after I got a photo from snow-covered Germany from almost everyone a week ago (mostly with joy), I appreciate the sun here even more. The snow may wait for me at Christmas - which might answer the question of some of you: Yes, I'll be home for Christmas. That's what I promised my grandmother (who also reads along here, but the printed form - as you can see again, print wins ;-)) I am looking forward to their biscuits (I hope you left some vanilla crescents for me) and also to the rest of my family, my friends and the third also very important "F": Findus! For those who don't know Findus - this is my tomcat, who is being spoiled by my brother at the moment.
So the days of my journey are counted, and on 19th December I'll be going back home. But still some adventures on the island are waiting for me here and I am especially looking forward to the last days :-)
This week passed by again so fast and now I'm sitting here on the terrace with a view of the sea and with a look into the past and let it pass in review with you.
My learnings of the week:
- for the first advent no candle but the sun shines here! Could have hit me worse!
- East-West conflicts do not only exist in Germany! Thanks to the sun.
- I also like to stray from the path sometimes, unless a dog like Harry Potter's beast Fluffy crosses my path. I do not like that!
- Who wants, will find ways, who does not want will find reasons. And: the shortest way is a smile!
- You should never get into a car with strangers, unless they are probably the most lovely Spaniards from Lanzarote, who feared for my life - thanks God, that saved me 900 metres in altitude!
- Everything is allowed, everything has its justification - as long as it is in harmony: says the banana!
- Telescopes allow you to look at the stars - or as in my case: to look at light with fly droppings. Romantic it was nevertheless!
Barbara, Ove, Dörte, Felix and I spent the first Sunday in Advent on a hike. No candle of the Advent wreath was burning here, but the sun and the volcanic rock. Under a bright blue sky we explored the volcano San Antonio and hiked towards the coast to Los Canarios (Fuencaliente). The starting point of the hike was the visitor centre, which we visited first. Here we learned some interesting things about the origin of the Canary Islands and all volcanoes. By the way, the volcano Teneguía last erupted in 1971, so that depending on the wind direction there is actually still the smell of sulphur in the air. In La Palma, by the way, the earth still quakes regularly today, often hardly noticeable, but there are weeks when up to 36 quakes are measured. I myself also noticed two small quakes last week. You can feel what amplified volcanic seismic activity feels like in the visitor centre when you step on the carpet of stone - the shock and surprise effect of the first step was great, because there was no advance warning from the quaking carpet.
After we walked over the crater of the volcano, the further way led us through black sand landscapes along the lava flows. The huge lava boulders were really impressive, especially from the top of the volcano Tenguía we could get an idea of the destructive power of the lava flows. Even though we humans like to make ourselves big, here it becomes clear how small we are, nature wins - and we have no influence on it.
It is all the more impressive to see how new life is growing in this once barren landscape and how many lush green plants are now finding their way. And like all over the island, some lizards were happy when we took a break and kept us company. This was probably less because of sympathy and more because of the crackling bags of snacks. I pointed out the lizards according to DSGVO to use the pictures here in the blog and they greedily agreed to use them against payment in form of a few bread crumbs.
But the tour did not only show volcanoes. At the southern tip we headed for the lighthouses and salt flats. That was also very impressive to see - because the salt pans shone in the most different colours. This is due to natural impurities such as iron oxide or colour pigments from microalgae - and of course does not detract from the taste. On the photos you can see the rainbow salt flats. In order to extract the "white gold" of the Atlantic, Fernando Hernández, with the help of the salt master Luis Rodríguez, began building the Canary Islands' last salt works at the end of the 1960s. The ingredients for delicious salt are sea, sun, earth, air and the careful manual work of man. Little humidity, the frequent blowing of the wind and many hours of sunshine allow the evaporation of seawater in the salt basins to create a 100% natural treasure. And everyone who knows me knows that my vice is salt - I love it! And so of course I had to taste the fresh salt directly. And yes, it is definitely very intense and delicious - and how nice if you know where it comes from: a can of salt is definitely allowed to go to Germany!
On the way back to the car I encountered for the first time a phenomenon that I spotted again and again the days after. Rain walls on the sea - you can see exactly where the clouds rain down over the sea and you can even see through the rain. Often you can also see wandering rainbows - which move with the clouds, so to speak. Simply fantastic - I think I have also captured it in a photo for you! Speaking of weather I love the rain here - mostly it is only short light showers and the rain is so fine that it is hardly noticeable. Then I had to think of my photo colleague Ingrid, who also reminded me "some get wet, others dance in the rain".
Rain is a rare phenomenon in the west of the island anyway, if you mention that you live in the east you are often confronted with "Why that?" Someone should say that the East-West conflict is history ;-)
But it is true, when the clouds are hanging on the summit and there are short rain showers here in the east, then it takes only half an hour drive and after the tunnel at the latest blue sky and sunshine are waiting on the west side. But I love the diversity of the whole island and wouldn't want to miss east or west.
But back to the hike: after the salty end of the tour we needed a sweet ending. So it was a good idea to visit the nearby Café Parada Los Canarios, because here you can find the best almond biscuits of the island. Of course we had to test this and now we can only confirm the good reputation of the biscuits without having a bad conscience. Freshly prepared they are super juicy and on the first Advent they gave us some Christmas spirit after all.
And if there was one thing I took away with me from all the valuable conversations that day, it was that some things take time. And that's exactly the way it should be, because everything has its reason - patience has never been my friend, but here I have experienced some things need time and again that it is worth taking things on. The saying "good things take time" makes sense in some life situations. But only sometimes - this does not apply to making appointments with Spanish service providers.
The next day I started for a hike in the northeast of the island. Here I walked through the banana plantations, stopping in the cute little town of San Andrés, along the coast to Sauces. On this hike it was worthwhile to annoy my hiking app Komoot by changing the route, because behind the abandoned cottages on the coast I had a fantastic view of the steep rocky massif. The sea shone so clearly again that you could see every single stone in the sea. In conversation with three Spaniards I also discovered some jellyfish. The three gentlemen lingered by the sea, drank their coffee and spent their siesta with a view of the bay. That's how it can be lived.
The hike was very scenic, only I had to adjust the route twice more. One time a dog was waking up on the narrow path (reminded me of Fluffy from Harry Potter - and scored less points with sympathy, which was probably mutual) and the second time I noticed that there was spraying poison on a banana plantation, which I was supposed to pass according to the app - I knew to avoid that. My health thanks.
By the way, the hikes here always make you doubt whether you are still on the right route or already using private hidden paths. But La Palma is (fortunately) less touristy and the paths are therefore sometimes adventurous and special. There you walk through the flats of the islanders with a feeling of adventure. The Spaniards are very open-minded people, and so are their houses, because the doors are always open wide and you get private insights. So at lunchtime I walked along the coast accompanied by delicious smells from the kitchens of the old stone houses, joyful voices at lunch and numerous friendly "Hola cariña". And the gleaming eyes betrayed again and again the honest joy of the people and infected directly - yes, a smile is the shortest connection between people and feels so good!
My boss Barna asked me these days how I always do it, that I get to know people so quickly. I think the key is openness and mindfullness. If you are aware of these moments, you won't miss a single conversation. If you are interested in experiencing, questioning or understanding things, curiosity is the driving force. And my experience has shown me that the initial shyness is quickly overcome when you understand the gift that awaits you in the form of conversations, moments and emotions, when you allow conversations to take place. There are so many ways to get to know people, you just have to see them.
I had a particularly wonderful experience during my hike to Pirate Bay. This day will remain in my memory anyway as a unique one of my journey. I want to tell you why. On the one hand a great hike was waiting for me. But before that I started the day with a special coffee (yes, I don't really drink coffee and my coffee addicted girls could hardly believe it) but I had to try the Canarian speciality and I was recommended the cafe "El Mirador del Time" for this, which was on the way to my hike. Just for the wonderful view over the canyon Barranco de Las Angustias to Tazacorte it is worth stopping here. But also the coffee convinced me: it is called Barraquito. Perfectly shaped, the different layers of condensed milk, liqueur, espresso and milk foam pile up in a glass without mixing - a real culinary work of art. By the way, I had no idea about the liqueur when I ordered it: the evenings at the bar with the boys in Fuerteventura were now affordable - without breakfast and in the midday sun - the hike afterwards went well despite the liqueur! But back to the coffee, which was served to me by the boss of the house. I had only heard afterwards that the owner had good and not so good days - I had got a very good one, because he was not only incredibly friendly and gave me all the tips for my hike, he only charged me 2.50 €. Just as his mood is supposed to change, so too do the prices, he sometimes charged some guests double in the past, if he felt like it. There is no drinks menu here. In any case, I have only positive things to tell him and promised to come back - hopefully on one of his good days.
Well fortified, I went on the hike. My destination was the Porís de Candelaria, the Pirate Bay. During the dolphin tour I had already admired it from the water, maybe you remember the photos from the last blog post. They say that pirates and smugglers used to live in the bay. Nowadays the dilapidated looking cottages are mainly inhabited by local fishermen on weekends.
The bay can be reached on foot from Tijarafe or you can drive to the nearby car park, but you should be sure that your car has enough horsepower to go up the mountain on the way back. I decided to take the footpath. Once again a fabulous landscape and until a few meters before the finish you couldn't see anything of the Pirate's Bay - the Pirates definitely chose the right location! Only in the last bend you could see the 20 cottages. Stone stairs lead down to the turquoise-blue sea and invite you to take a bath. A deserted place where time seems to have stopped. Some inhabitants dragged heavy stones to a little house that is being renovated, some cats were roaming around and apart from that you could only hear the sound of the waves and look through the big cave opening to the sea. Wow! One of the most beautiful places I was allowed to visit on my trip, simply magical!
Now the more strenuous part of my hike should follow, the path uphill. About 900 meters of altitude difference were waiting. I followed my route in the hiking app, which led over a narrow path of the cliffs. After a few metres I relied on my gut feeling and turned back. I decided not to follow the circular route, but to use the outward route as a return route. The day before there had been heavy storms in the region and even if the path was not closed, I could not be sure that it was checked. And if you're on your own you should be very careful anyway - and I'm glad that I was the other way round, because only a few hundred metres further on big rockets came loose from the steep walls, as I heard about it later.
However, the ascent along the road should not be less challenging. But it turned out differently than planned. A family who also visited Pirate Bay asked me down at the car park if they should take me up by car. At first I declined with thanks, because I wanted to finish the hike on foot. On the way they stopped again beside me and asked me again. I refused, but the family didn't give up and explained to me in Spanish: "It's so hot, the sun is shining on the asphalt and we still have a place here, it's really no problem, please accept to give you a lift". So I finally agreed, completely suprised by the worry of the family and the joy of the children that I now accompanied them for a while in the car.
And as my freind from Berlin Rebecca recently said, "Don't get into the car with strangers" - I had to smile because it was the best decision! The hike up the mountain would have been really exhausting and the warmth of this family really overwhelmed me. They offerd their help, although I did not ask for it. And they were so interested in my trip! Just for that it was worthwhile to get away from the usual safety thinking for once, because not everything foreign is dangerous - a learning you make by travelling. And you also get a feeling for who you can trust (Lin, you were so right that the feeling develops all by itself)
The father laughed when I asked him to let me out at least the last 100 metres before the sparking space to finish the walk on foot (I also showed him that I had enough to drink with me). With indescribable thanks I said goodbye and wished the family from Lanzarote, who only spent three days on La Palma, a nice rest of their time.
And how good that I made the last stretch on foot, because that's how I discovered aorganic food shop with good German bread (the only thing I missed here so far;-)) and immediately got one more for Barbara, Ove, Felix and Dörte. Because after my hike I visited the four of them at the harbour again. In the evening we spent the sunset with cocktails in Tazacorte (which is an idyllic place with a view over the banana plantations to the sea) and ate the best pizza on the island (so they say and I can judge this well after three weeks of culinary Italy trip) in Los Llanos. Speaking of culinary journeys, besides the pizzeria El Geco Libero, you should definitely make a stop at Frida. The Cafe Frida is not only just around the corner, there is soooo delicious cake and homemade ice cream, my comment on the spot was: "That's the taste of life! (Sonja, we definitely have to stop by here next week, the call of the calories is getting louder and louder)
And as if the day hadn't already been crowned with numerous highlights, Barbara and Ove surprised me with a little St. Nicholas gift that I was allowed to open the days after. This gesture touched me so much and can be recorded in my travel diary with the following headline: "When you are travelling and suddenly feel at home".
But I was already officially "adopted for a limited time" by the four of them - at least I am introduced to other sailors by now ;-) And I can definitely live with that! :-) Thank you very much again - you are so wonderful!
I had already mentioned the banana plantations on La Palma a few times - I would like to tell you a little bit more about that now. In 1896 the British were the first to introduce the cultivation of bananas on La Palma in the valley of Los Sauces. In the meantime, over 100,000 tons of bananas are produced annually on about 3,000 hectares. Almost every usable area below 400, 300 metres up to the coast is used for banana plantations. These monocultures are understandably also viewed critically. Especially the handling of pesticides and herbicides. I would like to take a closer look at the cultivation and visited a farm that follows a special concept - purely ecological and in harmony with the natural ecosystem. So I booked a guided tour at EcoFinca PlatanoLógico.
I can highly recommend the guided tour, I learned a lot in three hours. With great enthusiasm the owner of the farm explained everything about the yellow fruit to us in words and with acting talent. Did you know that:
- Bananas do not grow on trees but on perennials
- Perennials bear fruit only once and die afterwards
- a plant needs an average of 40 litres of water per day
- it takes about one to 1.5 years until the banana fruit can be boarded
- the flower on each banana must be removed by hand (primarily for the appearance for the sale of the banana - because this is the only way the consumer knows how to do it)
- bananas multiply through root cuttings
- Cabbage plants in the plantation attract butterflies and caterpillars from the banana fruit (so no pest control is needed)
- the Calima (sandstorm) brings important minerals from the Sahara with the rain
- Bananas from Colombia are cheaper on La Palma than the local ones? (Sick world!)
The concept of the farm is simple but needs patience - the ecosystem had to develop in the first years, the owner had to learn a lot. Everything here has its justification, everything is allowed to be here, has its meaning. Pest control happens here naturally, for example through the smell of plants. Or by natural enemies who also live on the plantation.
The dreaded whitefly is devoured by the ladybird, for example. Between the
Banana plants also grow lemon grass, lavender, sugar cane, mangoes, papayas, sweet potatoes, watermelons, broccoli, ginger and much more.
They all help to keep the moisture in the soil longer. The fertiliser is also produced locally. Among other things, this is the job of the chickens, sheep and the two donkeys we were allowed to meet. 80% of their feed comes from their own plantation. The pure banana production is 10-15% less than in conventional cultivation, but in return you save the expenses for pesticides and chemical fertilisers and much more important: the bananas are poison-free and healthy. Simply fascinating - by the way, since the tour I have been paying close attention to where the bananas I buy come from. As the guide said so beautifully at the end of the tour: we should only surround ourselves with people who do us good, read good books to educate us and also eat good food - and that includes understanding where the food comes from and what moves it in our bodies. thank you for the kind reminder.
I had another exciting tour that day - the Astrotour! As La Palma is very well known for astronomy, as mentioned in the last blog post, I had little contact with it so far, so I wanted to learn more about it. In just four hours I learned a lot about the sky images and why La Palma is the Mecca for star gazing. Unclouded by air turbulence, the sky here is so clean and pure that it can only compete in distant places like Chile or Hawaii. There is hardly any industry worth mentioning here, and there is no big city - and therefore little light pollution. At the meeting point of the tour, the guide told us which viewpoint offered a view into the stars. Because of the cloudy weather in the east we went to the west and drove in convoy with some cars to Puerto Naos. When we arrived at the pitch-black car park we walked a few more meters towards the beach. There was no disturbing light source and the view into the sky was breathtaking. Never before had I seen such a clear and bright starry sky - millions of stars sparkled and suddenly I realised how tiny we are on this earth. For the first time I saw shooting stars - three at once, of course I sent my wish directly to the universe and with three times the rain of stars the chances of fulfilment should be good (sorry, I didn't wish for millions).
With a laser the guide showed us all the star pictures, the Milky Way and formations in the sky. Over La Palma, by the way, nightly air traffic is forbidden for astronomy, so don't worry about laser beams!
A highlight of the tour should also be the view through the telescope. Several star pictures we could look at in close-up. But to be honest: for me these were only bright and dark points and with the fifth star picture I preferred the natural view of the sky. But it was good that the English and the couple from Belgium had a similar experience: "It looks like light with fly droppings", an Englishman commented our thoughts appropriately. But hey, it was still quite a romantic atmosphere.
So, that's enough for today - but to give you a little preview again, I did a great hike to the dragon trees yesterday and today I went climbing for the first time with Manolo and Lisa. Who they are and what I have been experiencing the last two weeks here - you will find out next time!
Big hug and sunny regards,
ps. the pictures are back in preview mode, if you want to view them in full, just click on them.