2 Nov 2015

3. First Impressions 2015

Today there is no longer the sensation of adventure in travelling to the island, no feeling that you are going somewhere different, far away. Communications by plane and ferry are rapid and “twenty-first-century” comfortable. Once on the island there are real roads, not the dusty old tracks of fifty years ago, and even tunnels through the mountains. And, of course, we have all the services a modern society expects: electricity, municipal water, a modern hospital, maritime cable and satellite telecommunications connections with the rest of the world ... When you come out of the airport you’ll see one of those monolithic advertisements informing us this is the first “wifi free” island in the world. Ignore it! What it means is that there is a free wifi service at different points on the island. Of course, it doesn’t usually work! So perhaps after all “wifi free” is more correct than “free wifi”.

Fortunately, not much else has changed, really. The villages are much the same, a bit tidier and cleaner. One or two on the coast near the port and airport have grown considerably and become dormitories for people working in Valverde. The forests, recently hit by several fires, are better attended. What always strikes me, and I suppose many other people, when I return from somewhere else is the air. It is simply clean. You feel it in your lungs, especially as you go higher into the mountains. It also affects your vision: you can see things more clearly and further away. Another curiosity is that things don’t smell. You have to stick your nose right into a flower to smell it; on the plateau in the centre of the island you cannot smell the fields of grass and hay and you can only rarely smell the pines in the forest. Perhaps our air, constantly on the move, does not have time to absorb odours.

People talk of the climate change. Our weather hasn’t changed much though, I don’t think. You may still freeze in August at Jinama or have Christmas dinner in the garden in Frontera or even in El Pinar. Don't think that because it's a sunny day in Valverde, it will be sunny in Frontera, too. Or that you know all about it because you've been to the Canaries before. El Hierro will not let you do that. El Hierro must be approached without assumptions. El Hierro dictates the rules.

El Golfo, looking northeast. Jinama is above the cloud at top right.


  1. El Hierro, however, is where I learnt to recognise the smell of a fig tree bursting with ripe figs - a sort of vanilla/coconut mix - so there are some smells around.

    1. Of course there are. But for some reason it's not like everywhere else. As I wrote, you often have to stick your nose into a rose ... Admittedly, I do sometimes exaggerate a little!