The journey from Seattle to Garafía is long. From Seattle to London it is nine followed by three more to Barcelona. Add to this, an overnight in the leafy Eixample neighborhood, a string of bus, metro and cab rides, four hours of flying to Tenerife and lastly, a 30-minute flight aboard a puddle-jumper to the smallest and northernmost island in the Canaries—La Palma.
At the La Palma airport, I rent a car and set off down LP-1—a coastal byway that careens through seaside towns, descends ravines and climbs into blanketed mountains. I savor the loneliness of the drive—no one to shout over, to point excitedly with when a blinding fan of light explodes through a grove of pines. Godlight, some call it. I pull off by the side of the road and step out. All around me wildflowers poke their purple and red heads through the dense grass. I stand on springy earth, admiring the perfect, gold beams that shoot skyward through the trees.
Back in the car, I am swathed in a cocoon of music, my hands at ten and two as I watch the sun spill rose-purple into the Atlantic. The island’s fabled dragon trees become a blur of spiked silhouettes outside my window. The farther north I go, the emptier the road. Will I arrive before nightfall? I am only slightly concerned. The island is small and the map embossed in my mind is clear. I round a corner and find myself on a narrow, single-lane stretch of highway bordering a steep, canyon wall. My tires crunch haltingly up the gravel incline and a hairline streak of delight runs through me.
It is late when I finally arrive in Santo Domingo, a tiny village in the northeast municipality of Garafía. Darkness dampens the clouds as my host, Antje—flashlight in hand—leads me up a series of switchbacks to the cabin I will inhabit. It is a one room affair perched on the edge of a gorge. There is a patio at the entrance and to one side, a bath house. Inside, bunk beds stand opposite one large bed. Between them are a pair of bookshelves and a desk made from an old sewing machine stand. The front window frames a view of the ocean cradled by the rugged lines of the barranco (Spanish for ‘ravine’) to the east and the silhouette of Santo Domingo village to the west.
When I arrive, the little house is aglow with warmth—lamps, woven rugs, handmade curtains; wisps of style in the mode of driftwood, stones and feathers. It is a traditional Canarian home, Antje tells me. The thick stone walls and lava rock roof keep the interiors snug in the evenings and cool during the heat of the day. It is charming, comfortable and has cost me a whopping $16 a night.
"Come next door," Antje says. "When you are ready to eat."
Wearily, I shrug out of my backpack and duck into the bathhouse to wash up.
“Spa-ghet-ti,” Antje says in a sing-song voice, as I enter the kitchen house. Her long, red hair shimmers in the lamplight as she moves from stove to table. “There is nothing better after a long trip.” She spoons pasta with red sauce onto my plate and nudges a bowl of lettuce towards me. “There is tea, also,” she adds, and pours boiled water into a pot. A subtle, reedy aroma fills the air.
I ask what it is.
“Lemongrass,” she replies. “From my garden.”
She pours herself a tumbler of wine and we talk easily. She is from Germany. Her name is Dutch. “Ahnt-yeh”, she says when I ask how it should really be pronounced. But here in the village of Santo Domingo people simply call her, “Angie”.
There is more pasta, more tea and soon I am teetering on the edge of consciousness. I return to my cabin and sink into bed—a large, comfortable mattress dressed with soft, blue sheets and bordered cozily by a wall lined with sheepskin. Gratefully, I give myself to sleep.