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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SUMMER BREAK

...just in case you're wondering:
summer has been perfect on La Gomera so far this year. Not too hot and just beautiful.
So this is a good time to take a break and go in search of imperfection. 
I'm back in Ireland for the time being with the promise that I'll report anything important that might happen on La Gomera on this blog - if and when it happens. 
Meanwhile you can meet me at one of the places below:


YES, INDEED !

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Pedestrianisation of Vueltas a step closer to reality

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mobile phone blackout caused by 'bonfire'

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

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

St. John's night in Canary Islands

One of the bonfires with fireworks in Valle Gran Rey a few
years ago, where a 'fake house' was burned as a bonfire

If you see fires in the Canary Islands tonight, don't be alarmed - they're bonfires as it is St. John's night, or 'la noche de San Juan' in Spanish. As is the custom in Ireland, here in the Canaries bonfires are lit in honour of St. John. This custom even pre-dates Christian times as it also marks the longest days of the year.
Every district, townland and village lights their own fire(s) and there are competitions for the most spectacular fires. I've seen whole houses constructed from pallets, old doors, etc., complete with old furniture and straw-stuffed 'inhabitants' being burned on St.John's night. The people party around the fires with music, food and drink and often set off fireworks. The fires nowadays are strictly controlled and permits have to be applied for at the local town hall. The burning of tyres, plastics, and other hazardous material is prohibited and the fires have to be within certain safety guidelines. The fiesta de San Juan continues for several days in some parishes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Beautiful old cave dwelling


This La Gomera cave dwelling with its natural canopy of rock is above the main road leading North from the capital.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Palm honey petition

''I like miel de palma'' logo
.
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After the Madrid government and the EU finally closed the door on the name miel de palma (= palm honey) for La Gomera's concentrated sap of the palm tree, the islands producers of the delicious traditional delicacy and the islands government have started a campaign to maintain the name under which it has been known since time immemorial. As it stands, regulations may allow it to be called mieldepalma only in one word, but in reality a new name would have to be found when it is widely known only as 'miel de palma' or 'palm honey'. The campaign strives to obtain an exemption from the regulations or a change of the legislation to maintain the name. After all 'soya milk' isn't milk produced by soya-munching cows either. Please sign the government-sponsord petition and help save a very old tradition.
An outraged local producer of palm honey was quoted as saying: '' What next ? They will probably prohibit the word honeymoon !''
For further information on the production of palm honey and the controversy read: Palm Honey Problems
Canary Palm trees on La Gomera

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lichens on rock

Lichens are widespread on La Gomera. Those above I spotted on a rock in the Garajonay national park. Many varieties of lichens found on trees and rocks here have become extinct in most of Europe because of pollution. They need an extremely healthy environment to thrive, especially clean air and a clean supply of moisture.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Petrol or Diesel ? No thank you !

Plenty of energy for free in the Canary Islands
There are several public charging points for electric cars all over La Gomera. The fairly new one below is about a mile west of Hermigua on the main road to Agulo. Here you can charge your car with a mix of solar and wind power. All we need now is affordable electric cars.
Wind and sun power this electric car charging-point

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chiffchaff

The Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus Canariensis) is probably the most common bird in the archipelago and can be encountered almost anywhere. Chiffchaffs love to come out when it has rained or when the garden has been watered to wash themselves in the drops left on the leaves of trees and shrubs. These insect-eating warblers are called mosquiteros locally and do useful work picking bugs off fruit trees.


Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus Canariensis)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

First oil explorations to last 100 days

The 'Rowan Renaissance' as seen by opponents (click)
The first two oil explorations in waters near the Canary Islands in an exploration area just about 40 miles east of the popular holiday resorts of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura have been allowed by the Madrid government for a duration of 45 days each and the rest of the time of a maximum total of 100 days will be needed for repositioning the rig. These facts came to light when the obligatory enviromental impact study was published a couple of weeks ago. This also revealed that depending on the outcome of the initial sampling further exploratory drilling will be allowed at another site nearby for 180 days as this will be in very deep waters. The vessel to be hired by Spanish oil giant REPSOL to carry out the drilling is called 'Rowan Renaissance'', an exploration vessel which recently had to abandon drilling off Namibia due to problems with ship's the blow-out preventer. 
There is strong opposition to oil drilling in the Canary Islands and 72% of the population are opposed to exploration leading to many thousands taking to the streets in protest recently. About 200.000 have already signed the main petition against oil, which is sponsored by nearly 50 organisations. Many individual celebrities, politicians, entire councils and the Canarian government are also opposed to oil drilling here and all are calling for a referendum on the issue, which the Madrid government insists they're not entitled to hold. The debate is heating up daily...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Game Fishing Competition this weekend

The annual game fishing competition is held in La Gomera's waters this weekend and more than 30 teams have entered their boats this year. They mostly hunt for white and blue marlin, tuna and swordfish off the southern and south-western coasts. The prestigious international event has seen record-breaking catches in previous years. All the fish caught is released back into sea alive after having been recorded. Only some tuna is landed at the cometition base port San Sebastian and donated to charities.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fiesta time again in Valle Gran Rey

Click programme to view
This weekend it is the Fiesta San Antonio in Guada (upper Valle Gran Rey) on La Gomera at the church within the bend of the main road that wraps 180 degrees around it. Expect the usual mix of procession, entertainment and dancing all night to pop-salsa bands this Friday and Saturday. Food and drink will be available as usual.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014