UNESCO Biosphere and Earthquakes in Tenerife News of the Week

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

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Tenerife
By summer next year, if everything goes to plan, Tenerife could have its first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Next March a proposal will be sent to Madrid to award the Anaga Mountains this prestigious title. From there, as long as it’s given the green light, the application is forwarded to UNESCO HQ in Paris and sometime between April and May 2011 a decision should be reached. Opposition for the proposal comes from a surprising source, the people who actually live in the Anaga area. Some residents claim that a lot of promises were made to them about how they would be affected before it was made a rural park, many of which were allegedly broken. An example of why they feel their rights are being overlooked in favour of the environment is the recent closure of the pharmacy in Almáciga. Now the nearest pharmacy for anyone living in the Taganana area is at San Andrés over on the opposite coast.
Residents have concerns a UNESCO title would result in a further erosion of their rights. The problem clearly isn’t about having a UNESCO title, which is something that residents should be able to be proud of, as is so often the case it is more about political mishandling.

Turning up the Heat in the Canary Islands
For anyone who believes that Tenerife has seen more rain and less heat in the last couple of years the assessment of climactic changes on the Canary Islands by scientists at the Izaña Observatory who have been monitoring weather patterns since 1984 might come as a surprise.
In the last forty years temperatures have risen by two degrees. There have been forty one heatwaves between 1947 and 2007 when temperatures touched 40C; twelve of these occurred between 2002 and 2007. Recently there have been many more nights when temperatures haven’t dropped below 20C. There’s also been a decrease in rainfall with the eastern islands experiencing the greatest reduction. The pattern of rainfall has changed so that there is more chance of short torrential downpours as experienced at the beginning of this year. It might all sound great for anyone seeking sun and hot weather, but the cost could be the possibility of desertification and the occasional tropical storm like Delta a few years ago.

Getting rid of Graffiti”¦with Graffiti
La Laguna council have taken an “˜off the wall’ approach to getting rid of unsightly graffiti from the walls of the municipal market. They’ve tasked talented local graffiti artists with covering up the “˜José ama a Raquel’ type of graffiti with more artistic looking wall paintings depicting the world of wine. It should make for a much more aesthetically pleasing backdrop when tucking into a bag of roasted chestnuts in Plaza del Cristo this month.

Theme for Carnaval 2011 in Puerto de la Cruz
The theme for next year’s carnaval in Puerto de la Cruz (27 Feb to 13 March) will be a tribute to tourism. It’ll be interesting to see how this is interpreted ““ it means for the street parties I’m either going to have to don a bikini (it is carnaval after all) or more comfortably and less disturbingly for onlookers, just dress like the sensibly attired visitors who stand at the fringes of the street parties watching furry animals, zombies, vampires, sexy nuns and nurses et al salsa the night away.

Did the Earth Move for You?
Actually no it didn’t despite an earthquake which reached 3.1 on the Richter scale in the sea north of the Canarian Archipelago last week. The tremor occurred between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, but as it happened 59 kilometres below sea level, no-one actually felt it.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to Tenerife’s Ministry of Education “¦again.
A few weeks ago parents were protesting in Alcalá about a lack of teachers at the local primary school, but the crisis in education and lack of teacher cover on Tenerife continues to worsen. More than 250 students at the Juan García Pérez primary school in San Isidro have been denied a proper education for weeks due to the continued absence of three teachers. A lack of substitute teachers has resulted in the children not receiving language and maths mentoring amongst other classes. The situation has compelled teachers at the school to send a letter to the authorities demanding action. Once again education cuts and mismanagement have been held responsible for the problems. With the apparent chaos in education in the archipelago it begins to make you wonder if some politicians are quite happy to see the emergence of an uneducated population.

Discounts at the Airport & the Barranco del Infierno 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 at the World Travel Market
This week Tenerife’s political leaders have been at the one of the biggest tourism fairs on the planet, the World Travel Market in London. They’re in Britain’s metropolis promoting Tenerife as the perfect location with something to tantalise all travel tastes; from sun and beaches, through spas, sports and nature, to charming traditions and colourful cuisine. Pretty much the same message we push at Tenerife Magazine.
One newspaper quoted a government source as saying that the Canary Islands” stand at the fair was designed to “˜reinforce identity and at the same time providing a distinctive geometry with a bright, modern style that is sleek and at the same time able to convey a cosy atmosphere that reflects the warmth of the Islands’ (if you understand that, we’d appreciate being enlightened). Or in simpler terms, it’s getting this message across to weather beaten delegates at the WTM – “˜say no to winter blues.’

Latest News: The approach at the WTM must be working, the Cabildo have just anounced that Monarch have increase seats on flights from 264,000 to 344,000 whilst TUI have increased theirs by 24%.

Save Money at Tenerife South Airport
Good news for anyone passing through Tenerife South in November. AENA (Spanish airports) have introduced discount coupons for shops, bars and restaurants in selected airports across Spain including Tenerife South (but not Tenerife North) during the month. Discount coupons can be picked up at information points in the airport, in participating shops or even online and will entitle travellers to up to 50% discount on purchases. Maybe with one I’ll finally be able to afford to buy a coffee at the airport.

Multi-Cultural Tenerife
A few weeks ago we reported about 40% of the population of San Miguel de Abona being foreigners. This week the findings of a survey into the numbers of foreigners in Santa Cruz revealed very different patterns. Only 7.92% of the capital’s municipality are foreign. That’s 17,990 out of 227, 101 residents; less foreigners than there were two years ago when the figure was 18,718. Where it gets interesting is in the breakdown of what countries people come from. Whereas in San Miguel, British ex-pats made up the majority of foreign residents, in Santa Cruz they hardly figure. Instead it’s South Americans and Asians who make up the bulk of the foreign resident population, accounting for nearly 75%. The numbers of British fall somewhere between that and the one Jamaican who lives in the municipality. Unsurprisingly, hardly any foreigners live in the remote Anaga region (2.76%).

Smoke without Fire
On an island where temperatures stay warm throughout the year, you’re never completely out of the woods as far as the risk of forest fires are concerned. However, now that we’re into the winter season, when the risk of fire reduces dramatically, it’s time to say well done to Tenerife’s Medio Ambiente and Brifor (the forest fire service) for helping reduce the number of forest fires on Tenerife to 2003 levels. Between June and October, Brifor responded to 188 reports of fire, most of which were false alerts. In that period there were only three forest fires as opposed to thirty two in 2009; a positive result thanks to the efforts of Brifor and also a campaign to heighten public awareness of the risks of accidentally starting a fire. Not everyone has taken the campaign on board; only the other day I watched an elderly Spaniard throw his cigarette into the undergrowth in the middle of a banana plantation.

You Light Up My Life
Anyone used to driving along the TF1 between the south of Tenerife and Santa Cruz after the hours of darkness will know that some sections are so dark that headlights are barely able to make an impact on the all engulfing blackness. Additionally, lights from drivers coming in the opposite direction can make actually trying to see the road ahead even more difficult. Thankfully authorities have finally seen the light or rather have taken action to let drivers see it. Fifteen hundred new motorway lights were due to be turned on this week, making the journey between Arafo and Tabaiba that bit easier”¦and safer.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Adeje Ayuntamiento
The Tenerife Government and Adeje Town Council are at loggerheads over the reopening of the Barranco del Infierno to the public. The south of Tenerife’s most popular walking route has been closed to the public for over one and a half years. Apparently the director of the Medio Ambiente, Wladimiro Rodríguez, wants the Barranco del Infierno to reopen with the addition of signs warning about the potential dangers of walking in a ravine as well as advising that minors should be accompanied by adults who have full responsibility for them. But Adeje’s councillors say this isn’t enough to guarantee safety and are sticking to their guns about not opening the Barranco del Infierno until an acceptable safety plan is in place. It’s a position that has exasperated the Medio Ambiente director who sensibly commented that it’s impossible to give absolute guarantees when nature is involved. Maybe a signed papyrus from God might just do the trick.

Come on Adeje, it’s time to live in the real world.

Futuristic trains and Hi-Speed Car Chases in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Back to the Future
It was announced that the Tenerife government are considering a revolutionary piece of German engineering as the model for the north and south train. The Transrapid would be able to travel at a top speed of 385 kph on a magnetic monorail. It’s so advanced that it doesn’t need a driver and doesn’t have any wheels or even an engine, plus there would be no need for any landscape-ruining power lines. This train of the future would only cost 3.000 million euros ““ a bargain. The German government have apparently even offered to provide some funding for the project.
The Transrapid does have a lot of plus points; it’s environmentally sound and should cause less of an upheaval to the landscape. It would also be one of the most modern trains in the world; something that the government claim would be a big tourist draw.

It’s good to see Tenerife waking up to the new technology that exists in the outside world. Maybe after the train, they might start looking at this new fangled way of communicating that everybody else raves about. What’s it called again? Oh yes”¦the internet.

A Right Old Chestnut
November is chestnut month on Tenerife with a whole load of events timed to coincide with the lighting of the braziers. Soon plazas across north Tenerife will be filled with the aroma of roasting chestnuts – here they eat them instead of smacking each other across the knuckles with them. But local chestnut vendors have warned that the hotter than usual weather this year on Tenerife hasn’t been good for chestnut harvesting. Subsequently there aren’t as many chestnuts ready for collecting as is usual for this time of year. Ironically, whilst visitors are lapping up the hot weather, the chestnut sellers are praying for the nights to get cooler. The cooler the night, the more roasted chestnuts they sell.

Por Fin CD Tenerife
It was starting to look as though Christmas would arrive first, but CD Tenerife finally managed to huff and puff their way to their first win of the season against what the Spanish press called a commendable and tenacious Elche in an encounter described by Tenerife Magazine’s Colin Kirby as ‘a real minger’. Still it moves them from the bottom of the league to the giddy heights of second bottom, so congratulations are in order. Maybe a chink of light is breaking through the gloomy skies above the Heliodoro stadium – figuratively speaking of course.

The Saga of the Adeje Botellon
The Adeje botellon (impromptu street party) is possibly one of the few topics that bridge the gap between Spanish language press and English language Tenerife forums. Further rhetoric is coming out of Adeje council about clamping down strongly on this weekend tradition. This time the reason is about as tenuous as you can get; the authorities don’t want the tragedy that occurred at the Berlin Love Parade to happen on Tenerife. At a botellon? Come on, get serious.
What’s more worrying is that there appears to be a sub-agenda about restricting nightly entertainment in Tenerife’s main southern resorts, with some bars seemingly being targeted for playing music after a certain hour. One website even suggested that bars should be forced to close at 1am.
The explanation for a lot of this is that it adversely affects Adeje’s reputation as a tourist resort. Interesting concept, but here’s a question. Don’t a lot of people come to Adeje and Playa de las Américas precisely because the nightlife is lively? Who exactly is it that these party poopers are representing?

They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There”¦
The south west of Tenerife is generally considered a tranquil part of the island; not this week when the combined might of the Guardia Civil, local police forces and even the army took part in a high speed pursuit through the area. The fugitive they were after, an habitual traffic offender amusingly known as the “˜mouflon’ because of his ability to evade his pursuers, led the island’s security forces on a merry chase through the streets. Roadblocks were set up at strategic points in Puerto Santiago, Alcalá, Playa San Juan and even on the TF1, but the mouflon evaded them all. He was eventually apprehended, but only after he abandoned his stolen Mercedes in La Hoya in Adeje, and is safely behind bars”¦for now.

Tourism is Up
The first nine months of the year has seen 3,598,574 visitors to Tenerife; an increase of 1.35% on the same period last year. Okay it’s not much but it is a step in the right direction and when you look at trends it’s a bigger step than it at first seems. During summer, mainland Spanish visitors fell by 3.08%, unsurprisingly as their economic crisis is a bit behind everybody else’s (no jokes please). However in the same period Brit visitors were up nearly 7%, Germans 9%, French 5%, Belgians 21% and Italians a whopping great 25%. Good news all round.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… the owners of a restaurant in San Miguel de Abona
We all know that Tenerife suffers from more than its fair share of cowboy employers but the owners of a restaurant in Golf del Sur really plumbed new depths of exploitation. Employing illegal immigrants on the black market is hardly going to shock anyone on Tenerife. However, these guys apparently lured illegal immigrants by saying that they would pay them good money and arrange residency. Once in their employ they forced the illegal aliens to work non-stop and often without pay by threatening to turn them over to the police for deportation if they didn’t.
The perpetrators are now also doing long hours for no pay”¦in prison.

Transrapid photo © Fritz Stoiber courtesy of Transrapid International GmbH & Co. K

Charging to Climb Teide and Revolting Parents in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Paying to Climb Mount Teide
CIT, the Centre for Initiatives and Tourism, in Santa Cruz has put forward a proposal to charge €5 to anyone wanting to climb to the summit of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. They say the charge would help fund maintenance, research and conservation, arguing that 90% of those who have to pay would be tourists and as tourists they’re used to paying charges in parks in other parts of Europe. I’ve three words to say to CIT ““ Barranco del Infierno. It’s one of the only other beauty spots on Tenerife that visitors have to pay to enjoy and which just happens to be closed indefinitely because of fears about what might happen if anyone is injured walking Hell’s Ravine. What happens the first time someone slips on Teide’s peak?

Confusion in El Médano
The saga of the Hotel El Médano continued to twist and turn as the Spanish government’s representative to Tenerife, Antonio Batista announced that nobody had ever said the hotel was going to be demolished, it was only ever the hotel’s terrace that was in danger. Really? So all that furore about pulling down the hotel and maybe even some of the other buildings next to it was a Dallas type dream we all had then?

Ban people from Driving to Teno
A ‘close everything to the public’ plague seems to be sweeping through Tenerife at the moment. The mayor of Buenavista del Norte has called for the road leading to Punto Teno to be closed. There are huge signs in three languages warning that the road shouldn’t be used on rainy or windy days because of the potential dangers from rock fall, but mayor Victor Lorenzo says that everyone ignores them. Surely the signs are enough? The road leads to a beauty spot with stunning views and to close it would be to deprive visitors of another of Tenerife’s beauty spots (once again we mention Barranco del Infierno). Do politicians really want to create an island where everybody sticks to the safety of their holiday complexes? Before long they’ll be putting up signs in the arrivals hall stating ‘don’t leave the building, Mother Nature is on the prowl here’. Could somebody please start dishing out the common sense pills?

Tourism on the Up
Thank goodness, a ray of light amidst all of the Tenerife shenanigans that have you seeking out a wall to bang your head against, tourist figures for people visiting the Canary Islands in September are up nearly 13% on last year. During the month, 623,110 visitors enjoyed a holiday on one of the Canary Islands.

Cruising in La Paz
What is going on in the heads of the people in the town hall in Puerto de la Cruz? Right wing Spanish paper La Opinion recently printed an article about ‘Cruising in Tenerife’ and we’re not talking about the big white shiny things that sail into Santa Cruz. We’re talking about men meeting for sex in public places. This was followed by a report about the police and town council in Puerto de la Cruz being concerned about ‘Cruising in La Paz, especially in an area known apparently as the mountain of love (aka Paseo del Acebuche). The nationalist council in Puerto have been accused in the past of being homophobic and Tenerife’s gay rights movements consider their attitudes to be from Franco’s era. The council have denied this, issuing a statement along the lines of “We do not pursue anyone for their sexual orientation: we do not care that they are heterosexual or homosexual. The problem is that keeping sex in public places may offend others or affect sensitive groups such as minors or the disabled.”

WHAT?

Putting the homophobic charges aside for a second, there’s a statement that tells you all you need to know about where these people are coming from (and what century): sensitive groups such as minors or the disabled – for god’s sake don’t expose anyone with a disability to sex, eh? That sort of thinking is positively scary.

The second thing that intrigues is that Paseo del Acebuche is an out of the way obscure spot (I had to Google it to find exactly where it was). It isn’t the sort of place where anyone would accidentally wander past. How on earth did someone in the council know it was a popular place for gay sex? They should be spending their time and efforts sorting out Puerto’s real problems.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Education on Tenerife
It was frustrating and annoying to learn about yet another situation on Tenerife where children’s education is under threat because of cuts resulting in students having no teachers to educate them.

Parents in Alcalá displayed the depth of their feelings and frustration by chaining shut the Aponte de Alcalá College as a protest against educational cuts which have led to some students being without a teacher for over a month. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. Each week there are reports of schools and colleges on Tenerife having classes without teachers and not so long ago we commented on the fact that employees in one school hadn’t been paid for 5 months.
Messing with education in this manner is simply not acceptable and wishy-washy excuses from the authorities involved only highlight their impotence and unsuitability for the positions they hold.

This week protesters shouting for Canary Island independence in Santa Cruz and La Laguna proclaimed their Guanche heritage. If politicians continue cutting education budgets, there’s a chance that Tenerife’s young people may end up about as educated as their adopted primitive forefathers.

A Misplaced Orca Calf and a Bad Case of Parking in Tenerife News of the Week

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

The Mystery of the Baby Orca
There seems to have been quite a bit of confusion about the birthplace of an orca calf last week. Local Spanish and English press headlines proudly claimed that the 150kg big baby was the first calf born in Spain at Loro Parque. An impressive achievement that must have come as something of a surprise in SeaWorld, Orlando where the calf was actually born and where mother, Katrina and baby are doing nicely. The mix up may have arisen due to early press reports stating that the calf had been born at a Loro Parque installation. OOPS!

Thanks to the person who pointed out to us that there actually was an orca calf born at Loro Parque on 13th October. OOPS!

What Big Pumpkins!

Here’s an appropriate little bit of news for Halloween. Tenerife’s weather is known for being perfect for growing fruit and vegetables, but in Tacoronte they’re growing to mutant proportions. A local farmer discovered three monster pumpkins weighing 47, 53 and a whopping great 60 kilos in one of his fields. He didn’t deliberately try to grow them that big, he’d simply left them alone and nature did the rest. Two of the pumpkins have been sold whilst the third has been kept to feed the family. Pumpkin pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner till Christmas then for that family.

The Marina in Puerto de la Cruz
There’s been a new round of rhetoric coming from the corridors of power in Puerto de la Cruz about the determination to progress the plans for the marina that will transform the town’s fortunes. Before anyone gets excited it’s worth knowing two things. There are local elections next year and promises to move plans to build the marina forward are always brought out of the closet, dusted down and put on the electoral table. The second is that Puerto’s marina has taken on almost mythical status. Plans have been kicked around for 30 years and amusingly, some tourist maps have been optimistically labelling the expanse of land beside the harbour as “parque Maritimo’ for nearly the same period. It would be far more helpful to visitors if the maps showed what the area actually was ““ a huge free car park.

A Sweet Smelling Result
Tenerife’s petty criminals seem to be trying to outdo each other in the dumb and dumber stakes. A gang of four mentally challenged thieves were clapped in irons quicker than you can say Coco Chanel after stealing €1000 worth of perfume from a shop in Playa de la Arena. And no, the Guardia Civil didn’t track them by following the trail of cheap perfume lingering in the air. The foolish foursome gave themselves away by driving the wrong way along the road. Don’t know about as thick as thieves, but definitely as thick as mince.

The Rat Pack
Something smells in the town of Arona, the administrative centre for Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos. Neighbours are complaining that the town’s wheelie bins haven’t been cleaned properly in a year and a half. Not only is there an unpleasant whiff in the air, the lack of hygiene has led to an increase in the rat population which, some residents claim, stroll around the town fearlessly. The town mayor responded to accusations of council inactivity by saying that no-one had actually officially complained about a rat problem in the town. One resident said that rats in Arona had grown to the size of rabbits. Mind you if you think about it, Tenerife’s rabbits aren’t that big, so that would make the rats the size of…well, rats.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… The Pilot of the Fred Olson Ferry
Minor car bumps seem to part and parcel of life on Tenerife. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a driver “Misjudge’ a parking space and gently bump into another car. But you don’t expect the same to be the case with Tenerife’s ferries. This week whoever was at the wheel of the Fred Olsen Bonanza Express seems to have misjudged the mooring space in San Sebastián harbour on La Gomera and accidentally bumped into the Naviera Armas Ferry. Thankfully there was no real damage and no-one was injured. Could have been worse if he’d been piloting the Gran Canaria ferry and had applied his más o menos approach to “parking up’ in Santa Cruz where the shiny new, scratch-free Queen Elizabeth was docked.

Close Loro Parque and Wild Weather in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Stormy Weather
The change in seasons brought more than rain, cloud and wind to Tenerife, it also brought high seas resulting in an orange alert over the weekend. Waves were so ferocious in Punta de Hidalgo and Bajamar that steel rails were twisted out of shape by the force of the Atlantic rollers and a boat was destroyed in Puerto de la Cruz harbour. Worst affected seems to be Garachico which was unreachable during Sunday morning as huge waves battered roads in and out of the town as well as engulfing the seafront causing damage to shops and restaurants.

Tenerife’s North Train
The latest specification for the proposed train link between Santa Cruz and Los Realejos was published last week. The document stated that the line would be 37.3 km long, of which 17.3km would be through tunnels. So half the time, residents would be in the dark…pretty much par for the course. The proposed budget would be 1.146 million euros to create a line that would be used by an estimated 13.5 million people per year. The spec also included the journey times on the 220kmh train between Los Realejos and Costa Adeje (67 mins) and from Los Realejos to Santa Cruz (34mins). Okay mathematicians out there might be wondering why a train travelling at 220knh would take 34 minutes to cover 37 kilometres, but presumably that’s because of stoppage time. Interestingly, the journey by car from Los Realejos to Santa Cruz can be done in 25 mins.

Police and Thieves on the Street…Oh Yeah
Whilst the rest of the developed world moves forward at breakneck pace, Tenerife seems to be bucking the trend by returning to the days of Dixon of Dock Green (might seem a dated reference, but that’s the point). Police officers in Playa de las Américas have ditched their cars, or more accurately their cars have ditched them as most are in the garage waiting to be repaired. Apparently there is still one working patrol car, but the gears are a bit dodgy, so the boys in blue, grey, navy or whatever colour uniform Tenerife’s numerous police forces wear, have had to take to pounding the beat until the situation improves. Might not be a bad thing.

Food for Nought
Restaurants in Candelaria might see some of their profits drop as the council have just opened a food hall for residents aged over 60 where they can enjoy a three course meal for only €3.50. The comedor in the municipal swimming pool serves as a training ground for catering students; whilst Candelaria’s mature residents get cheap meals, students get to hone their skills. It’s also open to people under the age of 60, but they have to pay a still reasonable €6 for the privilege of being guinea pigs.

Thomas Cook V Canary Islands
Tenerife’s forces may have seen off Admiral Nelson, but can they stop travel giants Thomas Cook from plundering the land? Against overwhelming and unanimous opposition, Thomas Cook have begun implementing their plan to knock five percent off monies owed to Canary Islands hotels to compensate for losses caused by the Icelandic Volcano disruption. Hoteliers claim that the tour company is in breach of Spanish, British and European law and intend to take legal action. Whilst the Canarios may have tasted victory against Sir Francis Drake, Robert Blake and Nelson, somehow I don’t think that they’ll be celebrating after this particular battle.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Eco websites calling for the closure of Loro Parque
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve noticed that a couple of eco-websites have launched an online petition lobbying to close Loro Parque.
One site explains… “In the Atlantic Ocean are some Paradise islands especially for Northern European tourists. Canaries Islands. One of them is Tenerife. Here are many Orcas and Dolphins in captivity to entertain these visitors in a place called Loro Parque.” It goes on to say. “We all know that Orcas and Dolphins are the animals who are least able to be in captivity. They suffer so terribly. I want this park closed.”

The reason we’re giving it and sites like it the TIT award is not because of the sentiments, but because it reduces animal conservation to a Free Willy level. They don’t appear to have done any background research on Loro Parque and seem unaware of the conservation programmes that the Loro Parque Foundation are involved with.
Saying ‘I don’t like this” isn’t exactly a strong, reasoned argument and calling for animals born and raised in captivity to be released into the wild ““ something which research has shown is more than likely to lead their deaths – is naive at best.

Furthermore, classing the Canary Islands as being ‘especially for Northern European tourists ‘ is simply being dismissive and disrespectful of the resident Canarian population.

Maybe we should start a movement to have a petition removed that is much more harmful than beneficial to animal conservation.

The Ex-Pat Population and Masonic Temples in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Once Upon a Time…
Manuel de Paz, Dean of the Geography and History faculty at the University of La Laguna has come up with an interesting proposal. He suggests the creation of a cultural route which takes in Tenerife’s historic Masonic structures. These include the Masonic Temple in Calle San Lucas in Santa Cruz, the imposing former Hotel Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz and the Quinta Roja mausoleum in La Orotava.

What’s even more interesting is the fourth structure he included on the list…the Pyramids of Güímar which the Dean says aren’t really pyramids, instead they were part of a Mason’s finca. It’s a theory put forward some years ago by a couple of the Dean’s colleagues at the university who claimed they’d only been in existence since about the 19th century (unsubstantiated outside of Tenerife)..

But here’s the thing that grates. Google Masonic architecture and you’ll find plenty of images of elaborately constructed temples. Both the Masonic Temple and the Mausoleum were built in the 19th century…the same period as the esteemed scholars at La Laguna claim the pyramids” stones were carved. So what’s wrong with this picture? The one thing you won’t find if you Google Masonic architecture are primitive looking structures. The question is why, when the Masons were constructing beautiful feats of architecture using the most expensive materials like the mausoleum in the photo, did they bother to construct something as basic as the Pyramids of Güímar? Over to you Dean.

You’re Nicked
Runner up for the TIT award this week is the young thief who made off with a gold chain worth €500 from a jewellery store in Santa Cruz…and left his identity card behind. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘as thick as thieves”.

La Laguna’s Churches Bore Tourists
Tourists to Tenerife seem apparently completely disinterested in the island’s religious past according to findings in La Laguna. So much so that the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Los Dolores and the Casas Capitulares are being removed from the guided tourist route due to a lack of interest in them. Oddly enough, the Iglesia de la Concepción was found to be a big draw for the 30,000 visitors who took the tour last year. It’s a bit of a mystery. People are either interested in visiting churches or they’re not…aren’t they?

The Little Princess

The Princess of Asturias, Letizia Ortiz visited Tenerife last week and looked stunning in a dress which showed that she hasn’t had a chip butty in a long, long time. The Princess handed out prizes at an awards ceremony in aid of cancer research at the Auditorium and visited the TEA in Santa Cruz, but some who turned up to get a glimpse were disappointed that her appearance was brief and that she didn’t spend any time talking to members of the public as she often does. When someone shouted out how pretty she was she replied with a simple thanks; the only words she uttered. To be fair she was probably concentrating more on staying upright on heels that were nearly as long as her legs.

The Cho Vito Saga Continues
Despite the meeting in Madrid which put a halt to the hunger strike by residents by postponing until November any further decision regarding the demolition of the remaining houses in Cho Vito, residents were sent letters informing them that the houses would be demolished on 1st December. The letters also stated that the residents had to have all their possessions out of the houses by the 30th November or they would also be destroyed. Officials say that this is simply a legality and doesn’t change what happened in Madrid last month. We shall see in December if the politicians speak with forked tongues or not. This Thursday sees the second anniversary of the ‘assault” on Cho Vito and residents are planning what they call a ‘unique’ event to commemorate it. Sounds intriguing.

Minority Report…But Only Just
Here’s an interesting little fact. Forty percent of the residents of San Miguel de Abona are foreigners. Out of a population of around 18,000 more than three thousand residents are British (and that’s only those who have registered), fifteen hundred are Italian and the other numbers are mainly made up of Venezuelans and Cubans. It would be interesting to see what the figures were in areas like Adeje and Arona which probably have a significantly bigger ex-pat population. If ex-pats were more political that really could put the gato amongst the palomas (that’s cat and pigeons for anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish) come the elections.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…A bummer of a situation in Santiago del Teide
It was always going to happen. A 21 year old hunter was airlifted by helicopter from Santiago del Teide on Sunday after being accidentally shot in the backside by his hunting partner. Thankfully the young hunter wasn’t seriously hurt. If you’re going to be shot, I suppose the buttocks are about as least life threatening a spot as there is. Guardia Civil officers think that crossing rough terrain may be the cause of the gun discharging. I disagree. Stupidity and carelessness are far more likely causes. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. Only last week a decomposing body of a man, also thought to be as a result of a hunting accident, was found in the Anaga Mountains. Take my advice and stay out of the hills on Thursdays and Sundays till the hunting season is over.

Adeje to Lose Two Beaches in Tenerife News of the Week

Costa Adeje to Lose Two of its Beaches
The south of Tenerife’s coastline is set to undergo another dramatic face-lift over the next four years as a proposal to get rid of two of Adeje’s beaches is about to be approved. Before anyone gets unduly worried about losing two beaches, the plan is to turn Playas Troya I and II and Play Bobo into one long sweeping sandy paradise just like Playa Fañabe along the coast. It seems a sensible idea. As Adeje council point out, the three beaches have a disjointed look about them at the moment and one long beach would be far more appealing to the eye. It’s not known yet what the new beach would be called. Any suggestions? Playa Costa Adeje maybe…

There Aren’t Plenty More Fish in the Sea
Those fishermen perched on the rocks along Tenerife’s coastline might add a nice little touch to photographs, but according to the Cofradía de Pescadores (guild of fishermen) in Puerto de la Cruz they’re a threat to the livelihoods of professional fishermen.
The Cofradía says that these “poachers” operating between Tacoronte and La Guancha have cost them 2000 kilos of fish already this year. It seems incredible to think that a handful of guys casting lines, or nets from the shore could have such an impact. What’s even more incredible are the Cofradía’s claims that some poachers are packing guns. One fisherman says that he saw one poacher draw a pistol when tackled about his illegal activities. And I thought fishing was supposed to be a gentle activity.

Tenerife has the Cheapest Taxi Fares in Spain
A recent survey revealed that the taxi fares in the capital Santa Cruz are the lowest in Spain at around €2.68 for travelling a mile. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Arrecife and Ceuta also fared well. The places where taxi users in Spain are likely to feel as though they have been well and truly fleeced are Tarragona, San Sebastian and Leida where the same journey costs a whopping €9.10.

Where Have All the Tourists Gone?
Ashotel vice president Juan Antonio Rosado expressed concerns this week about the state of tourism in Puerto de la Cruz. Tenerife’s original tourist resort has seen visitor numbers decline by 22% between 2006 and 2009. Ashotel believe immediate investment in the town is necessary to reverse the trend in the long and short term and have proposed a rebirth of the city with the development of projects that include landscaped streets and more pedestrian areas, electric transportation and a cable car linking the Martiánez areas with La Paz. The problem is that… improving the town’s looks isn’t the answer to the problem. Puerto already has pedestrianised areas and character filled squares that are more picturesque than the southern resorts. The real problem is the perception of the weather in the north of Tenerife. Deal with that and you’ve found the goose that lays the golden egg.

La Laguna Will be Warmer this Winter
There are few places on Tenerife that can match the historic ambiance of the former capital, La Laguna’s perfectly preserved streets. The pavements of the old quarter’s World Heritage Site would be an ideal place to linger over a tapas lunch or a candlelit romantic dinner…if they weren’t so damn cool in winter. But this winter will see the city’s restaurants use parasols to protect diners from rain, windbreaks from the breeze and heating systems to take the chill out of the air. The project to make ‘eating out” in La Laguna more comfortable was announced by María Luisa Cerrillos, director of the Plan Especial de Protección del Casco Histórico. It’s a wonderful project that could transform La Laguna into the Barcelona of Tenerife.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…Councils who Act Like Cowboys

Just about everyone who’s worked on Tenerife seems to have stories of not being paid for work they’ve done. It seems to be part and parcel of life on Tenerife. Even some of the island’s councils can behave in a manner that seems more in line with cowboy employers than professional businesses. Four workers in San Juan de la Rambla are still waiting for payment for work carried out tidying up cultivated land over two years ago. Shortly after they took their story to the Spanish newspaper El Dia, the workers were informed that the money owed would be finally paid to them in October.
Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated incident. Nine employees of an infant school in Añaza in Santa Cruz haven’t been paid by the council for five months and nearly every week there are reports of councils not paying employees or workers contracted to provide services. Every time the reports are accompanied by reams of excuses…none of which ultimately help put food in the mouths of those affected. It’s a poor, poor show.

Chimpanzee Spies and Gun-Toting Mayors in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Mount Teide on Spanish Stamps
The Spanish Post office, Correos issued a new range of stamps this week celebrating the country’s national parks. One of the stamps features Tenerife’s Teide National Park. The island’s president, Ricardo Melchior marked the event with an unveiling of the stamp at the Parador at the base of Mount Teide. Hopefully he hadn’t checked out the official Correos website which featured an image of a wolf next to the text for the Teide stamp, whilst the section for another of the chosen parks, El Parque Natural Lago de Sanabria featured an image of a familiar looking mountain and the tajinaste flower. You’ve got to laugh, but at least the Correos are consistent. The stamps are on sale now for 45 cents.

Hunting for the Mayor of El Tanque
Faustino Alegría, the mayor of El Tanque in the north west of Tenerife has come in for a bit of stick because at this time of year he likes to swap the office on a Thursday for the forest. With the hunting season in full swing, the mayor likes to join the rest of the boys to go and shoot some bunnies when opposition politicians argue he should be working. His defence is that he works on a lot of Sundays when other people have time off and that he hasn’t taken the standard month’s holiday in seven years, so he’s entitled to the odd Thursday in the hunting season.

The Tourist Office in the Taxi
Fifty Tenerife taxis are due to be fitted out with touch screens so that from the 1st November passengers are able to access all sorts of useful information about the island including events, beaches, museums, restaurants, bus lines etc (bus lines? Can’t see the taxi drivers being happy with that one). Information will be provided in 5 languages and official publicity claims that by the end of a fifteen minute taxi journey, visitors should be able to find out all they need to know to have a great holiday…if they haven’t vomited all over the screen by trying to read as the taxi weaves wildly in and out of the TF1 traffic.

A Bit of Monkey Business
The Casa Amarilla in Puerto de la Cruz has such a fascinating past that it was declared to be of cultural interest in 2005. The house was the site of some ground-breaking work by psychologist Wolfgang Köhler who used chimpanzees in his research there in the early 20th century; work thought by some to be the inspiration for Planet of the Apes. A bit of spice is added by the belief that the scientist was also a German spy and he chose Tenerife as a base for his research so he could keep an eye on English ships. The Wolfgang Köhler Association want the house and grounds to be returned to its former state and made into a tourist attraction. Reports say that last year property developers unsuccessfully tried to have the cultural interest tag removed ““ and people wonder why some are so eager to claim that historical monuments on Tenerife aren’t authentic. Pyramids anyone?

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…Thomas Cook

The holiday giants Thomas Cook announced that they were withholding 5% from invoices owed to Canary Island hotels in an attempt to recoup some of their losses caused by the effects of the Icelandic ash cloud. During a period of economic crisis for the Canary Islands, Thomas Cook’s actions are ostensibly putting the boot into a sector that is just showing signs of getting back on its knees. The announcement provoked a response from the Tenerife Cabildo requesting strongly that the company reverses its decision to pass on some of its losses to Canarian businesses. Later in the week Canary Islands hotel Associations issued an ultimatum to Thomas Cook warning that if the company didn’t reconsider their position within 48 hours, legal proceedings would be started. Good for them. Some tour companies are getting far too big for their boots and their bully boy tactics – threatening to pull out of resorts and now this ““ are unacceptably and distastefully unethical.

Spain’s Best Chef and a Load of Old Rubbish in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Company Directors Are Getting Younger…
In an innovative scheme to raise animal conservation awareness amongst the youngest members of society, Loro Parque are recruiting two directors aged between 8 and 12 for a period of 6 months. During that time the young directors will be encouraged to work closely with the park’s management team and furry residents to contribute proposals about how children especially can do more to help wildlife conservation. The lucky two and their families will have unlimited free access to Spain’s premier wildlife park for a year. The closing date for the scheme is the end of this month and applications should be made through Loro Parque’s website. So far 50 children have applied. Only 50…who says the young here have no ambition?

Cho Vito Hunger Strike Called Off
Cho Vito’s six hunger strikers have ended their protest after 11 days following the Spanish government’s decision to postpone making a ruling about the fate of the remaining houses in Cho Vito in Candelaria until the end of November. Whilst Tenerife President, Ricardo Melchior argued the case for Cho Vito at the meeting in Madrid, Candilaria’s mayor was noticeably absent prompting accusations that he wasn’t interested in the plight of his little coastal community. Although the postponement of any decision about Cho Vito isn’t a victory, it does allow the residents more time to argue their case. It might seem like cynical thinking, but it also seems a convenient way of getting the hunger strikers to stop their protest without anyone actually doing anything to move the situation forward. Cue a case of déjà vu come November.

It Really is the End of Summer in Santa Cruz
After being partially open for three months over the summer, Parque Marítimo in Santa Cruz is closed once again. With work to the swimming pool complex still to be completed, political shenanigans getting in the way, legal disputes unsettled and questions over who will be responsible for managing it, it is unlikely that it will re-open in the next six months. Back to Las Teresitas it is then for the poor old Santa Cruceros.

Hands Up, Who’s Heard of the Centre for Intepretación del Teide?
Stumped? It’s a huge exhibition centre dedicated to Teide National Park with interactive exhibitions and botanical gardens. Ringing any bells yet? Well it exists, in fact it was completed two years ago and it sits in the middle of the La Orotava Valley…unopened. A couple of weeks ago we reported about the Humboldt Mirador in La Orotava ““ a tourist attraction that had taken so long to complete that it needed renovation work even before it opened. La Orotava council seem to be making a habit of building tourist attractions that never seem to open. The work in this case began seven years ago with the Spanish government ploughing 8 million Euros into its construction. And the reason it hasn’t opened yet? The gardens are fields of weeds and the electrical systems aren’t working properly. 8 million Euros invested and you get dodgy wiring and weeds. Somebody, somewhere is chortling all the way to the bank.

Spain’s Best Chef is from Tenerife
The title’s a bit misleading as Chef Andrea Bernardi originally hails from Italy. Andrea, chef at the elegant Sinfonía Restaurant in Santa Cruz was chosen as Spain’s number one at the Adecco Best Chef competition in Madrid, wowing judges with a selection of chic dishes which included smoked duck and caviar. Andrea will represent Spain at the finals of the competition to find Europe’s top chef in Luxembourg on 27 September. Buena suerte Andrea

The Interactive Generation
A survey of 800 young Canarios revealed that 71% of them used social networks like Facebook and Twitter, preferring spending time on the net to watching TV. The report found that young Canarios were increasingly becoming an interactive generation, using the web to communicate and find out information. And yet businesses with websites on Tenerife remain in the minority. One day the penny just has to drop.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…those involved with the restoration of La Laguna’s Cathedral.
In an incredible piece of news that raises disturbing questions about Tenerife’s ability to be protector of its own heritage, residents in Tegueste alerted the Guardia Civil to some quite unique rubbish dumped in a ravine near the town.
Sections of elaborately sculpted stone pillars that looked as though they should be in a museum turned out to be from La Laguna Cathedral. The discovery that important parts of the city’s heritage were being treated like common or garden rubbish caused uproar. The real worry is the mentality of those who sanctioned the dumping of the pillars. Didn’t it occur to them that a) people were always likely to spot huge sections of historic columns amongst the ubiquitous wrecked fridges and washing machines and b) they shouldn’t be destroying important historical artifacts in the first place.

An embarrassing situation was made worse by the Dean of the Cathedral who, after the story broke, seemed to suggest that the columns were just being ‘stored’ in the ravine for the time being. ‘storing’ historical pieces of architecture under a ton of a rubbish is certainly unconventional at the very least.

The pillars have now been retrieved from the ravine and placed in gardens in La Laguna. However, it does make you wonder what other remnants of Tenerife’s history have been lost because of the actions of unenlightened (diplomatic term) people like this.