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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Second major film shooting in Canary Islands this year

Ridley Scott spotted
in the Canary Islands
Photo:The Canary News 

November will be a busy month for filming in the Canary Islands

Preparations are well under way for two major Hollywood productions here with shooting to take place mainly on La Gomera and Fuerteventura islands in November. On La Gomera Ron Howard will be filming scenes for 'In the Heart of the Sea' and set construction has already begun there. The second production is coming to Fuerteventura, where director Ridley Scott will shoot scenes for his new epic 'Exodus' and two castings for extras have already taken place there. Both productions are large-scale enterprises and will directly inject millions into the Canarian and local economies while indirectly promoting the archipelago as a tourist destination.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Six children hospitalised after funfair incident

© Diario de Avisos
Six children were taken to hospital after an incident at a funfair which was erected in San Sebastian de La Gomera for  the Fiestas Lustralesbeing celebrated now in honour of the island's patron saint Virgen de Guadalupe. The children were enjoying the 'Dragon' ride just before 7.30pm last night when an electrical fault on one of the cars caused a 'considerable' shower of sparks. Five children of around ten years of age had to be treated for burns and a sixth was treated for shock. All are said to be recovering well.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Travel delays at the ferry port of Los Cristianos

The weekend is once again upon us and that means more people are travelling to and from the western Canary Islands and different ferry schedules from weekdays. All this traffic has to pass through the bottleneck of the port access road in Los Cristianos on Tenerife and the congested port itself. The ferry companies' sailings also often serve two islands during one trip, i.e. stopping over at La Gomera on the way to and from La Palma and El Hierro and that means that travel to all the western islands is affected. When two ferries arrive at the same time in Los Cristanos discharging hundreds of cars and trucks, delays are inevitable. Be warned and expect hold-ups if you need to catch a flight, as taxis and buses often can't get in nor out of the busy port during rush hour. The traffic delays sometimes also upset the ferries' sailing schedules. I've experienced these delays a couple of times this summer and met people who missed connections. The following report and photo was published by Island Connections.eu a couple of days ago:
Port blockage!

"The limitations of the port in Los Cristianos have again been in evidence as heavy weekend ferry traffic at the end of the summer brought the usual chaos and should serve to make the Port Authority and local council rethink the current lay-out.
On several occasions the simultaneous presence in Los Cristianos of the Fred Olsen and Armas ferries serving La Gomera brought massive problems, with cars, buses and container lorries stuck in the bottle-neck at the port exit as they disembarked.  The merging of up to six lanes of exiting traffic at the small roundabout into the single lane on the only road leading out of the port is a nightmare not just for vehicles trying to leave the port but also those heading for the departing ferries.  The complications are particularly serious on Fridays and Sundays, two of the busiest days for traffic to and from La Gomera, but no-one appears willing to provide a solution to the negative image generated by the long queues of vehicles at a virtual standstill for up to half an hour in some cases.  The Port Police do their best to keep the traffic moving but are severely hampered by the narrow exit.  The latest hold-ups have led to calls for the ferry companies to work together to ensure their ships do not arrive at the same time in Los Cristianos."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sunsets don't come much better

Valle Gran Rey could be called 'The Sunset Capital Of The Canary Islands', but that may be just local pride. I've seen many an Atlantic sunset in the West of Ireland and sunsets over the rest of the world's oceans. They all have one thing in common: There's always he odd one that takes your breath away and makes even the most stressed and hurried and cynical people stop in their tracks just to ...waaaaaatch. The good ones tend to last for much longer than the rest and no camera will ever do justice to them. In Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera sunsets have become a focal point for all, almost a ritual, often with drummers, fire jugglers, musicians and dancers - but more about that another time. Today I'll just give you a few photos of a rare, long lasting sundown which I took last night while munching a tasty cosmopolitan falafel.
...and please do find out more about the monument man Hautacuperche with his broken bowl, 'The Last of the Independents' as Rory Gallagher sang in a different context.

The island of El Hierro in the background  
Hautacuperche
There are many bars and restaurants that offer vantage seats for viewing. Photo was taken from the
'Bar Estacion de Guaguas' (Bus Station Bar) near the only petrol station (La Calera) just a week ago
Hautacuperche last night. There are several bars, restaurants and the Hotel Gran Rey within 100 yds.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

'Lidl' chain set to open first store on La Gomera. Weather: Hope on the horizon


This former village shop is now part of a restaurant on La Gomera
After yesterday's news that Spanish grocery chain DinoSol are looking to open a large HiperDino supermarket here, today it has emerged that the giant German supermarket chain Lidl who operate more than 10.000 stores right across Europe (incl. Canary Islands) are looking for a suitable site to open their first store on La Gomera and have approached the administration of San Sebastian de La Gomera looking for official assistance. La Gomera with its total population of only about 22.000 is the only island in the Canaries that so far has escaped the expansionism of the  mega chains and even the existing Spar supermarkets here are locally owned while being supplied under the international label. Now the retail environment on La Gomera is about to change drastically to the detriment of local stores.

Lower prices versus struggling retailers 

The establishment of stores by multinational chains here is not necessarily all good news even though the people of La Gomera have  had to pay the highest prices for groceries in the Canarian archipelago over the recent past. There are no facilities for containers to be landed here and nearly all goods first pass through wholesalers and distributors on Tenerife before arriving on La Gomera by ferry, adding costs. Lidl and other multinationals have a policy of uniform prices with cut-price offers and with their multi-billion buying power they will be able to offer prices below that of the much smaller local retailers. This will be good news for consumers as prices will be driven downwards by this new competitor, but in turn it will negatively affect small retailers who are already finding it difficult to survive the present economic climate and may force many out of business. Lidl and similar chains not only offer groceries, but also offer a variety of non-food products at special sale prices from electronics to clothing and every penny spent there will be missing in the tills of specialised local retailers and in the local economy. This will ultimately lead to job losses in a small and fragile local economy like ours. Further, Lidl (et al) usually open stores with ample on-site parking on green field sites away from town centres, drawing people out of the urban centres and thus away from all existing business. The eroding social fabric in many dying European small town centres is ample proof of the negative side effects. Another negative aspect is the multinational chain stores' very poor track record in the treatment of employees,  suppliers, producers, etc., and their  tax payments are generally very low.
If (or rather when) they open here I'll continue to support my more expensive local 'mini-supermarkets' and will only buy some select items and those 'impossible to get on La Gomera products' from the multinationals, I promise. The no-frills small shops provide local produce without unnecessary temptations and thus I'll save petrol, time, and money in the end, plus  getting  local gossip for free.
Some traditional shops still flourish in the Canary Islands
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WEATHER: Hope on the horizon

Early this morning we had a short shower of light drizzle and far out at sea another shower could be seen a bit later (above). By 9:30am it had cleared up again. Over the next couple of days and over the weekend some scattered showers may be expected, but it will generally stay mostly sunny with temperatures of 24-26 ºC during the day and 19-21 ºC at night. The sea is very warm these days with a temperature above 24 ºC in some spots - warmest in western sea areas. Winds will remain variable light to moderate.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Video: Paragliding over La Gomera's north

I just found this video taken from the air during the recent SKYPAR paragliding festival in Hermigua, La Gomera:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dragonflies

La Gomera is home to a huge number and variety of dragonflies. These harmless and useful insects can be encountered almost anywhere on the island and they come in amazing colours. They could be totally black or bright red, metallic blue, neon green and many more colours. Maybe they're the reason that we hardly have any mosquitoes on La Gomera, as dragonflies prefer the same type of damp, moist habitat and prey on mosquitoes and other small insects. I snapped the red one near my back door a couple of days ago.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Work begins on La Gomera set for Ron Howard movie

All obstacles seem to have been overcome and advance teams for the filming of key scenes of the new Ron Howard production 'In the Heart of the Sea' have arrived on La Gomera, according to local media. It is reported that they're staying in La Gomera's largest hotel 'Jardin Tecina' and have begun work at the nearby secluded beach 'Playa de Tapahuga' with preparatory work for the construction of a large water tank which will be used for filming scenes in case of adverse weather conditions at sea. The mayor of the area is quoted as saying that most of the filming on La Gomera will be done at sea in November. A pool of local tradesmen and labourers is available to assist in all aspects of set construction.
Meanwhile at Warner Brothers' studios in Essex shooting 'In the Heart of the Sea' is in full swing day and night as the following pictures tweeted by Ron Howard prove. Ron doesn't seem to get much sleep at all these days as he's jetting around the globe promoting the release of his F1 movie 'Rush' during time off directing his latest project.
+++Click:Progress on La Gomera film set for Ron Howard movie
+++Update - click: 'Essex' arrived here
+UPDATE:Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea getting ready to roll on location La Gomera. Latest images of preps + props ++




Friday, September 20, 2013

Rock Festival as live music returns to Valle Gran Rey

Slowly but steadily live music is returning to Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera and some more bars and restaurants are going to the trouble to obtain a licence for each specific event. A festival of live music will take place at the football grounds on Saturday, Oct. 5th 2013, from 6pm. Five solid bands for only a fiver sounds very good to me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Morocco permits oil drilling off Canaries

Remember that you can still sign the petition against oil exploration as ISLAND CONNECTIONS.eu reports today:
''Morocco allows oil drilling off Canaries
While controversy continues to rage here over the prospect of exploratory oil drilling off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and the local and regional authorities step up their efforts to block the plans, it has emerged today that Morocco has given permission to an independent UK oil exploration company to begin its drilling not far away.
The Canaries lie just to the left of Cairn's forthcoming explorations
Canary Islands - 18.09.2013 - Scottish firm Cairn Energy is about to begin its search for oil in Moroccan waters following the green light received from the country's government. The sectors chosen lie very close to those for which Spain has authorised Repsol to carry out its exploratory drilling and, needless to say, the news has sparked concern in both Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, which fear the environmental and tourism impact of a potential oil slick on their doorstep. According to the Canarias 7 paper in Las Palmas, Cairn Energy CEO Simon Thompson has now confirmed that a rig will drill to between 500 and 2000 metres below sea level in a preliminary search for possible oil fields in an area of around 3000 square kilometres. The rig is already in the port of Las Palmas.''

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reggae & Dub night on La Gomera

As part of the Fiestas Lustrales there will be a Reggae, Roots and Dub night in San Sebastian de La Gomera this Saturday, Sept. 21st 2013. The event is free of charge, begins at 11pm on the main square (Plaza de las Americas) close to the beach and hosts  two bands from Tenerife: Eclipse Reggae and Pachumba. Below two videos to give you a taste:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Frog on Tap

While on a walk in a remote area of La Gomera recently we wanted to drink from one of the many springs and wells you find scattered all over the island. This one even has  a tap at the ideal height provided  for your convenience. Hand stretched out to press the tap and the other already cupped to receive the water, there was an outcry: ''Oh, how sweet''. It wasn't the water, as I'd expected that caused this shout, but a baby tree frog stoically 'defending' his throne. Needless to say that we didn't drink there, but a bit further on there was cold clean water trickling down a rock face for our refreshment.
Baby tree frog on tap

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Road closure due to fiesta

The road which connects the south-west and west of La Gomera with the airport will be temporarily closed today until 3pm from the chapel 'Nuestra Señora de El Paso' to the town of Alajero. The same stretch of road will be closed again tomorrow, Sunday Sept. 15th, from 5pm to 8pm. To reach the airport or the town of Santiago during the closure motorists should allow plenty of extra time for a long detour via the main road in the national park and Degollada de Peraza. The temporary closures are due to the processions during the fiesta in honour of the above mentioned virgin in the parish of Alajero. This is one of the larger celebrations on La Gomera with the usual mix of processions, sports and entertainment  which draws big crowds every  September. 
The weather on La Gomera is back to normal with mostly blue skies, light winds, and at 11am it was 25ºC. Perfect fiesta conditions !
Ermita Nuestra Señora de El Paso, Alajero, La Gomera

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hurricane Humberto influences weather in Canaries. Updated below

I'm not superstitious but today is Friday the 13th in the year '13 and the first hurricane of the season (named Humberto) is not moving west and then north over the western Atlantic, as tropical storms should do, but this tropical storm system is moving north in the eastern Atlantic after having formed near the Cape Verde Islands and this results  in our  weather being adversely affected today with some welcome rain.
lt is important to stress that hurricane Humberto will NOT hit the Canary Islands, but the mass of warm and moist air that the storm system is pushing towards the Canary Islands could produce some heavier spells of rain here today, while winds should remain mostly light to moderate, with a few stronger gusts only on the higher mountains.
It must also be said that the whole scenario might develop differently and the Canaries might not even get the desired rain, as the jury of meteorologists is still out discussing the unusual and difficult case.

The situation:
The Canary Islands are coming under the influence of an area of warm moist air from hurricane Humbert, located about 700 miles to the SW of the islands with sustained wind speeds of about 85 mp/h near the centre (984 hPa) and stronger gusts. The likely interaction of the advancing air mass with upper level low pressure to the north of and close to the Canary Islands could cause instability today, Friday. The entire archipelago is affected, but especially mountainous areas in general and central and southern zones of Gran Canaria and Tenerife. 
Warning in effect until midnight tonight: WARNING CANCELLED
Probability of persistent heavy rainfall which may be accompanied by thunderstorms. Precipitation could accumulate up to 30mm in 6 hours with central and southern areas of the islands at a slightly higher risk. Hiking in mountainous terrain as well as in narrow valleys and ravines is dangerous due to the possibility of flash floods and rockfalls, etc.
Outlook: 
Hurricane Humberto is expected to weaken later today while tracking more westerly away from the Canary Islands leading to an improvement in the weather. However, the upper low just north of the Canaries is likely to remain and the risk of well scattered light showers will persist over the weekend. Sunny periods and continuing warm temperatures in the mid-20s (ºC) are also expected.
Sat. image with enhanced water vapour at 6pm last night...
UPDATE 10am
Humberto is starting to weaken and tracking more north-westerly, but still feeding moist air towards the Canaries. Humberto is expected to be downgraded to a topical storm later today.
Personally I don't think that we'll get much out of Humberto in the Canaries today.
...and at 6am this morning. Now Humberto appears less organised and starting to move away to NW.


UPDATE 4pm:

News just in: Humberto has been downgraded to a tropical storm and lost its hurricane status and characteristics with max. sustained winds now 65 mp/h (100 km/h), tracking WNW (300º) now. All as expected and forecast except that a band of heavy showers was lying just a few miles south of the Canary Islands all day up to now without ever coming in over the archipelago. Very frustrating. I can see it from my window and it is as if someone was keeping it away and in an orderly straight line with a ruler (see rain radar image). A possible explanation is that a layer of dry air is persisting over us which is holding the ruler, but I'm not giving up just yet.

FINAL UPDATE 11pm:
Humberto continues to weaken while moving away from the Canaries without having left any rain worth mentioning here. So close and yet so far! Anyway, some of Humberto's moist air has fed into the minor low north/north-east of us and this low in turn might send some showers down to us with the trades over the next few days. I'll end this post with a cartoon that was circulating on the web tonight. On the 'No Entry' sign it says: ''Area reserved for trade winds'' ...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mother of all fiestas on La Gomera

Programme
After countless fiestas over the summer and one major celebration (Alajero) ongoing, now is the time for the 'big one' to begin. This is the Fiestas Lustrales, when the island saint Virgen de Guadalupe is going on a procession to every community on the island. This event happenes only once every five years and is called a 'bajada'. There are numerous religious, sports, cultural and popular events taking place to mark the occasion. The programme is stretched over a period of three months (!), starting tomorrow and finishin on December 14th when the Virgen de Guadalupe returns home to the peace and quiet of her little chapel by the sea at a remote beach north of the capital. Some events will even be shown on TV and thousands are expected to travel here to attend. In the island's capital San Sebastian de la Gomera it will be difficult to find accommodation for the main events. Due to the financial crisis this year's programme is not quite as ambitious as that of the last Fiestas Lustrales in 2008. That time even international top acts like Alpha Blondie
Alpha Blondie, La Gomera '08
were seen on La Gomera between gigs in New York and Paris. However
this year's programme will see another good reggae night with two bands, several folklore music events, classical, rock and pop, world music and the ubiquitous salsa music nights. All that is framed by art events, exhibitions, fairs, sports events, etc.,etc, and topped up with a massive fireworks display. 
...and I forgot to mention that another fiesta runs for 10 days from Sat., Sept.14th 2013, in Agulo. You just can't keep up with all of them...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why September 11th will never be forgotten on La Gomera

The whole world now remembers 9/11, but on La Gomera the date has an added very sad dimension since the year 1984. On that day 29 years ago twenty people died in a forest fire near Roque Agando, a landmark rock formation in La Gomera's mountains above the village of La Laja where a forest fire had broken out. The spot is on an exposed ridge and the victims were trapped there when the wind suddenly changed direction enclosing them in fire and intense heat. Among the victims were locals and some people from Tenerife, including a former mayor of Puerto de la Cruz. The tragedy is one of the worst fire-related disasters in all of Spain ever and a sad-looking rusty steel monument near the spot lists all 20 names of the victims. The area around Roque Agando which stands at the eastern end of the national park was ablaze again in last year's devastating fires, but thankfully there were no casualties in 2012.
Roque Agando, the huge remnant core of a long eroded volcano, near where the tragedy occurred

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ron Howard starts shooting 'In the Heart of the Sea'

 
''Some Heart of the Sea cast gather before 1st shot of the movie''  
''...Heart of Sea day one. When it rains....''
'Another key supporting character alert and ready for day one'
 Ron Howard keeps the world up to date and he tweeted these images and comments from the first day of shooting 'In the Heart of the Sea' in London. They're all aboard the 'Essex' in London (well, that's Nantucket now), but the ship isn't afloat  yet. Filming on La Gomera is expected to start in November. Ron's a busy man indeed and he just  attended the premiere of his latest release, the F1 movie 'Rush', received well by crowds and critics.
+Updates:Progress on La Gomera film set for Ron Howard 

Monday, September 09, 2013

La Gomera's Wines

Documented history relating to viti-/viniculture on La Gomera dates back to the 14th century, when, it is believed, the earliest vines were introduced to the island with the arrival of the first Europeans. In the 17th century, due to the collapse of the sugarcane trade,  vine growing and wine export became an important factor of the island’s economy, especially in the north. Towards the end of the 20th century, and thanks to the boost given by the La Gomera Viticulturists and Winemakers Association (Gomervin), the island’s wines finally achieved recognition, first as Vino de la Tierra, and some years later in December 2003, under DO status.
DO (Denominacion de Origen) La Gomera is made up of thirteen bodegas which boast a total vineyard surface-area of 120 hectares. Most of the vineyards are located in the island regions known locally as the ‘medianías altas’: Las Hayas, Arure, El Cercado, Igualero, Los Aceviños, Alajeró, Las Hayas, and the ‘medianías bajas’, Las Rosas, Tamargada and Hermigua. All these areas  make the region’s traditional and characteristic first-rate white wines. Famous for its rugged scenery, deep ravines and sheer cliffs, the appellation’s vines grow in exceptional conditions, planted on small terraces reclaimed from the island’s steep volcanic slopes which give rise to the unique landscape that is one of the island’s main attractions.
White wines:
With the Spanish conquest of La Gomera a Mediterranean grape variety, which had already been cultivated by the Romans, arrived on the island. While it became almost extinct in its places of origin over the centuries, it was further cultivated on La Gomera to become the 'Forastera Gomera' variety. It has a relatively low yield with small grapes and is grown very low near the volcanic ground. Recent DNA analysis has revealed the variety's uniqueness. Its potential was recognized only about a decade ago and now modern techniques and the latest know-how are used to produce quality dry whites with a distinct flavour.
Red Wines: 
La Gomera's red wines are mostly made from the red 'Listan Negro' grapes typical for the Canary Islands with other varieties like Tintilla, Tempranillo, Negro Molle and others added in smaller amounts. The island's reds are full of flavour and fruity, but dry. One vineyard in the north of the island invested a lot of work and now produces the first and excellent organic red wine named 'Tamargada' after the region where it is produced.



2013 should be a very good year for La Gomera's wines and harvesting the grapes has already begun in the lower lying regions. All the vineyards are very small and scattered over the steep terrain where all the back-breaking work has to be done by hand. This year promises a bumper harvest with almost double the amount of grapes of the previous year expected and all of an excellent quality. This is good news for farmers as La Gomera's vines still are of a relatively low yield compared to mainland Spain or even Tenerife.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Praying Insects on La Gomera

On La Gomera you can spot a well camouflaged and peculiar insect every now and again: The Mantis. It pretends to be a twig and preys on other insects which makes it quite useful to have in the garden. It can fly like a disabled helicopter but is mostly found sitting stock-still waiting for food to fly past with only its head elegantly turning in the direction of potential prey. Once it has caught a fly or a wasp it eats it like a corn on the cob rotating it between its front legs. There are several sorts of mantis on the island, including the famed Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) which adopts a prayer-like posture while waiting for its prey, and the wingless small Pale Mantis (Pseudoyersinia pilipes) which is endemic to La Gomera. I took the picture below some time ago in the garden.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Young dolphin rescued

Dolphin rescue this morning. Photo:gomeranoticias.com
A young dolphin of about 150lbs weight appeared to be lost in very shallow water in the sandy bay of San Sebastian de La Gomera early this morning. Officers of the environmental police unit  SEPRONA transported the animal with the help of some locals to the yacht harbour from where the dolphin was transferred to a boat which then bvrought it to deep water off the coast to be released there. The dolphin appeared to be be completely healthy and uninjured and there is no explanation why it ended up so close to shore. The waters off La Gomera's south coast are renowned for their abundance of cetaceans and more than 20 different species of dolphins and whales are regularly spotted there. On La Gomera only environmentally sensitive and respectful whale watching is tolerated.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

La Gomera hit by strong winds last night

Image: gomeraverde.es
While the rest of the Canary Islands just had moderate winds,La Gomera's micro-climate suffered strong easterly winds with lots of gale gusts last night. The gusts lead to several power cuts and Valle Gran Rey was completely dark for nearly two hours.There were several more power cuts all around the island. Minor rockfalls and damage to trees and street furniture were also caused by the gusty winds. In the capital San Sebastian de La Gomera parts of a wall were blown down causing damage to two parked cars (s.right).
This morning the winds have eased and another hot day is forecast. As the week progresses, moderate winds should shift to northerly directions and bring more normal  pleasantly warm temperatures with the hope of a few well scattered showers, especially in the mountains.

Monday, September 02, 2013

SKYPAR Festival of Paragliding on La Gomera

Part of Hermigua

The fifth edition of SKYPAR is taking place in Hermigua in La Gomera's north from the 6th to the 8th of September 2013. The event is integrated into the town's week-long fiesta and close to 100 paragliders will participate this year, setting a new record for SKYPAR. The spectacle is open to the public and those wanting to try a flight on a double-glider with an experienced pilot can book a place during  Saturday, Sep.7th, all day from 10am to 6pm. La Gomera's mountainous terrain and deep valleys offer ideal conditions for paragliders and spectacular views from the air.
The fiesta itself will offer the usual mix of religious, sport and entertainment events with plenty of all night salsa dancing over the paragliding weekend.