Thursday, November 27, 2014

Severe weather warnings for weekend

A vigorous depression north of the Canary Islands near the Iberian peninsula is expected to track SE and deepen. This will bring gale to storm force winds and high seas to the Canarian archipelago from tomorrow Friday 28th of November 2014 until at least early Sunday morning. Associated cold fronts will also bring showers or some longer spells of rain for a while and the temperature will decrease. Isolated thunderstorm activity may occur. However, the latter and the rainfalls pose a lesser threat than the wind and waves, and the fronts should pass through fairly rapidly.
Level orange warnings have been issued for westerly to north-westerly winds with gusts of up to 100 km/h. Even stronger gusts may be experienced in exposed areas and near mountains.
Further, level orange warnings have been issued for Canarian waters and exposed coasts for waves of 5 to 6 metres in height. This is a wave height very rarely experienced in the Canary Islands and potentially damaging to coastal infrastructure.
Please avoid mountain areas and be extremely cautious near costs.

OPC forecast chart for noon Friday, Nov.29th, 2014
Wave height and direction forecast for Sat. morning 03am
Rain forecast for Friday noon. Note the heavy rain fcst. for Morocco, where dozens lost their lives in floods recently.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The longest load possible on La Gomera roads

Last week a truck with a load of more than 100 feet in length (31 meters, to be precise) arrived on La Gomera by ferry and had to travel all the way to the beach of the northern town of Hermigua on the island's narrow winding roads. The load consisted of roofing planks for the thalassotherapy seawater pool and spa under construction there. The truck and trailer only got stuck once for a while just before reaching the destination (see red circle on image 2), otherwise the transport went without incident. Congratulations to the driver!

Finally unloading at the beach of Hermgua  (All Images:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wind turbine blown down

Hermigua turbine
OPC chart for Thursday

The strong winds of yesterday which gusted to nearly 100 km/h in the mountains of La Gomera blew down the relatively new wind turbine which feeds into the charging station for electric cars in the northern town of Hermigua. 
Today the weather is much better and it will remain mostly sunny for the next few days. However, unsettled weather is forecast to return to the Canary Islands in the second half of the week when a new low pressure system is expected to form north of the islands which could bring more wind and rain. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New weather warnings for Sunday

A mixture of sunshine and showers today in VGR. The Timah webcam shows rain in the upper valley at 11am
While the general situation is gradually improving, some showers will still affect La Gomera today. The worst of these will affect the Northern and the mountain regions where some may be heavy or prolonged and fog can be expected in the national park. Some sunny spells in the south of the island.
The showers will gradually become more scattered tomorrow, Sunday 23rd of November 2014, but new warnings of northerly winds gusting up to 75 km/h from around midnight tonight have been issued and remain until 6pm Sunday.
A modified warning of heavy seas combined of strong swell and wind blown waves has been extended from 9am Sunday until late Monday night. Seas may reach 15 feet on exposed coasts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weather update - rain warning cancelled

A landslide caused by the rains forced the closure of a minor road  near 'El Rejo' yesterday. The steep mountain pass is prone to rockfalls and landslides in this particular stretch of the scenic road. Image:
Update Friday evening: This road has now been cleared of  debris and is open for all traffic again.
Update 2, Saturday evening: Some more rain during Saturday caused another, even larger landslide in the same spot. It has resulted in the road being closed once again until late on Monday Nov. 24th 2014. 
No major change in the weather situation, but the weather should improve a lot early next week according to forecasts. This morning there were frequent showers on La Gomera with sunny interludes. This pattern should continue for most of the day and showers can be expected for the rest of the weekend. It will also become quite windy.
The good news is that the warning of heavy rain for tomorrow, Saturday Nov. 21st 2014, has been cancelled for La Gomera, while it remains in place for some other parts of the Canary Islands.
However there's a new warning for La Gomera of heavy seas with waves of 3-4 metres for Sunday. Below is the OPC chart for Monday showing high pressure beginning to become established once again near the Canary Islands, bringing more pleasant conditions:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weather warnings extended

As you can see from the webcam picture taken by at 10:40am it appears to be a pleasant enough morning in Valle Gran Rey and the worst of the weather now seems to be over the eastern Canary Islands. There hasn't been any more heavy rain on La Gomera but the warnings have been extended until Friday morning 8 am. Rainfall accumulations predicted for La Gomera could reach 20mm in one hour and 60mm in 12 hours. The warning of thunderstorms will end at midnight tonight. A new warning for 60mm of rain in 12 hours will come into effect late Friday night and will extend until midnight Saturday night.
There's a fairly strong sea swell running, so be careful near coasts.
The weather situation is constantly changing and new low pressure systems are expected to form just north of the Canaries, so new warnings may be issued and existing warnings may be cancelled. I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bad weather for rest of week - Weather warnings

OPC chart for noon Wednesday 19-11-14
Unsettled weather is beginning to affect the Canary Islands from tonight for much of the remainder of the week according to all forecast models. Colder air from polar regions is streaming down and beginning to interact with the still very warm air and sea temperature around the Canaries. A series of low pressure systems are expected to form north of the archipelago and associated cold fronts will bring rain from west to east. The first of these will bring showers, some heavy and prolonged, affecting western islands from early tonight. Thunderstorms may also be expected.
Over the coming days the unsettled weather will continue with occasional thunderstorms, showers or longer spells of rain and some very windy periods. It will be colder than of late but still up to the low 20's ºC max. in the sunny periods that may also be experienced - but beware as these may not last very long.
The first weather warnings for La Gomera predict rainfall accumulations of 25mm in just one hour and 60mm in 12 hours. There is also a warning of thunderstorms. It is advisable to cancel all activities in mountain terrain and near riverbeds.

Update Thursday, Nov. 19th '14, @ 11:30 am:
A fair bit of rain fell during last night, but nothing extreme. It is overcast now, but dry and quite pleasant with some patches of blue in the sky. Further showers are expected, however, and the approaching next cold front could bring thunderstorms and heavy bursts of rain.
Update,  Nov. 19th '14, 9 pm:
There's another weather warning of rain accumulations of 20mm in one hour and 60mm in 12 hours and for thunderstorms for the period from 6am tomorrow morning until 11 pm tomorrow night.
The situation at 5pm Tuesday. Canary Islands are at far right

Monday, November 17, 2014

'Majesty' cruise ship visits Valle Gran Rey

The huge (570 ft) cruise liner Thomson Majesty docked in the port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera early yesterday (Sunday) morning and stayed until late lunchtime. The restaurants, cafes and a few shops in Vueltas that open on Sundays were kept very busy as many of the estimated 1500 passengers explored the area. It was the first time a cruise ship of such dimensions berthed in Vueltas and her Majesty took up the entire length of the pier in the outer harbour. The visit was due to a very busy cruise holiday season and the pier of La Gomera's capital was occupied by another cruise ship.

By the way, the Thomson Majesty was in the headlines in February of 2013 when five of her crew died in an accident during a safety drill while visiting neighbouring La Palma island.  Read: Five crew die on cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty'
Thomson Majesty leaving Valle Gran Rey bound for Funchal on Madeira yesterday

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dramatic video showing Spanish navy brutally attacking peaceful Greenpeace protest against oil exploration in Canarian waters. Activist seriously hurt

NBC News reported:
''Spain's navy rammed into a Greenpeace dinghy during a protest in the Atlantic Ocean against oil exploration near the Canary Islands on Saturday, injuring four of its activists, one of them seriously, the environmental organization said.
However, the navy disputed that account. The navy said it dispatched two boats from one of its ships in the area to prevent Greenpeace from boarding a large oil drilling ship and that one of its activists was seriously injured when she fell out of her dinghy and was hit by its propellers.Speaking by radio-telephone from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the area, Capt. Joel Stewart identified the woman as a 23-year-old Italian activist and said the other three injuries were minor. The navy said it rushed the activist to a Spanish hospital in a helicopter. 
Last month, at the Spanish government's request, the Constitutional Court blocked a proposal by the Canary Islands regional government to hold a referendum on oil exploration in waters off the popular tourist archipelago off northwestern Africa. The government licensed the Spanish energy company Repsol YPF S.A. to begin oil exploration there, and it is doing that now from a large oil drilling ship with a platform.''

Update 1:
The president of the government of the Canary Islands Paulino Rivero meanwhile has visited the injured female Greenpeace activist in hospital on Gran Canaria and pledged his and his government's support for all present and future protests against oil drilling in the vicinity of the Canaries. He called the navy's actions ''disproportionate, abusive and erroneous''. He stressed that he is not blaming the navy ''whom Canary citizens help to finance'', but he is blaming the central Spanish government for having caused the incident by giving orders to the armed forces ''to attack a peaceful action in an exaggerated fashion''. He is demanding an explanation from the Spanish prime minister Rajoy of the navy's attack in which four protesters were injured, one of them seriously.
The distant Spanish state has vehemently opposed the will of the Canarian people to hold a referendum and keeps treating the Canary Islands as its last colony, brutally conquered about 500 years ago, in an exploitative and domineering way.

Update 2:
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has arrived in port at Lanzarote to the applause of a large crowd which had gathered in support of the protest:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Skywalk and cafe above Agulo finally opening today

Mirador de Abrante above Agulo on La Gomera now open to public
The spectacular  new seven metre long glass (including the floor!) skywalk suspended in the air high on the cliffs above the small town of Agulo on the northern coast of La Gomera will be finally opened to the general public today, including its cafe and restaurant plus information point. The Fred Olsen ferry and tourism company won the tender to run the viewpoint complex called 'Mirador de Abrante' and will be paying just under 1500 Euros rent to the town of Agulo every month. It will be open all day seven days a week. The same company also runs the large restaurant in nearby Las Rosas which solely caters for the daily bus tours from Tenerife. 
The area around the new skywalk attraction is known for its red soil and overlooks Agulo about 1000 feet below. It also offers sweeping views over the Atlantic (a further 500 feet below Agulo) with Tenerife and mount Teide (Spain's highest mountain) in the background. Agulo is said to be one of the most beautiful traditional Canarian villages, nestled picturesquely in the cliffs over the Atlantic. 
The access road and car park were upgraded recently by the island's government. Visitors can get directions from the visitor's centre (Centro de Visitantes) in Juego de Bolas, itself a must-see when on La Gomera.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oil drilling protests reported in The Guardian

A few days ago in The Guardian reported:

© The Guardian
''Angry Canary Islanders brace for an unwanted guest - the oil industry
Madrid and Repsol have pushed through deepwater drilling and fracking licences to recover a hoped-for 2.2bn barrels of oil despite massive local opposition

Nearly 200,000 people - one in 10 of the population - protested against plans to extract oil from in and around the Canary Islands. Photograph: Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images
In most places the news that you’ve struck oil would be cause to crack open the champagne. But not in the Canary Islands where Spain’s biggest oil company Repsol is due to begin drilling off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
“Our wealth is in our climate, our sky, our sea and the archipelago’s extraordinary biodiversity and landscape,” the Canary Islands president, Paulino Rivero, said. “Its value is that it’s natural and this is what attracts tourism. Oil is incompatible with tourism and a sustainable economy.”
Rivero, a former primary school teacher, is on a crusade against oil and he is not alone. Protest marches have drawn as many as 200,000 of the islands’ 2 million inhabitants on to the streets. The regional government planned to consolidate public opinion with a referendum on 23 November. Voters were to be asked: “Do you believe the Canaries should exchange its environmental and tourism model for oil and gas exploration?”
As with the weekend’s scheduled referendum on Catalan independence, the Madrid government contrived to have the plebiscite banned as unconstitutional and Rivero has now commissioned a private poll he hopes will demonstrate the strength of public opinion.
“The banning of the referendum reveals a huge weakness in the system,” said Rivero. “You have to listen to the people. There’s a serious discrepancy between what people here want and what the Spanish government wants. You are allowed to hold consultations under the Spanish constitution and what we wanted to do was completely legal. The problem we have is that some government departments have too close a relationship with Repsol.”
Repsol is flush with cash after settling a long dispute with Argentina and is keen to develop what may be the country’s biggest oilfield after winning permission to drill in August. 
The company believes the fields may contain as much as 2.2bn barrels of oil and is investing €7.5bn to explore two sites about 40 miles (60km) east of Fuerteventura.
If its estimates are correct, the wells could produce around 110,000 barrels a day for 10 years, equivalent to 10% of Spain’s oil needs. Spain, which has never had a wealth of natural resources, currently imports 99% of its oil at a cost of around €40bn a year.
Drilling in the area has been held up for more than a decade by environmental challenges and delays by successive governments, but Repsol has said it expects to begin work before the end of the year.
The company claims it has offered every guarantee that the work will be carried out safely and with respect for the environment and has set up an €80m contingency fund for compensation in the event of accidents.
Rivero is not convinced. “When we look at the development of Argentina or Mexico or Nigeria we see that the local people don’t benefit much from oil,” he says. “Furthermore, the oil here is in very deep water which hugely increases the risks, as we saw with the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The Spanish government says it cannot pass up on the possibility of finding oil and has issued licences for conventional exploration as well as fracking.
José Manuel Soria, the minister for industry, energy and tourism, said last month that “Spain cannot afford the luxury of not finding out whether we have hydrocarbons.”
Speaking at a conference under the slogan “Reindustrialise to win”, Soria said that “we spend €100m a day on gas and oil that our industry needs. We all want our industry to be more competitive and for that to happen we need cheaper energy.”
Rivero concedes that there is a conflict between what the Canaries want and the Spanish national interest. “As president of the Canaries, my first responsibility is to protect the Canaries’ interests,” he says. “There’s no benefit for us. It presents risks to tourism, the environment, fishing, agriculture and to the desalination of seawater. When we weigh up what we have to gain and what we stand to lose, we don’t gain anything. Repsol is the one who profits from this.”
Rivero’s principal argument is that, the risk of oil spills aside, the oil will in due course be exhausted whereas tourism gives the islands a sustainable economic base. The tourist industry, which attracts 12m people to the islands, is worth €13bn a year, 32% of GDP.
The islands, where 40% of land is protected, boast three Unesco world heritage sites and are a major ecotourist destination. As well as hiking amid unspoilt landscape, visitors can opt for the Loro Parque on Tenerife, the rainforest of La Gomera, or volcano treks on Lanzarote, among other attractions.
Another issue is unemployment, currently running at 33% in the Canaries, nearly 10% above the Spanish national average. Rivero remains unconvinced that the oil business will make much of a dent on the jobless total.
“Repsol says it may create 3,000 jobs but in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura alone more than 50,000 people work in tourism and in the Canaries it’s more than 400,000,” he says. “The oil industry will not complement what we already have. In fact, it will impede it.”
Despite the setback in the high court and the determination of the central government to explore all energy opportunities, Rivero remains unbowed.
“We in the Canaries do not accept being treated like a colony, like something from another century when the Europeans pillaged Africa’s resources,” he said.
“Repsol thinks everything has a price but they’re not going to buy the Canaries. We won’t bow down. We may lose a battle but we’ll win the war.” ''

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Controversy as work begins on harbour village facelift

Yesterday morning in Vueltas
(Images courtesy of VINO TINTO'
Yesterday morning work began on the long overdue revamp and pedestrianisation of the quirky harbour town of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera.
However, as soon as work had begun near the banana packing plant some local people were protesting to the foreman about the positioning of some construction materials and the white container (see image). They were demanding the removal of same to a location in the outer harbour. It appears that this will be done and that work will continue, but further shouting and protesting can be expected as there is a small but very vociferous group of people in Valle Gran Rey who will fight even the most insignificant issues. The mottos seem to be 'Not within a mile of my front door!' or 'No change at all!'. Due to this pressure sometimes plans have to be amended so many times that the money allocated to certain projects runs out before work can be completed. Let's hope that this time they'll succeed in completing the long-overdue tidy-up of what is one of the most vibrant villages on La Gomera - without too much controversy. 
UPDATE 11 am:
The small group of short-sighted protesters have again attacked the workers on site this morning and these appear to have downed tools. The local government have called for an urgent meeting of all authorities and the contractors involved. Now the main issue of contention appears to be the timing of the commencement of the works as it coincides with the beginning of peak tourist season. Poorly scribbled graffiti has appeared on the wall of the banana packing plant and on the container site office which roughly translates as ''No to the works at this time. The district of Vueltas''. In my opinion there's never a good time for building noise and disruption, but when things need to get done, the sooner one starts the sooner it will be finished - promising a better future. There isn't a tourist destination in the world that doesn't have building and repair work disruption even during peak season. 
The newly smeared childish graffiti doesn't make the area any more attractive and its quality is indicative...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yacht on the rocks in Valle Gran Rey

Inner harbour, Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera 
A fine yacht that was moored in the bay just east off the port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera dragged the anchor in a stiff southerly wind and ended up very badly damaged on the rocks near the entrance to the inner harbour recently. There was no one aboard at the time, but a lifeboat was on the scene as a precaution. The yacht and her German owner, a very experienced skipper, are frequent visitors to La Gomera. To add insult to injury some far-fetched and slanderous stories about this incident are still making the rounds locally and on the web, ranging from several people having had to jump off the boat into the sea, to the skipper having intended to sink the vessel in order to claim insurance and celebrating the stranding in a restaurant overlooking the scene. Well, let me assure you that none of these libellous and defaming rumours being spread are true and that the skipper's experience and seamanship are beyond doubt. It was just an accident and no one was ever in any danger. The incident once again highlights the lack of facilities for visiting pleasure craft and the need for a marina in the port of Vueltas. 
Below is a video of the scene of the incident :

Saturday, November 08, 2014

More pain for those living in S-pain

Spanish bureaucracy  driving many expats 'around the bend' 
It is becoming increasingly frustrating to have your main residence in Spain and I for one have had enough of Spanish bureaucrazy and have long moved  my main residence back to Ireland, from where I write now. I'm in touch with La Gomera all the time and will continue to 'support and report' but I will only come to the Canaries for 'extended holidays' as a non-resident in the future, making sure that I am at least 183 days a year at home as required by European residency regulations. 
The new tax laws requiring expats to declare and tax at exorbitant rates all their combined foreign assets worth more than 50.000 Euros in Spain (even when they had been already taxed in the country where they are) with the threat of severe fines for non-compliance has driven more than 600.000 Europeans, most of them British and German, back to their home countries in just one year, rather than for example selling their family home in order to be able to pay the Spanish taxman.
More counter-productive measures
In January 2015 new traffic laws will complicate life in Spain even further for those EU  citizens who hold driving licenses from other European countries. Spain insists now that if you're a resident from another EU country in their lovely territory you must change your existing EU licence to a Spanish EU licence What's the point of having an EU licence when it isn't accepted by EU member Spain ?  Tenerife News reports:

Spanish driving licences 

There are impending changes in the laws regarding driving licences that are due to be implemented on the 20th January 2015. At present if you are stopped by either the Policia Local or Guardia Civil and fined for not having a Spanish licence you may appeal this fine and Tráfico have assured us this will be quashed.
However once the new laws have been imposed the whole situation changes and many will find themselves in a very difficult situation. If you hold a Green Certificado de Registro that shows you are resident in Spain you MUST after six months exchange your European licence for a Spanish one. You are not legally permitted to renew your UK licence as you are NOT RESIDENT THERE and this is stated quite clearly on the DVLA renewal form, although many people chose to ignore it. Many people hold a Residencia even though they are not actually resident here for example swallows or those people who come and go quite often and have in the past (before the change in the rules making it more difficult to obtain Residencia) obtained these in order to obtain reduced air or ferry fares and/or to register with a social doctor here whilst maintaining a GP in the UK and having seemingly the best of both worlds.
For those people who hold ONLY a white NIE form then they do not have to exchange their licence but could be obliged to have a medical periodically here if there licence doesn’t have an expiry date (age dependent on how frequent that would be) in order for their licence to be valid for driving in Spain. This information would then be recorded and registered on Tráfico’s system to validate said licence.
As you can see this is going to cause complications for some so we suggest if you are in any doubt to please contact me at with your exact circumstances so that you can be advised on an individual basis.
I am being advised that those holding Spanish licences and trying to insure a car in the UK (something that many people do) is becoming increasing difficult.
Emma & Graham Swain

Thursday, November 06, 2014

'English' words made in Spain

When it comes to adapting English to their own needs, the Spaniards are masters. The Local  takes a look at  ‘English’ words that people in Spain have made their own. But while the spellings might be the same as in English, the meanings are often not what you’d expect.
Friki: used as a noun rather than adjective, this English-sounding Spanish-spelled word has been used in recent years for anyone odd or with unusual habits or looks.
Autostop: Spaniards are a bit more matter-of-fact with their English-like word for hitchhiking. It combines ‘auto’ as in car and ‘stop’ as in… you get it already. Funnily enough, there are other ways of saying ‘to hitchhike’ in Spain, such as hacer dedo (to do finger), but autostop is by far the most popular.
QUIQUI: If your Spanish partner asks whether you want to “echar un quiqui” (pronounced kiki), he or she wants to get down and dirty. This cheeky and light-hearted expression means to have sex and probably comes from the English word “quickie”
Esmoquin: Derived from the English ‘smoking jacket’, there is no other word in Spanish to refer to a dinner jacket or tuxedo. The French have a very similar version to it but without the ‘e’ that Spaniards often put in front of English words starting with ‘s’.
Lifting: No, this has nothing do with going to the gym, or even putting your back into it. Lifting (as in hacer un lifting) is what Spanish call a face lift. Scalpels away!
El Face: The world’s biggest social media site has become so mainstream in Spain that young people often shorten its name to ‘El Face’.
LOS ROLLING: The same happens with The Rolling Stones. Somehow the Septuagenarian rock band have come to be known in Spain as ‘Los Rolling’ rather than ‘Los Stones’.
VIP: Pronounced like a word rather than as an accronym, VIP is used mainly in Spanish to describe the cordoned off area of a nightclub or a party where the ‘esnobs’ hang out.
BICING: Now that Spanish cities are going green and jumping on the city bicycle craze, “bicing” or public bicycle hire schemes are popping up everywhere. While the name started with Barcelona’s own public bikes, people are now starting to use the word for similar programmes in other places.
Alto standing: used to describe anything luxurious or high-class, from an apartment to a prostitute.
Footing: the noun for jogging, and ‘hacer footing’, as in to ‘go jogging’.
Crack: Nothing to do with the drug or a hole of any kind, crack is used in Spanish to describe someone who’s great at doing something. So don’t feel offended if a Spanish friend calls you a crack, it’s actually a compliment.
Posted by Queenie (queeniesdailysnippets)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Two turtles rescued by surfers

Two turtles were rescued by surfers in the sea close to the roundabout near the port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera on Sunday. They were encountered by the surfers just a short distance offshore where the turtles were being tossed about by the waves stuck in a small piece of old and torn netting. The surfers brought them ashore, disentangled them and kept them wet with buckets of seawater. The department for the environment was informed who came to collect the marine reptiles. They will now be nursed until they regain their strength before being released into the sea again. 
See video below by Juan Jose Barrera which incidentally also shows one of several showers Valle Gran Rey experienced last Sunday:

Monday, November 03, 2014

One photo for the Canary Islands

I've received the email below a couple of days ago and I'm posting it here. You can download and print the small poster, write your comment on it if you like, then display it in your town or city no matter where you live, take a picture of it with a landmark in the background and then send the photo to to support the protest:

Dear friends,
Click to get poster
Last saturday 18th October more than 100.000 people in 8 Canary Islands and 50 cities worldwide came together to say No to oil drillling in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
With the drilling activities round the corner we need to keep up the social pressure to stop Repsol, that´s why we are asking everybody to show solidarity with the Canary Islands by taking a picture with this poster in a recognizable place of a city.
We´d be very thankful if you could join the action ONE PHOTO for CANARIAS and send us a picture of your support to Canarias, including name of your city and a personal message for the Canary Islands to
Thanks again for your support!
With determination and clean energy!
Follow latest news on facebook:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hemsworth and Walker on facebook page for movie

This is how these two likeable actors introduce the new facebook page (click) for the upcoming movie in The Heart Of The Sea. The Ron Howard film was partially shot here on La Gomera this time last year and I had the pleasure to met these guys. Good on ye, boys , I like it !
An official website for the film (click) has also just been launched by Warner Bros..

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Cruise ship season has begun

Cruise ship in the port of San Sebastian last season
Over the past few years La Gomera has been steadily gaining in popularity as a destination for cruise ships during the winter season. The pier of the island's capital San Sebastian has been extended once again during the summer, this time by a further 115 feet, to accommodate even larger cruise liners. This November alone the harbour will welcome nearly 14.000 cruise ship passengers in total. The largest cruise liner to call will be TUI-owned Mein Schiff 3 with 2500 guests aboard.
While the economic benefits of cruise ship calls are doubted by many locals, as they often see cruise ship passengers just buying a few postcards and stamps before they retire for lunch on their swimming all-inclusive hotels, the promotional value of the visits is often under-estimated. La Gomera has always scored  top marks in cruise passenger satisfaction ratings and when these passengers go back home most will recommend La Gomera for a longer holiday to their friends, relatives and neighbours and some will plan a return for a longer stay themselves. The shore excursions have also proven very popular and give direct employment for drivers and guides and additional business for restaurants and shops. Having worked as a tour guide in the past let me tell you that the tips are mostly generous anyway.
Tour buses awaiting guests one morning last winter

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Serious accident in tunnel

There was a serious accident in the tunnel of Yorima on the road between Arure and upper Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera yesterday afternoon. A fifty years old male cyclist is reported to have collided with a bus inside the tunnel. Police and an ambulance as well as a doctor and a nurse rushed to the scene. The cyclist was later transferred by air ambulance to a hospital on Tenerife, where he was said to be in  'critical condition'. 

The tunnel of Yorima is about 625 metres long and does not have any illumination.

Archive image on left shows entrance to tunnel near Arure

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Over three million views in less than a year

I joined GooglePlus  less than a year ago and started sharing most posts from this blog on that medium (G+ account: Willie La Gomera). The response has been phenomenal and to date my Google plus page has been viewed more than three million times !
Thank you all for your interest, it is a great incentive to keep going...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shepherd's leap

Above video demonstrates the traditional way of rapidly moving across the often difficult and steep terrain in the rural areas of the Canary Islands with the help of a long, pointed, lance-like vaulting pole. This allows the shepherd to move faster than his goats and is called salto del pastor Canario or 'leap of the Canarian shepherd'. It is still practised on La Gomera and it is fascinating to watch farmers move across rocky terrain in the mountains with breathtaking speed when they gather stray goats. The salto is now becoming increasingly popular as an adventure sport activity and classes are on offer sporadically all over the Canary Islands to learn this ancient form of pole vaulting.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oil controversy continues. Greepeace ship arrives reports:

Spain defends Canaries oil drilling plan

People protest against oil and gas exploration by Spanish group REPSOL off the coast of the Canary Islands, on the Spanish Canar
People protest against oil and gas exploration by Spanish group REPSOL off the coast of the Canary Islands, on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on August 23, 2014
Spain on Friday launched a legal challenge to defend plans to explore for oil and gas off the Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination. Authorities in the Canaries oppose the government-backed plan by oil giant Repsol to prospect under the seabed near the Spanish Atlantic archipelago and have said they will let locals vote on the plan on November 23.
The conservative government in Madrid decided Friday to appeal to the Constitutional Court against that referendum, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.
"This appeal motion has already been signed" by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, she told a news conference after Friday's weekly cabinet meeting.
She said the government would challenge the vote on the same legal grounds it has used to get a planned referendum on independence for the Catalonia region suspended.
In both cases, the government says the regional governments are not authorised to hold referendum-style votes.
"We are talking about matters that are in the power of the state, not of the Canary Islands government," Saenz said.
Madrid outraged the Canaries' regional government, residents and environmental groups in August by giving Repsol the all-clear to explore near the islands' coasts.
The company has been authorised to spend three years probing below the sea bed about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Residents of the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa fear Repsol's explorations will harm the environment and disrupt the tourism industry on which their economy relies.
Under the terms of the licence, Repsol must provide a deposit of 20 million euros ($25 million) "to cover its environmental responsibilities".
Those safeguards have not convinced the islands'  or residents, however. Protesters demonstrated across the eight inhabited  of the archipelago on October 18.
Greenpeace said its campaign boat Arctic Sunrise was heading to the island of Lanzarote on Friday evening and would also visit two other ports in the Canaries over the coming 10 days to support the protests.
© 2014 AFP 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Poster for In The Heart Of The Sea movie

Now the first official fim poster for the film 'In The Heart Of The Sea', directed by Ron Howard and shot partially on location in La Gomera, has been published by Warner Bros. The film is due for release in March of next year. It's a very impressive and stunningly beautiful poster and having had the luck to work on the set as a picture double I just can't wait to see the movie...
Poster © Warner Bros.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oil find only 200 kms away from Canaries

Opposition against oil exploration remains strong in the Canary islands despite the latest discovery of oil off Morocco. Island Connections reports:
Moroccan oil find 'changes nothing' in Canaries, says government
News of the discovery of oil off Morocco in no way changes the opposition of the Canarian people to drilling in the waters off the islands, says the regional government. 

Image: Archive
Canary Islands - 22.10.2014 
- Details emerged yesterday of what appears to be a major find by Genel Energy off Morocco and the news has, unsurprisingly, triggered conflicting views in the Canaries. While supporters of the drilling planned for waters off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura later this year say the find, which still has to be confirmed with further testing of the well, makes the explorations here of even greater interest, opponents say it changes nothing. "This is not the first time we have heard this type of news, which is often put out for stock market interests. The risks involved in the drilling there are not as serious as in the Canaries, which is why we will continue to oppose the plans" said regional president Paulino Rivero, who insisted that the stance taken by the government was "a matter of convictions" and not opportunism. Rivero called on Morocco to take the "strictest measures" to ensure the extraction of any oil found is carried out with full environmental guarantees. 

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