Thursday, 22 June 2017

Holiday on La Gomera

We spent two weeks on La Gomera...we had wanted to go earlier in the year, but due to projects we went in May.  The island is lovely, the air fresh and pollution free, the sea wonderful to look at, the views magnificent.  However it was very hot, the sun extremely strong...and whole island rather parched expect in the high mountains as they had missed their usual rain for over 18 months.

On one morning fairly early before breakfast we took the road eastwards then found tracks which took us towards Punta de la Gaviota.  The only greenery like these trees survived on carefully placed drip feeds from pipes which lay across the ground no longer covered by any grasses.  At least if there were any leaks they would be obvious...there would be green vegetation.

The land had been abandoned, but you could see that in the past it had been carefully tended, with evidence of irrigation channels bringing water from the higher mountains down to the rocky terraces.

The large river beds were completely dry, and I understand that the previous year there had been sand storms from the Sahara the previous year.  I do hope they get some rains soon.

Irrigation channels once build across rugged landscapes stand testimonial to once productive land.

 The roads were in wonderful condition, built by the EU...but even small housing complexes lie one of two places there are some wonderful weeds...


One place to see some plant life was along the dried up beds of the the heat of the day this Ricinus looked quite dramatic.

We had winds...not trade winds but the winds caused by the land heating up and cooling down.

 When you lay resting in the heat of day, suddenly the quiet was replaced by constant whooshing of the palm leaves and a strong breeze would blow from the sea...same thing again during the night but then in the reverse direction.  It was quite disconcerting and troublesome but another wonder of nature.

Up in the mountains in the National Park, where the trees and lichens sap the moisture from the clouds which form due the moist air from the the ocean being driven up to above their dew point, along the wonderful trails, it is green and full of interest.

We were very pleased to have our sticks as we walked along the rugged landscape.

On one of our trips we visited the Mirador de Abrante above Agulo, where we had a lunch stop.  First we walked through an area of 'bad lands' caused where the forest had been stripped.  Renewal planting had taken place...but the stark red landscape was a potent reason to preserve the The Garajonay.

The sky walkway was a magnificent engineering feat...and gave lovely views of the countryside below, and also beyond the Ocean to Tenerife.  At this point I shall just briefly mention the the third time we heard it, we were quite tired of it!

We organised ourselves to go on a sea excursion, ending at Valle Gran Rey.  From the little boat we had wonderful views of the cliff faces.

In Gran Rey we found little cafes for drinks and snacks as we walked from the harbour up to La Calera, then down to La Playa, then back along the coast in time to catch the boat back to the hotel.  Along the way there were small orchards and gardens selling produce direct to customers.

During our wait we watched the fish in the harbour...

Back at our hotel, it was lovely to sit on our balcony...but only when it was in shade!  The views were lovely, with the odd pod of dolphins swimming by an additional bonus.

The grounds of Our Hotel The Jardin Tecina were enchanting and interesting...with many  tropical plants as well as huge cacti and succulents, all irrigated from recycled water from the hotel.  There were some birds around, the most exotic being the Hoopoe.  Swifts, falcons, blackbirds and many other little birds flitted around the complex.

The main hotel complex is up on a cliff edge below which each evening we would hear the Cory Shearwaters at night as they returned to their nests after a day fishing the Atlantic.

The beach is full of boulders with some carefully constructed stone piles which in some places are rather overdone..but it was too hot to try to remove a few of them, or try to add one's own.

To get down to the sea level there is a lift, carefully hidden at the end of a cool tunnel up these stone steps.  We often took this to take a turn round the little village of Playa Santiago, to go and view the rays in the harbour. Along the way there were bright spots of red from the crown of thorns

 and the flamboyant trees

 Also down at sea level, Club Laurel was a great place not only to swim in the seawater pool, but to have lunch, and watch the lizards basking in the sun.

One of the highlights of our stay were three tours of the hotel grounds.  We went round the banana and avocado plantation, and learnt about the history of the crops on La Gomera.

The hotel has an orchard of bananas and avocados, and an organic garden growing salads, tomatoes, aubergines, herbs etc for its kitchen.    After our tour of the gardens, we had a go at making the Green Mojo Sauce from coriander we had picked.  We were also handed out coriander seeds so that we would be able to grow the herb at home and recreate a little of the fabulous sauce..each time I have this I shall remember the delicious meals we had at Jardin Tecina.  I loved it ladled onto my salad as a dressing.

The garden had a line of Moringa Trees which were in all stages: lovely green leaves, flowers and the 'drumstick' pods.  I would have loved to have a dish of these at dinner, but they were not on the menu that week.  I had written about this wonder crop of the tropics back in 2012, when I had prepared some of the pods.

As for the main town San Sebastian, it is worth a visit, even though at the time of our visit we were rather disappointed first by the 'service' of the Tourist Office, which sent us off on three wild goose chases, to venues which were not open, or had shut ahead of scheduled refurbishment.  They were rather off hand when we returned each time to say that the places were closed!

They had not even bothered to change the poster informing that the places would be shut both at the venue and the Tourist Office.  The Columbus Museum was closed and neither the Tourist Office, or the Department of Culture could account for this.  The Earl's tower Torre del Conde was only opened for school visits.  The grassed area that surrounds it is pretty enough.

The woodwork, and paintings inside The Church of the Assumption are worth looking at.

Best of all is a cooling drink at the cafe which is under the shade of the banyan trees....We had a look round the weekly market where there is a good bakery, and which is in a wonderful modern complex which also houses the Main Bus Depot.  We had caught the local bus right outside our hotel, but the times are dependent on the time the morning flight lands.

I think one week would have been sufficient.  We feel we have done 'islands' in the heat....souvenirs or items brought back include a bottle of the locally made wine and organic aloe vera ointment as pressies for our house sitter, a rather fine goat's cheese and a large bottle of the date palm honey for ourselves.  The local wine is not produced in quantity as there is little acreage, but it worth tasting.  Wish we had bought more cheese!  We did glimpse some goats on the scrubby land on one of forays to the centre of the island, the cheese we bought is made from raw milk from goats that roam and eat the many wild plants on the mountain side and is then smoked.

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