Caught in the Canary Islands Part 1

From winter until early 2020, I traveled the Cape Verde Islands, with the goal of eventually reaching Spain. Things didn’t go exactly to plan.

I had to have a ticket out of the country and the cheapest destination was Las Palmas, so my idea was to make a stopover in the Canary Islands for a day or two, and continue traveling through Spain.

I had purposely avoided the Canary Islands. Tourist spots that attract charter travelers do not attract me; it is not traveling for me to go on a charter. But I was wrong about the Canary Islands. As soon as I found my way into the older parts of Las Palmas, I changed my attitude.

The city of Las Palmas

Las Palmas is beautiful and cozy at the same time. The streets meander up the mountain between mighty old buildings where the apartments have high ceilings and labyrinth-like and surprising floor plans. The roof terraces have nice views of the old town and the sea. In addition, there was cheap accommodation, charming cafes, lots of good food and wonderful people. Most of the people I met came from colder parts of Europe, overwintering in a better climate, locals, and a mix of people from all over the world.

The island of La Palma

Following a travel tip, I went from urban Las Palmas to the green island of La Palma, an island located in the far northwest. It was easy to fall in love with La Palma. The climate varies a lot because it is hilly and the nature varies from dry pine forests to jungle, mixed with small picturesque old communities with lush vineyards.

The sea is constantly present,  clearly visible from the steep mountains, which makes the horizon across the Atlantic look endless. La Palma is the island of hiking. Everyone goes on treks and in the evening you can exchange tips and maybe join new friends on a different trip the next day.

Island paradise, until…

My island home was a small village 700 m above sea level, El Paso, where I could have stayed a long time in other circumstances. I took some wonderful hikes, walked on black beaches, and swam in the Atlantic. I also visited some amazing caves where people have lived throughout history, and where I went on a breathtaking climb.

All of this was before there was a curfew. The atmosphere was a little tense at the hostel I lived in, as COVID 19 had started to take hold and I had a stubborn cough after a flu in Cape Verde that made people looked at me suspiciously and keep their distance. It was said at the time I visited Cape Verde that there was no COVID 19, but I had spent my time with lots of Italians, dancing and hanging around, and we know what happened soon after in Italy…

Caught in the Canary Islands Part 2

Previous articleVeteran conflict photographer on risk, reward and dealing with trauma
Next articleQuicksand! Explorer Alice Morrison gets that sinking feeling crossing the Western Sahara
I quit a well-paid job as a planning architect, sold my car and went away to travel solo with my old veteran motorbike.