Friday, 3 July 2009

Diving in Fuerteventura

Alan scuba divingSpent a week in Fuerteventura. Part of the plan was to complete the course for the PADI Open Water Diver Course. I had done the theory and confined water parts in Madrid at Casco Antiguo, but needed to do the practical exercises in the sea. Large ray on seabed Thanks to Edgar and Santiago of Easy-Diving in Costa Calma, for making it so enjoyable. While we were diving of the harbour wall at Morro Jable we swam above a group of five adult rays lurking on the bottom and I was able to catch a few photographs. The pictures don't show the size of them; they were nearly the size of an adult human.

group of small fish feeding together on seabedAlso saw shoals of fish and a group feeding on the bottom, I suspect on dead fish thrown down by the tourist submarine that operates out of the harbour (the ray in the picture has the remains of one under its tail).

colourless sea squirts on sandy seabedThe landscape is spectacular, with the dark volcanic basalt lava smothered, sometimes completely, in sand. On the western (windward) side of the island near the lighthouse at Cotillo, snorkel exploration in shallow lagoons was disappointing, but they were filled with what looked like colourless sea squirts like inflated condoms stuck to the seabed sand. The ventricular basalt rock formations were bizarre. They look like they have been hollowed out by the movement of silicate rocks moving about inside holes in the solidified lava, giving them an almost organic appearance. After the first couple of days there were non-stop gale force winds. On the beaches, especially the sotavento beach so popular with windsurfers, it was like being sandblasted and I was glad to have swimming goggles to protect my eyes. I can't quite figure out why people voluntarily choose to stroll up and down in such conditions, especially some of them with their most sensitive bodily organs exposed.

View of the hotel rooms from in the poolThe hotel, the Barceló Jandía Mar was very good, and having everything included meant there was no need to prepare food or even go out looking for restaurants. On the down side, for those who want to go out and are not in good physical shape the climb back up the hill from the beach is rather daunting. The entertainment shows in the hotel were very good, I thought. I would recommend Fuerteventura for someone with an activity in mind, like diving or windsurfing, but if it's just for lounging by the pool it might be better to find somewhere less exposed to the wind.

Este artículo Buceo en Fuerteventura en español.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Interviews with Reggio and Glass about Koyaanisqatsi

Just watched “Essence of Life” (2002), a short documentary with interviews with Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass, part of the collaboration that made the film Koyaanisqatsi (1983), on the DVD of the film. I can't help thinking that, while many films lose their relevance with time, or at best maintain it, this one becomes increasingly important as technology becomes ever more pervasive. Reggio started out by making a public information film about the way technology was being used to invade privacy. In 1978!. Before the popular use of the Internet or the invention of the World Wide Web. Have things improved since then? I don't think so; quite the opposite. As technology becomes more pervasive it increasingly becomes what Reggio calls the “host of life”, supplanting nature. I think this film will become increasingly important as time goes on and technology becomes the place where we live (trapped by it), with the “day of purification” getting ever closer. Thanks to Jack Moore for introducing me to the film (around 1985 I think). More information about Koyanisqaatsi in Wikipedia. Clips of the documentary are on YouTube, but the DVD of Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi is available from Amazon ridiculously cheap.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Chip and Pin a la española

Just went to my bank (Bancaja) and picked up my new charge card. Hope that it'll make life easier now that I no longer have a valid residence permit and don't carry my passport around with me. Until HM Government gets around to issuing me with an identity card. Hopefully it'll also save explanations when I try to use it in small shops in the UK.

Why do they always put such tiny space on the back for the signature? Is there anyone who can write their signature in that? It's not even big enough for a fingerprint much less a signature.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Register of foreign residents

Go to Ministry of Interior in Plaza del Campillo del Nuevo Mundo (near Puerta de Toledo) to be inscribed on register of Foreign Residents. Under European legislation, EU citizens do not require residence permits, these are no longer issued.Unfortunately as the British government is only now starting to issue them again, I don't have an ID card. This means that I should carry my passport every time I go out, which is rather a non-starter I think.

I was given an appointment several months ago. They attended to me quickly and there was no problem. Had to pay a €10 fee at the bank down the street.

I downloaded the fillable form EX-16 in PDF from the Ministry's website and saved it, then printed it out on paper, which was very efficient, I thought. Although PDF was at least tagged after a fashion, it had loads of accessibility errors; they obviously hadn't checked it at all. It was done with Acrobat Distiller. So much for accessibility of government websites. It was only created three months ago, in compliance with a law passed in 2007, so no excuse. The site proclaims its WCAG 1.0 AA, compliance, but then that's no surprise either.