I’ve been almost reluctant to write about La Gomera. My idea of slow travel is to gather information and get under the skin of a place, and even after 3 months here I wonder if I have done that.
In a sense I have, because I’ve been living a fairly ordinary life, working, strolling, shopping, getting to know folk, making bars my “locals”. In another sense, that works against me. Isn’t it just fitting into a predictable, day-to-day pattern, and isn’t that what I am anxious to avoid? I haven’t been doing nearly the amount of research I should have done, or at least that’s how I feel. Can sufficient research ever be done? Even after over 20 years in Tenerife I was still learning, and there is a ton of stuff I don’t know about my hometown back in England.
Of course this is how it should be. We should never stop learning. However, a cautionary word; master storyteller, Stephen King, remarks via one of his characters, that:
“ Al had taken away the scholar’s greatest weakness: calling hesitation research.”
When I arrived here in mid October it was to an idyllic scene, and I, floating on the euphoria of wonderful times in France, and London, and Ireland, embraced it, and continued to float.
Playa Santa Catalina quickly became my favorite place to work. I have no internet at home, and my biggest problem in adapting to my new life has been adjusting to that. For most of the time since 1996, I’ve had internet at my fingertips 24/7, and it’s very, very strange not to have it. I bought a mifi, because I knew I wouldn’t want to rely on public wifi to check personal stuff, but it doesn’t work in the apartment. I now have various places I like to work, but this beach remains my favorite.
You could say it’s the place I’ve come to know the best. I haven’t seen it in the summertime, when I understand folk flock to cool off there, but I have seen it change from a sea-and-sky-scape of incredible blue to a churning mass of white foam propelled by wild, grey waves.
In October and November I popped my technical necessities, my dog and my lunch into the van, and meandered down. It’s a five-minute drive from where I live. I spread a blanket on the largest, flattest rock, or on the edge of the pathway, and set up my workstation. The 3G signal from the headland is excellent, and I was away – when I wasn’t simply mesmerized by the waves, that is.;
The occasional rambler passes by; when the waves are right surfers come down; sometimes photographers scramble about the rocks; trucks from the banana plantations pass; a couple of times I’ve met some very cheery paragliders, who actually offered to take me up, but that was before the weather turned. I’d like to think if they asked again and the weather was ok I’d go. That set me thinking about wanting a GoPro, I can’t imagine risking the Canon up there! Mostly, I have the space to myself.
Sometimes, before winter set in boats would anchor here for a day or two……making me very jealous!
Even after the first rains in December the scene was still blue. The rains went away, the sun came out, steam rose from the banana plantations which abut the beach, and Mt Teide in Tenerife, which can easily be seen from this spot on a clear day, was picturesque in his first coating of snow.
At one end of the bay there are some pillars rising from the water, close to the cliffs. These are the remains of a banana exportation point built in 1908, when this valley was far less accessible by road than it now is, before those tunnels I think of as rabbit holes were constructed. At the beginning of the last century bananas were vital to the local economy. Enormous cranes rested on those pillars to hoist the cargo onto boats, but they were dismantled in the 50s.
What is now there, alongside the pillars, is a seawater pool, as you can see, the view from there simply must rival any infinity pool in any swanky hotel. In December there was just one couple in there, but I gather from neighbors that it’s a hive of activity in the summer months. Just the other morning the mayoress was on local television, talking of plans to build a mirador there, using the pillars already in place. A mirador is a viewing point, but aside from attracting tourists it could provide facilities for locals during the summer too.
When I left for Christmas in England the weather was beginning to close in, and when I returned to “my” beach in January, its character had changed. The ocean was the stark grey, topped by creamy white that I remembered from the Irish Sea of my youth, and during the last few weeks it has frequently mounted the pathway where I used to spread my blanket. When I work down there now, it’s from my car, because there is a constant brume, as the tops of the waves blow ashore.
It’s still a wonder to sit there and watch the ocean. Some days I just like to watch the clouds, especially as they surround El Teide, the volcano at Tenerife’s heart, which I can see on the horizon.
Every so often I stretch my legs and Trixy and I walk one way or another along the pathway. One way takes us alongside the banana plantations of the valley floor, and I have learned that in high winds banana plantations sound like a green ocean. In the other direction we rise above the beach, along a narrow road up, onto the headland, still surrounded by bananas. I’ve watched these fields of green turn yellow and brown by the winds, so that they look more like the end of a summer drought than winter rains.
Winter this year in Hermigua is, apparently, harsher than most, and being in a valley, the light is lost very early in the day, but hope you enjoy this photo essay of my current “office!”