Day 72-85: Muchas Gracias La Palma!

Dear All,

this time I'm not writing to you from the sun or with the sound of the waves in the background - I'm back in Germany, back home, in Ladenburg. Wrapped up in my cozy blanket, I'm sitting on the sofa, my cat Findus is sleeping on my right, and I've just convinced him that the baubles on the Christmas tree really aren't a cat toy. To my left is a plate of Grandma's Christmas cookies and a hot cup of my favorite tea. 4 p.m. and it's already getting dark - even nicer, because then the fairy lights in my flat and outside the window really sparkle. And it's time to light the candles. So, to answer the question briefly: I'm well back home in Ladenburg, too, and I'm enjoying my quarantine to the fullest. Deutscher Text hier

Besides my arrival, I would like to take you to the island for the last time and review the past two weeks. In the next few days I will write a final blog post in which I will answer your questions about the trip and give you my résumé of the three months. So please send me your questions, which I will gladly integrate. Of course anonymously 😊

And also I would have a big request to you: I'm really happy about the many views of my posts and some readers have already let me know the last weeks. But I would love to know who all has traveled with me virtually. So feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook, under the post or send me a message. Who is reading along here? What did you like most about the trip? Are there any destinations you'd like to explore now? I am so happy to read from you!

So five days ago I woke up in my bed for the first time in three months. Who would have thought I would be able to enjoy the trip for so long. And while the morning before I went for a swim in the sea before breakfast to say goodbye to La Palma, a white veil over the landscape and joyful children's laughter greeted me this morning when I looked out of the window in Ladenburg. The little ones built a snowman and danced with the flakes around the bet. Wonderfully surreal. I needed my time to arrive - not only because of the contrasts. How good that I had it now: Not all the time in the world, but a few days of quarantine, that should be enough. From today's perspective, a true gift for me. As my girls already predicted: this is good for you, the calm before the storm. And with that is meant less my dear family, but more the arrival before the move.

Because as I've already shared with some of you, 2021 holds a new adventure for me: I'm moving to Berlin to pursue a new professional challenge. And I'm really looking forward to it. And so today I can tell you what I had reported a few blog posts ago. Do you remember the astrotour and my shooting star sighting and the associated wish, which I of course did not reveal? I had been longing for professional development opportunities and a perspective to continue growing for almost a year. And so I could hardly believe it myself when, shortly after the astrotour, this wish came true. Within a few days, I organized everything from the island and set a new course for 2021. And so I am looking forward to everything new that is waiting for me - and superstition or not: Since that evening I do not only associate the children's story with "Laura's Star", but another magical and true experience of this special island.

And a few more facets of the island I would like to introduce to you now.

So I have already told you about the caldera. But what is this "caldera" all about? It is probably the most spectacular caldera of the island with a diameter of 8 kilometers, with deep craters, massive rock walls and, depending on the weather, raging rivers. From Roque de los Muchachos you look into the Caldera de Taburiente, the most famous national park of the island.

Together with Barbara and Ove I did two hikes in the last weeks, in which you get an insight into the beautiful diversity of the Caldera.

So we started coming from Los Llanos at the parking lot in the Barranco de las Angustias and hiked along the riverbed. By the way, this is the small Caldera hike, which due to the time of year and the desire for a more leisurely hike had offered itself better than the big probably most beautiful hike of the island, which I look forward to the next time. In this one you take a cab to the starting point Mirador de los Brecitos or hike in about eight hours 1,300 meters downhill, as well as 1,100 meters of altitude uphill.

So we went comfortably through the canyon of the fear of death and were amazed surrounded by huge boulders in the riverbed, through which we partly slalomed our way. Impressive was also the course of the river, which partly seeped underground and a few meters later appeared again on the surface. The small stream is known to have unfortunately already cost some lives. Thus, in the event of a sudden shower, all the water masses of the cauldron gather in this stream course, the soil can only absorb a little moisture due to the dryness, and thus the small river turns into a life-threatening danger for hikers.

We had caught the perfect weather for this hike. Cloudy and now and then a little rain - in sunshine this cauldron heats up especially, so we preferred to enjoy the sun afterwards in Tazacorte.

Our destination was the Cascada Colores. The "waterfall of colors" is a very special natural spectacle. The walls have been transformed into bright colors by the very mineral-rich water. But unfortunately we didn't quite make it to our destination. After about five kilometers both the water in the riverbed rose and also the time progressed, so that I was feared not to make it back in time before dusk. So another highlight is waiting for my next La Palma visit. But the hike was still worth it. Depending on the water level, it is good to take off your shoes at one point or another or to have a towel in your backpack. Some hikers had also stowed their four-legged friends in their luggage in addition to the towel (see photos). The hike of about 10 km was in any case very rewarding and we liked it very much.

The Caldera de Taburiente is a must for every visitor of the island La Palma. For non-hikers, the Miradore La Cumbrecita and the Mirador de los Muchachos are worth a visit. Both are easy to reach by car.

On the Roque we started a few days later another hike, which surprised us weather-wise. This time sunshine and blue skies were waiting, but the Kalima (simply explained sand wind from Africa) brought cool temperatures and so we started at just four degrees at some altitude. It was good that we got warmer while moving and we all had packed our softshell jackets.

We started at the Mirador de Los Adenes. The biggest challenge in this hike I felt - and some others also confirmed this to me - the arrival. The winding approach of about an hour demands sensitive stomachs. But it is worth it. One passes through several climate zones on this route - starting with subtropical climate at the start at the sea to rough high mountain climate at the summit. By the way, the road was originally built to transport the components for the observatory on the Roque.

The 7 km hike at over 2300 meters with about 300 meters of altitude is easily doable for everyone. The paths are clearly recognizable and for the most part also well developed and paved. Those looking for hikes with a view will be absolutely served with this one. The hiking trail along the crater allows impressive views into the depths and over the Caldera de Taburiente - you almost feel like a bird, so good you can overlook everything. The rock towers of Huso and Idafe were clearly visible. We also passed the observatories and if needed you have the possibility to make a tour from the hike there. The image of the iron spheres in this red, green landscape still feels otherworldly to me. By the way, from the lookout on top of Fuente Nueva at 2366 m you have the best chance to see the neighboring islands Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro. We could observe on the day despite or by Kalima like the Teide fought itself through the clouds - very impressively.

Those were for me also always special moments, when I saw at sunrise the neighboring islands in the red of the light dive, partly enveloped by clouds were the outlines yet to recognize.

Besides the impressive views, I was fascinated by the colorfulness of the rock faces. Bright orange, dark red, deep black and all shades of gray. And in between, lush green struggles through again and again - even at these altitudes. The different colors of the rock layers are based on the one hand on the mineral content, on the other hand on the temperature of the heating of the rock during the volcanic eruption.

The hike was absolutely "refreshing" - and not only because of the icy air around our noses. Hard to believe that an hour later we warmed up again at over 20 degrees at the sea.

Speaking of sea and coast. There it spent time last two weeks also again and again. So I not only enjoyed the morning walk on the beach, I also learned more about the languages of the waves from my sailing friends. At Playa Nogales, they explained to me more about the wash fringe (i.e. the markings on the shore of washed up algae and materials) and the arrangement of wave groups, the wavelength and their frequencies. So I sharpened my eye for this beautiful natural spectacle and captured some waves photographically for you. Particularly impressive for me were the huge waves in La Bombilla, a sweet sleepy coastal town where time seemed to stand still. A few dogs roamed between the small alleys of fishermen's huts and you could hear children playing on the beach shore.

We made our way to the lighthouse and beach of "dinosaur eggs" - as one might well describe the round stones of all sizes. As if they were feather-light ping-pong balls, so effortlessly did the surf move countless stones, sucking them through the sand with each wave. The loud clacking in the rhythm of the waves remains in my memory forever. Just like our highly concentrated jumps over the stones (which hopefully also gave off a hint of lightness), which brought us further to Playa Los Guirres.

On the way back, we passed large cliffs that, just before sunset, withstood the unearthly force of the waves with a thunderous crash almost every minute. You can find the photos of the coastal impact below - the water splashed several meters high.

Waves are something so fascinating and not without reason I love the quote "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf on them". And at the same time reminded me of my ride on the waves in Fuerteventura.

In La Bombilla I also experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of my sabbatical. While often some clouds denied us the natural spectacle, we were very lucky on this balmy winter evening that felt more like summer. We made ourselves comfortable on some dinosaur eggs and watched the ocean soak up a little more light every minute, making the sky glow with orange, red and pink colors. What a beautiful magical moment.

A day earlier we also did a great hike on the coast in the north of the island. We started by car in bright sunshine in Tazacorte and headed for Santo Domingo. What a surprise - again a very winding car ride. Shortly before Puntagorda a not rare spectacle showed up, which made Barbara skeptical. Thick fog rolled in and the temperatures plummeted with each additional kilometer. And even though she hardly thought it possible, twenty minutes later in Santo Domingo blue skies and warm sunshine were waiting again. What do we learn from this: always think positive and wait, many things can change so quickly.

We started the hike at the entrance to the city and walked downhill to the Mirador del Puerto Santo Domingo. Arriving at the cliff we found a parking lot with a fantastic view of the beach Bujarén and the offshore rocks Roque de Santo Domingo, Roque de los Tabaibas and Roque del Guincho. While Barbara and Ove then turned back, I continued hiking along a path towards the sea, passing some small huts and uphill along the coast. I'm not complaining, but the elevation gain and the burning sun were no walk in the park. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every second and rebooked during the hike my flight with Condor (see previous post). I apologized in advance in the phone call that depending on the duration of the conversation again an increase in my hike could follow and lack of air would be in no connection with Corona but may be linked with magnificent views of the coast. The man was audibly amused and regretted not being able to perceive a video call in this case.

By the way, we saw the first blooming almond trees during the hike in mid-December. Unbelievable, where this is otherwise only in February the case. On the one hand I was happy but on the other hand I knew that this climatic confusion will be our problem at some point.

After the hike we stopped again at the Camu Camu Cafe in Garafia, which I already knew from my hike to the dragon trees. A bit chilled and exhausted from the hike and the decision not to spend Christmas at home, the hamburger (the first in three months of travel) tasted all the more delicious. The food here is prepared with a lot of love and is really delicious. So again, my very clear recommendation for the cafe.

I also explored the north several times in recent weeks. So you can see some impressions on the photos of unruly green, pine forests and sleepy villages. For example Barlovento. Here we made a detour to the lighthouse and the small harbor Talavera. The small port can only be reached via narrow roads, through banana plantations at best without oncoming traffic. Arrived at the port, which is located on a peninsula and can be reached by descending some stairs, you dive again into another world. Back into the past. Puerto de Talavera was once one of the most important starting points for the sea route. From here were shipped until 1950 - first sugar cane and later bananas. "Talavera" reminded me above all of my time in Würzburg, because that is the name of a large square on which I not only parked regularly but also celebrated some folk festivals with my Würzburg friends until the early hours of the morning. And I was quite surprised when I learned that the naming of the Talavera in Würzburg had the same origin with this almost inaccessible headland. The name can be traced back to a battle fought by Napoleon in the northern Spanish town of "Talavera de la Reina". So in my mind I raised my wine glass (Schoppen) and explored this exciting place. Many caves and rooms in the lava rock have been converted into living caves and supplemented by a wooden (less confidence inspiring) porch. Even a SAT dish can be seen on the rock TV can be watched here in principle, if the roaring surf is anything to hear. These domiciles are probably only used on weekends by the fishermen and the force of the ocean has also already some fragile houses neatly. As I learned, however, there are some caves on La Palma, which are permanently animated. One distinguishes between the legal quarters, for which also rent is paid and illegal dwellings. There are more and more people who consciously decide to live in a minimalist style and in harmony with nature and find it here on La Palma in the caves.

Speaking of finding things - in Barlovento we passed a huge tree full of avocados. The branches seemed to collapse under the load of fruit. It was estimated that the tree was bearing several hundred avocados. Some were hanging almost within reach and so Ove dared to try to harvest an avocado. Even before it succeeded we heard a Spaniard call out. "Oh dear, that's probably the owner", we were already prepared for a telling off. But after a warning look, the young man laughed and asked us to wait. He returned with a large bag of avocados and handed them to us, beaming. He would not accept any money and described it as a gift. Again a gesture that showed me once more why I love the Spanish so much. Muchas Gracias - this encounter will always remain in my memory.

Other than that, I spent my last weeks spending a lot of time with lovely people on the island, enjoying delicious food and trying new dishes over and over again. While I said a few weeks ago that I don't eat fish, I now describe myself as "well on my way to learning to love it". For example, the last few years I kept refusing dishes with tuna and realized on La Palma that it had been almost eight years since I last tried it. And lo and behold: now I liked it! So did baked chipirones or queso asado - a type of processed cheese served with red or green mojo (a Canarian type of garlic sauce) or palm honey. Papas arrugadas were also sort of part of the inventory of our tapas order - the "shriveled potatoes" - a certain type of potato that is also eaten with mojo. Oh yes, La Palma you tasted quite wonderful!

The last few weeks I also realized how well I had gotten to know the island. This was due, among other things, to the fact that I immediately recognized the picture motifs about La Palma in almost every motif in a gallery. And it was not only well-known places, but also small alleys depicted or churches from quiet corners of the island. That surprised me myself.

And I had to smile when I spotted a big donut delivery van in Santa Cruz and remembered where the gentleman lived on the other side of the island, because I already passed the small street with the eye-catching van a few times while driving to Los Llanos.

So time to go? It's a well-known saying that you should quit when it's at its best. And I can subscribe to that about my trip. The last few weeks have been particularly beautiful for me.

I appreciated my extension very much, felt how happy I was, what new adventures were waiting for me and enjoyed the time with people on the island who have grown very close to my heart. I appreciated the sun and warmth, the freedom and lightheartedness that many in Germany missed so much. I felt the support of my family and friends and looked forward to seeing them again.

And so my last days on the island were just perfect. I ate again the best pizza on the island at El Geco Libero, enjoyed the best mango chocolate cake of my life at Frida, ordered again a barraquito and experienced a beautiful sunset, made a successful yield in the unique shopping of my trip (thanks to Sonja's luggage capacities), beautiful souvenirs for my loved ones at home, literally soaked up the sea and the sun and spent a wonderful last evening in the best company. Especially the conversations I enjoyed so much. I miss my friend on four paws named Bobby very much - but now I have my painfully missed Findus again, who also passes as a dog!

And so I wrote the following lines in my travel diary shortly before departure on December 30:

30 minutes until boarding, 6 hours until I feel German soil under my feet again after 85 days. My bagpack is packed - full of adventures, unforgettable moments and encounters that turned from strangers into friends. I have learned so much, laughed, trembled, cried (with joy) and above all lived, despite or because of Corona - enjoying every second and appreciating the little things more than ever - something that was otherwise simply lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

And so the lady at the counter asked me with a smile, "I hope you had a good time?"

I had to smile as well and without thinking much I answered: no, much more - I had the best time of my life ❤️

The plane was hardly occupied - a lady sitting one row behind me started a conversation with me and asked when I arrived. She was amazed when I told her that I had been in the Canary Islands since mid-November. A brief explanation of my three-month trip and her comment, "Wow, that's impressive," made me realize the end of the trip. "Ready for take off" - the announcement ended our conversation. I was grateful. For I now wanted a few minutes to myself. Because now I also felt the end. I felt "the best time of my life". The plane was getting faster and faster and now I could no longer hold back the tears. The emotions overcame me - a cocktail of feelings - a mixture of gratitude, pride, farewell and anticipation. What had I experienced during the three months, what had I dared to do, what hurdles had I overcome and how had I changed. Before my trip, many people told me that they would be happy to meet the "new Laura" after the trip. I then felt a certain pressure on myself. Would I change that much? Would I really make many decisions differently, as everyone predicted? And now I felt the plane leave the ground and I knew: Yes, they were right - this trip had really changed me.

And the fear of flying, which I usually had to struggle with, had no room at all this time. My thoughts turned to all the beautiful memories of the last three months. I looked out of the window, recognized the Teide and had to smile - how often has it surprised me at sunrise, now it wanted to say goodbye. And we flew over snow-covered peaks and Frankfurt waited for me with a sea of lights, as I had felt never seen it so brilliantly clear. Or perhaps had never perceived so. I thanked for the beautiful flight and headed full of anticipation towards the luggage and exit - where I could finally see my dear Lorena again, whom I had also missed very much.

And now I have been home for five days. Was surprised with flower greetings, welcome messages, Christmas mail, numerous phone calls and much anticipation of walks when my quarantine is over. My Christmas tree had been set up in the living room by my family at noon before my arrival. I decorated it with fairy lights and Christmas tree balls and my Christmas decorations also came back. It is my last Christmas in this flat that I love so much. And as I wrote before, I decided to celebrate the festival of love again with my family - because there doesn't have to be a date for it.

And so I'm also looking forward to opening a little door of my Advent calendar every day in January, because my mom made me a very special photo calendar with childhood memories.

And I don't get bored: I've already made the first preparations for Berlin, I'm working on a photo book about my trip, I've already baked a belated birthday cake for my brother and I've made my vision board for 2021.

Because if there's one thing I've learned for 2020, it's that dreams do come true. If we only believe in them and fight for them.

That was my dream. My sabbatical. 3 month on the road.

Ps. And I just received my test result: Negative! How positive!

Psps. And because the text was so long: Thanks for reading this far and do not forget your messages and questions to me <3

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