News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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MÁlaga's new museum of art is open
The Carmen Thyssen Museum will house both permanent and temporary exhibitions
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA'S newest museum was officially opened last week. The Carmen Thyssen Museum is displaying 230 works from the personal collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, and is housed in the 19th century Villalón Palace in the centre of Málaga, which has been restored, and other nearby properties.
The exhibits come from the art collection started in the 1920s by Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon which was continued after his death by his son. In 1985, the new Baron married Carmen Cervera, a former Miss Spain, and she persuaded him to open a museum in Madrid in 1992 and cede the priceless collection to the country. Since the Baron's death in 2002, the Baroness has continued to be heavily involved with the original museum in Madrid and the new Carmen Thyssen Museum in Málaga.
Málaga's mayor Francisco de la Torre said the museum's opening was an important cultural event for the city and that it would have a great impact on the local economy. The Baroness told reporters that she is "in love" with her new museum in Málaga and the works on display had been chosen by her for their beauty and quality.
Nerja Residents' Day postponed
By Suzan Davenport
NERJA Foreigners' Department announced this morning, Friday April 1st, that due to adverse weather forecasts for Sunday April 3rd, they have postponed Residents' Day to next Sunday April 10th. Remarkably this is the second year in a row that this has happened.
Once over the initial disappointment that the event will not be taking place this Sunday but the following one (weather forecasts for April 10th currently show glorious sunshine) we hope that this year's attendence figures will beat the 2010 Nerja Residents' Day record of 5,000.
The 2011 event takes place in the now habitual venue - the Plaza de España (behind the Town Hall, above the municipal car park) on Sunday, April 10th from 11.30am to 7pm.
I'd recommend you come along early, as it's a very popular event, and after browsing the 37 different stands manned by local associations and clubs (don't forget to come and see us) you can relax and enjoy some of the delicious snacks, homemade cakes and drinks being served by the seven bars that surround the large area of tables and chairs. From there you'll have a great view of the stage where live entertainment, performed by singers, dancers and groups of all nationalities and ages, will be on almost uninterrupted until the evening.
At the Costa del Sol News stand we're looking forward to meeting up with numerous familiar faces from previous editions (we've been going to this event for eight years so we know quite a few!) and to getting to know new readers and hear comments on the paper - whatever they may be - it all helps us to shape the paper that you want to read.
See you there...
BenalmÁdena butterfly aviary takes flight
The 1,000 square-metre centre is billed as the largest of its kind in Europe
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA'S latest tourist attraction, the Mariposario butterfly aviary, was inaugurated last Friday. Billed as the largest walk-in butterfly exhibit in Europe, the centre, located near the Buddhist stupa just outside the pueblo, includes a nearly 1,000-square-metre indoor tropical garden where visitors can wander among the free-flying butterflies.
Mayor Enrique Moya said the launch of the butterfly park will be a boost for the local economy and tourism industry. Added to existing local attractions such as Selwo Marina, Sea Life, Tivoli World and the Teleférico cable car, the Mariposario "consolidates Benalmádena as Andalucía's family and nature entertainment capital par excellence," he said during the inauguration.
The Mariposario is a private initiative promoted by the company Imago Dracaena SL, which has a similar centre in the Canary Islands, but was actively supported by the town hall, which provided the land for the project.
Royal couple in Spain
Charles and Camilla meet with British volunteers during three-day visit
By Dave Jamieson
THE Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall began a three-day official visit to Spain on Wednesday. They arrived in Madrid from Lisbon where they had spent two days and will continue to Morocco on Monday. It is the Prince's 11th official visit to Spain and the Duchess's first.
Charles and Camilla are official guests of the Prince and Princess of Asturias but they are joining King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia for a private lunch at the Zarzuela Palace during their stay.
High on a busy programme of engagements is a reception at the Madrid Residence of the British Ambassador, Giles Paxman. Here the Royal couple have an opportunity to meet and thank around 300 representatives of the thousands of Spanish and British volunteers who help to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable British residents in Spain.
Among the many volunteer organisations attending will be Age Concern Acción Social, Age UK and The Royal British Legion, as well as representatives of Spanish local and regional authorities, and members of the foreign press, including Costa del Sol News. The Duchess of Cornwall is also meeting leaders of the Barcelona group of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, of which she is Patron. Maggie's is aiming to develop its first care centre outside the UK and the meeting is seen as an opportunity to raise the profile of the project.
British researchers study Ardales cave paintings
The archaeologists from University of Sheffield say the cave is ‘invaluable'
By Oliver McIntyre
TWO British researchers visited the Ardales cave last week as part of a study they are performing on European cave art, and in particular prehistoric hand stencils or tracings.
"The data from Ardales has been invaluable to the project," said Dr Becky Harrison, the research assistant on the study, which is being carried out at the University of Sheffield with funding from The Leverhulme Trust.
Following their visit to the cave last week, project leader Dr Paul Pettitt, a reader in Palaeolithic Archaelology at Sheffield, told Costa del Sol News: "We are interested in how difficult it was to leave hand stencils such as those in Ardales; notably how difficult it was to get to the place where the stencils were left, and how difficult the act of leaving each stencil was.
Costa towns unite to stamp out ‘pirate' taxis
Most of the unlicensed taxi services are operated and used by foreigners, say officials
By Oliver McIntyre
SEVERAL Costa towns have banded together to battle against ‘pirate' taxi services that unfairly compete with legitimate licensed cabs.
The presidents of the Radio Taxi services in Torremolinos, Benalmádena and Fuengirola met last week with Benalmádena's councillor for transport, Rafael Obrero, along with the local police chiefs from Torremolinos and Benalmádena.
The meeting "served to establish coordination among the Costa towns in order to more efficiently and effectively share information on the vehicles that offer [taxi services] with no qualification or certification to do so," said Councillor Obrero.
The Radio Taxi services estimate that there are currently more than 100 vehicles operating as pirate taxis in the three towns, the vast majority of them driven by foreigners providing service to the airport or to golf courses. "We see the same vehicles again and again, and we have their licence plate numbers," said Francisco Martín, president of the Benalmádena Radio Taxi service.
Councillor Obrero noted that there is a proliferation of such non-licensed services "in coastal towns where there are large concentrations of foreign residents, who appear to be the easiest target" for the pirate drivers.
Baby genetically selected to avoid breast cancer
Mother is carrier of a mutant gene that causes a particularly deadly form of the disease
By Oliver McIntyre
DOCTORS in Barcelona last week announced the first birth in Spain of a baby genetically selected to not have a predisposition to hereditary breast cancer.
The mother has a strong history of breast cancer in her family and is a carrier of a mutant version of the BRCA1 gene, which is known to cause a particularly deadly form of early-onset breast cancer. There was a 50 per cent chance that she would pass the gene on to her offspring in the event of a natural pregnancy.
In April 2009 doctors at Barcelona's Hospital de Sant Pau and the Fundación Puigvert received authorization from the National Assisted Reproduction Commission to perform an embryo selection procedure to impregnate the woman with an embryo lacking the mutant gene.
Of 12 egg cells harvested from the woman for in vitro fertilisation, nine were successfully fertilised and six continued evolving healthily after three days. Of those six, two were found to be free of the mutant gene, and these two were implanted in the woman's womb, resulting in a successful single pregnancy.
The baby, a boy, was born in December. He is not a carrier of the mutant gene and will not pass it down to future generations.
The birth was significant not so much because of the specific techniques used - which were standard embryo selection techniques - but because it was the first time the National Assisted Reproduction Commission has authorised this sort of procedure in Spain as a form of preventive medicine, said Doctor Joaquim Calaf, director of the Puigvert-Sant Pau Assisted Reproduction Programme.
Currently the programme has a similar case pending authorization, while authorities are also reviewing the use of the procedure for a type of hereditary colon cancer.
Del Valle gets 22 years for murdering Mari Luz
At time of crime he should have been in jail for previous paedophile convictions
By David Eade
AFTER 10 intense days of trial Santiago del Valle has been found guilty of the murder of Mari Luz Cortes. The five-year-old disappeared from near her home in Huelva on January 13, 2008, and her dead body was found in the waters of the Ría de Huelva estuary 54 days later.
Del Valle was a known paedophile and had already been accused of assaulting his own daughter. Indeed, had he been imprisoned correctly for his previous convictions, he would not have been out free to murder Mari Luz, her parents have always argued.
The sentence handed down to Santiago del Valle was 19 years for the murder of Mari Luz - a year less than that sought by the prosecutor - plus three years for sexually assaulting the child. He is also banned from living in Huelva for 32 years and from having any contact with the victim's family.
The court found that Santiago del Valle did not act alone. His sister Rosa had lived with him and his wife, Isabel García, for three years. Rosa was sentenced to nine years in jail for being an accomplice to the murder - she has already served three in preventive custody. This falls well short of the 17 years sought by the prosecutor.
The court agreed that Rosa had been a willing accomplice in carrying Mari Luz's body to his car and had helped him dump her. Whether she played a role in the girl's death is not known.
What if a major earthquake hit Spain?
Geophysics Institute gives advice on what to do in the event of a large quake
By David Eade
WITH images of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan still filling the media, the Instituto Andaluz de Geofísica has been giving some advice to the public on how to prepare for an earthquake, how to react when one strikes and how to deal with the aftermath. Details can be found on www.ugr.es.
The advice is relevant because southern Spain is in an earthquake zone although there has never been one with the intensity that hit Japan or a resulting tsunami. Nonetheless, the area from Cádiz to Alicante is especially vulnerable as it lies on one of the major fault lines.
The first recorded earthquake in southern Spain was in 881 in the Gulf of Cádiz, which reached an estimated 7.2 on the Richter scale. The largest was in 1755, an 8.4-magnitude quake at the Cape of St Vincent that killed 15,000 people. There were 12 significant earthquakes the last century - the strongest, at 6.3, in Adra in 1910. In the 1990s there were three - in 1993 at Berja, 5.0; 1994 at Costa de Balerma, 4.9; and 1999 at Mula, 5.0. There are minor tremors all the time.
The Instituto Andaluz de Geofísica recommends that every home should have an emergency box containing first aid materials, torches, battery radio and batteries, and everybody in the household should know where the box is. Everybody should also know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water, and should have a safe gathering place. There should be a list of emergency numbers such as Protección Civil, fire brigade, ambulance and police. Heavy objects should not be placed on top of high pieces of furniture. Wardrobes, shelving units and furniture items that could fall should be screwed to the wall whilst mirrors, pictures, lamps and toxic material should also be secured. The structure of a house including chimneys and balconies should be thoroughly checked for stability and if in doubt, an expert consulted.
If an earthquake strikes, stay calm and reassure others, say the experts. If you are inside a building, do not go out to the street. Entering or leaving a building can cause accidents. Look for strong structures inside a building - beneath a table or bed, below the lintel of a door, against a pillar, in a corner - and protect your head. Do not use the lift. Put out all fires and do not light a candle or fire. If you are outside of the building, keep clear of electric cables, windows, roof tiles, etc. Do no stand near a building or any place where you could be hit by falling debris. Don't run, and watch out for traffic.
If somebody is injured, give them basic first aid. If the injuries are serious, do not move the person unless you have medical training. Move with caution. Check the state of power and water supplies both visually and by smell and if in doubt disconnect them. Only use the telephone in the case of extreme urgency. Turn on the radio for information and instructions. Open cupboards with caution.