Day 13 (February 14, 2011)
Itinerary: Errands in the morning, pizza for lunch in Los Llanos, visit Fuencaliente and the southern tip of the island, walk around Volcano San Antonio, watch the sunset on the salt flats, leftover pizza for dinner
Happy Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d make french toast for breakfast this morning, but once my bread was already soaking in egg, I realized I had no butter for the pan. I didn’t have any syrup or jam for flavoring either, so we ended up with egg-flavored bread for breakfast. Haha, oh well.
This morning we drove into town to run some errands. It was time to hit up the grocery store again, hit up an internet cafe for faster service to buy our Barcelona soccer tickets, and various other things. We found a nice little cafe in a plaza to have pizza for lunch as well. The pizza was large enough to take home leftovers for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.
Now that the errands were out of the way, we chose to drive to the southern portion of the islands. A line of several volcanoes runs from the center of the caldera and center of the islands down to the southern tip of the islands. If we were to hike this path, it would be the 19km Ruta de los volcanos. We didn’t hike. But we did find ourselves in Fuencaliente, an area named for several hot springs. We found the visitors center for Volcan San Antonio and learned that La Palma has the newest volcanoes of all the Canary Islands. In fact, several of the ones down here in the south last erupted in the 60s and 70s. No one was hurt, but the islands did grow a little.
We were one of the few visitors here and the staff on duty showed us their introductory film in English. It was definitely a very cheesy film. It was fun to watch like watching a bad movie and commenting along with it. Luckily we were alone.
Back out in the visitors center, we found some interesting maps that showed the path of lava flows from many different eruptions from many different volcanoes in the area. We learned that the volcano right outside, Volcan San Antonio, was the prettiest example of a cylindrical volcano….at least in the Canary Islands. The diameter was only around 300 meters and it was indeed very volcano-shaped. We took the walk around a portion of the rim from which we could see down into the cone of the volcano were some trees were now growing, out over the ocean, and down to the very southern tip of the islands where there is a little farm of salt water pools too collect the salt.
Outside we also found about 8 or so camels sitting with saddles to be ridden. The saddles went over the camel’s hump with a seat on either side of the hump so 2 people could ride one camel. Interesting. This looked very much like a tourist attraction, so we skipped it, but later we found a map that the camels do have their own little path to a different part of the area. Only camels are allowed on this path and no hikers. It was called Ruta de los camellos. Amusing, indeed.
With sunset only about an hour away, we decided to drive down to the coastal town of Las Indies named mostly due to all the Europeans and Americans who used to come to this spot to soak in the hot springs. The hot springs supposedly had magical powers that could cure anything and even lepers would come looking for a cure.
The town wasn’t much to stop and see, so we drove along the coast looking for a good spot to park for the sunset. Instead we found ourselves buried in tall banana plantations. All were fenced in cinder block and some were completely covered in a netting of sorts over very large areas. We had seen these rectangular blocks of white netting from the views at the top of the mountain and weren’t sure what they were. I guess the netting is to keep the birds out? We had no view of the coast in the maze of banana trees and had to drive a little while to find the coast.
We found a little spot to park, but sunset was still probably 30 minutes away. So we kept driving to see where we’d end up. Well, just a little further down the road we found the salt pools and the lighthouse on the very southern tip of the islands. There was even a little self-guided walk through the salt pools where we learned how the salt was harvested. It was similar to the salt pans we found in Peru, though these were much less salty as the salt isn’t harvested until May when the water could evaporate faster.
Here we found a great spot to watch the sun set behind the waves crashing on the rocks below us. A perfect end to a great day.
Back at “home” in our apartment we heated up our leftover pizza for dinner and played some Wii to round out the day. We are really loving our stay on La Palma and so glad that we were able to find this apartment.