I sat, on the morning of my 30th birthday, bare feet resting against the railings of our balcony, sipping tea and marvelling at the sunshine and blue skies.
At first, there was complete silence; a noiseless air that carried only distinct interruptions like a neighbour’s cough or a stranger’s heavy footsteps.
And then it broke from a suspicious silence into simple tranquillity as I started to notice the constant island sounds: the rhythmic roll of the sea against the pebbly shore, the papery rustle of palm leaves in the wind, the chit chat chirping of birds and the batting of wings as they take flight.
Jorge and I spent the weekend of my 30th birthday at the end of December at Hotel Jardín Tecina on the small island of La Gomera.
His grandmother was born at home in a house that was still stands in the village of Playa Santiago where we stayed.
The ride was pretty calm. There were even sailboats out there floating along.
From San Sebastian to Playa Santiago is less than six miles or so if you could drive straight there, but the landscape of the island made it into a 40-minute journey.
Jorge told me stories of the way the landscape influenced the culture of the island, specially the way the people communicated.
Speaking of people associate with the island, La Gomera is home to German photographer Oliver Weber. He has a great series called “Social Life at the Beach” in which he’s documenting touristic life on the Canary Islands. It’s now a book.
My favourite type of photography to look at is portraits and Oliver has another wonderful series called “La Gente” – black and white images full of characters that would make amazing subjects for pencil drawings.
Outside in Playa Santiago, people sit under the sun watching life go by with companions, leaning on canes in friendly silence. In a tree outside of a restaurant, there are three swinging cages full of birds. A woman sips her coffee alone.
We had some typical foods like freshly caught sardines, patatas arrugadas con mojo (wrinkly potatoes with salty skin with a Canarian sauce) and almogote which is ripened goat’s cheese mixed into an orange paste with peppers, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.
My 30th birthday ended with a delicious dinner in Restaurante Club Laurel where, with a background of sophisticated live music, we had champagne, a tasty local white wine and a tasting menu with many courses.
I had wonderful company, of course.
Plus, the staff was lovely and brought me a freshly picked pink hibiscus and along with my dessert, a shimmering candle on which to make a 30th birthday wish.