I recently came across my hiking photos from a few months ago, and decided that I finally had to post them! Traveling to La Palma was such an eye-opening experience that really touched the deepest parts of my soul. On this trip, I decided to revive my love of writing, and brought this blog to life shortly after.
Even though I had never been to the Canary Islands, the moment I stepped foot on the island, I felt at home – that is the best way to sum it up. And, if you will bear with me, I would be honored to share my travel diary with you…
Monday – Travel Day:
We woke up really early to get on our train to Frankfurt to catch our plane. After an almost 3 hour train ride, we spent another 6-ish hours on different planes “continent hopping”. Germany -> Spain, Spain -> Teneriffa, and Teneriffa -> La Palma. We flew with Iberia, and while the stewards and stewardesses were very nice and helpful, they seemed to be a bit disorganized. When we booked our flights, we were able to book a vegan meal that we could supposedly purchase on the plane. Unfortunately, the only vegan items next to 7€ (!!!) ham sandwiches and 2,50€ bottles of water were small packs of olives, potatoes chips, and almonds – not much in the line of a meal for a long day of travel – and we were quickly out of 15€…and starving when we finally landed. Our connections were very short. In Madrid we literally walked off one plane and onto the next, and promptly took off. Two thumbs up for not having to wait around, but it seemed that our luggage was not as quick as we were. The flight to Teneriffa was uneventful, and the flight to La Palma with Bintner was short and sweet. We arrived and were quickly on our way out…no customs, no immigration, just a helpful person at one of the luggage desks that helped up “find” our luggage. It was great to know that no one knew were our luggage was, but apparently this happens on a regular basis and no one seems surprised or stressed out about it. I would have given (almost) anything for a shower and a toothbrush, but it would have to wait.
We met up with our friends, and took a roller coaster ride through the island. If you get carsick easily, I suggest avoiding this island. We drove through lush green winding roads and passes. Just out the window of the car, when I reached my hand out, I could grab a banana growing on one of the many trees on the local “platano” farms that are literally right on the side of the road! And, as we drove further, it was avocados heavily hanging on trees…then mangoes…green oranges basking in the sun taking their time to turn orange…chestnuts…loquats…papayas…my goodness…it’s paradise!
Then, we made a few million more winding turns and drove through a long tunnel – apparently one of the longest stretches of straight road on the whole island! We broke through the other side and *snap fingers* we were transported to another world. Goodbye lush green fruit trees and pleasant humid air…welcome to the hot dry dessert forest full of pine trees and cacti of all shapes and sizes! Just like that…black & white, day & night, ying & yang – tropical forest next to coniferous dessert. Amazing!
We headed to the largest town in the vicinity of the apartment we rented – Puerto de Tazacorte – and sat down for a nice meal at the Taberna del Puerto. It was absolutely delicious! I let the waiter know (in my rusty Spanish) that I am allergic to quite a lot of foods, and this didn’t seem to faze him or his kitchen crew a bit. They even offered to wash the cutting boards and utensils before preparing my meal to insure that there was no cross contamination – now that is service! I had a delicious salad with vegetables and pungently sweet tropical fruits drizzled in an herbal salad dressing laced with guava.
We then drove off to our apartment (La Primavera Holiday Resort), unpacked the few things from our carry-ons (which luckily included a change of clothes & pjs), and we were so exhausted that we were quickly out! The apartment was a great tip from our friend who has lived on the island for 8 years now. We had a comfortable bed, warm running water, and adequate kitchen with all the appliances we needed, comfortable neighbors, privacy, and a calming view of the Atlantic.
Tuesday – Day 1:
“Unfortunately”, we were woken up (at 6am) to find out that our beautiful apartment, with a full view of the Atlantic, was right smack dab next to one of those amazing platano and avocado farms, and their rooster decided that it was time. I’m not sure what he thought it was time for, but he had to let everybody know. It was still pitch black outside. He kept at it until all the neighboring roosters joined in, and soon it was 7:35am and still pitch black outside.
We gave in and made breakfast from the spelt oats we brought with us from home with some almond milk and local organic platanos that our friends organized for us before we arrived, as well as coffee we brought from home. We never travel without our own coffee. I know it sounds snobby, but that’s what happens when you work in a café for a years…I try to avoid cheaply roasted coffee like the plague.
We eased through breakfast, enjoyed watching the sun slowly rise over the nearest mountain to the east, and amused ourselves by making fun of our rooster-neighbor. We hung around the apartment most of the day waiting for that call telling us when and if our luggage would arrive. We waited and waited…and then we waited some more. The sun was pounding down so steadily and so beautifully, and the lapping of the pool meters away had me silently cursing Iberia that my swimsuit was somewhere in Spain…that and my beloved toothbrush.
Our friends showed up shortly after noon and let us know that our luggage had been found and that it would arrive in the evening. Yes!
We felt hunger sneaking up on us again, and drove off to a local organic grocery store – what a selection!! Organic bananas (platanos) that tasted 500% better than any banana I’ve ever eaten (like they had crossed a banana with a tangy super sweet guava) for only 1,60€/kg! Among the lovely selection of local produce was a diverse selection of different plant-based milks, dried whole grains, puffed cereals, dried fruits with no added sugars (dried by the store owners to reduce the waste of over ripen produce), nuts, nut butters, tofus, soy-yogurts, seeds, noodles, rices, flours, and beauty products galore. Even the well known German organic brands for laundry detergents and toothpastes had their place on the selves among local Canary and Spanish products. Some things are more expensive than their German counterparts, but most products here were an organic bargain.
We bought what we needed and rolled on down to the local hyper-Dino – a huge grocery store chain which also has a decent selection of organic products and plant based milks. But, in all reality, we vegans come pretty far in any old grocery store, and here, the selection is grand – beans of all kinds and in jars that can be resealed, couscous, rice, and fruits and vegetables for ridiculously low prices. Mangoes and potatoes cost about the same per kilo…and the price of papayas left me practically in tears from shear happiness! We bought a papaya for 1,40€ that we would have paid anywhere from 8€-16€ for in Germany, and it wouldn’t have even tasted half as sweet. We left feeling happy and headed back home to cook. Shortly after 6:30pm our suitcases finally arrived.
First order of business: brush teeth. Second: shower. Third: *sign* feel like a human again.
The night sky was beautiful – for the first time I could really see the milky way and huge clusters of stars. We prepared and packed everything we needed for our hike on Wednesday: food, lots of water, and gear. We set our alarm, and hit bed like being pulled in by a big earth magnet.