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Tenerife’s Worst Natural Disaster in Tenerife News of the Week


Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Tenerife and the Canary islands at the World Travel Market
The World Travel Market in London came to a close last week. The high profile event is the perfect showcase for promoting travel destinations to the cream of the world’s tourist industry and representatives from Tenerife and The Canary Islands were there to spread the word. So for our header photo this week we’ve gone for a shot of The Canary Islands” colourful stand at the WTM. Tropical and fruity don’t you think?

El Hierro Eruption Update
Despite the island experiencing the most powerful earthquake to date last week, registering 4.6 on the Richter, it appears that there might be a return to normality in El Hierro. Residents of La Restinga have been allowed to return to their homes because scientists believe that the volcanic situation has stabilised. Whilst magma is still being released into the sea and there’s the possibility of another opening occurring to the north of El Hierro, scientists don’t believe another eruption is imminent.

Seismic activity has decreased and although there are still tremors, they are taking place at least 20km below ground.

It’s sounds like good news at last for El Hierro. Let’s hope the scientists are right.

Tenerife’s Worst Natural Disaster
José Luis Hernández, a member of the Canarian Meteorological Association presented a documentary in La Orotava last week about a terrifying occurrence that few people on Tenerife know much about which took place less than 200 years ago.

A tropical storm that battered Tenerife for 11 hours between the 7th and 8th November 1826 resulted in the loss of between 500 and 1000 lives and the destruction of over 400 houses.

The worst hit was the La Orotava Valley where the rain fell so heavily that new ravines were created. Such was the amount of debris caused by landslides, the sea was pushed back more than 200 metres and the mouths of ravines were widened by up to a kilometre. The storm also took the original carving of the Virgen del Candelaria and destroyed a gigantic ancient drago tree in the centre of La Orotava.

Incredibly, despite occurring relatively recently in historic terms, lack of documentation from that time was such that no-one knows what actually happened. It’s only an educated guess that the devastation was as a result of a tropical cyclone similar to Delta in 2005; the difference being that the 1826 storm disastrously coincided with a severe rain front.

We sometimes believe that extremes of weather are a new phenomena caused by climactic change, Tenerife’s history shows us that this isn’t necessarily the case.

The Protest Against the Port of Granadilla
What’s for certain is that there was a protest against the construction of the controversial port at Granadilla; what isn’t certain is how many people actually turned up in Santa Cruz on Saturday 12th November.

The National Police said 3,000; the organisers claimed 5,000 and yet another account reported 10,000 protesters. It would break the mould if for once both police and organisers quoted similar figures.

Apparently some people carried banners which demanded ‘less Industrial Ports, More Schools…”

Amen to that. 3,000? 5,000?10,000? ““ Counting skills clearly need a bit of extra tuition.

Callao Salvaje’s Beach
Playa de Ajabo, the eagerly awaited new man-made beach at Callao Salvaje will be finally ready for sunbathers to lay their towels on by March 2012…just in time for the spring tides to wash it away.

Facetiousness aside, improvements to the pier area will help protect the coast and hopefully prevent this sort of thing from happening.

The End of the Botellón
It increasingly looks like the days of impromptu street parties, botellóns, on Tenerife are numbered. La Laguna council are making changes to the law regarding drinking in the streets that will see fines increased from €90 to between €120 and €302.

What’s interesting is that instead of paying a fine, offenders can opt for community service of up to 18 days for the maximum offence. For the youngest offenders (14 to 17 years of age) this community service is called the Programa de Intervención Socioeducativa and can take the form of activities like street cleaning.

If you thought street cleaners on Tenerife looked as though they were getting younger, now you know why.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦The Fiasco of Arona’s Wine Museum

Didn’t know Arona had a wine museum? That’s no surprise. Despite millions of euros being invested into the development of a Casa del Vino, the local council has decided to close it…before it’s even opened.

Residents of the town of Arona, the administrative centre for the tourist resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos, are confused and outraged at what appears to be a total mishandling of what could have been an excellent rural attraction for the south of Tenerife.

In theory, restoration of the privately owned, historic building has been going on for the last ten months. But residents claim that not only is there no furniture in the building, rubble from the house has been dumped in a barranco near the town and important historic artefacts such as parts of an old wine press have been destroyed. After 10 months and a lot of money, the Casa del Vino is still in such a state that the council have shelved the project.

Residents and opposing political parties have demanded an explanation from the council about the fiasco of the wine museum that never was and want to know what has happened to the money (reports suggest anything up to 12 million euros) that was supposed to be invested in the restoration. So far they’re still waiting for a satisfactory answer.

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Eruption Update & the QM2 in Tenerife News of the Week


Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
The situation in El Hierro remains uncertain and there’s not much to add to the regular reports we’ve been posting on Facebook. The residents of La Restinga have been allowed to return to their homes during the day after being evacuated on Saturday following two sudden spurts in the sea above the area where the undersea eruption is taking place. The geysers reached a height of between 20-25 metres. On Friday El Hierro experienced the most powerful earth tremor to date, reaching 4.4 on the Richter, which was felt on La Gomera and even on parts of Tenerife.

There seem to be some confused rumours about increased volcanic activity in other Canary Islands but these are completely unfounded. It is only El Hierro that is affected by this current volcanic activity.

The Queen Mary 2 Comes to Santa Cruz
Although Santa Cruz saw four cruise liners dock in the capital on Thursday with a combined total of over 10,000 passengers, the ship that everyone wanted to see was the one that evoked nostalgic thoughts of the golden age of liners. For some reason, the Queen Mary 2 remains a ship that stands out from other cruise ships. Maybe it’s those unmistakeable Cunard colours which signify quality and class, but there’s no denying that seeing the Queen Mary 2 sends a little thrill down the spine.

It was the ship’s first visit to Tenerife since her maiden voyage in January 2004.

Tenerife at the World Travel Market
Tenerife Tourism is at the World Travel Market this week. The event, one of the most important in the tourist trade calender, attracts tourist boards, tour operators, journalists and media companies from all over the world and is a showcase for the industry. Representatives from the Tenerife Tourist Board had the honour of kicking the event off with a breakfast presentation and some of the first tweets out of the event were about Tenerife. So what was the verdict? Well some attendees liked the tortilla but bemoaned the absence of jamon Serrano.

Spain’s Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were at the opening day of the event and received a quite unique present from the Canarian President Paulino Riviero; two chunks of pyroclastic rock from El Hierro’s eruption.

Tenerife’s Supercomputer
The Tenerife Government have acquired a supercomputer capable of operating a million times faster than conventional computers. The computer, called Teide 1.0, will be one of the world’s supercomputers and the fastest in Spain. It will be located at the NAP centre in Granadilla and should be fully operational from June 2012. Teide 1.0 will be (and this is a roughly translated quote) ‘an unbeatable tool that will provide a service to all companies wishing to increase productivity, reduce process times, differentiate themselves from other businesses and become more competitive.”
We’re all for embracing new technology and undoubtedly in terms of the world stage, the NAP centre and Teide 1.0 put Tenerife firmly on the IT world map. But it does seem deliciously ironic that the island will be home to a supercomputer when many businesses still don’t have websites. Social media is a thing of the future for lots of people and there are even businesses who haven’t mastered the use of email and who are still using faxes. Still, as everyone knows, Tenerife is an island of contrasts.

November’s Here and so are the Big Waves
An orange level weather alert was issued on Tenerife for last week as the winter season introduced itself with some spectacularly high waves. The north coast of Tenerife experienced the brunt of the sea’s power with waves of up to 5 metres assaulting sea defences. Whilst in many places the alert resulted in little more than a thrilling show of nature in the warm sunshine, in El Pris in Tacoronte and in Garachico, coastal roads were closed by the police because of the danger posed by the wild waves. In Bajamar and Punta de Hidalgo the waves caused damage to paving tiles along the seafront.

Tenerife’s winter waves can be an incredible sight and although there may be a temptation to get as close as possible for that potentially prize-winning photograph, please don’t ignore police tape, it is there for a very good reason ““ our safety.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦A Bad Tempered Hunter in Güímar
Most of the time when you ask someone for directions on Tenerife, the response you get is friendly and helpful. But two young men near Güímar discovered that this isn’t always the case.

When they stopped a 64 year old local to ask him directions his response was to discharge a shotgun into the side of their car.

Admittedly there’s more to this story than meets the eye. The two men were looking for a party and it was 4.30am at the time so may have given the old fellow a bit of a shock…but still no reason to take a pot shot at them.

And what was the man doing skulking about at that time in the morning with a shotgun? It is the hunting season but only on Thursdays and Sundays and this was a Tuesday morning. One thing’s for certain, if I get lost near Güímar I sure as hell won’t be stopping anyone to ask directions.

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The Dangerous Park & Rude Guests in Tenerife News of the Week


Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
Another week of earth tremors on El Hierro with 93 being registered on Sunday. Only a few of these have been felt on the surface as many occur at least 20km below ground. The biggest of yesterday’s tremors registered 3.9 on the Richter scale. What this means has scientists divided with some claiming the tremors could be as a result of the land settling following the undersea eruption off the coast of El Hierro. Others believe that there is some evidence to suggest that there is the possibility of another undersea eruption developing to the north of El Hierro.

Meanwhile the undersea volcano near La Restinga continues to spew pyroclasts into the sea some of which have been reported as reaching the surface still glowing.

A Trip to Parque García Sanabria Could Make Your Children Sick
A visit to Santa Cruz’ favourite park is potentially dangerous for the young ones according to Professor James Nogué. At a Conference on Clinical Toxicology in Santa Cruz, the good professor pointed out that at least two of the plants in the park (Nerium Oleander & Thevetia peruriana) were toxic and that eating their flowers and leaves could lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. This was a worry to the professor as children are apparently prone to stuffing any flower they come across into their gobs because they look pretty and smell sweet. Allowing your children to chew on any plant they come across in a public garden seems like a recipe for a display of projectile vomiting. Flower munching should be be left to the sheep and goats. Come to think of it did he say children…or kids?

Goodbye to Tenerife
Apparently the author Christopher Isherwood finished his novel Mr Norris Changes Trains whilst staying in a small hotel in La Orotava. Mr Norris Changes Trains is often included in a collection of Isherwood’s writing called The Berlin Stories which includes Goodbye to Berlin ““ better known to many by the name of its movie adaptation Cabaret.

Do Something different on Tenerife ““ Take Part in a Political Protest
Here’s a new angle about something to do on holiday ““ political tourism. Head into Santa Cruz on the 12th November for the demonstration against the proposed controversial and environmentally dodgy Port of Granadilla (ironically situated next to the bio-climactic village that has been heralded on some green eco travel sites as evidence of Tenerife’s move to embracing green tourism). The protest takes place on Avenida Anaga from midday. Afterwards you can even explore the city; a case of sightseeing and doing something good for Tenerife’s environment in one outing.

Tourism on Tenerife is on the Up
Whilst the dark shadow of another (continuing) recession hangs over the world, it’s smiles and back-slapping on Tenerife as tourist figures continue to look much healthier than last year.
Between June and September official statistics show a 7.3% increase in visitors to Tenerife over the summer months. British holidaymakers registered a huge 21.4% increase. But the biggest increase comes from Eastern Europe with the Russian market increasing by 32.2%.
The upwards trend has affected both north and south areas of the island with the south enjoying an 8.9% increase and the north, after 3 years of registering a downward trend, registering a 3.4% in visitors.

The only negative was the amount of Spanish visitors to Tenerife whose numbers dropped by 9.4% over the summer.

And the reasons for this optimistic surge? Politicians will claim innovative tourist policies (attending travel fairs and the like) and interventions. But we know the real reason that British visitors are at the top of Tenerife’s tourist tree”“ an absolutely shocking summer in Britain.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦The Guardian & Observer Travel Awards
This prestigious event took place on Tenerife recently when the great and the good of the travel industry descended on Tenerife in their shiny evening gowns and sleek DJs…not that the world outside of the island would know much about Tenerife’s role in events.

Some of the local press on Tenerife have described the awards as being ‘a huge success for Tenerife.” At Tenerife Magazine we have to disagree (we make a habit of not running with the pack).

Despite all the stops being pulled out by the Cabildo and Tenerife Tourist Board and despite the fact that guests were ‘treated’ to trips around the island, there was nary a mention online. There were certainly no travel articles praising the island. Nada.

This glitzy event organised by Guardian and Observer rewarded Tenerife’s hospitality with deafening silence. The island may benefit by having adverts in the Guardian and Observer but it’s not quite the same as having positive reports about the island from some of those who attended. It’s almost as though those involved were embarrassed to mention they had actually stayed on Tenerife.

This isn’t the first time that an event on Tenerife involving the travel press has generated very little post-event publicity and the chances are it won’t be the last. Part of this is possibly down to naivety on the part of Tenerife’s officials and politicians (we don’t believe they fully appreciate the image that Tenerife has amongst the travel press in the UK). But ultimately there’s no excuse for treating the hospitality of your hosts with what appears to be disdain.

By not even acknowledging that the awards took place on Tenerife in their Travel Awards 2011 Winners” article, that’s exactly what the Guardian and Observer did.

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Witchcraft & the Mafia Sting in Tenerife News of the Week


Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
Despite continued earth tremors, the volcanic situation in El Hierro hasn’t changed much in the last few days. The stain on the ocean left by the volcanic discharge is moving slowly out to sea and residents of La Restinga have been allowed to return to their homes. Although some experts say that the eruptive process is possibly coming to an end, there are still some townspeople who are, understandably, nervous of actually staying in the town overnight.

For the moment El Hierro remains on a state of yellow alert whilst La Restinga stays on red alert.

Witchcraft on Tenerife
Appropriately in the week before Halloween comes reports of dark deeds and sorcery in the south east of Tenerife. Dead animals have been turning up at the entrance to the La Gallega cemetery in the hills above Santa Maria del Mar. Apart from slaughtered chickens wrapped in red handkerchiefs, coins and cards have been found at the entrance to the cemetery when dawn breaks ““ sure signs that witchcraft of some sort has been going on. But in true horror movie fashion, the jittery locals are keeping quiet, preferring to ignore the spooky goings on.

These stories turn up every year but no-one ever seems to actually hear or see anything taking place. Mind you, it would take a brave person to hang around La Gallega cemetery after dark, especially if they’ve seen The Wicker Man (the original).

The Mafia Sting
Tourists and residents were surprised by a massive police operation in Adeje last week which resulted in the arrest of 13 people (11 Italians, A Brit and a Moroccan) in connection with money laundering for the Italian Mafia. The operation was called ‘Pozzaro‘ – a Neapolitan word for hooded figures who cleaned out wells and probably a reference to the fact that the ‘family’ said to be behind the money laundering were from Naples. Most of the action was centred around the Marina Palace complex in Playa Paraiso. Anti-corruption officers indicated that the gang had been involved in illegal operations in the Adeje and Arona area relating to real estate and various other business sectors including hotels, restaurants and the sale of luxury boats and cars.

What was it La Orotava’s mayor Isaac Valencia claimed only last week? Makes you wonder if he knew something was afoot.

What is Geocad, the New Info Site About Tenerife?
The website says it’s a digital atlas for Tenerife and it does look as though it has loads of what could be interesting information about Tenerife. The new info site, www.atlastenerife.es launched by the Cabildo last week looks as though a lot of work has gone into creating it and, although there are a few glitches (some pages not being available in the languages stated and links not working), it’s still clearly work in progress.
We haven’t had time to fully study it yet but our first impressions are that although it appears to have information that isn’t currently available on other official sites, much of it isn’t particularly easy reading; some sections read a bit like a dissertation.
I found my attention wandering mid-way through paragraphs such as – ‘the Reworded Text of the Canary Islands Management and Natural Areas Acts hierarchically organizes planning, meaning that higher level plans (at island or regional level) draws a series of master lines that lower level ones (sector, municipal or local) flesh out for each individual space and way of territorial use.”

Someone order me a black coffee.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦Puerto de la Cruz Council
We can all become frustrated when we hear the term ‘strike action” being bandied about but sometimes workers have no other recourse. Take, for example, the situation with the cleaners and refuse collectors at Sufi Tarajal who are threatening an indefinite strike in Puerto de la Cruz from the 5th of December.

What’s their grief? They don’t want extra money or privileges or anything like that. They want assurances that they’ll be paid at the end of every month. Even though they are ostensibly council workers, it’s not a given that their wages will be in their bank accounts come pay day. This month they had to threaten strike action in order to force the authorities to pay their ‘overdue’ wages for August and September. If their wages aren’t in the bank at the end of October it’s ‘everybody out”. And who can blame them?

The culture of an aversion to paying people for work is rife in Tenerife ““ it makes the island seem backward and Third World in terms of business practice. But when you have some authorities setting examples like this what can we expect?

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Councils should Ignore the Law & an Earth Bound Asteroid in Tenerife News of the Week


Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
The undersea eruption at El Hierro continues to bubble away with no-one really sure what is going to happen next ““ nature can be a bit like that. Some are excited by the idea that the eruption will result in the emergence of a new island or volcano whereas others claim this is unlikely to happen.

The main development during the week was the appearance of a huge turquoise stain on the sea caused by the earth discharging its volcanic substances. A five mile exclusion zone has been established around the area of the undersea eruption whilst scientists monitor the situation.

Residents of La Restinga on El Hierro haven’t been allowed to return to their homes yet but that’s supposed to be because of the overpowering smell of sulphur in the area which scientists say is too unpleasant to live with rather than toxic.

The situation has remained stable throughout the week, although seismic activity has continued, with low level tremors being registered mostly on El Hierro but also between Tenerife and Gran Canaria and at Buenavista del Norte on Tenerife.

The Canarian Government continues to reassure that the eruption poses no danger.

No Money For Cyclists
Plans to bring Vuelta a España, one of Europe’s major cycle races, to the Canary Islands and Tenerife in 2012 have been reported as hitting a dead end because the Canarian Government doesn’t have the budget to finance the Canary Islands” stage of the race. The Tenerife leg had been agreed and would have included a route that took cyclists up to Mount Teide, but it isn’t going to happen in 2012.
Plans haven’t been totally abandoned and it’s hoped that the Vuelta a España will come to these shores in 2013.

Amateur Astronomers Spot Asteroid Heading Towards Earth
A member of a team of amateur astronomers visiting the Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) in September identified an asteroid on a trajectory towards earth that was considered close enough to be categorised as posing an impact threat.

However, the asteroid, imaginatively named 2011 SF108, shouldn’t come closer than about 30 million kilometres from Earth, so not one to lose any sleep over.

Tenerife Mayor Suggests Councils Shouldn’t Stick to the Law
Love him or hate him, when the dependably controversial Mayor of La Orotava, Isaac Valencia, opens his mouth what comes out is never banal.

During a 45 minute speech last week, he aimed his shotgun mouth at a number of targets and confirmed what some of us suspected by apparently suggesting Tenerife’s councils shouldn’t stick to the law. He said to ignore the law would be brave. No Isaac, it would be a crime.
He bemoaned the loss of the past when running a council was much simpler because there weren’t as many rules or laws to have to abide by. Aaah, those halcyon days when there was nothing to prevent unlimited greed and corruption.

The mayor also levelled his verbal barrage at the south of Tenerife when he spoke of the barbarities that had been carried out in the name of tourism saying that much of the money that had been ploughed into developing tourism in the south had arrived in suitcases via the port of Los Cristianos. The southern councils were blasted for allowing many tourism projects to be carried out illegally in Arona and Adeje where he said that councils had handled a lot of money, yet didn’t charge for taxes or licences for a number of hotels.

Isaac Valencia also confirmed another suspicion about how up-to-date with the modern world some of Tenerife’s politicians are by proudly stating that he didn’t own a mobile phone or know how to use a computer.

Yup, this is Tenerife…where ignorance is a virtue.

Great stuff Isaac, keep it coming.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦Endesa.
We may joke about the frustrations that can occasionally be caused by Tenerife’s utility companies” quirky little ways but sometimes these go beyond a joke. Two residents of the El Rosario municipality have resorted to staging a hunger strike to force the local authorities and Endesa, the electricity company, into action after enduring five years without electricity.

The pair, who are camped in a tent outside of El Rosario’s town hall, have now gone five days without food to raise awareness of their cause after taking their complaints to the courts in Santa Cruz proved a fruitless exercise.

As is so often the case on Tenerife, there’s a bit of a right hand and a left hand situation with the local council saying that the couple will have electricity within 48 hours but Endesa stating they’ll only turn on the light when a judge orders them to do so.

Sadly on Tenerife there’s always someone else to blame. It is exactly this mentality that will always hold the island back.

El Hierro Image courtesy of the National Geographic Institute (IGN)

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