch with the island while in Ireland and will report anything interesting on this blog if and when it happens...




Saturday, April 04, 2015

Market and music



Playa de Santiago in La Gomera's south will host a market today in the town's square by the sea with activities for young and old, wine tasting, plus live music from bands and artists such as 'Almogrote Band', Reblujina (Rock), and more. DJs will also perform and the event will last from this  morning long into the night. 
All are welcome and the event is free of charge.