Whew. What a relief. We relax among the lack of crowds on La Palma Island. Much less traffic, and rarely do cars ride our rear while driving the twisty roads. Our new rental car comes with an automatic transmission that relieves a bit of stress on these ninety-degree inclines.
Rain pours as the ocean roars here on the east shore of this lush part of the island. It drizzles faster once we lug our bags to try and find our “contactless host” dwelling.
Soon, the clouds clear and we chill with a cold one on the balcony before moving to the rooftop of our new oceanside casa.
We drive across a mere twenty miles (33 kilometers) to the west coast but not before stopping at the top, in the middle of the island, where “Cumbre Viejo Volcano” rests after a recent eruption.
This eruption lasted from September 19th to December 13th last year. To walk and observe the devastation proves more powerful than reading about it. This still steaming lava flow spanned 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers) in width and destroyed 3,000 buildings enroute to the ocean.
Seven thousand people had to evacuate which resulted in one death. Swaths of banana plantations did not survive.
If there is a bright side, out of devastation arises opportunity, as the lava flow added approximately forty-two acres (17 hectares) of new land to the island.
Again, driving the twisty roads without congested traffic and with an automatic transmission makes things pleasurable.
Back to chillin’ at the casa by the ocean, we cook our main meals thanks to the large “Five Oceans” flash frozen seafood and meat market nearby.
Next on Marilynn’s list, yes, she has a list, and it is a darn good thing. Otherwise, I would be content to stare at the ocean and drink beer all day long. We hike in the Los Tilos biosphere reserve, a rainforest and also the largest laurel forest on the island.
Sort of a “hell hike” that switchbacks straight up for one mile. This heart-pumper revitalizes our energy and appetite.
Welcome to our first restaurant meal. At “Casa Goyo” we order the Canarian staple of “Gofio Escaladado” a superfood full of minerals, proteins, and carbs.
This staple derives from the original inhabitants, “Guanches,” who used it as a substitute for wheat flour, utilizing different grains formed into a ball, and served with toppings such as chopped onions and carrots. In this case we recognize barley and corn boiled in fish stock. No doubt stock from the pan grilled parrot fish that accompanies our dish.
We spot two parrot fish, due to two sets of eyeballs staring up at us from the plate.
Back at our casa, a two-mile walk brings us to the small working city of Santa Cruz de la Palma, near the port and shipping docks.
Among the historic buildings and cobblestone streets sits an exact replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship the Santa Maria.
Marilynn’s list starts to get to me. We are trying to walk to a statue of one of the Virgins of importance, up these steep hills in the humid sun, not knowing if we are on the right track.
Lost. Enter traveler’s arguing – which is bound to happen to any travel junkies during any adventure. She is stomping, “pout-walking” in front of me, pissed-off at my, we can call it nonverbal unenthusiasm. She turns around, “Let’s just go back.” I’m like, “Okay. Fine.” Damn. I just entered into “no man’s land” where she will be mad no matter what I say or do from this point on. Yes, her anger lasts throughout the night, and through the following morning. Fast forward…, we eventually make peace. Plus, she navigates me to a restaurant that specializes in grilled meat! The “Chipi Chipi” restaurant happens to be on her list.
However, here comes my true redemption. The “Chipi Chipi” sits close to the church that houses that Virgin statue. So, we drive to it on the way to the restaurant. This drive proves that we were way, way off course while walking yesterday.
Now, to ice this situation, an elderly couple (our age I suppose) sit outside the church, begging for a ride back to Santa Cruz, as they are worn-out from the long walk to see the Virgin’s statue. Neither they nor we could go inside the church to see the statue because of a wedding ceremony taking place. Hallelujah! I have redemption. (Either that or I am going straight to hell)
Meanwhile, we order food at Chipi Chipi, famous for grilled meats. Our lack of Spanish speaking skills strikes once again. I successfully order delectable grilled pork chops.
Marilynn tries to order cheese grilled in mojo sauce for an appetizer. While I sit and chill with a couple of cold ones, the waiter brings Marilynn her appetizer, which is on proud display in the photo below.
Of course I share one of my pork chops with her. Then we resume Marilynn’s list with revived energy. A drive to the southern part of this island is in order. Along the way we take a short hike around the constant wind-blown cone of San Antonio Volcano. It blew up in 1949, and now hardy Canarian pines grow in the crater.
Reaching the southernmost point on the island, we drive through a maze of banana plantations and dwellings to reach two lighthouses. Although the old lighthouse survived the lava flow, hardy Canarians built a new lighthouse, on the land gained from the volcanic eruption in 1971 from Volcan Tenegui.
Back at the casa, we chill with a cold one and gaze out the window of our oceanside rental. I suppose we shall also finish Marilynn’s list.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!