From Belgium to La Gomera & La Palma

 

Before leaving with no return plan

Having been traveling 4 months we wanted to flashback and give some more detail of what has been going on in our world! As we travel we don’t focus our attention to finding internet or writing blogposts constantly as that would take away from the travel itself. Living the experience as much as we can, leaving out social media and internet as much as we like.

Over the summer Patricia spent some time back in the USA with family and friends and going to music festivals. After her return in July, she visited her friend Silvia in Italy for a week while Sieger was still working at that point. A few weeks later we found some time in between to get out of Belgium together and we took a two day trip to Den Haag, Netherlands.

After Sieger finished his job in mid August we packed up everything in his apartment, selling some things as well as giving away to friends. Big steps taken! Leaving Gent, a beautiful city and filled with people close to his heart. Leaving a personal space, moving the bed and other personal things to his parents house we left his apartment and headed to Croatia for two weeks. The first ‘test’ of having our new backpacks, our tent and trying out all of our camping gear.

One week we spent at Dimensions music festival with a few thousand drunk British people… Then the second week we went for a more remote and tranquil atmosphere to the island of Mali Losinj. What a beautiful area! In the forest we found it easy to wildcamp and luckily found a campground nearby where we could refill our water and even had access to showers! The days passed in peace, going for a swim, walking in the forest and visiting the old town.

  

The Big Journey

September 27th we left to the Canary Islands and arrived home to La Gomera by that evening. Now 4 months have passed and the island life is in full effect - the essence of time has seized to exist. As we mentioned in our last post we don't generally plan how long we are going to stay somewhere. Our first thought was only to spend a week in Valle Gran Rey, which turned into… a month plus. Originally wanting a few months in La Palma it was only two weeks! Fortunately, as mentioned in How We Travel, change is one of our main values. Remaining open we allow our path to flow in the direction it naturally goes and listen to our feeling as much as we can. The photos we show you are taken with our phone along the way!

 

La Gomera

Our first landing to La Gomera was on the beach where we met -Playa del Ingles. Hanging around the first days in Valle Gran Rey we felt bliss and joy to be back in the Canaries and excited for the journey ahead! Quickly we connected with our friend Donna and enjoyed the warm African climate. As Sieger mentioned in his post about La Gomera, Playa del Ingles is very known for sleeping spots but technically it isn't legal. Sometimes one can be woken up by the police after just one night and sometimes one can get away with staying there weeks! This time it was only a few nights before the Guardia Civil woke us up on the beach and kindly sent us away. Luckily in 2014 Sieger spent a few months in the valley and got a contact who owns a piece of land. Safe and secluded we could stay there.

   
~Our valley of peace

Camping in one of the valleys was a very peaceful experience and the perfect way to start our journey. We were near to a creek that leads to a waterfall so we had fresh water directly from the source. Not having to worry about carrying water is a huge weight relief when backpacking and camping! As we embraced the beauty around us our time passed quickly. Patricia enjoyed space to do yoga and practiced with her hula-hoop, whilst Sieger would go for a barefoot run almost daily to the waterfall. The path was perfect for walking without shoes and this way we both loved to connect with earth. The hike to the waterfall is one of our favorite parts of the island and a pretty known route for tourists. Filled with cane and papyrus everything turns green. Along the creek are multiple smaller waterfalls and small pools where fresh green waterplants grow covering the surface. Canarian willow trees grow criss cross over the path whilst palm trees, cacti and agave fill up all corners. Even imagining this in your mind can bring you tranquillity. Only in this barranco you have this specific combination of plants which attracts very special canarian birds to live there. In addition to this nirvana, getting to the waterfall at the right time one will see a rainbow gleaming where the water streams into the pool.

With wood all around us, we were able to make a small kitchen and prepare fresh food every night over a fire. Every 3-5 days we would make the hike down into the small babylon of Valle Gran Rey for groceries and going for a swim. Luckily our island momma Donna would open her house for us and we were able to have a warm shower and even do our laundry. Having a trustworthy and loving contact somewhere is a big gift while traveling and we can only hope for more Donna's along the way! The artesanal Sunday market was ideal for reconnecting with several people and hand crafters Sieger knows from his previous travels. Talking about our plans, we got many ideas about where to go once in La Palma. Perfect!

In the valley we had seen a few cats hanging around, one very little kitten which cried of hunger. Patricia was able to get the kitten to follow her and the sweet little love cuddled right up. Changa was very weak and too small to hunt for itself. A little kitten with a big heart, he slept with us on us every night, making us feel like parents! After a week we were leaving and knowing he wouldn't survive on his own we thought the best thing to do would be to take him with us and hope to find a better place for the little one. Sweet Donna offered to keep the kitten and so he could survive! What a tremendous blessing that she took him, and that her other cat Romeo didn't mind. Now they are all best friends - Changa was renamed to Julio and this makes Donna the mother of 'Romeo and Julio'... thank you again Donna! We miss you & the kitties!

 

We ended our time in the valley by making a night hike towards the waterfall. No tourist ever sees the river at this time of the day! Even for us, having made the walk so often it was a completely new experience. Following the river with our headlights, we discovered a whole other animal life in the dark. For example multiple Canarian geckos appeared for us! Once reached the waterfall, Sieger took an ice cold night shower. Trying to retrieve his sanity and warmth we made a cosy campfire and sat there sharing stories and kisses.

    
~Chinguarime

After a few weeks it was time to move and see other places. We reached out for Chinguarime! As the forecast predicted a storm, we put up our tent and made our spot safe for rain. Luckily most of the bad weather was during the night and we were able to enjoy jumping from the rocks into the ocean, go for small hikes and relax. Going to Santiago for groceries was a 7km walk over three 250m high mountains. Disconnected from time as we are, we ended up arriving in front of closed doors realising it was a Sunday! Not the first time that's happened and probably won't be the last!

 

    
~Vuelta
Our last days on La Gomera we rented a car to tour around the island. We were able to throw everything off our backs and see all corners of the island! Mainly we wanted to spend some time in the national park - Garajonay - which isn't so reachable by foot with our weight.

Words can't begin to express the beauty and magic that lies between the moss covered dancing trees. You feel like you've walked into a disney fairytale forest when the mist comes creeping through. Trees grow on trees, moss hangs like luscious hair, mushrooms grow everywhere, and even succulents grow on the trees. This is truly one of Europe's oldest and most original forest. Ancient energy is to be felt everywhere, untouched nature which is so rare to find these days. You can see some photos of the park in Sieger's post on La Gomera. One moment on the other the forest completely changes shape. As a cloud passes and the sun cuts through, sharp sunbeams chant a visual poem. A moment which will always remain in our heart.

  
 
 At that moment Sieger found a climbable tree and his monkey feelings took over! Probably the best way to experience a tree is to become one with it... And so the two of us spent some time hanging in the tree observing the forest from a birds perspective.
  

It's definitely true that waking up before sunrise gives a big amount of energy. Feeling this somewhere on a mountain is even more spectacular. A breakfast of yoghurt, fruit, nuts, muesli and gofio made it complete!

That night in the forest we fell asleep with the sound of the campfire crackling next to us. From sleeping on the warm rocky coastlines, in the green valleys, to deep into the forest on the highest layers of the island, our time in La Gomera felt complete.

 

La Palma

In the beginning of November we took a ferry to La Palma. Arriving with no plans we searched the map for campsites and headed into the mountains. The campground, El Pilar, was 4800ft (1463m) in altitude so compared to the coast and hot beaches it was quite cold -and rainy! With the clouds moving fast sunshine and rain switched on and off constantly. In the nights the temperature could even go down to 3°C, pretty cold for the Canary Islands. Despite the weather we were happy to have a free place to set up, access to fresh running water from the mountains, toilets and cooking areas with wood provided. Our first night there we got together with a few other travelers and spent the evening sharing food and tea. During the evening more hikers arrived and everybody collected at the fire. We each shared a lot of stories and laughs.

 
  
Having found a dry moment we left off for one of the hiking trails along the volcanic route. A beautiful moonlike landscape. Getting closer towards a peak we saw part of the island through the clouds when heavy winds came almost blowing us away. As we began to make the hike back to camp a storm came over us. Laughing and running we arrived back - soaking wet! That evening spent we spent drying and heating up by the fire.

 

One morning we noticed many people in the forest picking mushrooms. We got into a conversation with a local man and thanks to his advise we started our mushroom hunt! Together we easily collected two bags full of mushrooms. With some wild chestnuts, we prepared ourselves some local food over the grill, yum! After some days we were ready to leave El Pilar and find somewhere warmer and drier. While packing, a hard rain hit and all of our semi moisty things became completely drenched. But like Osho says, when the sun shines love the sun and when it rains love the rain. Standing next to the road, soaking wet in a hard rain we got a ride from a traveling couple, saved!

Our next week was spent near the village El Pinar. There was a recreational area, El Fayal. Again providing the basic needs - water, toilets, cooking area and wood. There wasn't any space for tents but luckily we could wildcamp in the nearby forest and no one seemed to mind. Happy to be in an area with blue skies and sunshine we could lay everything to dry. The benefit of sun versus a fire is that the sun will never burn holes in your clothes - oops, sorry socks!

At this point, Sieger got some bad news from home. In the same month he lost his grandfather, he got news his grandmother on the other side of the family also passed away. He got inspired to make an individual hike to the peak of the island. It's a pretty crazy idea, knowing we were almost at the coastline of the island! But in one day, he walked about 20km (12.5 miles), raising 2000m (6560ft) in height with a backpack of 15 kilo (33 pounds) on his back. Arriving perfectly on time to see the sunset, he spent the night on the highest volcanic rocks of La Palma. Watching the dancing clouds the whole day after, he spent a second night. Many hours passed having family and friends on his mind. Sending attention to all his connections in life and remembering his grandmother and grandfather in honor. Hoping he would be able to make some night photography, he got surprised with heavy and dangerous winds. A certain moment his camera got almost taken away and walking the peaks was impossible! After descending and getting teamed up again with love, the following days were more quiet and peaceful.

 

It has been an adventure thus far. Growing and learning, everyday has lessons to teach us. Plans consistently change but there is always good reason. We cut our trip short in La Palma to meet a captain and his boat in Gran Canaria. Getting closer to our big wish to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a boat... But more detail on that later!

From our hearts to yours,

PS

  

  

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