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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One bus stop in Valle Gran Rey cancelled temporarily

Due to the partial collapse of the coast road between La Playa and La Puntilla, the buses serving the Nr.1 line between Valle Gran Rey and San Sebastian de La Gomera won't stop at La Playa opposite Bar Maria because the temporary diversion in place can not accommodate large vehicles. Intending passengers should take the bus from the bus station near the bridge in La Calera or from near Hotel Gran Rey in La Puntilla.
Damage to the road meanwhile is still being examined to find out who will do what to eventually repair it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oil referendum in doubt

The Canarian government and its president Paulino Rivero still want the people of the islands to have the final say in whether oil companies like the Spanish-owned multinational Repsol should be allowed to begin exploration work off Fuerteventura and Lanzarote later this year. Rivero, supported by most local administrations including the government of La Gomera, believes an oil industry would have a serious impact on the environment and adversely affect tourism. The current Spanish government insists that here is no potential harm involved and oil would be of notable economic benefit for the Canary Islands. 
A referendum proposal had been tabled by an MP from the Canaries during last Thursday's meeting of the Energy and Industry Committee but it was rejected by a majority of 24 to 15. The Canarian government must now decide whether to risk legal action against it if it goes ahead as promised with its plans for the oil referendum, which Madrid has repeatedly said it is constitutionally not entitled to hold.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another Atlantic rowing record started from Gomera

Luke Birch and Jamie Sparks entered the Guinness Book Of Records by becoming the youngest crew ever to row a boat across the Atlantic. The pair are delighted to have not only achieved a world record but also to have raised a record amount for charity. Through donations totalling more than £300,000 they have become the biggest ever individual fundraisers for the Breast Cancer Care support charity.
The British students who are childhood friends are both just 21 years old and didn't know anything about rowing  before they entered the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Rowing Challenge which started from San Sebastian de La Gomera in December. They were at sea rowing for 54 days in what was the ultimate test of their physical and mental endurance, battling 40ft waves in frightening storms. You'll get a taste of their gruelling journey in the video below:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spectacular Rockfall and Landslide: New Images

There was a large rockfall and landslide from the top of Teguerguenche mountain towering over Valle Gran Rey yesterday. Around lunchtime there was a loud noise to be heard and huge boulders and thousands of tons of loose ochre-coloured material were seen tumbling down towards the harbour village of Vueltas. No harm was down as there are no houses in the area where falling rocks and debris normally come to rest, and the area below the cliff is respectfully avoided. However, it did happen some years ago that a few small stones were thrown into the open doors of a bar during a similar incident - again without doing any harm. Yesterday's rockfall just left a huge cloud of dust which lingered for a good while.
Rockfall and landslide in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera
A close-up of a close shave for Vueltas village in VGR
Ten minutes later dust still rose while on the right of the plume some material continued to tumble down

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Good news for flights to and from Canary Islands

EU approves aid to airlines for Canaries' flights


Aid granted by the Canarian government to airlines to open new routes to the Canaries has been ruled admissible by the European Union in a crucial test case settled by Brussels yesterday.
The scheme, devised by the regional government to provide a 50% reduction in airport charges for up to three years, does not unduly distort competition in the single maket and will help the economic development of the islands, concluded the European Commission after sudying the so-called start-up aids aimed at attracting airlines and routes. The scheme is the first of its type to be examined by Brussels following the entry into force of new EU guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines on 4 April. The green light for the 10 million euro package has been greeted with relief by the regional authorities, who see the incentive as crucial to diversifying the tourist industry here by reducing reliance on traditional markets.
The above report is from IslandConnections.eu

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Agulo-on-Sea

The historic town of Agulo in La Gomera's north, considered one of the most picturesque villages in the Canaries

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

And the winner is...

...the satellite image of the Canary Islands.
NASA Earth Observatory comments the win:
''The second annual Tournament: Earth has come to an end, and the winner is a familiar face. In 2013, a submarine volcano off of the Canary Islands took the first championship. This year, the entire island chain got in on the action. ”Trailing the Canaries,” the #2 seed in the art bracket, romped through the tournament in 2014. The image showed interesting wind and wave patterns in sunglint on the lee side of the islands. The Canary Islands have a lot of fans!''

Monday, April 07, 2014

Dragonfly knocking on old door

 Unbelievably the insect's colours are true, even the 'tinfoil tail' which in reality glittered more than in the photo. Nature-created art on a natural surface modified by man which in turn is being gradually claimed back by nature.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A most unusual playground

Be good now, Mum and Dad are watching you ! 
Who dares to go into that cauldron ?
There's a very unusual playground in the town of Vallehermoso in La Gomera's north-west. It is is more like a sculpture park with an added minor playground. The larger than life sculptures made from concrete will certainly impress children and even adults feel dwarfed by them. You can find it directly after the petrol station on your right when leaving the centre of the town in the direction of Hermigua.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A beautiful dawn

Recently taken photo of dawn seen from the top of La Gomera with Tenerife's mountains
in the background and cloud over the sea between the two islands

Friday, April 04, 2014

Fancy a trombone choir ?

Now's your chance to listen to a 'trombone choir' (coro de trombones) here in the cultural centre of La Calera in Valle Gran Rey tomorrow night, Saturday April 5th 2014. The trombone ensemble from Arona on Tenerife will perform classical, popular, and modern music from 8 pm. Two local trombone players will join the 'choir' and admission to the concert is free of charge.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Cruise ship season ending soon

The MS Braemar in the harbour of Valle Gran Rey
AidaVita visiting La Gomera
 This winter season La Gomera almost doubled the visits of cruise ship with about 80.000 passengers coming to see the island. The season is drawing to a close as cruise operators  move their ships to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean for the summer season. Today however the 'Braemar' operated by Fred. Olsen cruises is expected to call on La Gomera the second-last time and on Saturday the 'AidaVita' is expected to dock for the last time this season in San Sebastian de La Gomera for a stop that was programmed for last week but postponed due to adverse weather conditions. The 'Thomson Celebration' will also visit La Gomera one more time until the new season begins in October.
MS Thomson Celebration arriving in San sebastian de La Gomera recently

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Road partially collapsed due to heavy seas





















The road along the beach between La Puntilla and La Playa was badly damaged by heavy seas during yesterday's bad weather. The road is normally protected by an old low protective wall which is curved at the top to throw the waves back and had been previously damaged to a minor degree by large waves a few years ago. During this winter the wall was further weakened and gravel and larger pieces of rock had been thrown up and piled against it  by wave-action. This minor road tops an embankment along the shore and the land opposite the shore lies several feet below the road at the location where it has been damaged. 
The foundations of the wall suffered undercutting and a partial collapse yesterday evening causing subsidence along quite an extensive stretch of road. Local police and the mayor of Valle Gran Rey were on the scene to asses the damage and the area has been fenced off by the authorities. A traffic diversion is in place via an old track below and parallel to the affected stretch of road.
Maintenance of this coast road connecting La Playa and La Puntilla has been neglected over many years due to legal and fiscal problems arising from the unresolved question under who's jurisdiction the area lies. 
Weather conditions should gradually but substantially improve during today allowing further examination of the damage to prepare yet another temporary repair.
Rough seas damaged the road to La Playa in Valle Gran Rey

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

GOLD FIND ON LA GOMERA

Secrecy surrounds night-time tunnelling operations in Valle Gran Rey
Many people have been wondering over the years why a horizontal mineshaft resembling a tunnel was being driven in an easterly direction into the side of Teguerguenche mountain in Valle Gran Rey. The excavation started several years ago from a spot very near to the floor of the dry riverbed in the valley, and just above the large mains-water tank. Officially it was said to be a tunnel to eventually bring water from an underground deposit to the tank. Every now and again work stopped completely, officially due to lack of funding, only to suddenly start again some months later with different crews. 
But why were they digging mostly at night, why was the tunnel so large, and why were there mining experts and engineers from places as far away as Russia and Australia at work ? It was joked locally that they were building a metro-style underground to Playa de Santiago...
Hard work: Secret minor 'mine' in
the mountains. Donkeys are used
to carry the ore. There are plenty
of  cracks and crevices to explore.
'There's gold in them thar hills'
There were some persistent rumours of gold since excavations started, and now bit by bit the truth slowly has come to light: It it a gold mine ! Howevr, many of the local people 'in the know' were already aware of the reason for the secrecy: The mountains around Valle Gran Rey contain gold in important quantities. 
Some time ago an inebriated Australian  employee of the company excavating the 'tunnel' had  shown around a sizeable lump of the precious metal found there in a local bar, causing quite a stir. It didn't take long and a lot of digging was going on in remote spots in the mountains and the valley. A few hard-working locals seem to have been rewarded and appear to have struck veins of gold, because they suddenly could afford to buy new cars, pay off mortgages, and order huge rounds of drink.
Local government and and all other officials however remain tight-lipped and have refused to comment.
The main vein of gold
Gold of high quality
A mining expert who wants to remain anonymous has explained that the gold found here is encountered in 'lodes' which are  deposits of metalliferous ore that fill, or are embedded in, a fissure (or crack) in a rock formation or a vein of ore that is deposited or embedded between layers of rock. ''The aurum (gold) we've encountered in La Gomera is of relatively high quality and purity, making this an important and commercially viable discovery. We can now be confident to hit the main lode in the not too distant future'', he said. The gradual increase in the number of police officers stationed and patrolling Valle Gran Rey over the past months is an indicator that he is right.
Apart from the larger deposits which are found and exploited directly during digging in the shaft, there are secondary finds of smaller amounts of gold, which are extracted from the already excavated material. New machinery for grinding and sifting through this gravel has been installed and some of it can be seen working a bit further down in the valley working through large amounts of material from the tunnel:
Gold rush ?
Where this unexpected gold find will lead to is anybody's guess at this moment, but the very strict environmental protection that most parts of the valley enjoy should ensure that no wild and unsightly mining boom will spoil the area's natural beauty. Many local people feel that only limited amounts should be allowed to be dug out. Mind you, the Spanish government will claim most of what is found anyway, but apart from the main commercial mine they can't check  and control every shovelful that a local farmer brings up carefully when ''digging a well for the goats'', and tourists poking around in between rocks will be left alone to try their luck. Madrid will have to be content with selling more prospecting licences and taxing the commercial finds. At least the gold will give some badly needed hope in these times of economic crisis that ironically helps to keep gold prices high.