Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 6, 2017:Colada de Peraza to La Laja and Chejelipes

Subtitle : Winding Down, Down, Down in  La Gomera

“The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour.” 
― James Hopwood Jeans

Our starting point for today's hike: Colada de Peraza

I have to admit that it was with some sad emotion that I began today's hike in La Gomera. It will be the last one of our trip. This was actually supposed to be the first one, but things didn't work out as planned. I don't know if everything happens for a reason or not, but this detour was no problem.

If you will remember from the previous blog, Hernan Peraza, the namesake for the start of this hike,  was the much hated governor of La Gomera. And he had a penchant for the young native ladies, especially one called Yballa who was the sister of a Guanche leader. Knowing his weakness, Yballa lured him into a cave where a Guanche sheperd, Hautacuperche, proved, once again, that if you fool around with a guy's sister, they might not be fooling around with you! In continued shenanigans by fifteenth century Europeans, Christopher Columbus, while provisioning his ships for the 
1492 voyage to the Americas, subsequently fooled around with Peraza's widow. She provisioned him with sugar cane and "brown sugar."  Apparently he anticipated a long, lonely trip. Sailors! They never change.

Amazingly the point we started is named for the dead and hated Spanish Count Peraza and not the victorious defender of a girl's honor, Hautacuperche. That proves that the winners write the history books.

Instead of telling you how beautiful this walk was, I will let the photos save thousands of words. This hike was only about 1000 feet of ascent at the very beginning but 3000 feet of descent, some steep, but mostly manageable.

If you look closely , you see the tiny houses in the valley 1000 meters below us. We hiked to that village, La Laja.

Mt Teide on Tenerife is the distant peak

The whole gang admires the area from the path

Animals are pretty scarce. Most birds are kestrels. Most four legged ones are sheep. There is a rare horse, no cattle and many, many lizards

A nice sunny day with plenty of wind

We encountered cats frequently, this one from a deserted scenic overlook

A pass through the edges of the national park with its laurel forests

Yes, they actually built good roads through here

There is no end to the glorious rock formations
We passed several deserted houses and always wonder who is living in such a deserted place far from all modern conveniences.

Snack time

Chris on the porch of a deserted house

What two middle aged Americans look like after 6 days of hiking in La Gomera
The little village of La Laja was so green and delightful when we reached it. It is at the top of a ravine that contains something you  don't see that often in the Canaries-- a fresh water stream. There is a dam and reservoir. Fresh water on islands like this is a big issue. Tenerife, like Australia desalinates it's water supply. Although potable, it isn't very tasty. The water on La Gomera is filtered from fresh and tastes great.
A rare Canarian fresh water reservoir

Many of the inhabitants of the lush town of La Laja where we ended the trails appear to be German.

Typical Canarian style house
TThere were many garden patches, dogs and cats and bee hives. Our guide Max kept calling it Shangri-La.

A glance back at Shangri-La. We hiked down from the highest peak you see in the photo.

After our hike, we enjoyed a nice beverage together in San Sebastian before boarding the Armas Ferry to return to Tenerife.
Hiking over. Nikki inspects her nails. Princess Margaret is bored.

The little restaurant we stopped in for the drink was Cuban. There seems to be a fair number of Cubans and other nationals on La Gomera conducting business.
A wistful King David

Max conducts business as usual

Chris napping?

John The Thinker

We didn't eat but I did see some of my favorite bad English menu items.
Chickentighs and maetballs, anyone?

From here we caught the Las Armas Ferry between islands.  The journey from La Gomera to Tenerife is about an hour. The "high speed" Fred Olsen ferries do it in about 45 minutes. Paul is happy on any conveyance that has free wifi. The service of the ferries runs regularly and they are comfy.

We had our parting dinner at a very nice restaurant back in our original seaside village of Medano. After seeing the hubbub of Los Cristianos, we were very grateful to Explore for choosing something less touristy.  The restaurant we were in was called El Caballo Blanco.
Squid ink and shrimp

As usual, the conversation lags a bit when the food arrives!

David and Nikki

Interior of Caballo Blanco

Free fish anatomy classes upon request

For such a little town, this place packs a  big punch specializing in creative Spanish cuisine. I had an avocado and shrimp salad that was outstanding. Paul went for squid ink pasta with prawns. No one was disappointed with the food, but we were all a little sad that this group of strangers, who had now become friends, would go our separate ways and likely never meet again. We cannot say enough good things about Nikki, David, Andrew, John, Margaret, Chris and our wonderful Spanish guide, Max. We wish them all safe returns home and many more happy adventures. You were enjoyable companions. 
Parting man hugs in the night

And we recommend Explore to anyone looking for organized budget travel experiences that go beyond the top 10 list on Trip Advisor and gets you into the heart of countries and islands. 

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” 

― Frank Herbert

Paul's Ponderings:  This hike was spectacular in a different way than the past few, in that it as focused mostly on a single lovely valley with a nice high point view thrown in for good measure.   That said, the path was fairly relentlessly down for the bulk of the hike....not as steep as the first two days hiking went down at times, but pretty rocky and steep going.   The forest was lovely and the village definitely had that Shangri-La look.   It's very green in this part of La Gomera and we saw some interesting rock formations that were a result of lava seeping into a crack to basically build a sort of wall where the earth eroded, leaving only the wall-like portion.   It was quite breezy and cool up top, but warm by the time we ended.

We've had some great times this week and would definitely return to La Gomera.   It is filled with hiking paths, albeit not always for the faint-of-hiking.

The evening ended in a very fine restaurant with great food and Canarian wines as well.  It's a fitting end to a great week.

Paul sports his RayBans--and you can see the other group members in the lenses!

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