Archive for March 21st, 2009
Leaving La Gomera, don’t look down!

As the frogs gave way to the cockerels (see previous post) it was time to move on from Vallehermoso and head down the western side of La Gomera for the home leg. Making a decently early start, we began the uphill climb to the edge of the Garajonay National Park. Steep and twisting was just the start, we soon discovered that JCB’s were busy on the top stretches of the TF 711, clearing rock falls and trying to do some widening where possible. Passing was near impossible at these points, so mobile phones and Stop/ Go signs filtered cars through in single file (a traffic jam in La Gomera is 3 cars) as diggers pulled in to the side. This left us on very narrow, debris strewn single mud tracks, seperated from sheer drops of 1,000 metres plus, by makeshift fances of plastic tape lattice work. Forgive me if I haven’t got any nice pics of the sheer drops, but I didn’t fancy clinging on to a tree root by my teeth while peering into the cloudy swirl below. Finally dropping,on the lead into Garajonay, rocks started to rise above us rather than plummet below, a very welcome sight.

Cliff holes

Having seen postcards of a huge reservoir, with a public walkway across, we headed for the heart of the National Park and La Laguna Grande. The Laurel forest closed in around the road, with green moss clinging to the branches and dripping moist droplets around us as shafts of sunlight burst in through chinks in the leafy umbrella, adding steam to the mix. Taking a rough track down to La Laguna Grande, we found a large recreation and picnic area with an information office just beyond. A brief walk down one of the marked paths led to a green valley opening up below, but it seemed that the resevoir was a 6 km walk away, and time was against us.

Back to the car and we headed up into the hills again before the eventual drop into Playa de Santiago. The road twisted and turned again as goats stared down at us from the steep plains. Stopping at another road side mirador (viewpoint) we could see that it wasn’t just the goats that were agile round here. A narrow stony path led down to a small farm, perched delicately in a terrace with a sheer drop either side, even coming up to the road level to collect from the post box looked like something off The Krypton Factor.

Dodgy post

The sun burst through again as we cruised into Playa de Santiago on the south coast, a mix of shingle beach and port. A nice collection of bars scattered around a small plaza, drew us in for a snack as we watched the world, well a very British and German slice of it, go by. A lot of the pleasure boats go out from Playa de Santiago, and up on the hill Tecina Golf, is the only golf course on the island. Dominoes was the main sporting action down at beach level, taxi drivers passing the time squatting around a small table and arguing as if it was a World title event.

Playa de Santiago

Closing the circle, we took the final leg on to San Sebastian, just along the coast, but 34 kms taking the TF 713 inland and uphill before heading down again. After we took a quick look at Playa de la Cueva, hidden just to the east of the ferry terminal, I headed up the Mirador de la Hila, accessed via a side street behind the Plaza de la Americas, for a good overall panoramic view of the port and Playa de la San Sebastian.

San Sebastian

With some time to spare before the 5pm ferry back to Los Cristianos, we had a little wander, I was pleased to see that the Pension Victor (pensions are cheap, basic accomodation) in Calle Real was still sporting its CD Tenerife mural from 4 years earlier. The Parque de la Torre, just off the sea front, was well worth investigating, created in September 1992 to mark 500 years since Christopher Colombus set sail from La Gomera to America, it has a small outdoor theatre space. The old tower, that gives the park its name, stands proud and the ground floor contains ancient maps and charts of the island.

The Fred Olsen ferry hooter called us to order for a smooth return, 4 years ago I caught the last ferry out before Tropical Storm Delta blew in. La Gomera has much more to offer, and I will certainly return, maybe in December when the next Atlantic Rowing Race leaves for Antigua.