La Gomera is a paradise!. We heard this line and we booked a trip with our friends in Hera Travel and today we drove again to Los Christianos, boarded a bus that brought us to the harbor where we got on Fred Olsen ferry to the island in about 45 minutes.
The island is obviously different. Right after you leave San Sebastian, its capital, you realize that you are surrounded only by tall peaks looking like Switzerland. The views are amazing and you cannot stop taking pictures. Only 22000 live on the island and this number dwindle every year. You can see the locals tending the field with hoes and shovels, planting potatoes and corn, and collecting the sap from the palm trees to make a palm honey. This palm honey mixed with Grapa makes for a tasty drink called gomeron. The bus stopped us for a quick gomeron, at the suggestion of a guide that was way too dramatic but made an interesting tour with classical music that was synced to the dramatic views on the way.
The entire way is going through hills and valleys with occasional views of the coast bathed in the blue ocean. The hills have on them terraces built by hand with walls made out of the same broken rocks used to be build the houses. These terraces resemble the ones you see in Peru built by Incas. These terraces are everywhere and you see them cultivated also with bananas, diligently patched like in a puzzle. Close to San Sebastian you can guess also the depopulation because the terraces are abandoned, their shaped still being seen but instead of crops are covered by cacti. The locals still use a way to communicate by whistling, a more assured way to be understood between two far away mountains.
We stopped again in Carbonaria to admire the views and latter to Hermigua where the old 400 old church school was transformed by a family in a charming bedroom apartment. The bus stopped at a tourist store were they were selling lots of interesting things including a palm gem and palm honey good for pancakes instead of maple syrup. After the mandatory group lunch where we had a nice conversation with a Dutch mother and daughter that looked almost the same and a couple from Barcelona who told us that the central government is discriminating against Catalans, we continued to the highlight of the trip, the Laurisilva, the old forest covered in mist and moss in the middle of Parque Nacional Gurajonay. The museum/visitor center has a garden with remarkable flowers from the area that grow way higher than in many other places, eg poinsettia and dandelion. We also found out that at the arrival of the Spaniards around 1445, the Canary islands were populated by Guanche a population that probably was originally from Africa. The Spaniards decimated the population who not having writing did not leave many signs of their evolution, except a fertility cult and some mummies. The copy of the artifact that is sold in tourist store show a woman with large hips, a symbol of the Goddess, widespread in Europe and away before the arrival of the Christianity.
The mysterious forest is really beautiful and only for this is worth every moment of the trip. First and only time when I was able to see something similar I hiked in awe in Patagonia through such a landscape. I called it the Patagonian forest in Torre del Paine but mainly in El Chalten close to Fitz Roy on Rio Electrico. All trees were covered in green moss, all type of moss hanging from their branches. La Gomera forest is spooky, with shapes that in the night may start to move and breathe, all green from the moss. I stayed in it as much as the time permitted being the last to the bus and wished that they have left without me.
One more stop before San Sebastian was an area of volcanic cones that are looking like stone towers. The Rock Ledge is the most famous of it overlooking a valley in late day sun. From there the road to San Sebastian goes down in hairpins through deep ravines and valleys full of abandoned terraces just before showing the harbor. Fred Olsen ferry was waiting for us with the town buildings bathed in sunset light and firecrackers noise announcing the New Year’s eve. We left La Gomera dream with an hour delay from the harbor in the golden light of a cloudy sunset and with dolphins jumping behind the ferry.
On Tenerife the parties for the New Year were starting attended by tourists dressed in tasteless party dresses, men with coats or sweaters but women in short and skimpy shinny skirts and tight blouses that made me cold only looking at them.
We left to have the dinner in Playa de las Americas, looking more like Naples, FL or Santa Barbara, CA than Spain and while dining on sardines and other fish we watched the parade on costumes on the main drag. After dinner we started to make calls for families and friends in other countries to send them congratulations for 2012 and we drove back to Los Christianos where a large party was aggregated in the main square in front of the church. We partied with them, with champagne at the turn of the year and lots of dancing done by a people that love to enjoy the party. Men and women of all ages were dancing together, no inhibitions just pure enjoyment, together with kids, friends and families all were celebrating. We had our celebration with them and we left, with only one turn around for a picture, around 2:00 am reaching Los Gigantes around 3 pm after a slow but safe drive.