Translate

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weather warnings today

AEMET rain radar at 10:10 am showing heavy rain approaching La Gomera
There is an orange alert for occasionally heavy rain with accumulations of up to 90 mm in 12 hours for the western Canaries today. There are also warnings of thunderstorms today.
This is due to a developing storm between the Canaries and the Azores which will bring unsettled weather for a couple of days. The weather should have returned to normal conditions by mid-week.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rain or shine

You do get 'proper weather' in the Canaries sometimes, too. I really enjoyed reading Queenie's post on one of her excellent blogs describing a weather event that sometimes can hit these usually sun-blessed islands of 'eternal spring'. I am reproducing it below, but I've added my own photo of a heavy downpour and wild seas during a storm experienced on La Gomera last winter. Don't worry though, bad weather is rare and short-lived in the Canaries. Actually, the locals hope and pray for rain at this time of the year. To them the rain is as important as the sun is for us.

The Storm

This descriptive writing lark isn’t as easy as I imagined.  Firstly I find it particularly hard to find something to write about and then once I do I’m at a loss at how to create a vivid picture.  It makes you realise just how lacking in language you really are!

Long before technology people relied on observation to avoid being caught off guard by the elements. Despite being raised on the wild northeast coast, I was never good at predicting what was going to happen so inevitably I was taken totally by surprise.
The day started beautifully, the sky was like a dome of plasma-blue but there were those who saw the storm closing in. Within minutes of me setting off for town, the once clear sky became full of thick clouds, staining it a deadly shade of indigo. Birds silenced their song and people ran for cover as the saturated clouds start to rumble and spat out beads of water – it began as a whispering in the air but a storm was brewing.
I quickened my pace but caught the first splatter of rain when I was halfway down the road. I took refuge in a doorway, others huddled under shop awnings or sheltered in cars, their windscreen wipers furiously struggling against the increasingly pounding rain as we waited for the storm to pass but the rainfall became more intense. For a while, those who rushed off to work as they do every morning eventually made a wet scramble to stay on schedule only to be drowned and drenched.
So much rain was falling that the sound blurred into one long whirring noise.  It wasn’t the soft, sodden, swollen drops of spring; it was as if ball bearings were hitting the pavement with force. The thermometer plunged as we huddled together and shivered. For a brief moment, I thought that we might be doomed adventurers, destined to be swept away in a mighty flood but eventually, the noise lessened and we made a break for our destinations.  I hurried inside a small cafe, where the smells of strong coffee and wet woollen coats floated in the air. I chose a seat and gazed out of the steamed up windows every few seconds to check what was happening.
It was only a little after ten o’clock in the morning but the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon us as the lightning started. It never came through the menacing clouds, just lit them up from above, then the loud rumble of thunder echoed around the almost empty, lifeless streets. Any last remaining footsteps quickly disappear. The wind came in gusts; it blew with such force and swayed, like a drunken man, picking up then quickly releasing the scattered rubbish again and again. Trees surrender as the battering wind forced leaves to be torn off branches.
From the safety of my refuge I looked at the deserted street and the feeble daylight appeared to dim as the dark clouds moved across the sky. A lone dog pattered across the waste ground then threaded its way between the few surviving cars. Then as if some mighty hand had flicked a switch, the sun came out again, casting slanted beams of light across the land. An explosion of birdsong erupted from the dripping trees and it was as if the storm had never been. Steam climbed slowly from the rapidly drying ground. It rose up eerily and drifted mist-like towards the molten-gold sun. The image was so vivid that it stayed with me all the way home

Saturday, October 04, 2014

New ferry service before end of this year ?

Former ferry on the interior line operated by Garajonay Express

The long awaited reopening of the so-called 'interior line' by sea connecting Tenerife with  La Gomera's ports of San Sebastian, Playa Santiago and Valle Gran Rey could be a reality before the end of the year, according to 'well informed sources'. Fact is that the Canarian government has increased and approved the subsidies for residents' tickets. A whopping 75% of the cost of the journey between any or all of La Gomera's ports will be subsidised  by the government leaving residents with only 25% of the regular ticket price to pay. This was a announced a few days ago and should encourage the quick re-establishment of the ferry service.
Well we've had lots of rumours, 'good news and good intentions' many times before and still there's no ferry. If it doesn't arrive in the few remaining months of this year it might never come again. We keep the fingers crossed, peak season is beginning soon...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Old road into Valle Gran Rey to be opened again

The present road leading down to the tunnel of Yorima and on to Valle Gran Rey
Entrance to tunnel near Arure
There is only one road leading in and out of Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera. This road is more like a twisted, winding mountain pass as it starts a height of about 3000 feet and then winds down to sea level along a rockface in the steep ravine that is upper Valle Gran Rey. In the nineties two long tunnels were driven through the rock to shorten the journey and make it much safer. The old road was skirting this rocky outcrop, hanging precariously over the abyss below. While this narrow, twisted strech offered spectacular views it was also prone to rockfalls and accidents and the tunnels made it much safer and shortened the road by half. However, the tunnels are a nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists as they are not illuminated and the footpath is very narrow.
The island's government recently decided to reopen the abandoned old road around the lower tunnel (625 metres) for cyclists, pedestrians and tourists who want to enjoy the breathtaking views. It will also provide an alternative route in case of an accident in the tunnel as this road is the vital artery that feeds Valle Gran Rey. Work on the old road of 1,3 kms around the tunnel of Yorima has already begun and the whole project will cost an estimated 120.000 Euros.
Work in progess on the old road (This image: gomeranoticias.com)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

La Gomera's wines receive boost

The 'Tenerife News' recently reported the following:

A toast to La Gomera wine

La Gomera wants to become better known for its wine.
The island’s Cabildo has signed an agreement with the local Wine Board which will cover special promotions, incentives, events, training and job creation. The aim is to increase demand, both on the island and throughout the Canaries, for La Gomera wine.
It is also hoped to encourage more farmers to take up wine cultivation, both for their own livelihoods and to protect and enhance La Gomera’s agricultural land-scape.
The bodega managed by the Cabildo has also launched a “Vintage 2014″ campaign. Grapes are said to be in good condition and a bigger than expected yield is expected of at least 40,000 kilos.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stephen Hawking to open Tenerife festival

The 'NEWS IN THE SUN' reported a few days ago:

Stephen Hawking Arrives In Tenerife

September 15, 2014
hawking
Stephen Hawking arrived in Tenerife on Saturday aboard the luxury cruise liner  Oceana and will stay on the island for nearly a month as a guest of honour at the Starmus Festival.

Mr Hawking  will deliver the opening speech of the conference during this second edition of the Starmus Festival, which has the theme “Beginnings: The Making of the Modern Cosmos”.
The event will take place at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama in Tenerife from the 22 to 27 September 2014 .
Hawking will be accompanied by a variety of internationally renowned speakers, including astronauts, cosmonauts, astronomers, cosmologists, chemists, biologists and Nobel Prize winners. The theoretical physicist will also join the round table discussion to be held in the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), at the Observatory of the Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma. More details here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New video of large stingray being fed and fondled

Here's a recently produced video of the amazingly tame stingray that regularly comes to the steps into the water in the harbour of Vueltas in La Gomera's Valle Gran Rey. The large ray always gets fed and petted by the children of the harbour town and local fishermen supply the fish for the stingray's breakfast.
Filmed by: © Henner Riemenschneider (Gekko Vision)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Passenger terminal planned for port

The planned terminal building  (Image source: eltambor.es)
The director responsible for infrastructure of the Ports Authority of the Canaries (Puertos de Canarias) has unveiled the design for a planned passenger terminal building for the port of Valle Gran Rey in the outer harbour of Vueltas. The large 392 sqm terminal is to be built and finished next year at a projected cost of 444.000 Euros. 
The modern concrete building will house a cafe/cafeteria, public toilets, offices, waiting areas and more. It will serve the travellers on the expectedly reopening ferry connection between V.G.R., P. Santiago, San Sebastian and Tenerife and will also provide facilities for the anticipated increase in visitors from cruise ships visiting the port as well a the general public visiting the popular harbour area.

It is expected that the contracts for building the terminal will go to tender soon and will be adjudicated before the end of this year.
Approximate location of planned facility (red arrow)

Friday, September 05, 2014

News update

So now the kids have gone back to school and with the arrival of September the summer is slowly ending. I'm still in Ireland and enjoying an unusually excellent summer. Yesterday I  enjoyed myself on a huge golden beach and the temperature was a balmy 23 degrees in perfect weather conditions. 
While away I was in constant contact with La Gomera and followed all the news from there. So what has happened on La Gomera during my absence ?
Not all that much, really, and this summer was as quiet if not more quiet than previous years and I didn't miss much, I think.
News summary:
The good news is that there were no major fires during the past two months. There were a few minor fires that were put out by the emergency services very quickly. The latest and largest fire was fought successfully in Alajero last Sunday, but 18 hectares of scrub and some palms fell victim to the flames. The Air Tractor hydro-plane which was stationed on La Gomera's small airport in early July helped to extinguish the fires and it will remain on stand-by until the end of October.
The annual highest tides of August coupled with a strong Atlantic swell brought some very big waves which forced the closure of the promenade along the beach of Playa de Santiago for a time.
Vueltas, the harbour village of Valle Gran Grey is yet another step closer to the beginning of the eight month of works that will pedestrianise and improve the shopping streets there as the tenders for the work have been adjudicated now. Vueltas is well-known for its quirky little shops and boutiques and also boasts many restaurants that offer fresh fish from its harbour and much more.
Two councillors in Valle Gran Rey have resigned their posts in the local government due to 'differences with the mayor'.
Mobile phones in most parts of Valle Gran Rey seem to be working again after the main mast was sabotaged during bonfire night. A provisional mast was erected near the bus station by the Movistar phone operator until a permanent solution can be found.
The one-night rock festival in San Sebastian was a great success.
The access road to Valle Gran Rey's black-sand beach Playa del Ingles is to get street lights powered by photovoltaics.
Finally the improvement works in the harbour of San Sebastian are making good progress and the extension of the pier will be ready to welcome even larger cruise ships when the season begins in late autumn.

IF anything exciting or important happens on La Gomera, I promise to report it here on this blog immediately... but, as they say: NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS !
Teneriffe's Mount Teide seen from La Gomera (Photo taken in June 2014)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SUMMER BREAK

...just in case you're wondering:
summer has been perfect on La Gomera so far this year. Not too hot and just beautiful.
So this is a good time to take a break and go in search of imperfection. 
I'm back in Ireland for the time being with the promise that I'll report anything important that might happen on La Gomera on this blog - if and when it happens. 
UPDATE 15-08-12:
Nothing of any great importance to report - summer continues quietly and La Gomera rests. Ireland is having a VERY busy tourist season this summer, by the way.
Meanwhile you can meet me at one of the places below:


YES, INDEED !

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Pedestrianisation of Vueltas a step closer to reality

Vueltas seen from the new pier
The long overdue revamp of the harbour town of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera is to go ahead finally with some modifications to the original plans
The work to be carried out will cost just over 600.000 Euros and an official announcement has been published inviting contractors to tender for the job. The duration of the construction phase is set at eight months and the work is to be carried out in three distinct phases to minimise traffic disruption. It is expected that work will begin later this summer.
Politicians, officials and  Canarian TV on a walkabout discussing the plans with residents in the centre of Vueltas recently

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mobile phone blackout caused by 'bonfire'

St. John's  bonfires went out of control in Valle Gran Rey last night causing destruction
The council's recycling yard for organic material in flames, illuminating the whole mountain behind it
First the council's large recycling yard for dry organic material waiting to be shredded went up in a huge blaze (as happened midsummer several times in previous years) and the local  voluntary fire brigade had to attend to prevent the flames from spreading further. 

Mobile phone support equipment destroyed
The 'bonfire' at the mobile phone mast of Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera
Then just after midnight a bonfire at a place called Juan Rejon in the La Calera part of lower Valle Gran Rey apparently spread to metal sheds housing the electronic equipment for the lower valley's controversial mobile phone mast. Flames and a pall of thick black smoke emanated from the site which can only be accessed via steep paths and several sets of rocky stairs. By the time the fire brigade had arrived on the scene the mobile phones in lower Valle Gran Rey were without coverage and this morning it was evident that all the equipment was completely burnt down. 
Not much left of the equipment (behind red facade)
La Calera's controversial mast
before last night's fire
The council yard still burning 12 hours later
Neighbours in the area have been fighting for years for the relocation of the mast and associated equipment. They claim that the mast has caused a dramatic increase in disease rates around it and that it was erected illegally. The equipment had been sabotaged several times in previous years, leaving lower Valle Gran Rey without mobile phone reception for long periods of time. Mobile coverage went dead once again last night after a couple of years of reinstated service. I expect Valle Gran Rey to be without mobile cover for quite some time. The exact cause of last night's fire is still being investigated as arson is suspected.
N.B.: You can get a signal from the mast up in the mountains all along the centre of the floor of the valley. A good spot is the bus station.
Meanwhile the organic material in the council's recycling yard was still burning and smouldering at lunchtime while loud bangers were being fired into the sky to celebrate the fiesta of San Juan. Two fire brigade teams are still working to quench the flames and Canarian TV was seen filming.
Another unwanted 'bonfire' along an embankment half a mile further up the valley is under control but a unit of the fire brigade is needed  to extinguish remaining hot spots.