The Singing Bear & Ferry Tales in Tenerife News of the Week

Fred Olsen Ferry, Los Cristianos, Tenerife

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

Stardom for the Singing Bear?
The most bizarre promo for Tenerife you’re likely to see this year is courtesy of cutesy popster Plato T. Bear. Presumably the T stands for ‘the’ but by the look of the Solar Flair website responsible for the music video, it could equally well stand for Tiberius. The bear and his cuddly animal backing group give a mesmerising performance of the song Love Like the Sun under Tenerife’s golden orb (as well as other sizzling locations). Watch it and weep. Whether that’s with laughter or pain, you’ll have to decide for yourself.

We’re on the Road to Nowhere
Although a British TV programme reported last week that the new ring road linking the south of Tenerife with the north via Santiago del Teide was operational, it isn’t. Not only is it not operational, it’s nowhere near being operational. With budget cuts already affecting progress, the road suffered another setback when the Tenerife Government announced that completion of the roadworks on the promenade in Santa Cruz would be given top priority in relation to what little funding was available. This means more delays for the ring road, although some people are claiming that the construction of a couple of bridges and some other minor works could have it open at the end of 2013. Vamos a ver, as they say.
There have been complaints that the metropolis is being favoured over rural Tenerife yet again. But if the choice is between tidying up the first thing that thousands upon thousands of cruise passengers see when they set foot on Tenerife or completing a road that wasn’t really necessary in the first place and will make the countryside less attractive than it was, what would you pick?

Cross Ferries
Canary Islands hopping may become more difficult in the future if the Canarian Government doesn’t pay it’s debts to ferry company Fred Olsen soon. The company claims that 18 million Euros is still outstanding from 2011 and if the debt isn’t paid they will be forced to cut some routes that aren’t bringing in the dinero. Most threatened would probably be the Los Cristianos to El Hierro route. With Islas Airways suspending flights last week and now these ferry tales, transport seems to be in a bit of a jam on Tenerife at the moment.

Money for Nothing
With newspapers each week printing reports about someone, somewhere on Tenerife being owed by the authorities it would be easy to point a finger at the economic crisis for the fact that the island’s piggy bank is looking decidedly anorexic. But each week newspapers print reports of works whose budgets have spiralled way beyond their initial estimate. Take the Santos ravine in Santa Cruz whose improvements were estimated at costing 18 million Euros but turned out to come in with a bill of 88 million Euros. The gap between how much a contractor says it will cost to complete a job and what they actually invoice for seems to be a bit like the gap between Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Times newspaper.

Tourism Figures for Summer
Considering the tourist boost as a result of the Arab Spring in 2011, it’s no surprise to learn that the number of tourists who visited Tenerife in summer 2012 was nearly 6% less than in 2011. One of the biggest drops came from the British sector with 8.1% fewer sun-seekers this summer. Top of the tree for giving Tenerife a body swerve this year were Spanish holidaymakers who were down by 10.7%; again no surprise given the state of Spain’s economy. The trend wasn’t all downward, visitors from Eastern Europe continue to rise with 51.5% more saying ‘da’ to a holiday on Tenerife.

Horny Tenerife
This week a woman was arrested in Tenerife for her involvement in a robbery with a difference. She was a member of a gang responsible for stealing rhinoceros horns. But these weren’t poachers; this gang stole their rhino horns from a museum in Germany in February. Apparently it’s a growing trend for museums to be targeted for their rhino horns, believed in the Far East to possess special qualities that are beneficial to health and boost sexual prowess. Eating oysters and sucking prawn heads seem much less complicated options if you ask me.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Striking Students
We’re not picking on the students for protesting at the way their country and island has been “Mismanaged’, it’s about time the Spanish did actually make a stand against amateur-time politics. But to stand in front of traffic at the end of last week when the roads were perilously slippery after the first decent rains in a long, long time was probably not the most sensible thing to do. On Thursday, the emergency services” Twitter account was full of reports of road traffic accidents as drivers ‘forgot” they had to adjust their driving habits when it rains or that cars have a tendency to skid on wet surfaces.
It happens ever year when the rains arrive after a long dry summer, and every year it still seems to catch a lot of Tenerife’s drivers by surprise.

Thankfully none of Tenerife’s students ended up as an RTA statistic and all will hopefully go on to protest another day.


Ryanair Island Hopping & Banned Gee Gees in Tenerife News of the Week

Islas Airways

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

Ryanair flights between Canary Islands?
Low cost airline, Ryanair have expressed an interest in introducing flights between Canary Islands after events this week saw Islas Airways ‘temporarily’ ground all their flights. The company claimed that the introduction of Ryanair flights would benefit people travelling around the archipelago, pointing out that currently it is cheaper to fly from London to Tenerife than from Tenerife to Lanzarote.

Whether it will actually happen could depend on whether the Canarian Government removes restrictions which a representative from Ryanair said didn’t make any sense. If Ryanair are expecting business regulations that do make sense in the Canary Islands, then a) they don’t know the islands and b) they might as well start looking elsewhere to expand their operations.

Tenerife according to the British press
We like to keep an eye on articles about Tenerife in the British press to see how ‘accurate’ the picture they paint of Tenerife is. There were a few interesting perceptions in various rags this week. Here are some bits that made us smile… or groan. A columnist from Scotland’s Daily Record kept the misconceptions about Tenerife fuelled with his statement “…what I love about Tenerife is that 80 per cent of the folk in the bars, shops and restaurants speak English. It’s just like spending a few days in Airdrie.” The columnist commented that he’d never be confused with Michael Palin. As it sounds as though he never strays from his resort, he got that bit right.

Another publication suggested that to get away from the resorts, readers should head up the north coast where ‘…alongside the capital Santa Cruz, a number of quieter, more quintessentially-Spanish towns can be found, such as Garachico.” As one’s in the east and the other in the west, the term ‘alongside’ may have been a bit misleading.

A Yorkshire paper published what was a pleasingly positive article about Tenerife that painted a different picture from The Daily Record. Shame it was let down by a few dodgy ‘facts” ranging from getting the weather in Santa Cruz wrong to cyclists following a route from Puerto de la Cruz via the Afur Valley (in the Anaga Mountains) to get to La Orotava. I”M not sure visiting cyclists would thank them for that suggestion.

Best of all was Tayside and Fyfe’s The Courier which had a cracking piece of information about catching the cable car which ‘runs from Playa de las Americas up to Mount Teide’.

It’s a journey that would be a test of nerves for sure… it there actually was one. Maybe an idea for a tourist attraction for the future?

No German Beer at Oktoberfest?
The organisers of Oktoberfest in Costa Adeje were contenders for TIT of the week after a visitor to Tenerife complained on the travel site Tripadvisor that the beer fest, based on Munich’s famous beer-athon, ran out of German beer three hours after it opened. Considering the doors opened at 5pm that means that the German beer had all gone by 8pm… and it was open till at least midnight. So far, reports of the event which many people were looking forward to, have been quite scathing with many people disappointed by having to wait in long queues only to find a definite lack of Munich beer festival atmosphere about the whole set up. Only on Tenerife do you get a German beer festival that serves mainly Dorado (Canarian) beer. Sounds like more of a Octubrefiesta really. For a more authentic beer festival on Tenerife, it’s probably worth heading to the one in Puerto de la Cruz during Bavarian week in August/September.

The Rock on the Rock
So where does Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson keep his muscles pumped up this week on Tenerife in a break from shooting Fast and the Furious 6? The film and wrestling star worked out at the Imagin gym in Santa Cruz. Meanwhile co-star Vin Diesel was shooting scenes on the rooftops of a town that you wouldn’t normally associate with hi-octane adventure, San Juan de la Rambla on Tenerife’s north west coast.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Playa de las Américas
Arona Council have prohibited the horse and carriages that added somewhat of a pleasant clip clop to the streets of Playa de las Américas in the municipality of Arona. According to news reports, the reason seems to be that they didn’t meet certain requirements and therefore were operating illegally. There are also reports that taxi drivers put pressure on the council because the horses were taking business away from them. What next? Will the pavements will be dug up because taxi drivers moan that they’re taking business away from them as well?
Also handed out, like a tired old hymn sheet, was the excuse used when Tenerife councils want to get rid of something ““ the carriages weren’t good for the tourist image of Playa de las Américas. Really, what image is that? If it’s the boozy, Britain in the sun one often painted in the UK press, then yes, they really didn’t fit that one.
The overwhelming TIT aspect of this little farce about the carriages operating illegally is that a few months ago Arona’s mayor was banned from holding public office for a lengthy period ““ a sentence that he and his political party ignored. So, just remind us again ““ who is it that’s operating illegally in Arona?


No Fags on the Beach & South Hospital Delays in Tenerife News of the Week

Coastal Community, Tenerife

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

Coastal communities saved?
Spain’s Ley de Costas has proved somewhat of a double edged sword over the years. Originally created to protect the coastline from unscrupulous developers, in recent years it seems to have been more of a weapon for creating chaos and confusion with established coastal communities threatened with demolition whilst some hotels can seem immune.
Spain’s current government have been in the firing line of late but by giving the green light to an amendment to the law, they may have saved threatened communities and cleared up some of the confusion in the process… for now.
Because of the 1988 law, which in theory affects buildings constructed after the date of implementation within 100 metres of the coast, over 13,000 homes, hotels, restaurants and beach bars were due for demolition across Spain. The amendment has given most of these a 75 year amnesty (4 years for chiringuitos ““ beach bars).
However, any illegal builds will still be feeling the crunch of the wrecking ball before too long. It all seems relatively sensible… so why is there a niggle that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Ley de Costas problems?

Lights out for smokers?
There are many positive offshoots from smoking bans in bars in Spain and Tenerife, one being that the pavement café society has become an even bigger one. With Tenerife’s climate, sitting outside for a puff is no real hardship. But smokers could find themselves hounded even further if the Sociedad Canaria de Neumología has their way. They want a smoking ban imposed on Tenerife’s beaches and sports stadiums. Cigarette butts account for 30% of waste on the island’s beaches, taking 10 years to break down. But apart from creating rubbish, the society says that smoking on the beach sets a bad example to Tenerife’s youngsters. Similarly smoking doesn’t have a place in stadiums devoted to healthy activities. Whether the society will get it’s way, we’ll have to wait and see. But La Orotava and El Rosario have already imposed smoking bans in stadiums and it looks as if Playa de la Teresitas may follow suit.

The guachinche problem
Anyone who doesn’t know what a guachinche is should head to the north of Tenerife where they’ll find themselves positively tripping over them. These quaint makeshift restaurants (found in garages, garden sheds, allotments etc.) are part of the north of Tenerife’s history and date back to the times when the British ruled the wine industry on the island. The problem is that although everyone wants to preserve them, there are more and more springing up all the time. La Orotava reports that there are at least 200 alone in their municipality. There are strict rules regarding what is and what isn’t a guachinche (opening times, what they can sell etc.) as no license is required. But restaurant owners and wine growers along Tenerife’s northern slopes have grown tired of illegal guachinches overstepping the mark by offering more extensive menus and even advertising themselves as wedding and baptism venues. It has reached the point where legitimate businesses are demanding a clampdown. So will that mean a lot less guachinche signs tacked to trees pointing up dirt tracks to who knows where? It’s unlikely. Every year local businesses demand action and every year promises are made… and nothing happens. ¡Viva los guachinches!

The Russians are coming
Okay, they’re already here, but the fastest growing tourist market on Tenerife will be getting even bigger with the addition of twice a week Aeroflot flights from Moscow. The flights will be on Tuesdays and Fridays and will begin operating on 30 October. Rossiya Airlines also gets in on the Russian/Tenerife act with another route from St Petersburg, also on Fridays.

The Best of Tenerife on Social Media
Congratulations to all the Canarian winners of the Premios Excelencia Tenerife 2.0 last week, an awards ceremony designed to highlight innovators in the world of social networking on Tenerife. Promoting social networking as an essential business and communications tool is something close to our hearts at Tenerife Magazine and as such, we support any event that rewards companies and individuals for embracing it. But it is a mystery why there were a lack of categories for innovation in social media related to Tenerife’s most important industry, tourism? After all Tenerife Tourist Board proclaimed to the world at the World Travel Market in London last year how advanced Tenerife was when it came to promoting the island in tourism terms using social media platforms. If it’s so important that the Minister for Tourism feels confident enough to boast about it to the world, why ignore it on home soil? Answers on a postcard please.

Queues at Tenerife’s Auditorium
The huge queue outside the Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz last weekend may have had passers-by wondering if they’d missed news that some international superstar was due to perform in Tenerife’s capital. They hadn’t. The eye-catching building had become a rather snazzy polling station for the day and the queue was made up of Venezuelan residents lining up to vote in their home country’s elections. By the way, Hugo Chavez won… again

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… the Tenerife South Hospital Farce
Does anyone remember that mythical ideal, a hospital for the south of Tenerife? For a while it seemed more than a myth as it started to take shape on the hillside above Los Cristianos, it even got to the point where it started to look like a hospital building and then there was the crisis that everyone knew was coming… and then there were delays… and then there was no money… and then official bodies stopped paying their bills… and then those contracted to work for them stopped working for nothing… and finally it was a case of downing tools at the hospital.
Who knows when, or even if, the south hospital will be completed. There’s talk now that some of what has already been built has started to deteriorate because the project is taking so long. Subsequently millions more than originally planned will have to be ploughed into it.

When will Tenerife’s “powers that be’ learn that when you don’t pay your bills, you don’t get results and what’s more, with the rise of social media, the whole world gets to know about it.


Petrol Price Rise & Trouble for Taxis in Tenerife News of the Week

Taxi Rank, Tenerife South Airport

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

Don’t step on the gas
In a move that seems to have taken just about everyone by surprise, the Tenerife Government have announced a levy on motor fuel on the island of up to 0.02 cents per litre. The tax increase which doesn’t affect other Canary Islands, is effective immediately. Unsubstantiated reports say that the tax has been put in place to help pay towards the maintenance of the island’s roads, presumably to try to counter the cuts in budget from the state. Apparently there’s no truth in rumours that Hollywood film-makers currently shooting scenes on the island have decided, after filling up their army of vehicles at local petrol stations, to change the name of their movie to the Ripped-off and the Furious.

Not exactly a case of love thy neighbour
Expecting councils to work together to benefit Tenerife is a bit of a pipe dream when you consider a decision taken by Granadilla de Abona Council this week. The council voted to lobby the Tenerife Government to prevent taxi drivers from neighbouring municipality San Miguel de Abona being able to work at Tenerife Sur Airport even though San Miguel taxis have been working the airport for the last 27 years. A spokesperson for Granadilla quoted technicalities in the Canary Islands Transport Act to defend the decision. But they can interpret legislation how they like until the cows come home, it’s simply just not neighbourly and comes across more like another example of the airport taxi mafia trying to have things all their own greedy way.

It’s quackers
Looks like it’s the end of the road for the duck pond outside of La Laguna’s permanently under repair cathedral. The local council have decided that the ducks pose a health threat and so the little pond will be replaced by a children’s playground. Although a children’s playground doesn’t quite have the same attraction as a quaint little duck pond, in truth it’s a good deal for the waddlers who will be relocated from their small enclosure to the green wide open spaces and much bigger pools at Parque de la Vega.

Well done Adeje
Adeje is the latest Tenerife council to make it possible for residents to be able to apply for certificados de viajes (the document required for residents to be able to travel at discounted prices) online and at no charge. More and more Tenerife councils are trying to make life a bit easier for their constituents by utilising the internet in this way, whereas some other councils are still asking “What’s the internet?’ However, this being Tenerife, making official documents available online doesn’t always make life easier for the consumer. See our TIT of the week below.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… a total lack of co-ordination.
It’s hard to say who’s at fault with this week’s TIT of the week as it seems to involve heavy lashings of a few Tenerife quirks. A group of travellers from La Laguna found that their certificado de viajes downloaded from La Laguna Council’s website was dismissed as not being valid by check-in staff working for Air Europa. To be able to board their flight to Madrid, the Laguneros had to cough up the full amount of the air fair.

La Laguna Council insists that the document is legal and in their defence, plenty of other Laguneros have travelled using it without experiencing any problems on Iberian and Binter so it appears that Air Europa may be the ones who have got it wrong.

However, that’s of no real consolation to the people who lost money because of the mix up. Shouldn’t what is and what isn’t considered valid have been agreed between the Tenerife Government, local authorities and airline companies in advance? Maybe we’re asking too much to expect that sort of level of planning, organisation and communication.


Bad for Business & Top Hotels in Tenerife News of the Week

Carnaval Queen Contestant

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

A taste of rain at last
After months and months of drought, a decent amount of rain finally fell on Tenerife soil. The rain on Thursday affected mainly the northern side of Tenerife where it was welcomed like mana from heaven with some people cheering and others signalling their thanks to the heavens. In La Laguna up to 15 litres of water per square metre fell in ten minutes.
Whilst residents in the north of Tenerife danced in the rain, the south remained sunny; although strong winds in southern parts restricted sea going excursions.
The weather front was short-lived, leaving the islands by the end of Thursday. Relief was brief but it did breathe a bit of life back into the thirsty soil.

Top Tenerife hotels
Congratulations to the seven Tenerife hotels that featured in tour operator TUI’s top 100 hotels of the world at TUI’s Holly awards in Valencia. The seven hotels loved by TUI clients are the Gran Hotel Roca Nivaria, Hotel Atlantis Park, Hotel Botánico, Hotel Colón Guanahani, Hotel Jardines de Nivaria, Hotel Rui Garoé and the Hotel Tigaiga.
The popular Hotel Tigaiga in Puerto de la Cruz was also picked out for a special award for its ongoing commitment to implementing innovative environmental awareness projects that are quite a bit more advanced than signs saying ‘if you hang up your towel neatly, we won’t replace it and you’ll be helping to save the planet. Leave it in a heap on the floor and we’ll change it for a fresh one even though it shows you’re environmentally unaware and a messy devil”.

Pigeons close a school
One of the oddest stories of the week was about the boycott by students of a college in a suburb of Puerto de la Cruz because there were too many pigeons about. Around 300 people turned up at the college to protest about the plague of palomas which parents claimed represented a health risk. The college’s director seemed unsure as to how he was going resolve the situation and get rid of the feathered pests; you could say he came across as being coo-less.

Nul points at Carnaval 2013
There will be a change of voting procedures at next year’s carnival queen contest in Santa Cruz. In comes a Eurovision Song Contest style where each of the judges will award points to each candidate after they’ve swished their huge, flamboyant outfit around the stage.
This style of voting was tried before in 2009, but immediately dumped after being criticised by designers who said that the members of the jury didn’t quite understand how the voting worked. Now they’ve had 3 years to get to grips with the concept, everybody seems happy to try it again… that is until the first time a juror utters those words that no-one wants to hear “nul points”.
The election for the Carnaval Queen for 2013 takes place on February 6th.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… The curse of Tenerife; bad business practices
Latest culprits on the long, long list of not paying their employees, according to the Spanish newspaper El Dia, is Gestión de Restauración de Canarias SL; the company responsible for staffing the wonderful Mirador de Humboldt in La Orotava. Staff who are owed months of unpaid wages are holding a one day strike on the 30th September in a bid to try to jolt the company into paying them what they are owed.
Every week there are reports on Tenerife of workers not being paid by employers; it’s an endemic disease that stretches all the way up to the top.
There are some in the Canary Islands who complain about being viewed as being backward. Guess what? Continuing to indulge in abhorrent, outdated and unacceptable businesses practices, such as not paying workers timeously, only serves to prove to the more developed parts of Europe’s business community that backward is exactly what the islands are when it comes to business practices.


Robot Buggies & Missing Wings in Tenerife News of the Week

Icarus by Julio Nieto

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

Canarios are worst paid in Spain
Once again the Canary Islands have topped a statistical table, this time for being the lowest paid workers in Spain, earning on average €16.29 per hour, way below the top earners, the Basque Country who come in at €23.09 (there must be a lot of high earners out there to make these figures the average). Newspaper comments blamed everybody from illegal immigrants to mainland Spanish to foreigners for the Canaries being at the foot of the stairs. As is usually the case nobody actually pointed a finger inwards or compared work experience and educational/vocational qualifications between Spain’s autonomous communities. With Wild West business practices being what they are on Tenerife, it was a shock that enough people had actually been paid to be able to provide the compilers with a statistical figure.

Robotic Tenerife
There are all sorts of weird and wonderful vehicles on Tenerife at the moment. Apart from the cast of Fast and Furious 6 pushing the pedal to the metal on Tenerife’s highways, a team of scientists were testing out a much slower vehicle on the Minas de San José in Teide National Park. The robot, called Idris, looking like a sort of intellectual quad, was brought to Tenerife by Aberystwyth University’s Department of Computer Science to spend a few days using the other-worldly landscape as a stand in for Mars. Maybe the money the island gets from the Fast & Furious crew using the ring road at Guia de Isora could be put towards actually finishing the dormant white elephant.

Not Open for Business
What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Teide National Park Visitors” Centre in La Orotava? It opened to a great fanfare a year and a half ago.
Possibly the reason that the flagship building has been somewhat anonymous since, is that when it enjoyed its inaugural opening it wasn’t exactly ready. In fact, 18 months down the line it still isn’t. There’s this crisis you see and funds are in short supply. All of which is understandable but does beg the question why throw an opening bash for an empty building?
There’s quiet optimism that the ‘new’ centre might be open before the year is out. But as it has taken eight years to get the Teide National Park Visitors” Centre to this unfinished stage, it’s probably wise not to hold your breath.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… A Pair of Tenerife Truckers
Anyone who’s marvelled at the incredible work of talented La Orotava based sculptor Julio Nieto will be gob-smacked to learn that it’s thought a truck driver mistook one of his works, Icarus, for scrap and made off with the tragic fellow’s wings.
In a scenario that borders on farce, a truck driver responsible for transporting the steel sculpture left Icarus” wings by the side of the road in La Matanza whilst he moved the rest of the work of art (presumably his truck wasn’t big enough to take the lot).
Apart from the fact that leaving a work of art unattended by the side of the road seems – let’s be blunt – quite a stupid act, it looks as though the dim-witted truck driver was unlucky into the bargain. Another truck, with space to store a huge pair of metal wings, just happened to be passing on the same road at the wrong time and made off with an unexpected ‘scrap’ windfall.
Julio Nieto has requested that anyone who spots an unusual pair of steel wings flying about Tenerife get in touch with him on 670 800 265 as he’d like to reacquaint Icarus with his metal feathers. On Tenerife it seems that Icarus might have more chance of survival flying closer to the sun than keeping his shiny feet on terra firma.


Fast & Furious Quantum Teleportation 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 Quantum Leap
Don’t start digging out those old Trekkie outfits yet. The record-breaking “quantum teleportation” achieved by scientists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences between La Palma and Tenerife in May is more about the potential for instantaneous communication across galaxies than beaming would-be Kirks and his pointy eared amigo onto new and mysterious planets. Apparently it all involves the tangling and untangling of photons and sending them wirelessly across serious distances but unless you’re a scientist the details of the experiment are likely to tangle the brain cells. In laymen’s terms, it’s a pretty impressive achievement and a step in boldly going where no person has gone before.

The Fast and the Furious
Filming for the sixth instalment of the Fast and the Furious series of movies begins in Tenerife next week. Apart from Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), the movie makers will be bringing 400 personnel and 100 vehicles, including 4 tanks, to the island. Shooting will be taking place across Tenerife so don’t be surprised if you’re out exploring and get caught behind an old tank at which point getting anywhere will be less a case of fast and furious and more one of painfully slow and furious.

Fire-bug Caught
It looks as though police have caught the person responsible for the recent small forest fire near Benijos in the La Orotava Valley. A 50 year old man apprehended near the fire couldn’t provide a good explanation why he was in the area and on further questioning admitted starting it. It turned out he had a history of starting fires and was banned from going anywhere near forest areas. That’s one down.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Hikers in the Anaga Mountains
Last week four hikers were lost in the Anaga Mountains for over 24 hours; a reminder that you shouldn’t head into Tenerife’s great outdoors without proper preparation. The hikers (a 41 year old man with his son, nephew and a 30 year old woman) went missing on Thursday and spent the night in the mountains before being rescued by helicopter on Friday morning.
Apparently they’d been trying to get to the beach when they became confused and totally lost in the mountains. However, these four weren’t badly prepared visitors unaware of how remote Tenerife’s forests can be. This lot were clueless locals from nearby La Laguna. Maybe next time they should stick to heading to Playa de las Teresitas or Bajamar like everyone else.


Forest Fires & Earth Tremors in Tenerife News of the Week

Fire in Los Realejos

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

Did the earth move for you?
Has someone placed a curse on Tenerife? Following last week’s forest fires, nature kept Tenerife’s inhabitants on their toes by giving the island a bit of a shake in the early hours of Sunday morning. Three earth tremors of 3.8, 2.8 and 2.6 on the Richter scale were felt all across the north of Tenerife resulting in 1,250 panicky calls to the emergency services.
The source of the tremors was 27 kilometres below the ground in the sea north of El Sauzal and Tacoronte. Coming after the forest fires, the tremors that rocked Tenerife’s world received more attention than normal and subsequently there was some nonsense spouted around the web.
However, experts insist that there is nothing unusual about the tremors; basically, these are volcanic islands and these things happen. Nothing to be concerned about.
There are minor tremors constantly in the Canary Islands but most of the time people simply aren’t aware of them. In fact in the 10 days before the tremors, there were over 70 tremors in various areas all across Spain. Not a lot of people know that.

Forest Fires on Tenerife
Ironically, just as Tenerife Magazine had finished giving interviews to BBC TV and Radio to help provide an accurate picture of what the situation actually was, as compared to the sensationalist and out of date one provided by some sections of the UK media, more fires broke out on Tenerife. Wildfires flared up in at least three different spots on the same day last week prompting the Canarian Government’s Minister for Economy, Finances and Security to suggest they had been caused deliberately which in turn prompted some newspapers to print headlines saying there was an arsonist on the loose on Tenerife. The clearly perplexed minister made the comment before the smoke from the fires in La Orotava, Los Realejos and El Rosario had even dissipated and there was no way he could have known what the causes of the fires were at that point. There was even one wild suggestion that a drugs gang was behind the wildfires. The Tenerife Government on the other hand have been consistent in not pointing the finger until experts conclude their investigations. And that hasn’t happened yet.

And with purely coincidental timing, in Candelaria, at the celebrations in honour of the Virgen de Candelaria, the Bishop of Tenerife gave a sermon that reflected the good (solidarity) and bad (those who caused them) of the fires to the thousands of pilgrims who, despite a prohibition, had walked across forest trails from all over Tenerife to get to Candelaria.

A Bust Up With Binter
You would expect the implementation of new international routes by Canarian airline company Binter to be something to be pleased about. Not if you live on Tenerife, as the new routes only operate from neighbour, and nemesis to some Tinerfeños, Gran Canaria. Tenerife’s Tourism Minister Carlos Alonso is said to be furious about the decision by Binter to fly from Gran Canaria to Lisbon, especially as he says statistics show in the first six months of 2012, more people travelled from Tenerife to Portugal than from Gran Canaria to Portugal. Binter were allegedly unmoved by the rhetoric from Tenerife’s politicians. Whether Binter’s representatives went as far as sticking their fingers in their ears and singing ‘Come fly with me…” to drown out the complaining we really couldn’t say. But they aren’t budging.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Tenerife’s Bioclimatic Houses
ITER’s Bioclimatic houses near Montaña Pelada are a commendable project even if their location, next to an industrial estate, doesn’t seem to fit the picture of the environmentally friendly paradise that you might expect for such a concept.
Reports that mountains of rubbish bags that have been dumped in the area have broken open and the ever present wind has scattered their contents over the land around the houses and the nearby beach can’t have helped improved the vista around these ‘green” holiday homes.
You’d think it would be a priority to keep the area around the houses looking a bit more environmentally friendly and a bit less town dump.
On the other hand, ITER is the centre for promoting renewable energies, so maybe the rubbish is all part of a recycling scheme.


More Forest Fires in Tenerife News of the Week

Forest Fires at Erjos, Tenerife Aug 2012

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

Forest Fires on Tenerife
Ironically, just as the forest fires that affected the area around Erjos in El Tanque were stabilised and downgraded to a level 1 risk, the World’s press started printing stories about fires raging in Tenerife.
Despite the facts that the Tenerife Government had declared the fires stabilised and despite the fact that they was never a threat to tourist areas at any point, some sensation mongers went to town with the story. Top of the tree was the Daily Mail whose headline was a disgrace. The headline, ‘Foreign Office warns tourists over Canary Islands wildfires as two firefighters are killed and 4,000 homes evacuated’, was misleading, inaccurate and insensitive. No firefighters were killed fighting the fires on Tenerife or La Gomera.

The Mirror went one better in their article headlined “Wildfire terror: Brits face evacuation as blazes rage through Canary Islands forests” when they stated “More than 3,000 people, including many visitors, are already grouped in a safe area of the western Tenerife port of Puerto de Vueltas.”
The sharp-eyed out there will have spotted that Vueltas isn’t actually on Tenerife, it’s on La Gomera which sadly, really is in a critical situation as far as forest fires are concerned, but there are indications that things are improving there as well.

Many sections of the British press have been at least a day behind with their reports and some of the lesser quality rags have, as usual, played on the tourist angle, even though one didn’t exist.

Unfortunately too many people are still taken in by this form of cheap sensationalism. The reality is most tourists in Tenerife’s resorts would only have been aware of fires if they were keeping up to date with local news.

The actual situation was that a fire broke out in an allotment (cause still unknown) near Erjos in the municipality of El Tanque on Friday night. Anyone who has travelled on the TF82 between Los Gigantes and Icod de los Vinos should be familiar with this hikers” paradise near the Erjos pools.

Firefighters believed the blaze to be under control by Saturday morning but a heatwave at the weekend brought hot winds and temperatures above 40C, fuelling the flames. By midday on Saturday the fire had engulfed swathes of forest and was elevated to a level 2 as it spread across the valley.

Throughout Saturday 2,200 people were evacuated from nearby towns and villages, many purely as precautionary measures, bus services were cancelled and some roads were closed.

By Sunday night around 1,200 firefighters and volunteers supported by helicopters and members of the Military Disaster Relief Unit (UME) from Gran Canaria were able to successfully stabilize the 14 kilometre long perimeter of the fire. By Monday, the fire was brought under control, a total of 369 hectares in the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, El Tanque and Los Silos having been affected.

Once again the Emergency services have performed above and beyond.

Whilst roads have re-opened and residents have returned home, the area is still a hot spot and firefighters continue to work to fully extinguish the fire. It is not a tourist attraction and the Tenerife Government has stated that people should stay away lest they get in the way of the emergency forces.

This is the current situation, so any headlines that still even hints at tourists, or anyone, fleeing fires on Tenerife should be totally ignored. Also it might be worth considering changing your newspaper to one that actually prints news.

Update 15/08/2012: Another fire has broken out in the forest above Los Realejos in the north of Tenerife. Firefighters have been tackling it from early morning and, fingers crossed, seem to have it under control.


Kon-Tiki & the Guanche Freedom Fighter in Tenerife News of the Week

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

Look Out For Kon-Tiki
Fans of Tenerife’s Pyramids of Güímar should be interested in a new film by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (directors of Max Manus and Bandidas starring Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek) which has its world première on 24th August. Kon-Tiki chronicles the thought-to-be-impossible 8,000 kilometre journey made by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947 from Peru across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia on a raft made from balsa, bamboo and banana leaves.
Thor Heyerdahl’s connection with Tenerife is that he was instrumental in saving the Guanche pyramids at Güímar and bringing them to the world’s attention by developing the wonderful ethnographic park where they’re located.
To promote the film, a new Kon-Tiki has been constructed and has been sailing along Norway’s south east coast, heading into the Oslo Fjord in time for the première. There’s a little bit of Tenerife on this new Kon-Tiki voyage as the banana leaves covering Kon-Tiki’s cabin are Canarian, supplied by the Pyramids of Güímar park.

Simón Bolivár was a Guanche
It was reported this week that one of the most famous freedom fighters of all time, Simón Bolivár, (who helped liberate Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador and pretty much the whole of Hispanic-America from Spanish rule) had Guanche blood.
Although it’s known his grandmother came from Garachico, experts at Venezuela’s Institute of Genealogy claimed that they could also link Bolivár back to the Guanches who inhabited the island pre-conquest.
His complicated family network involves a twisting genealogical journey that links Simón Bolivár with Cristóbal de Ponte, founder of Garachico, who was known to have a Guanche “Mistress” who bore his bastard babies. But then so did many of the wealthy conquerors. The male Guanches having been killed in battle or sold into slavery, left the women at the mercy of the island’s new rulers. Subsequently there were lots of illegitimate births and the Guanche bloodline was diluted left, right and centre.
Apart from Guanche blood, the institute says that he also had Basque, Andalusian, Galician, Italian and Portuguese blood as well ““ they clearly had a great old time back in the day ““ so it’s unlikely that his statue in Garachico will be getting a goatskin pants makeover any day soon.

Tenerife is Heating Up… Again
It’s starting to look as though heatwaves are becoming a regular part of the weekend on Tenerife during this summer. The Spanish Meteorological Office have warned that another is on the way. Temperatures will continue to rise as the week progresses with the thermometer reaching the mid 30s by Friday and Saturday before cooling down again (if that’s the right phrase) from Sunday. The culprit is a weather front of hot air blowing in from Africa, which no doubt means more sand-filled skies.
The biggest worry with these continual heatwaves is the increased risk of forest fires. La Palma and La Gomera have been the latest victims of a combination of hot weather, tinder-dry terrain and human stupidity over the last few days. Let’s hope that this weekend there’s an outbreak of common sense to coincide with the heatwave and people actually pay some attention to the ‘no fires in the mountains” advice from Tenerife’s Government.

Perseid Shower Show Time
The Perseid meteor shower is back with up to 100 meteors an hour streaking across the sky at the height of the display. The best chance of seeing anything will be between 10pm on Saturday night and 2am Sunday morning and the same hours between Sunday night and Monday morning. Apparently the best direction to look for them is towards the north-east sky. All of which means there should be loads of people flat on their backs by midnight on Saturday in Tenerife. Sounds like just an average Saturday night down Veronicas.

Bird Brained
It’s hard to know whether to feel pleased or sorry for an owl rescued from a private home in Guia de Isora last week. The eagle owl, a protected species, was transferred from Tenerife to a specialist recovery centre in Lanzarote. So, our feathered friend was taken from an island with lots of lovely trees to one where trees aren’t exactly thick on the ground. It’s an interesting flight path considering there are wildlife recovery centres on Tenerife.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦ an Inability to Communicate
Ironically in a week when Canarios proudly read about Guanche links to Simón Bolivár, that police in La Laguna caused outrage by breaking up a procession celebrating Bolivia’s patron saint, the Virgin of Copacabana. Admittedly the procession, involving five hundred of Tenerife’s Bolivian community, blocked a road. However, the celebration has been taking place in the same place for eleven years and in previous years even the Mayor of La Laguna has joined in the party.
This year the Tenerife Bolivians apparently didn’t have the required authorisation to take to the streets to honour their patron saint.
Not that they appeared to realise that as the council had actually supplied a band for the event. A council spokesperson was quick to point out that sending a band didn’t imply authorisation. You can see why the Bolivians might have been a bit confused by that action.
As is so often the case in this wonderful and often frustrating island, an inability to communicate effectively lay at the root of the problem.