Progress and parties on La Gomera

From Walking in La Gomera

La Gomera is very much like a small Madeira . The mountains are spectacular , the walking is great and best of all you can get around by bus so that most days see a pack of yachties in the bus staion at 0930 , and trudging wearily but happily back from the evening bus at 5 pm. Like Madeira , the island economy started off being underpinned by sugar , then bananas ,and now tourists are slowly becoming the cash crop although still in small enough numbers not to change the essentially agricultural nature of the island. Farming the terraces that cover the island is hard and skillful and presumably poorly paid work , and again as in Madeira , the younger generation dont want to do it. One of our walks took us to an abandoned valley ( or barranca) that could only be reached by an hours walk under a cliff. It was a poignant place with a vast amount of beautiful stone engineering underpinning the terracing and abandoned houses that must have taken many many generations to achieve. Even more poignant was the small finca near the entrance to the valley.This was still just about viable , although there was much evidence that its occupants were gradually losing the fight with encroaching nature. As we traversed the ridge climbing away from the buildings , we caught sight of a little old lady dressed in black sitting perfectly still amid the remains of her livelihood. Age and progress can be very hard.

On another walk we were descending out of the hills into a valley when we heard an old man from the other side whistling at us . Thinking we were taking the wrong path we backtracked and made our way over to him and before we knew it we were standing outside his little shack drinking his wine and eating his apples and eventually a tapas of sardines and potatoes, whilst he attempted to teach us El Silbo – the unique whistling language of the island. Lynda fellt sorry for him and purchased a bottle of his wine ( poured from a large flagon via a non too clean plastic funnel into a used bottle) . Up there in the open , hot and thirsty after our climb and with no one else for miles around , it had tasted quite good . Back in “civilisation” it reminded me of my fathers home made wine and it was quietly poured into the harbour! I suspect he makes a regular bit of money from walkers in this way but I dont begrudge him a bit of it!

From Canary scenes

In the evenings life has become hectic : tonight is our 5th in a row when we will be eating with a new set of friends on one or other of the boats. The ARC boats have been in purdah on Gran Canaria for two weeks now , so our new friends tend to be rather more individualistic characters in a fascinating set of boats that are very different from the typical ARC entrant. They are fun , but one by one are slipping out for their own transatlantic crossing. We are off to La Palma , the most western island and reputed to be the most lush and beautiful. Then , in 3 weeks it will be our turn to go , and I cant wait!

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