Jonas Pérez appreciates speed.
We wouldn't say as much as your native island, but it gives you special pleasure to wind through the curves of La Palma with your tires in torment.
We soon realized that he was doing it with the experience of years up and down the island, at one point in charge of his own tour company, a position that linked him to us and our visit.
In response to the challenge of where we wanted to start exploring it, we headed north, with Los Tilos National Park as our destination.
The Prodigious Laurisilval Redoubt of Los Tilos
Los Tilos is special for concentrating one of the oldest and best preserved areas of Laurisilva forest in the canary archipelago and all of Macaronesia.
Verdant, humid, with assorted vegetation, mossy and, in its own way, mystical, Los Tilos is crisscrossed by countless trails that attract walkers from all over.
On hot summer days, one of them, accessible and much shorter, proves to be a case apart.
As we found it, we wouldn't classify it well as a conventional trail.
In the vicinity of a river named Barranco del Água, a canalized levada follows a tunnel dug into the slope.
We left it for the entrance to a tight, winding, fetus-swelled throat.
There, a generous waterfall supplied the Barranco del Água and delighted a small crowd of visitors.
There were a few tourists, occasional photographers and a bathing minority of teenagers delighted with the freshness and eccentricity of the afternoon shower. We were left with the will to join them.
If it were up to Jonas, this would never happen: “a special place like this should be closed to these invasions. Now it's these three, but sometimes it's five times more, you see?”
Of course we understood.
Jonah was from the island. And, in a way, the island was Jonah's. We didn't have much to add. We let him guide us to a marine equivalent of the Cascata de Los Tilos.
We revert south. We leave the main road for a spin-off full of these steep and scary things.
A final slope leaves us facing a parched promontory, full of yellow cacti, in season, studded with prickly pears, hygopics or tunos as, depending on the islands, they are called the Canaries.
Nogales: a Raw and Stunning Black Sand Beach
A wooden fence protected anyone who ventured there to peer into the abyss to the north, from a long and fateful fall.
Nevertheless, the view of Playa Nogales below, of unusual marine and volcanic splendor, invited us to prolong our contemplation and renew the clicks of the cameras over and over again.
Its black sand, over 500 meters long and, depending on the tide, up to 25 meters wide, fits into the bottom of cliffs that, in the rainy months, become verdant and contrast with the oil blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
In such an extreme scenario, it is not surprising that the bed undergoes sudden changes in depth susceptible to currents.
So, baths have to be done with extra care.
In any case, the few privileged bathers we glimpsed in the depths, all safe, were playing rackets, playing with a dog, dozing just before the edge of the surf.
From San Andrés to the return to the capital Santa Cruz
Between Los Tilos and Nogales, we saw a good part of the relief of La Palma colonized by hillside banana groves, already of considerable size. At that time, little did we know that, on the scale of La Palma, these were mere samples.
This initial section of the tour occupied us until lunchtime.
Jonas Pérez entices us to agree to a visit to a restaurant by his family member from town de San Andrés, homonymous, endowed with an esplanade shaded by large palm trees and blessed by the Parish of San Andrés Apostle.
There we sat and enjoyed grilled fish, with wrinkled potatoes and, of course, a good dose of gofio, a yellowish porridge made from a mixture of grains and cereals that, it is said, was already consumed by the natives of the Guanche Canary Islands, long before the arrival of the Europeans.
Jonas urges us to taste it with the genuine pride of a lesser-old native. To your delight, we love the snack. We abused to taste it until we realized its weight and digestive complexity.
And, soon, the consequent difficulty in exploring the colorful and picturesque seaside village planted with San Andrés.
That afternoon, we were on our own to wander around the capital Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Roque Los Muchachos Misty and the Enchantment of El Tablado
Early the next morning, we left once in rally mode, with the end of the stage on the roof of the island of Roque de los Muchachos (2426m), the second highest peak in the canaries
Roque de los Muchachos became a privileged vantage point of space, reason for being of the various Space Observatories and the huge antennas that we saw pointed towards the sky.
And yet, by the time we completed the ascent of the mount, instead of hovering below, clouds of altitude would surround us, which frustrated us with a decent contemplation of the crater and the surrounding panoramas.
Okay, we took less time than we expected.
Jonas enjoys the road sequence.
It takes us to one of his favorite parts of La Palma, the northern coast, set back in time, isolated by the whimsical shapes of mountains and valleys and by a certain attachment to an ancestral way of life.
A region crisscrossed by dizzying trails where Jonah and his wife Sarai have accumulated great experience guiding outsiders.
The speedy and gentle guide shows us, in particular, the village of El Tablado, named for the traditional wooden structure of the roofs, culminating in older and humbler houses imposed on the slopes.
Most of the recent, colorful ones, with shallow tops, somewhat Moorish chimneys.
The Atlantic to the north and the plant company of a few dragon trees, much older than any inhabitant.
From El Tablado, we wind our way to Santo Domingo.
The village revealed the structure and look of a village, with its square, church and stately building.
We found it almost deserted.
Despite the roads far less extreme than those leading to El Tablado, the event of the day was the misfortune of a driver who had broken into and destroyed a commercial establishment.
At the wheel of your car, you have to say it.
Down the west coast of La Palma
By a new zigzag slope, we come within sight of the Roques de Santo Domingo and Las Tabaidas.
Even if more hidden, we can also see Praia de Bujarén, of the same volcanic streak and retreat at the foot of the cliffs, that of Nogales.
Betting on completing the circum-conduction of the island, Jonas forced an additional stretch, now along the top of its west coast, long enough to convince us of the dimension of La Palma that the maps do not allow us to understand.
We are once again startled by the Canarian drama of the Beautiful Island of the Canary Islands when we reached the top of El Valle de Aridane.
Fertile like few others on the island, El Valle is home to immense agricultural production, to the point of hosting one of the most important banana plantations in the Canary Islands.
As we descend to its core, the meanders of the LP-1 road, Barrancos Tenisca and Las Angustias drive us into a forest of walled banana trees, Jonas explains that they were protected from the wind and better matured.
So many kilometers of curves, ups and downs, so much unveiling of new panoramas, already justified a new gastronomic experience.
Higopicos or Tunos à Mesa and the Volcanic Fund of La Palma
at the table of gastrobar El Duende del Fuego, from Los Llanos we are delighted with Chef Pedro Castillo peeling a prickly pear by hand. And with its risotto and ice cream from hygopic, among other delights.
Os tunos continued to abound.
From El Valle down towards the finisterre pointed south of La Palma, where the Fuencaliente lighthouse warns of the imminence of the island for navigation.
Once again, on these sides, we find ourselves in a realm of dark earth and lava, speckled with amazing volcanoes: San Antonio and San Juan.
Both are the last craters of a long volcanic crest, which also includes the controversial Cumbre Vieja, which re-erupted on September 19, 2021.
reason for a apocalyptic and viral theory that its collapse over the Atlantic would trigger a gigantic tidal wave that would destroy part of the coast of Americas and even some European coastlines.
Less intimidating, the San Juan volcano overlooks the lighthouse, the contrasting salt marshes of Fuencaliente.
And on the beach with large pebbles where, despite the geological rawness of the scenery, we see bathers enjoying the last afternoon sun and the warm sea, to the torment of a duo of fishermen, saturated with their toil.
The night did not take long to announce itself.
With almost ten hours of laps around Isla Bonita, it was time to collect the Santa Cruz, the capital palm tree.
Its second largest town.