We left the adverse weather, soggy chips, and weighty pound to fly south to the Canary Islands for our first WWOOF assignment.
The Canary Islands you may wonder? They are a set of seven volcanic islands off the coast of Morocco. Officially it’s a Spanish territory, un-officially it’s the winter migration destination of 1000s of older northern Europeans looking to escape the cold of winter in Europe. As we flew over the island of Tenerife below us block upon block of apartments spread virus-like up treeless hills. Later we were to learn that this style of ‘holidaying’ was quite the thing around the Mediterranean. So at first we were a bit confused - ‘where are the organic farms and ponies?’ These it turned out were on La Palma a four hour ferry ride away. Thus arrived Travel Lesson #1: when traveling to an absolutely unknown destination you will make geographical errors, it will cost you more euros than you think, the hotel will be in the next suburb, but the local beer can take away some pain - Viva La Vida Dorada!
The good news about the ferry ride was that neither of us were sick … the bad
news was the 2hour bus ride from Santa Cruz de La Palma (capital of La Palma island) that wove up a volcanic crater, through a mountain, down a valley, and up another volcanic mountainside that did make us sick. The scenery is an amazing a mix of banana plants, black sand, steep mountains, goats, almond trees, avocadoes and igneous rock (so Ms Nelson says). We had found our organic produce and ponies at Marie-Louise’s small finca on the west side of La Palma (near Tijarafe for those not so geographically challenged).
We worked with two German girls, Alexandra and Bettina and our days were varied with daily chores of feeding horses, chickens, cats and dogs, followed by watering the gardens. We did lots of weeding and smashed out some wicked garden beds. It was winter and the lettuces were amazing! We ate everyday from the garden after working for 4 hours. With our afternoons and weekends free we explored the surrounding hills, went to the beach in Tazacorte, and simply sat and watched an amazing sight of sea blurring into sky on cloudless, clear nights. Accommodation was rustic but warm but the highlight was Clarissa’s love affair with Linda.
Linda (Spanish for sweet) arrived on the finca a week after us and Clarissa was immediately drawn in by her dark alluring eyes and silky soft hair. Poor Linda didn’t have a chance - Clarissa swept her up immediately. Most of you know that Clarissa has been having terrible cravings … for puppy bellies! I’m pleased to say that these cravings have been somewhat satiated on La Palma. Linda, we were told is some kind of little dog that chases rats. She has a curly tail, puppy breath, and a fat belly - purrfect. Clarissa had eyes for only Linda for a week and she spoilt her rotten - no rat chasing for Linda. Needless to say the parting was a little rough for them both. We left Linda like Sleeping Beauty wrapped in silk boxer shorts in her box at the back door and set off for more bellies.
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