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15th January, 2016

Santa Cruz, La Palma

We arrived off Santa Cruz just after 10 am, by which time it was becoming pleasantly warm under a blue sky. Many of the passengers were on one of the various tours set up for the afternoon, even so there seemed to be a dignified rush for the shuttle bus into town. As the ship was scheduled for a late departure I ventured off on a ‘Forest Walk’, which wasn’t going to return until around sunset.

The tour guide was a Belgian chap who had decided to stay on the island seven years ago after arriving with his girlfriend on a budget holiday. He had been up surfing before we had arrived, looked very fit indeed and had an enviable suntan. The coach took us first up to Mirador de la Concepcion, a spectacular vantage point with views over the city. Then it was a 50 minute drive across the east side of the island to the ‘Laurel Forest’, Los Tilos. To get to the start of the walk the driver had to negotiate some very tight turns that led across very narrow bridges, it was impressive to see that there was not a scratch on his shiny coach.

The path was a fairly easy climb up a non-metalled service track used by the engineers to repair and maintain the levadas, the waterways that had been built to bring water to the east coast plantations. Our guide stopped often to pick out various plants, and was very informative, talking about the ancient laurels, giant ferns and very large dandelion plants which would have been the scourge of my lawn. After an hour or so, we returned the same way, boarded the bus and headed off for San Andreas y Sauces. The drive took us through great swathes of banana plantation, apparently grown as a subsistence crop. We stopped for a small beverage in this delightful village before continuing our walk along a coastal path. Down to the right the sea was foaming between black volcanic rocks, while to the left various levels of bananas were partially hidden behind walled terraces, even the smallest area of land being cultivated.

It was a delightful afternoon, followed by a pleasant evening alongside until, eventually, the lines were slipped and we set off on the 63 mile journey to La Gomera.

Captain Philip Rentell

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