Day 50 - 57 / La isla bonita - so true!

Dear All,

as announced in the last blog post I write to you today from la isla bonita - La Palma!

And no, I am not in Las Palmas, nor in Palma de Mallorca, but La Palma. But I can feel you, to be honest I knew little or nothing about this beautiful place until a few years ago. And if you feel the same way, I want to bring some light into the dark for you. Deutscher Text hier

But first: Since I forgot it last week and it was sorely missed (thanks for the kind reminder, too much vacation on Fuerteventura ;-) ) we start again with the Learnings of the week:

- The advice that propeller aircraft are much safer than normal aircraft will be expensive for me in the future - is it possible to fly to Australia with a propeller aircraft?

- PIN dementia can be contagious and can be a strain on the nerves. The more restless the tourists become, the more relaxed the locals react. However, when a couple urgently needs their rental car today, the "mañana" mentality does not always provide relaxation.

- La Palma reminds me of Berlin and no, I don't mean the above mentioned "mañana" mentality when the Berlin airport was built.

- Tomatoes do grow on trees!

- people from the north of Germany are not „cool“ at all: I have had the warmest encounter here and am now learning a lot about sailing!

- No money in the world will change anything about the things you love to do - when you have found them, you can consider yourself lucky!

- Mulled wine taste good even at 20 degrees - we are adaptable. Apparently not Father Christmas, who was wrapped in his thick costume even when it was over 20 degrees - he probably didn't feel like having ahut mulled wine.

- Never lose hope: when I thought I would only see spitting passengers on the boat trip, some dolphins spat water fountains out of the sea and the trip was saved - thanks Flipper.

- Amateur is not amador in Spanish - sometimes yes, but in my case no, as the Spanish teacher explained to me - Thank you!

- sometimes you have to learn to accept things - in retrospect you are more than grateful <3

La Palma is about the same size as Hamburg - 47 km x 29 km! And even though I really love Hamburg (greetings to my dear Hamburger friends Lena, Bernd, Mia, Doro and Flo, who are all reading along), I have to admit that La Palma Hamburg doesn't only top in terms of weather. The island rises from the seabed at a depth of about 4,000 metres to almost 6,500 metres. And even though it is the third smallest island of the Canary Islands, it is rightly called "La isla bonita" - because La Palma, so they say, is the most beautiful of all Canary Islands.

And that was what had to be discovered now! I was really looking forward to the island, because not only Sonja was raving about her second home, but also in Fuerteventura I met many fans of this little paradise. On the evening of my arrival I couldn't see much of the island, because it was already dark. So it was even nicer that Sonja asked a friend to pick me up from the airport, who not only showed patience at the airport (as five holidaymakers in front of me also wanted to pick up their rental car and four of them forgot the PIN of their credit card) but also brought me safely to the house on the island. Unfortunately without my tripod, which got lost on the flight and has not been found until today - but well, better the tripod than my luggage!

Frank gave me a few helpful tips in the evening and fascinated me with his relation to the island. While he actually wanted to explore the world by bike after a tragic accident many years ago and had La Palma as his training stop in advance, he was so fascinated by this island that he extended his training and simply stayed forever. "Here I found paradise and everything I had been looking for", said Frank, who never set off on his world tour. And he's not the only one there, as I've learned in the last few days. Some Germans live here, who came as holidaymakers and stayed as residents.

Frank has fulfilled his life's dream here and built a plot of land on which he grows all the plants and a variety of fruit and vegetables that will enable him to be self-sufficient. A few days ago I visited him there and he showed me the different kinds of Aloe Vera, how he uses upcycling and plants flower beds from old sinks, new plant species like potatoes growing above the ground and everything you need from avocado trees to pineapples, mandarins, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, spinach, peppers and much more. Since it rains much less in La Palma than in Germany, the soil is dry, you can imagine how much work is involved in such a green garden, in which grass soil also grows. Frank regularly has interested people with him, who help him through Wwoofing. WWOOf stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is a platform that is based on the idea of bringing people together who lead a nature-loving lifestyle in the countryside - or want to get to know it actively. I met Ed and Laura, for example, who helped out in Frank's garden for a few weeks and in return were able to sleep and live with him. On their day off, they went on a hike with Frank to which he also invited me, right on the day of my arrival. So I was integrated right from the start. La Palma made my arrival very easy!

So the next day I was happy to explore the island with Frank and Laura in daylight. Laura is 25 years old and comes from Madrid. She is currently using the time to visit and support different projects and gain different experiences before she will visit her boyfriend in Denmark. Even though Laura thought that her English was not good, I was impressed, because I know for the Spanish new languages are very difficult (Paul I had to think of you, maybe it is because of the name that Lauras are not satisfied with their English skills ;-)). And since my Spanish skills are unfortunately became very bad in the last ten years, we were able to communicate so well in English.

Frank decided to go for the Cubo de la Galga Hike.

The hike showed me the green oasis of the island - the laurel forest Barranco de La Galga. From Frank we learned of course everything about the plants there, tried wild herbs and were very well supplied with his homemade mango chips and mango smoothies (that's how you live ;-)). You normally learn that tomatoes grow on the bush and here you find the tomato tree - La Palma always amazes me as a kid from the city.

Interesting is also the story of the carnival on La Palma, because Rose Monday is celebrated here in a very special way. On this day, the return of the island residents who mainly emigrated to Cuba (who are called "Indianos" here) is commemorated.

Locals appear in white costume, which consists of a linen suit for men and a linen dress for women, and a "Panama hat".

In former times the rich returnees are said to have been covered with flour, at carnival they use baby powder or talcum powder. In no time at all, all the celebrating people as well as the streets Calle O'Daly and Pérez de Brito and adjacent streets and alleys in Santa Cruz are covered with a white veil. The street cleaners will later have to work for days to restore the original state. The city celebrates to Caribbean music, the smell of Havana cigars is in the air and between the white veil of the city you can find costumes of slaves, sailors and big parrot cages. So La Palma I will surely come back - and I think carnival would be a good option :)

After the hike we went to "Los Tilos", an impressive waterfall in the northeast of the island in the Las Nieves Natural Park - a real paradise! Embedded in lush green, the water from the rocks finds its way down into the valley. Since it hadn't rained so much these days, the waterfall wasn't so massive, but didn't lose any of its magic. See for yourself on the photos.

My highlight of the day was the following trip to the nearby beach Playa Nogales. The beach is located at the foot of the cliffs and can only be recognized and reached after a descent of about 20 minutes over some steps. Halfway you pass the "Cueva Playa Nogales", a cave with an underground "lake". This cave even has an exit into the open sea. Without a torch you can't see anything – I promise you ;-)

The beach is so impressive and one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

For me it was the first beach with black sand. And the contrast to the turquoise sea and the red cliffs covered with lush green plants looks simply gigantic. The beach is less suitable for swimming, because it has a strong surf and current. A lonely surfer fought bitterly against the power of the waves, which made me happy when he finally caught a wave and the take off worked (and in my mind I was surfing along like in Fuerte again :-))

he next day I decided to explore the island by car to get an overview. I steered towards Roque de los Muchachos. With its 2426 meters it is the highest point of the island and offers an extraordinary view over the whole island of La Palma and the National Park Caldera de Taburiente. The whole northern part of the island La Palma was formed by different volcanoes, which formed a huge volcanic cone over the millennia. Later, collapse and erosion formed the huge cauldron of the present National Park, with a diameter of 9 km. The Caldera de Taburiente is one of the largest erosion craters on earth.

What a bizarre landscape - so it felt as if with every curve a new facet of the island would become visible. And somehow La Palma suddenly reminded me of Berlin. No, I don't have sunstroke and I know that at the first moment you certainly won't find any common ground. But for me Berlin is a city that is so diverse that it is not immediately tangible - it doesn't fit into any pigeonhole. And it's the same with La Palma, it takes time until you have a feeling for this magical place here. And I looked forward to every curve that brought new things with it.

Before you reach the summit you pass the astrophysical observatory Roque de los Muchachos (ORM). I also noticed the beautiful and bright starry sky, but I didn't know that La Palma is so important for astrology. Because of its special climate and the low light pollution, the place is considered one of the best in the world for looking at the stars. More than 20 countries do research here and there are special telescopes. I have booked a astrotour by night for next week and I am curious to learn more about it (yes I know already "Laura's Stern" - it had to come that way ;-))

The most beautiful coincidence on this trip was my love for Northern Germany, because during the hike I suddenly heard the German Nordic dialect next to me, and I thought it might be people from Hamburg. When we started talking, it turned out that Felix, Dörte, Ove and Barbara really do come from the north and are also on sabbatical or a trip to Europe - but by sailboat. How exciting - they told me about their trip from Madeira and the life on board and spontaneously invited me to visit them in Tazacorte. Wow life, thank you for this wonderful meeting, because today I can say in retrospect, here I met so lovely people! We exchanged our blog pages and so I arranged to visit them a few days later.

But this day ended with a nice final dinner with Laura and Ed (Frank's helpers) in Santa Cruz, because unfortunately they left the next day and wanted to spend their last evening with me. It was crazy how fast I "arrived" in La Palma. For me it was also the first encounter with Santa Cruz too, this sweet little town. I have never been to Cuba before, but that is exactly how I imagine it to be! My illusion was somehow taken away when Laura started talking to a saleswoman in a shop, because the saleswoman came from Cuba and told us that her home country had really little in common with Santa Cruz. But well, I'm sure there's a little bit of Cuban flair if all the Cubans are here. Or what do you think when you see the photos?

By the way, that's one of the things I love here - the Spanish are so open and warm, helpful and once you get involved in the conversation, there's no stopping. So Laura actually only wanted to buy a souvenir and we ended in about 20 minutes of small talk with the lady of the shop who told us about Cuba, her family, life in La Palma and the times of Corona. "I never wanted to exchange my life here for that on the Spanish mainland again, people still live here, here a job is enough to finance my life and time has a different meaning", said the lady. The shop has been around for over 20 years, which surprised me with its range of products and at the same time was proof enough that the economy here on the island is simply still very stable and functioning - there is little industry, still many small historic shops and a loyal clientele.

In the evening Ed, Laura and I had paella. It was probably the worst we ever ate, but in best company - and that was worth it! Ed is from England and we had a good exchange about the UK, as I had lived in Windsor for a year (many greetings to my AuPair Kids Eloise, Josie as well as Tanya, Carina and Amanda, who also read along). Ed is now moving on to Tenerife to help a woman with her farm and animals, and she also have some donkeys. Ed loves to discover the free life and the world, but is looking forward to spending Christmas with his children in Cambridge again. When asked by Laura how we would live our lifes if we had endless money, Ed said he didn't need more than now. He would invest everything else in projects that help those in need to help themselves. And Laura and I had similar views. "And what about your job?" Laura asked me. "I would want to continue working, because what I do, I like to do", I answered and realised how grateful I was at that moment to have found activities that are not accounted for as a "pledge to make a living" for me. And travelling, that would never be neglected with all the money in the world, because conversations like this and moments like this are worth so much more than any money in the world (but yes, with money travelling is of course easier ;-))

Not surprisingly, Laura almost started a discussion with the waiter, who wanted to bring her a new cutlery after the starter. "Why," she asked. "Because that's what we do here," said the waiter. "Yes, then we do it differently now, I want to use it again and it also saves you money and is good for the environment", she countered. Yes, she is right, it is the little things that sometimes make a big difference!

Dear Ed, Dear Laura, thank you for such a wonderful evening with you and the invitation to visit you anytime. Laura, we already have a plan for next year, I can't wait to visit you in Madrid and then also make a stop to visit my former colleague Montse in Barcelona (a promise is a promise :-)), because unfortunately it didn't work out on this trip.

The next day I wanted to visit my four new sailing friends and set off for Tazacorte.

Before that I made a side trip to Los Llanos, where I had booked two Spanish lessons, because I wanted to refresh my Spanish a bit. Eva, a Spaniard who lives with a German, welcomed me warmly and we talked about my trip and different topics to get a little more routine in speaking and repeated some special features in Spanish - now I have to learn vocabulary again and then I want to visit Eva again. The language is often the key to communication and the Spaniards here make it really easy to communicate with little knowledge but still with hands and feet and are very patient. And so I am happy to do a little something for my Spanish every day.

After the lesson I headed for the harbour, Ove and Barbara welcomed me at the entrance, but Bertha distracted me in this moment and so I missed them (wildly waving - sorry ;-)). Except for my graduation trip in class 9 on the Ijsselmeer I have never been on a sailing boat before and I was very curious to see how they live here. Next to their sailboat was the one of Dörte and Felix, who were shopping at the time of my arrival. I was first given a tour below deck and was thrilled how everything has its place here and how much storage space the boat offers. "Of course everything must have its place here, when we are at sea everything must be fastened," says Ove. When I asked them whether they had already been through heavy storms, they told me that the most dangerous situation was not due to the weather but to a container floating in the sea. Every year, container ships lose huge containers due to poor securing and/or storms, which can then become a danger to other boats. So Oves Boot kissed this suddenly appearing container and two holes in the tailcoat caused a thrill you wouldn't wish on anyone - luckily only little water was flowing in, so that a trip to the land was possible. The thought that this could change any second, however, gave me goose bumps. Apart from that Ove and Barbara are a great team, while Barbara gets a bit restless when storm fronts are coming up, Ove is the calm one. A fantastic couple that has touched me very much the last days. Barbara works as a teacher in a psychiatric clinic, has also had a lot to do with children from the oncology department and is currently taking a sabbatical. "I love my job, but I need these trips to recharge my batteries," she said - and this is absolutely understandable. Ove is retired and, as he said himself, discovered his perfect life model with less work and more time to travel in the last years before his retirement. In his work in the HR department, he also worked hard to make this model a reality for all employees, because he - like all of us in the group - is firmly convinced that productivity does not suffer and that everyone involved benefits from this model.

I can only subscribe to that, the experiences I have gained here during my journey I would never have made in my familiar surroundings. These will also benefit my future activities and every employer will certainly benefit from this. I am very grateful that my superiors also saw it this way about a year ago - but I know that not every company sees it this way. It's a pity - but who knows how this will develop in the future, when even home offices suddenly experience a new acceptance. Because there is much more to it than we sometimes think!

Anyway, Ove, Barbara and I took another walk along the coast to the fishing village El Puerto. Once again: a dream! The little village at the sea shines with its colourful houses in front of the steep cliffs. I honoured my name on this day and the wind blew us through, but that's how it should be - pure coastal feeling. We enjoyed the evening with a glass of wine on the promenade and already made plans for the next days. Thank you for your invitation - I am so happy that our paths have crossed and that you have told me about your exciting stories at sea. And as if nature had wanted to underline what I felt that day, the sky conjured up a beautiful rainbow over the harbour. And we didn't even have to look for the treasure anymore - because I knew mine was definitely the encounter with the sailing troops :)

By the way, we also met the famous sailing couple of the ship Freydis II - for half a century Heide and Erich Wilts have been sailing the seven seas together and have experienced many adventures. Together they have sailed around Cape Horn twelve times, have circumnavigated the earth twelve times in nautical miles, weathered 150 storms, of which the typhoons in Japan were by far the worst, and were the only German sailors to spend seven months in Antarctica for winter. And now they are still sailing the seas when they are not living in Heidelberg and preparing for their next tour! How exciting to meet adventurers from home here in La Palma!

I also still had a date with the sea - because I wanted to experience dolphins in the wild - so I booked a tour for the following days. I had not been given much hope of seeing them, as the waves were really picking up again. When we left the harbour not only the height of the waves increased but also the number of passengers who turned out to be seasick. By the way, in the end I felt like a "last women standing" - at least today I know that nothing can knock me down that fast at sea! How high were the waves? According to the app, probably only two to three metres, but the noticeable free fall from the wave felt like much more to me. And yes, I wasn't very unhappy when land was in sight again!

But I was lucky, on the way back to the harbour, when I had already come to terms with the fact that today at sea I will see nothing but spitting passengers, we spotted some dolphins. Wow, I couldn't believe it and for the first few minutes I didn't even take any pictures. How big they were - as we learned, not surprisingly, as we discovered the largest specimens of dolphins: the pilot whales they are a whale species from the dolphin family. And they had offspring with them, some babies followed their parents close in the water. I will never forget this and I am sure that the other passengers were also able to forget the exertions of the tour at that moment. I was also able to capture a few photos for you.

I also think it's great that the animals don't get fed here and that we turned off after ten minutes so as not to disturb the dolphins. For research purposes on the population on La Palma the crew also took photos that were sent to the university.

We also passed the so called "Flipper Mc Drice" - a fish farm, the only one on La Palma, which is more than interesting for the dolphins. "The dolphins always wonder why there are nets stretched around their food and bite their way to fast food," the tour guide explained the fishermen's bad luck and the animals' good luck.

We also made a stop at the pirate caves, the so-called smugglers' bay, which can also be reached on a hike. I will try the hike next week - the destination seems to be worthwhile.

All in all, the tour guides really took a lot of trouble and my expectations were more than fulfilled!

After the tour I visited the sailing troop in the harbour again and Dörte baked a cake - and what a delicious one! So the five of us enjoyed cake and coffee on deck (no, I still don't drink coffee ;-)) and talked about my dolphin tour. When we talked about the weather, Barbara explained how the sailors handle it and I got a short introduction to the app "Windy". So now I know that high pressure areas fall clockwise out of the area from high to low pressure and low pressure areas fall counterclockwise. We watched the weather in the app over the next few days and could see that Madeira and Porto Santo are facing heavy storms and that the foothills of these would bring more unpleasant weather for us over the next few days. This was also reported by the excursion crew of the tour, as the next excursions will all be cancelled. I also learned that a wave frequency of 8-10 seconds is good conditions - waves in shorter intervals make sailing more difficult and uncomfortable. So in the app you can see the height of the waves and the wave frequency at any place you like. As a sailor, it is vital to be constantly aware of the weather in order to avoid danger and be able to react in time. Next time Ove and Barbara will show me even more - I am curious and looking forward to it! "We will make a real sailor out of you", the two have decided :)

We decided to try the Christmas market in Los Llanos in the evening. First of all I wanted to do the short hike to the El Time viewpoint recommended by Dörte and Felix. Because from there you should have a wonderful view of Tazacorte and the coast. The 30 minutes steep climb, passing some caves, were really worth it, but see for yourself on the photos.

Afterwards we went to the colourful illuminated Los Llanos to visit the Christmas market. We felt like in a parallel world. At over 20 degrees we drank our first mulled wine surrounded by flashing lights and Christmas trees and knew that almost everybody in Germany is denied market and mulled wine this year. So we appreciated it all the more. Access was again very well regulated, data was recorded and many security forces kept track of the situation. "We have never visited a Christmas market with so much space," joked Ove. Impressive was also the huge cot - I have never seen such a big one. Some families took the chance at the market to take photos with Father Christmas. The children were neatly dressed up and knew exactly how to pose - it was wonderful to watch this hustle and bustle and above all to see the shining eyes of the children when the Christmas tree was illuminated in the most kitschy colours. There were a few nappy bottoms wiggling in tack to the music and there was an exuberant, peaceful and light mood in the air - for a moment Corona was not present and that was obviously good!

I also made a nice discovery these days in Santa Cruz. Actually, I wanted to do a hike with a starting point in Santa Cruz, but then it led through the shopping mall and the attraction of some shops was simply greater than the hike. There was nothing I could do about it ;-) And so I ended up in Cristina's lavashop. Cristina has owned the shop for 18 years and is originally from Swabia - so she is also a German who has fallen in love with this island. I wanted to buy a necklace with small lava stones and Cristina makes them individually. She has combined such beautiful pieces of jewellery with great colours and shapes, simple and eye-catching - everyone will find something for themselves. In memory of my sabbatical I wanted to put three golden stones (for three months) between the lava stones - and she made my wish come true within a few minutes. Most chains are too long for me, I wanted to wear them tightly around my neck and that was no problem either. So now I have my personal unique necklace and bracelet and I am happy about it every day. And also the one or other Christmas present I could find here. Thank you Cristina for your time and the beautiful individually handcrafted works - I can only recommend a visit at Cristina's place (right next to the popular Placeta in Santa Cruz). And no, this is not paid advertising - but a recommendation from the heart, because I like to support small shops like this one.

Many thanks to you also for your dear messages about dancing last week - this week I had the opportunity to dance again with my girls from Ladenburg. Corona makes it possible: since the lessons are now virtual I chose to come from La Palma as a surprise. It was a lot of fun, thank you dear Simone and I hope to see you all again soon at the Tanzwerk! I send you sunshine to Ladenburg.

And last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to express my special thanks to someone who I can hardly be put into words. Dear Sonja, thank you for your support - not only did you approve the sabbatical a year ago, but your support here on La Palma is indescribable. Every day I feel more and more why you love this island so much. I am so looking forward to our reunion and send you sun - thank you from the bottom of my heart!

And now that I've reached 18 minutes reading time again, we'll leave it at that - and I can already promise you that the last few days were also very exciting with a hike on the volcano crater and much more: but more about that next week.

Greetings to my readers in snowy Germany (yes, I received about 20 photos of you today and know about it :D ), Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, England, USA and Indonesia - nice that you all "stick with it", I'm looking forward to reading from you too <3

Your Laura