There are blogs, and then there are blogs. I know that a blog which is, essentially, a guide to a place/or places, is still a blog. Truth is, though, with this one I’ve always thought of it as a journey, which is how I originally thought of blogs. I want to keep it that way, but there are times when time itself runs away with me. Right now I have all these stories from the past few weeks. It’s like having a basket of fruit, and trying to decide which to eat first. Some are riper than others.
I recently read a journalist’s take on trying to write about a place visited weeks or months previously, whilst trying to absorb the atmosphere of the new place in which he found himself. The places get jumbled in the mind, sometimes mesh together to the point where you forget where you are. The place about which you are writing/thinking seems more real than the reality of the place in which you are.
In the case of La Gomera and Ireland, it isn’t actually surprising to me that this has happened. These islands have affected me in a similar way. The sense of closeness to nature, the awareness of a rural history, of myths and legends, and the friendliness of the people…..both have these things in common.
However, before completely gather my thoughts and stories about Ireland, a real time update……La Gomera……
To say that I had a good vibe about this leg of life’s journey would be an understatement. My path to the idyllic apartment in which I’m sitting to write this had so much feeling of predestination about it that at times it had seemed unreal. A chain of relationships going back years has brought me here, so much so, that setting off last Wednesday in the pre-dawn, settling Trixy into the space I’d left for her in the over-stuffed car, boarding the ferry in Los Cristianos – all felt normal, and the butterflies in my stomach were controlled. I felt no apprehension. Odd really.
The appearance of pilot whales in the wash of the ferry was like a blessing. I’ve always thought of dolphins as bringing luck.
The crossing is only an hour, the drive to the village in which I am staying even less – a disappointingly short trip to a new life, and yet it really is worlds away at least from the south of Tenerife. The road is punctuated by several tunnels – we were cutting right through the mountains, and emerging, on the other side, into a sort of Shangrila. This place must have been so remote at one time.
The apartment is the bottom floor of my landlords’ house. Doors and windows open onto a small church square, the tranquillity, except for when the bells chime, is palpable. It’s traditional, with wooden, beamed ceilings and thick walls which keep out the heat, and it has been decorated beautifully to retain the sense of the traditional, yet has all the modern conveniences I need – except for wifi – but no, we can rarely have it all, and there are bars nearby with excellent connections.
People come and go quietly to the small church, mostly elderly women. On Thursday nights the choir practices, and the square is filled with music through the open doors, but otherwise I see only the odd tourist, who finds his way down the steep lane, which leads to the plaza.
I have spent the first week winding down and settling in. Being away for over a month, packing up beforehand, planning, all tired me more than expected. The first night I sank into a bed which was not only pretty, but felt like sinking into a cloud, a sensation all the sweeter for knowing that this was mine for several weeks.
Hermigua winds like a frayed ribbon along a hillside above a lush, but half-neglected valley, the frayed strands are houses, which are dotted above and below it. All business life, bars and a few shops, is along this strip of road. It’s a main road, but that said, traffic flow is light. There are roundabouts every now and then along the road, so turning around is easy. Around the midpoint of the road stands a pretty church, and the traffic is one-way for a while, until the next roundabout.
If you follow the road to the end, without veering left to climb up the mountains, you arrive at the ocean. Nowhere on these islands is ever far from the ocean. Across the ocean the island of Tenerife drifts on the horizon, El Teide rising importantly from its center. The beach is pebbly, and a yellow flag flutters. There are warnings of a strong current here, and I gather there is surf at certain times. Nothing to say “no dogs” however…… I like that!
I’ve explored a bit, followed that mountain road a while, meandered back roads where meeting another car would have been difficult – except there were none. Mostly, I’ve been acclimatizing – slow travel, breathing in a place, discovering its history is definitely what I want to do, and in the weeks ahead that’s how I hope to spend my days.
For the next few there is still work to catch up on, so you’ll find me musing about Ireland as well as La Gomera, and for now I leave you with a few photos snapped yesterday. I haven’t even had the camera out yet!