I had two full days to enjoy La Gomera. Today I decided to explore the island by car and to look for good places to hike on the next day. The car hire company has said the car was fully insured except for damage to tyres caused by driving over rocks on the road. I soon understood why – the whole island is one steep extinct volcano that has been eroding away into the sea for the past few million years. The most visible sign of this erosion are great sweeping valleys, where rain dropping on the top of the mountains washes down to the sea. But another sign is the frequent little piles of rock in the road from small landslides.
At first I drove up the mountain on the south side of the island – the landscapes were stark and dry.
Then I crossed through a tunnel to the east side of the island, which receives clouds blown in by the trade winds, which blow from east to west at this latitude – which is why Columbus sailed south to the Canary Islands before setting off for America. As the clouds rise up the mountain they drop a steady supply of rain, meaning this side of the island is usually wet and supports luxuriant vegetation.
The road took me to the Bailadero “mirador” (viewing point) which I had been targeting on my walk yesterday. I was lucky that today there was less wind, meaning the clouds didn’t reach very far up the mountain, and the views of Los Roques were really spectacular.
I realised that it was a good decision to turn back on yesterday’s walk, since I was still a long way away from my destination. From the mirador there was a pretty short walk through an atmospheric forest, whose trees were covered with thick moss and whose leaves and branches were wet with moisture from the clouds.
After that walk, the road continued up the central ridge right on top of the island. There I found yet more “miradors” with beautiful views north, south and east.
From the mountain ridge I drove to the south west corner of La Gomera, back into a bone-dry, lunar landscape of great eroding valleys.
I drove all the way down to the sea to have lunch at La Gomera’s main resort, Valle Gran Rey. This was supposed to the richest part of the island, but still looked slightly run down. Still, I had a nice octopus salad in a café on the seafront and after lunch ventured onto the beach for a paddle. The black sand had absorbed the heat of the sun and was very hot for little paws, so I ran to the sea…….which was very cold. Maybe my short paddle wasn’t worth getting black sand all over my paws and in my fur, but at least I can say that if have been in the sea!
Next I drove back up to the centre of La Gomera and around the west and north of the island; the road sometimes followed the coast, and sometimes wound deep inland to worm its way around the deep valleys. La Gomera is very beautiful, and its scenery very varied. Every few kilometres there was another mirador to admire a different island landscape.
Although the island is small – it’s roughly a circle with radius 5-6km – with the winding roads and frequent stops to admire the views, driving around it took a whole day and it was late afternoon by the time I got back home. I settled down on my terrace with a glass of local wine to write my blog, and then had a very good steak from the local market for dinner.