still writing from La Isla bonita. And here I will stay - as long as possible :-) Deutscher Text hier
The news first: I'm not getting on the plane on Saturday as planned! I extended my journey again, until at least December 23rd. And I know you all understand - and I thank my girls (especially Lorena, Line, Kristina and Maria), Barbara and Ove and my family so much for supporting me.
The idea of leaving this paradise behind me and flying into hard lockdown should be enough of an explanation. Here I enjoy the daily sun, the warmth and the "sweet life" as Lara called it so beautifully. And I am just feeling so incredibly good, so I still want to savor every day - because I know there is an end, but I still have a few days! And I miss you - but I know you allow me the few days more and we will meet afterwards.
But back to my adventures of the last days. First again the learnings of the week:
- Romantic hikes can end very unromantically when you are in the middle of nowhere - far away from civilization - and suddenly you have only 10% battery left.
- Nature teaches us: it is important to look forward and to continue to grow, even negative things can turn out positive.
- When animal traffic crosses your path and you learn once again that sometimes you can only reach your destination with patience.
- Honking before curves can be helpful here, but I'd better get rid of this habit in Germany.
- You're never too old to try things for the first time - adventures are dangerous? Routine can be deadly!
- Free fall takes on a new meaning in climbing when belaying is neglected. Good thing I had two climbing pros to encourage me - and the Backstreet Boys.
- Less is sometimes more - when you are in danger of losing everything, you appreciate what you have even more.
Dragon tree - sounds mystical or? It is, because there are many myths around the tree. Although, this is not correct, because the legendary dragon tree is actually not a tree at all. The natural occurrence of the legendary dragos, as they are called in Spanish, is now limited to very few places in the world. Many stories are entwined around the primitive, tree-like creatures. They are said to have originated in the Garden of the Hesperides on the Isles of Bliss. There, the multi-headed serpent dragon Ladon guarded the tree, which bore golden fruit. When Heracles killed him, according to the legend, a dragon tree grew from every drop of blood.
I wanted to take a closer look at these trees, because the hiking route to them is considered as one of the most beautiful on the island. This time I went north, to Garafía. After I could not finish my pirate hike, I wanted to finally make it on this one as planned. But if I have learned one thing during my trip, that of course everything again comes differently than planned.
The start was still smooth - according to Komoot 14 km were waiting for me. Once again a completely new landscape showed itself. Although Garafía is well connected to the road network, time seems to stand still in many places even today. The remoteness of this sparsely populated area has preserved much of its originality, and large parts are protected. The hiking trail was not always recognizable, but past the almond trees, along the coast, through coniferous forests, I always found my way back to the right route.
I particularly remember a forest area that was marked by the destructive force of nature. No volcano that raged, but worshipful forest fires that destroyed thousands of hectares of land in August. A few days after my hike, I also met a family who had to witness this firsthand - more on that below. But as black as the landscape was on one hand, it was inconceivable to me that the fire was only a few months ago, because new life was already struggling through the burned pine forest. I learned that for the most part, the burned bark provides the necessary protection for the trees, and they can regenerate within a few years, provided the soil with the burned pine needles does not overacidify. Incredibly, I was now walking through an area that recently experienced the largest fire in twenty years - and nature teaches us once again: it is important to look forward and continue to grow, even from negative things can germinate positive.
Line told me once, that the hikes offer the best opportunity to reflect on things. And you were right, my dear. Hours of hiking through nature are balm for the soul, to sort out one's thoughts. Unless you are interrupted: by the warning message of your mobilephone that the battery is running low. Correct: in nowhere - and I had already mentioned that hiking trails were not exactly signposted in an understandable way. Good that I still had 6 km ahead of me, with 10% battery. It was fully charged when I left: and just at that moment I noticed that I forgot to turn on the power-saving flight mode and my app Komoot as payback that I regularly ignore it`s instructions turned off the battery. And as mentioned in the last post: hiking alone should be well considered - but without mobile phone and missing directions unthinkable. And so I broke off and decided to walk back 5 km along the paved hot road. No, I don't expect any sympathy because of the temperatures. Although, maybe a little.
After the hike I decided to explore the north a bit more and drove towards Santo Domingo. The roads became narrower and narrower and I suddenly had to deal with oncoming traffic of a different kind: goats blocking the road and complaining that I was crossing their path. Ah life, you are always good for surprises - I just had to smile about this animal adventure and remembered my odyssey (thanks to Bertha) in Italy, when my car was circled by chickens. And what helped this time? Patience! Amazing what patience can solve, I hope I keep that learning.
By the way, on the narrower roads it's common to honk before the curves, I'd better not adopt this habit in Germany.
Between honking, enjoying the view and preventing crashes thanks to oncoming traffic on switchbacks, my curiosity once again discovered a little street that I couldn't resist. And curiosity paid off once again, because I discovered one of the most beautiful views I had seen so far on La Palma: playa el callejoncito. The view of the Atlantic enchanted and reminded me of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. These steep cliffs and these meter-high waves (I estimated them at 10 m, probably it was half, as my sailing friends explained me ;-)). Let the photos of the sunset enchant you. This moment was really magical.
Another learning from the last week: Always try something new. Don't say "no" out of habit, but reflect briefly and then decide. When was the last time you did something for the first time? I love trying new things, but I've never done it as consciously as I have during my journey. And I'm always challenging myself, too, whether it's trying new dishes when eating out, my ice cream, or chocolate challenge (which has now changed to the healthy "try an unusual fruit every time you shop" challenge - but don't worry, the calories never come up short here), new stages when hiking, or activities like rock climbing. And Lisa and Manolo were the reson for the latter.
The two of them ended up with Frank via WWOOF (see last posts for more) and we hit it off right away, so we arranged to meet for dinner. Lisa comes from France (I have rarely heard a French woman speak English so well - except Hind of course, best regards to you by the way) and has been traveling for a few months. Manolo is from Italy and they both originally crossed paths while traveling and shared climbing clothes. I was intrigued when Manolo, in his early 20's, shared a snapshot of his life. How he quit everything just before graduating as a photographer at 17 because he didn't want to waste another month on something that didn't feel right to him. Against his parents' wishes, he started a trip around the world and his parents' doubts quickly passed when they realized how much he was learning on his travels. He worked as a cook, a gardener, and told them that he would never have become so independent so quickly at any school in the world. Lisa also fought for her trip, because she wanted to learn English above all. And as I got to know the two of them, all doors are open to them after their trip. Because their wealth of experience is rich in mastered hurdles, very good intuition and full of passion.
And so they wanted to bring me a little closer to their passion and took me climbing. First I refused - but they asked again and at that moment I realized that I actually did not know why I refused. It was the usual "I don't know, I probably can't, don't want to make a fuss - thanks". And so today I am very glad that we made this trip together. Not only they teached me all about different techniques, safety, and the best spots to climb - they put me to a hard test: Confidence - dropping back several meters, releasing your hands from the steep face and handing over control to people you've only known for a few days. It was a great experience that took courage but was rewarded with a lot of adrenaline. And no matter what nation, what language, what age: music unites - and so the afternoon became even more unforgettable when we played the good old Backstreet Boys classics loudly and reminisced and continued to climb the wall.
It's a pity that you have already traveled to the next island you two and thank you for the beautiful days!
Unforgettable remains also a workshop that I was allowed to visit last week. Actually I had contacted Lotte, a German hiking guide (Graja Tours) to sign up for a challenging hike. As mentioned in the last post, I am aware that I need to be extra careful when hiking, especially with the heavy rains last week and alone on the trail. And I would never tackle difficult hikes alone. Lotte contacted me immediately, but unfortunately and understandably informed me that due to the dangerous conditions currently the tunnel hike can not take place. It's good to reassure yourself sometimes and talk to experts - I can only recommend that. Instead, however, Lotte got in touch a few days later and invited me to report on the "Traditional Shepherd's Leap" workshop on my blog. I had already read about it and since I had nothing planned yet and had resolved to always try something new, I said yes.
"Salto del Pastor" is the name of a traditional locomotion technique on the Canary Islands, which once - and rarely still today - helped the goat herders living in the highlands of the islands to overcome impassable terrain such as mountain slopes or ravines.
Even the indigenous people of the islands used this technique, which was later adopted by the rural population. We met at the Caldera Visitor Center and then drove into the mountains. The German participants of the workshop either spent their vacations here or lived on the island and worked in Germany (what exciting work models there are - but don't worry, I have other plans :-))
Thomas, Palmero at 63, lives for tradition - when he told us about the shepherd's leap, his eyes shone. And no visitor who walked past us and looked interested got further without information around the topic. Yes, Thomas is an ambassador with heart and soul. When he's not giving workshops to tourists, he's either training every two weeks with his club on La Palma or teaching in schools to keep the sense of tradition alive. "But with the helicopter parents of today, this is becoming increasingly difficult, they are afraid that something can happen to the young people - while here the children learn a technique that can protect them in the mountains," says Thomas.
But how does this shepherd's jump work? The most important component for locomotion is the lance-shaped "lata," a long sturdy pole 2 to 4 meters long, to the end of which is attached a metal tip called a "regatón," "puyón" or "puya." By using the staff, the indigenous people and later the shepherds were able to overcome steep slopes, stony ravines and ditches.
It takes two skills above all: The love and trust for the mountains and a sense of balance. Because in the shepherd's leap it is necessary to support his weight on the lance and to put as little strain as possible on the feet, which have less grip on steep slopes than a pointed lance. Similar to climbing, this also requires courage and confidence at first. But with each attempt more succeeds a little better. "You have to walk as if on eggs and let yourself slide down the pole carefully, never keep your elbows pushed through," Thomas corrects again and again.
By the way, 80 years ago the tradition almost threatened to die, because the government send away the shepherds in the mountains (thank tourism) and so they no longer needed the special method. It is only thanks to some enthusiasts, people like Thomas, that this tradition is now reviving. Currently, for example, both the fire department and the environmental protection are trained and familiarized with the shepherd's leap to reach terrain that is difficult to access. It was only through this technique that new vegetation was recently discovered on Punto de los Roques. "While climbers need a day to get there, it only takes me an hour," he reported proudly about the discovery of the new place. To get to special places, fishermen still use this technique to access fishing spots on the cliffs. By the way, young and old can use this method of locomotion- Thomas knows children from 11 years old to seniors over 70 years old who practice this successfully. His stories about their experiences over the years always made us marvel and laugh.
And so these meaningful lances and the associated technology are now becoming better known throughout Europe - whether in the Black Forest, France, Italy or Switzerland: interest is growing and there are already some stores in Europe that manufacture lances. Because the transport by airplane is not possible - but Thomas is already tinkering with a lance plugging technique, but it still needs to be perfected.
It was an exciting morning, which ended together with having a few tapas. His conclusion was that I had talent - that did not feel so for me, but nice to hear, where I feel more and more at home with four weeks of island life.
Who now also has desire to try the shepherd's leap at his La Palma vacation finds all further info at Lottes Homepage (https://wandern-auf-la-palma.de Lotte I will also certainly meet again. I'm looking forward to our hike, whether it will be this or on one of my next visits to the island we see then. Thanks Lotte and Thomas and to the participants for letting me share the pictures.
Another highlight of the last week was the visit of my sailing friends here in the east - I showed them my "hood" once, so to speak. Even though Santa Cruz didn't shine with sunshine that day, we had a great time and a nice last day before Felix and Dörte flew back to Germany for Christmas. We strolled through the kitschy Christmas decorated alleys and headed for the market hall. Here we wanted to finally try the sugar cane juice, which is freshly pressed. The former economic engine sugar cane, is still grown and processed today on La Palma. In the 16th century, the sugar cane split slavery and wealth, because while it brought many workers hard work and suffering, it gave some others great wealth, which can still be seen today in Tazacorte and San Andres. The water from the caldera and the springs of Marcos y Cordero, which are of very good quality, as well as the nature of the soil, gave the sugar cane grown on the island its special flavor. With the arrival of the "caña dulce" in the 18th century in America, the sugar industry in the Canary Islands practically stopped.
The juice tasted really delicious and very refreshing - so whoever stops by the market hall in Santa Cruz to pick up some exotic fruits such as dragon fruit should definitely drink a juice.
For us, it was an aperitif, so to speak, because we had reserved a table at the nearby Enriclai restaurant afterwards - also an absolute must for a visit to Santa Cruz. Sonja had already recommended it as well as every travel guide supports the "smallest restaurant of La Palma". And this description fits it very well, because there are no more than a dozen seats and you feel a bit like in the home dining room of Carmen (the good soul of the restaurant). The chef is Italian, Carmen Venezuelan, and they both take care of the guests very warmly. In terms of culinary delights, fish, meat, pasta and vegetarian dishes are highlighted. There is no menu, but daily fresh dishes that the chef suggests to the guests. Carmen joined us at the table again and again and explained in Spanish, some German and English her delicacies. The food: a poem! Each course, starter and dessert was a feast for the palate. On the one hand, it is certainly due to the freshness and regionally carefully selected food - on the other hand, you can taste the love, see the glow in the eyes when the two welcome their guests and there is the magic of so much passion in the air.
And then last week there was a really great gettogether with Carmen, Stefan and Haylee - as well as their four-legged friends Happy, Honey, Heidy & Holly. The family also comes from the Rhine-Neckar region and is also one of the Palmeros who came to stay. Since 2017 they live in the middle of the greenery with a view of the sea (which was unfortunately not visible on the day of my visit due to fog). Laura, a dear acquaintance and Timeless Moments customer of mine had written to me when she saw that I was on La Palma and told me about her former work colleagues Carmen and Stefan. So we had connected and thanks to Instagram quickly arranged a meeting for a visit.
"It was always clear to us that we would emigrate - we also prepared our families for this early on," says Stefan. The two's days in Germany revolved solely around work, Carmen as a trained legal clerk and management assistant, Stefan as the owner of a beach bar in the restaurant business. They longed for more time together and a different life. "And then the day came when we wrote a list of possible goals. Many were eliminated because issues like distance, weather and the environment were important to us. In the end we were left with the Canary Islands and as a less tourist populated island we decided to visit La Palma. And after a visit was quickly clear, here beats our heart higher, here we want to spend our lifes," said Stefan. A property in the north was quickly found, they deliberately decided against the sunny west, because a sense of seasons was important to them. "On the one hand, we wanted to be as far away as possible from fertilized plantations, but on the other hand, it can be a little cooler, it can be foggy and it can rain - that's very important for us people and especially for the garden here. Although sometimes it is colder than we expected," Carmen laughed. The family bought a plot of land that would make their permaculture dream come true. And today they stand in their 45 m² cottage, which they created themselves with great attention to detail and numerous hours of work, and look into their garden - and see how their dream came true. But the road there was literally rocky and steep.
Because the couple brought a special gift to La Palma - Carmen and Stefan became parents of little Haylee shortly before their emigration. And so they moved to the construction site with baby and had two projects to tackle for the first time: Project Parents and Project House. "That would be the only thing we would do differently today looking back, it was difficult to do justice to everything all the time," the two said. But when you see the little one today at the age of three, beaming as she showed me her home with its own playground and forest, the two can be sure - they have done nothing wrong. Even though I can well understand that years of living in a caravan with an outdoor shower and toilet can be very draining on one's strength! Sustainability is very important to the family. For example, they use windows that were given away, make their own laundry detergent, are vegan and are committed to helping islanders on four paws. So Happy, Honey, Heidy & Holly already found their home with the family - two cats and two dogs who share baskets and food. Look for yourself at the photos, what a sweet rascal gang that is. Especially I fell in love with "Den Heidy" - because the cat turned out to be a tomcat after the naming (No Findus, of course my heart beats only for you :-))
There were also phases in which Stefan and Carmen thought about giving up everything, but I think everyone who builds knows that. At least that's what I hear again and again. And so maybe it took this appointment with the realtor to get some info on how the process of selling the property would work - because only then they realized what they had already accomplished and how close they were to the goal, the feeling of "home".
Goosebumps I got when Stefan told me about the worshipful fire a few months ago. On his property you can clearly see where the flames raged, partly only a few meters from his house. He reported "I remember exactly how the fire department raced down the road here - normally hardly any cars drive here, so I knew something had happened." In the morning, Stefan had set up the playground for Haylee, who was visiting Grandma with Mama Carmen in Germany. When he noticed the fire, he packed the animals into the car and took a photo of the playground, just in case Haylee never saw this surprise. However, when the most important things were loaded in the car, he did not get in and escape, he fought against the flames - always ready to get away with the car any second in case of emergency. With buckets of water and a friend, he put all his energy into fighting the flames that threatened to destroy all the years of work of the small family. I asked him if he was not afraid for survival - his answer "at this moment you are just functioning". This also reminded me of the fire at our home a few years ago at Christmas, but is no comparison to these experiences. Still, I couldn't see open flames for years without dreaming about the fire again at night. So how did this family have to fare? The idea of Carmen being stuck in Germany, helpless, knowing what her husband was going through - you can hardly stand the worry. And so Stefan now looked proudly at his property, he has lost a lot, but that is hardly mentioned - he and his family only see what they still have left, their little house, their animals, some areas of land and the playground - on which Haylee slid squealing with joy on the day of my visit. This moment touched me very much. Yes, less is sometimes more, you have shown me that very clearly!
And most beautiful was the openness with which you received me. As Carmen wrote in the evening so beautifully "Laura you have taken Haylee's heart by storm" - there I made my name probably all honor and can only say, that was based on mutuality. Within minutes Haylee was already cuddling up on my lap and listening to the conversation. We enjoyed the afternoon together and you impressed me greatly. I wish you much success in finding another family who would like to share this dream with you on the property (gladly also a multi-generational project) - and for your animal project. As soon as you are ready let me know - I'm sure here are also some supporters for lonely paws on La Palma, which may experience the happiness to be cared for by you.
I am very much looking forward to our reunion and miss Haylee already – say Hi from her friend Laura <3
And now it is enough once again and just in this moment I realize how grateful I am that I can still write to you - I would not have thought that is possible in Italy, when it seemed I have to break off soon. It is so wonderful how you all travel with me, rejoice with me and encourage me again and again that I have done everything right. Yes, it feels the same - and I'm still savoring every moment, I promise!
Feel tightly embraced,