October 9, 2013, by Guest blog
La Palma, a mysterious island where the bananas grow
Twenty minutes after taking off in Tenerife, I got the first glimpse of la isla bonita La Palma, where I would be spending the next four months. I saw a mysterious dark island consisting of black volcanic rocks, banana plantations and white clouds covering the mountains as the plane landed. The first drive around the streets of the capital Santa Cruz was that first Friday night when I arrived. The city seemed as mysterious as the island had seemed from the air; its dim streetlights (so as to respect The Sky Law of 1988) illuminating the streets and the famous Canarian balconies with a faint orange glow. I was excited to start living here and finding out more about this mysterious island where the bananas grow.
The first couple of weeks were somewhat strange for me, as I got used to the rhythm of life here and the strange timetables for eating, socialising, trade, services etc that the Canarian society has. School here is only in the mornings and my working “day” finishes at 1.30/2pm. Between 2pm and 5pm it is the infamous Spanish siesta, where shops and services close to the public to allow for a long lunch break and a cheeky midday nap. After the siesta, most shops reopen until 8/9pm, but there are some exceptions and many services (police, post office, banks etc) don’t reopen in the afternoon which is great for the employees, but very frustrating if you work and cannot go in the mornings.
As I don’t sleep during the siesta, I have spent many afternoons wandering around the empty streets of Santa Cruz, during the siesta it seems like a ghost town as everybody seems to be in their home relaxing or eating. I have had the chance to see some beautifully coloured houses resting on the hilly cobbled streets. Houses here are always designed and painted differently which gives each house its own charm. The typical balconies here are also extremely striking, often with garlands of flowers dangling over the edges. I also enjoy seeing the graffiti in different places and the best one I have seen here was on an abandoned house’s letter box. Around the outside of the letter box, somebody had written SÓLO CARTAS DE AMOR, translated into two other languages (only love letters).
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