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. has more details:

Canary Island oil slick threatens Tenerife and La Gomera 
 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 ©

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.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Thousands evacuated... city built on rock and roll declared unstable reports:

AN ESTIMATED 400,000 people have been evacuated in one of the largest operations the United States has ever seen, after the city of Cleveland, Ohio was deemed too unstable to live in due to poor foundations.
Structural engineers took just three weeks to deliver their findings after a tip off from songwriter Bernie Taupin, who made claims that the entire city was built on “rock and roll”.
An emergency meeting was called by Cleveland city council last night in light of the report, which advised members that the entire 82.47 sq mile area should be evacuated immediately as it was declared structurally unsafe to live on.
Mr. Taupin claimed that himself, and four other men, originally built this city, built this city on rock an’ roll. Built this city, they built this city on rock an’ roll.
US president Barack Obama later declared Cleveland as a ‘national disaster zone’ and ordered 10,000 troops to the Ohio state to deal with the crisis.
Temporary shelters have already been made available on the outskirts of the city in a bid to ease the steady flow of now homeless people.
Engineers believe the entire city may have to be destroyed in order to secure a sound foundation for future developments.
“I just can’t understand why these buildings haven’t crumbled to the ground yet.” said one expert. “The vibrations alone from rock and roll should have destroyed them.”
Police have so far arrested eight people, including the band, Starship, who openly sang about the poor construction 30 years ago.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Canarian Atlantis

Eight new mountains beneath the sea
The Canary Islands have aroused scientific interest throughout history. There are many ancient references to them as a group of islands lost in the ocean, far from the known world beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. In the 19th century, several scientists suggested that their origin was volcanic, and much later, this idea was accepted.
The new islands have been discovered to the south west of the Canaries
The new islands have been discovered to the south west of the Canaries
The islands were formed during several volcanic cycles since the time of the dinosaurs.  The eastern islands are said to have risen from the sea around 20 million years ago.

Now, in 2015, a few weeks ago the scientific team of the oceanographic campaign Drago 0511 made this amazing discovery and identified eight submarine mountains to the south west of the Canaries.  They say that they are ancient islands, like a Canarian Atlantis. The biggest of these newly discovered islands is as tall as MountTeide!
According to the marine geologist from the Spanish Mining and Geological Institute, Luis Somoza, the discovery of these eight submarine mountains can be added to the five which scientists had already identified to the south of the Canaries, and it is assumed that they are the underwater grandfathers or predecessors of the Canaries as we know them.  He said that some of these mountains formed islands which have now sunk by 300 metres.
This latest discovery took place after five years of detailed mapping expeditions of the deepest Canarian sea floors, and it shows that this area, south west of the islands, is the natural extension of the Canarian archipelago.
The peaks of these submarine mountains were found at depths of 300 to 4,000 metres.  In some cases, their shapes resemble the actual shapes of Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro.  Their biggest mountains are 35 to 90 kilometres long and the smallest are between 6 and 20.  Somoza described how these ancient islands are over 3,500 metres high over the flat seabed, and when seen from those depths, they resemble looking at MountTeide from the coast.
They were formed by the same process as the Canaries were.  A hot point beneath the islands created a partial fusion of the rocks in the Earth’s mantle and allowed magma to rise from the deepest sea floor.  This happened millions of years ago and as the hot point moved or disappeared, these newly created volcanoes which went on to form submarine mountains or islands, progressively sank due to the cooling of the Earth’s crust.  They describe this effect as similar to what happens if you remove a soufflé from the oven too quickly – it just sinks. 
Luis Somoza added that the scientific team has sent its suggestions for essentially Canarian names for these islands to the International Hydrographic Commission.  They are Drago, Bimbache, Ico, Pelicar, Malpaso, Tortuga, Infinito and Las Abuelas (the grandparents).  The five already known underwater mountains were named by their British discoverers, and they are Las Hijas, Echo, The Paps, Drago and Tropic.
Six scientific expeditions have now been made into the deepest waters near the Canaries, on the ships Hespérides, Sarmiento de Gamboa and Miguel Oliver.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A cold winter in the Canary Islands

The peak of Teneriffe's Mount Teide covered in snow. Archive image taken from La Gomerea. ©

Canary Islands recorded the coldest winter since 1998

The Canary Islands have finally left behind February, the coldest month since 2012, and the coldest winter period recorded since 1998-99, according to the (AEMET).The average temperature in February was 13.5ºC, a degree and a half below normal. The airport of El Hierro recorded on day 8 the lowest maximum (16.5ºC) in February since 1973. As in the months of January and December, February has been a dry month. The average rainfall was 22.0mm, only 40% of the expected amount; however, the average number of rainy days (8) exceeds the normal value. The same goes for snow days in mountain areas. Except for Izaña, which was close to normal, all observations show the lack of sunshine was more pronounced on the northern coast of the island. Diario de Avisos
(Above report by Queenie)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Humourous sketches tonight

The Spanish theatre company 'Abubukaka' will perform a series of humourous sketches under the title 'La Familia Tradicional' in the Auditorio Insular Infanta Cristina in the capital San Sebastian de La Gomera tonight. The performance of the work 'in three siestas and one dinner' will begin a 8:30 pm.
Tickets cost 10 Euros and can be bought at the ticket office beside the main entrance from 7:45 pm.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fatal motorbike accident

Location of the crash
A motorbike collided with a car between El Guro and Los Granados in Valle Gran Rey at around 9:15 last night, resulting in the death of the driver of the high-powered motorcycle. His pillion passenger suffered severe injuries but is said to be stable in hospital. The cause of the accident is yet unknown.
I passed the scene of the accident by public bus shortly after the incident had happened and I was shocked by what I saw. The dead man was lying in the middle of the road covered in a blanket and it took me some time to identify a twisted lump of metal as the remains of a motorbike. Police was on the scene diverting traffic past the scene of the accident. The car involved in the collision appeared to have only minor damage. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

La Gomera's mountains claim more victims

It was a busy and dangerous evening for the rescue helicopter from neighbouring El Hierro island yesterday. First it was called out to Valle Gran Rey to attend to a woman who was descending from the mountains near the chapel of Los Reyes in El Guro fell and suffered a leg fracture. The area where the victim was situated proved to be extremely dangerous for the helicopter to approach and the very gusty winds plus some fog and drizzle created additional hazards. After several attempts the chopper finally managed to set down rescuers nearby who got the victim into a position from where she could be winched up on a stretcher. She was then flown to the island's hospital in San Sebastian de La Gomera. There the helicopter was needed once again as a local man had fallen into a steep ravine nearby and died. With the help of the chopper it was hoped to recover the body, but owing to the extremely difficult terrain and the approaching dark this mission had to be aborted. This morning the man's remains were still there and recovery efforts continue.
Images showing attempts to approach the victim behind this ridge of mountain in Valle Gran Rey yesterday

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Coast road being eroded further by waves

Council finishing the clean-up yesterday. Note the rough state of beach
The big waves over the past few days that forced the temporary closure of the coast road between La Puntilla and La Playa in Valle Gran Rey at one stage even endangered the carnival proceedings in the Plaza San Pedro, where crews from the town hall had to clear sand, gravel and other debris that were swept onto the plaza by the waves that had been flooding part of the area at high tide before.

Yesterday's parade and the following party went ahead with only minor disruption by the heavy seas. However the situation regarding the above mentioned road is further deteriorating and the holes in the road are gradually getting larger while the old protective wall is further slipping into the sea and breaking up. This stretch of the road was built many years ago onto the beach across the lowest part of the land where the sea and beach had once been a good bit further inland. Now it seems the waves are claiming back their former territory. Several times in the past the road had been undermined
Collapsing defences yesterday
there, but every time the holes were quickly filled with large boulders and concrete, keeping the defences up. Now due to the wrangling over responsibilities the road was left to itself. The dangerous part was simply fenced off and traffic diverted via a short stretch of the old track inland below the coast road. For many years plans have existed to build a new promenade there plus there are plans for a new main road further up. It would also make sense to build simple breakwaters at both ends of the bay which would protect it, make it safer for swimming and keep the sand and gravel on the beach where it is wanted as an amenity and will protect the coastline.
It is a bit absurd to see the state the coastline is in now, and then turn your head inland to see the large building site in the barranco a few yards away where countless tons of stones and concrete are being used in the channelling of the barranco that no one wanted done, but which will cost in excess of seven million Euros, while just behind you the road has been left to crumble away for nearly a year.
Soon the sea may breach the road completely. Image taken around half tide yesterday.
Steel waste bin wave-beaten to a sculpture

Friday, February 20, 2015

President's candidature rejected by own party

La Gomera's long-serving president has hit the headlines once again. I'll give you the report of Wednesday's surprise news: 
Curbelo election snub likely to lead to new party
La Gomera is at the centre of local politics in the Canaries today following the news that the island's veteran president has been snubbed by his party for the May elections and may well carry out his threat to create his own party to stay in charge 
La Gomera - 19.02.2015 - Despite a string of corruption allegations down the years, including accusations that he has amassed a personal fortune through his political influence, Cabildo president Casimiro Curbelo is a hugely popular figure on the small island, which he has "ruled" since 1991 and represented it in the Spanish Senate  for nearly two decades. Scandals in recent years, particularly his "you don't know who you are dealing with" outburst when he was arrested during a drunken fracas at a Madrid lap-dancing club, have led his PSOE party to distance itself from him of late, including forcing him to resign from the Senate, and the split was confirmed last night when it was announced that he would not be chosen to run again in May. The news has been welcomed in some quarters, who feel Curbelo's time is over and La Gomera can no longer be run on a political favours basis or - in keeping with a PSOE election promise - by someone with charges hanging over him. However, many others have pledged support for the controversial figure and are prepared to back him if he sets up his own party to remain in charge at the Cabildo. A populist Curbelo party is predicted to have serious chances of gaining control of several town halls in La Gomera also.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coast road closed due to high waves

High waves again affecting the partially collapsed coast road (Image: Archive
The coast road connecting the districts of La Puntilla and La Playa in Valle Gran Rey has been closed to all traffic this afternoon as a precautionary measure due to the high waves battering coasts in the Canaries. Traffic is being diverted from Hotel Gran Rey and Bar Maria (respectively). The road had been partially undermined and sea defences had collapsed some time ago (see post of April last). No repairs were carried out since, allowing further erosion over the past ten months.
It is hoped that the carnival activities in La Playa tonight and over the coming days can take place on the beach there as planned, but some food and drinks stalls already had to be moved further away from the seas as they were threatened by the waves.
Weather conditions are predicted to improve from tomorrow night, however.
Condition the road was in two weeks ago. It has become worse in present weather situation.

Two ferry sailings cancelled today

The ferry company Naviera Armas has cancelled the scheduled sailings of its ferry Volcan de Taburiente at 11:30am today from San Sebastian de La Gomera to Los Cristianos and the 2pm sailing in the opposite direction. The company has not given any reason but the poor weather conditions with high seas and gale fore winds may have something to do with the decision. The weather station at the Alto de Igualero mountain, La Gomera's second highest peak, registered a wind gust of 112 km/h yesterday lunchtime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Windy weather

Palm trees under power lines tossed in the wind during yesterday's power outage
The windy weather was strongly felt on La Gomera yesterday. In Valle Gran Rey the electricity went just before 4pm and the outage lasted until it became dark at 7pm. A large area of high pressure in the central Atlantic is bordering low pressure over North Africa and the resulting tighter isobars are causing strong winds and gales at times over the Canary Islands. This weather pattern is set to continue until Saturday and there are warnings of strong north-easterly winds, at times veering northerly, occasionally reaching gale force with gusts of 70 km/h. There's another warning of 3-4m seas, especially on exposed coasts.
Overall nothing dramatic or unusual for this time of the year, but always bear in mind that the steep mountainsides and ravines of La Gomera often exacerbate the situation, creating additional local turbulance. Sometimes under the shelter of a mountain there's only a breeze felt of the wind and a few dozen yards further on it can blow a brutal gale at the same time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Carnival continues

While the carnival (see previous post) in La Gomera's capital is coming to an end, it is only starting in Valle Gran Rey tomorrow and yesterday it began in Vallehermoso. 

This photo of the main stage in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria I took on Saturday Feb. 7th 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Another great lazy Sunday afternoon... the bus station bar yesterday. Lots of musicians, singers, locals and visitors came and went. An Irish whistle player made my day by giving me his version of 'Tom Billie's' directly into the left ear over a cup of coffee. There was even a mad Irishman with a Spanish pirate's hat playing a banana-shaped shaker! The anchorman once again was Dave (see photo) who's sadly leaving La Gomera soon, but with the promise to stay a bit longer on his next visit...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Praying for an uneventful Friday 13th ?

This child seems to be praying for something anyway in this mural that has appeared recently on the door of an ugly transformer shed in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera. the artwork appears to be by the same artist as the on I spotted in Vueltas and posted here a few days ago.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Inner harbour improvements

Re-plasering of the quay
While work on the pedestrianisation of the harbour town of Vueltas  in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera is continuing, the inner harbour is also being tidied up and some improvements  have already been finished. The slipway has been resurfaced and a separation wall to the harbour beach was installed, while widening and tidying that corner of the sandy beach. New railings have been installed above the slipway and also at the steps leading down into the water. Now they're re-plastering all of the front of the old quay, which had become very rough in recent years. New moorings for the fishing boats have also been laid underwater.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Controversial project nearing completion

The central section around the bridge
A new road will branch off at the roundabout
The building project of channeling the last mile or so of the barranco, the mostly dry river bed, in Valle Gran Rey is now finally nearing completion. The work began a few years ago amid massive protests and many changes were made to the original plans. Then more than a year ago work stopped completely and the large building site was fenced off and left unfinished. Lately the diggers and trucks have come back and it is hoped that the dust will eventually settle, leaving the lower barranco as a concrete and stone channel with associated site works such as car parking, a new road and some green areas. Curiously some of the previously carried out work has been pulled down again, e.g. lines of kerbstones and a stretch of the concrete channel near the sea. Another change of the plans ?
A work of warning: Do not enter the channel itself at its end as there is absolutely no way out anywhere further up.
Image taken from the bridge

One of several gabion walls further up the river bed intended to slow down flash floods. This one had become a difficult obstacle for walkers following the barranco path, but as can be seen an elevated new path is now provided across it 

Monday, February 09, 2015

No Valle Luna festival but there is live music again

Keep an eye
out for posters!
Mainly due to the lack of support by the local administration and due to the many ludicrous regulations being enforced to the last letter, there's no Valle Luna festival this year. The popular event drew large crowds and many international entertainers in recent years, but sadly could not be repeated this year. 

However many musicians and visitors came all the same and there are plenty of low-key events taking place in several venues, as well as spontaneous street performances scattered throughout the lower parts of Valle Gran Rey.

 The recently taken images posted here show just a few of them.

 Regular visitors: Gomera Street Band in action (above)

El Solbo demonstration