Cave-dwelling on the Island of Eternal Spring

Once again this solo wandering female is on the road.

What a fab time to travel – at a time when most of this planet’s 7.6 billion people are hiding within their 4 walls! Yep, Corona smarona – with a negative Covid test it was off to Gran Canaria at the beginning of this January for some top hiking without the tourists.

This island, which has the nickname ‘the Island of Eternal Spring’ is something to behold. Mountains, woodland, lush valleys, even a sand dune landscape in the south and caves galore!

Skip the bus

Having secured a bed at a mountain retreat away from civilisation, the host gave me the bus routes to get there. Bus? I thought. On my map I saw there’s an amazing valley to hike up through and a mountain to cross, and Bob’s your uncle, you’re there. So off I wandered.

The route was spectacular. Birdsong and butterflies accompanied me and I didn’t meet a soul. The path slowly got steeper and rockier as I got further up, giving me a most welcome breeze in the sunshine.  Suddenly, looking up to take in the spectacular view all the way across the island and out across the ocean to Tenerife, with snow on its highest mountain, Mount Teide, the path collapsed from under my feet causing a mini landslide and I took a tumble.

Well, a slide would be more accurate. I banged my knee on the rocks going down, my back was protected by my rucksack and I managed to stop from further slithering by grabbing a tree root. Like a gecko I inched my way back up to the path and once there, taking a step, it was clear I was not going to make it far with my swollen knee.

Survival gear: sewing kit and Bob Dylan

Too proud to call for help – lets have some girl power!  Ever the optimist, I thought hey, what better terrain than here to practice some survival skills? I had all my gear, including my Camelback, battery pack, a bag of nut mix, my head torch, mini first-aid kit and, ah yes, a mini sewing kit. There were plenty of caves nearby and it was only 10 degrees at night. Time for some adventure!

I went more on hands and knees than walking to a series of ancient cave homes, literally right by where I fell. What luck! I called the mountain retreat to let them know I would come a day later, unpacked my warm gear and got settled.

A stitch in time saves…..the mind…from wondering if I will be able to continue walking the next day. Listening to Bob Dylan on my phone I sewed a nice little patch, cut from my hairband, onto my trousers. A tailor would faint, but I thought – nice work!

The night was cosy as there is an average temperature of 17 degrees in the caves all year round. Amazing. As if the mountain was trying to make it up to me, I was rewarded by a gorgeous sunset… I’m telling you, every cloud definitely has a silver lining!

Next day I was able to carefully and slowly walk to the hut and laugh about my mini adventure with my host over a beer on the roof top.

Patched trousers and old clothes

My host paid me in terms of a bed and food for helping him restore and maintain this little haven of tranquility. I sanded down and painted old windows, repaired a cane roof and carried out all sorts of other chores.

At the weekend he took me on a walk to a remote village, the highlight being a very traditional dish called Ropa Vieja.

Now I do know some Spanish, so when this translated as ‘old clothes’ I was sceptical. Aha, I thought, is this the locals’ way of disposing of rubbish – cut up granny’s old nightie into little bits and mix it into a curry for gullible tourists who believe you when you tell them it’s a traditional dish?!  Well, it was filling and…yes, delicious. It is actually a dish made from a mix of leftovers in the fridge – in this case it was chickpeas, potatoes and chicken in a curry type sauce. Wonderful after a long trek!

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Gwendolyn is a half German, half English bilingual secretary who worked a boring bank gig bank in London before the travel bug bit. She then led adventure tours in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Eastern Europe for three and a half years. She gets out to adventures whenever she can, given the current situation.