Sunday, 29 January 2017

La Gomera - Next stop America.....

Sound and Fury




La Gomera is made of cheese. Very hard cheese. I know it is hard because a bit of it broke off and hurt my car....  But more of that anon.




La Gomera is a Canary Island, with a particular claim to fame.  This was the last bit of land Christopher Columbus set foot on before he discovered what may eventually be known as the Dis-United States of Trumpica.  Here is his boat.....





Quite small isn't it?

La Gomera is also the home of a tribe of Clangers - at least it seems so, as the folk here have developed a language made up entirely of whistles.  The reason for this being that the island is so gullied and ravined that rather than make extremely tiresome journeys down and up to cross valleys of cheese to make conversation with their neighbours, the islanders whistle at each other.  So developed is this language, that even the emergency announcements on our ferry from Tenerife were given in Siblo, as it is called....






Or did I imagine that?


Anyway, our accommodation on La Gomera was basic:







Though it looked better from the back:







Up the hill above the port, or rather above what appears to be The Vale of Eden:








I find apples growing. Thorn Apple. AKA Datura stramonium, aka jimson weed, which gets its name from Jamestown Weed after an unfortunate incident in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1676, when British Soldiers inadvertently stewed up some of the plant and spent eleven days totally out of their tiny minds.....






Which brings to mind Benjy, in The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner:

I'll declare. Luster said. You fusses when you don't see them and you fusses when you does. Why can't you hush. Don't you reckon folks gets tired of listening to you all the time. Here. You dropped your jimson weed.  He picked it up and gave it back to me.  You needs a new one.  You 'bout wore that one out. We stood at the fence and watched them......

[The book is a little on the confusing side, but well worth a read....]







Perhaps this coloured my experience of the island?  

But I digress.....








I seem to be followed by birds.  

But I digress.







Our accommodation is in fact quite secure.  I had earlier mistaken the road from the harbour, and now we are settled.  This, I believe, is what is known as a paramour.....




Torre del Conde (1447)



But maybe I got that wrong?


Anyway, the island of La Gomera is just far enough from Tenerife to be able to see El Teide, but to be out of earshot of the hoi polloi on the esplanade at Los Cristianos....







In order to explore the island, I acquire an antique Seat Ibiza five door hatchback.  This vehicle has a clearance of approximately 25 centimetres.

I know this because the precipitous, tortuous roads are strewn with lumps of hard cheese that have fallen from the overhanging cliffs. Most of these, I can attest, are less than 25 centimetres in diameter. 

One rock, however, on the road just outside Vallehermoso, was more like 27 centimetres in height.....

I rang the office in San Sebastian. They told me to drive the next twenty five kilometres of tortuous, cheese-strewn, mountain roads to Valle Gran Rey, where they had a mechanic. The car sounded very sick, but, we did, eventually, make it..... Just before the mechanic closed for his traditional four hour lunch break.....






Lovely scenery on the way.






When you can see it.....







The mechanic, having checked that I had taken out full insurance, gives me an identical, but roadworthy, Seat Ibiza, and we return to the misty heights of the Parque Nacional de Garajonay, where busloads of day trippers marvel at the mists.....







This is a remarkable stretch of forest, swathed in condensation as warm breezes from Africa and the Mediterranean meet Atlantic trade winds.  These forests, largely made of evergreen laurels, represent what much of Europe was covered in before the ice ages, and it is now protected by World Heritage status.

There are also cheese trees up here.... Clangers whistle softly to each other. The Iron Chicken clanks around and there are Soup Dragons in the undergrowth....








Down on the south coast, at Playa de Santiago, near the island's only airport, the Avenida Maritima is closed....








The black volcanic beach is quiet.....







The petanca pitch is quiet.  Just a quartet of Germans passing the time.....







And on the rocky jetty a solitary venturer contemplates swimming to Trumpica in the wake of Christopher Columbus.






Though half way across the Atlantic he meets a shoal of fleeing barracuda who warn him of the Trumpfish.  So pretty soon he is back.....








To make the most of the cultural opportunities of the island, I spend the afternoon in a bar,







While Amanda explores the exotic local gardens,







And then it is time to say Adios! to the delicate charms of Playa de Santiago







To wind over the cheese mountains again, with their delicious prickly pears.....








To return to San Sebastian de la Gomera, where the locals are very pleased to see us and have arranged to celebrate our arrival.








Though, perhaps, since it is January 20th, they were going to celebrate anyway.  

I think the clue is in the name of the town.....








Though quite why these charming people should be so keen on one of Diocletian's imperial guardsmen (from Gaul) who was shot full of arrows as a punishment for being a Christian and then cudgelled to death (when it was discovered that he wasn't dead as he had been nursed after the shooting by the widow of St Catulus) and buried by the Appia Antica in Rome.....

I just don't know....

Nor, it would seem, do the stars of the show.....








I notice that the local people all have flat heads, with rims,









But I spot one lady, who must be Irish, who is shouting about the beans she has seen washed up on the west coast of Ireland, which brings me back to the story of Columbus and his expedition to discover the source of these beans....








But I digress.....


So we go and eat with the Clangers.....







Where, having ordered by whistling in Siblo Gomero, we have soup from the volcanic soup mines, followed by Blue String Pudding.....






Pass the jimson weed.....







[I may have got confused.  The reference to the whistling and the Clangers was supposed to link to the book, The Sound and the Furry.....]


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