Goodbye Gomera, and The Canaries

Fri 4 Dec 2015 14:42
Tomorrow we join the thin thread of yachts heading south for a week or so to the Cape Verdes. Our French neighbours have just gone and we should get light winds for the first few days at least.
Zoonie’s hull is as clean as a whistle so that will help us progress and Rob’s blocked ear has responded well to the olive oil!
Out of all the islands we would love to revisit are Lanzarote and Gomera and we would add on La Palma and El Hierro which we have missed this time.
An Isle of Wight friend of my son in law, Gary’s stepdad has lived here aboard his sleek Moody, Springhill Lady for eighteen years. Ian is well loved locally, having had Hose at the PO give him some Spanish lessons in return for help with his English conversation students, where ever we went with him he chatted to the locals who clearly look on him as one of them.
We met Hose when we were posting our Christmas boxes. “Advertising not allowed” he muttered as he kindly stuck parcel tape over the advertising words on the box we had picked up outside the Ferretaria (iron mongers). After an uneasy few moments he said in perfect English, “I hate you,” We fell about and Rob replied “Ah but we love you!”
Our little Seat Ibiza had half a tank of petrol when we collected it. “Just return it the same,” the young lady said. Off we sped to make the most of the two days. In the centre of this lemon squeezer shaped, volcanic island is the National Park Garajonay. Bearing our Machu Picchu plans in mind we decided to follow a 10.24km trek of medium difficulty through the romantically named Laurisilva or Greenwood forest. The main species are Laurel, Indian Avocado, heather and Wax Myrtle. In 2012 a fire took out one fifth of the undergrowth and many houses so we were surrounded by charred trunks and stumps and vibrant new growth. We dangled our feet over the wall at the mirador, watching the clouds threatening to shroud us while eating our lunch.
Valle Gran Rey had my nerves a-tingling. Rob’s driving was fine but of course he was always near the centre of the road and controlling the car, from my perspective the view hundreds of feet down to the winding road below had me gulping. Why on earth I asked Rob do folk find a precipitous promontory and plonk a house on it. Do they have suicidal tendences? Historically farmers have communicated across the valleys using a comprehensive and structured language through whistling. (Silbu whistling) We watched a demonstration in the square outside the church in San Sebastian. Not wanting the skill to die out the council insists it is taught to all youngsters in school. Many of the fertile terraces are no longer farmed, which seems a shame, but youngsters these days leave the island for university and often don’t return. Also when Franco was boss in Spain many left for Venezuela to avoid his regime. They are now moving to Colombia to escape the gang dominance in Venezuela.
Our guide around the gofio mill at Hermigua was a Yugoslav who was married to a lass from Bogota in Colombia. He was to return there soon to live. He told us the lady owner of the mill was the daughter of the woman who started it and the mother had died the year before. We stocked up on Christmas goodies there after being shown the water mill used to grind the flour from roasted grains. The garden of the mill is an oasis of banana palms, mango, avocado and orange trees.
Down this particular valley on the beach is the ruin of the old banana factory and the concrete base of a vast crane that would load ships with the delicate fruit that we used to eat as children. A co-operative now exports a reduced crop with Tenerife being todays main producers.
Another factory, where the small hands and nimble fingers of the ladies would wash and sort the bananas, was rebuilt a few years ago and called Castillo del Mar in Vallehermoso. It was a short-lived venture into the bar and restaurant business though. With Madrid refusing to re-issue a licence, the sea battering the roadway to smitherines and a major avalanche just behind threatening its very existence it remains stubbornly closed. Fabulous place to visit and photograph though. A few of us sat around on the beach and sea wall, mesmerized by the force and raw beauty of the waves, I for one just could not stop taking photos, lest we forget their splendour.
Two German hikers squeezed onto the back seat of the car grateful for a lift to a bus stop and just before they got out the fuel gauge went “ping” I’m nearly empty. In retrospect we thought perhaps we should have filled it up at the start.
Alajero, with its hospital and coach station, half way down the hill to the airport, seemed like a good bet for a petrol station. Nope. I visualised having to push little car back up the hill to the main road that would take us back to the marina.
Phew, we made it to the top. “Rob its downhill all the way now,” we coasted for over 20 kilometres, the most fun part of the day!
Sandra and Chris invited us around for a supper of Delia Smith veggy sausages and I took along some honey gofio sweets I had made in the morning. They were tasty, especially after I dipped them in melted Nutella!
Not all my culinary exploits were so successful. We were chatting about our shared departure plans with Sandra and Chris when there was a loud bang from the galley below. Strangely the smell of roasting chicken reached my nostrils and my heart sank.
The microwave does not like to eat eggs, in fact it had vomited with gusto all over the galley, cooker, panels and floor the 4 eggs I had been hard boiling for our trip. I didn’t take a photo for fear of turning your stomachs. I have hard boiled pricked eggs in the mwave  like this before but I guess they just got a little too heated!
Mary at Llama Travel back in old Blighty, is organising our Ecuador and Peru trips as I type, but we have to organise our own flights as their contract with the airline is for return flights from the UK. So soon I will be able to give you some dates.