Thousands of years on its paths have left behind legends in La Gomera of forests and witches, of impossible loves that have become eternal, of demons that tempt the walker, lights that blind him/her and fountains that grant wishes. Undoubtedly, walking through an island of unspoiled nature, the mist that accompanies us while admiring the laurel forests of the Tertiary Era of Garajonay National Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the contemplation of the immensity of the ocean from its mountains, enliven the imagination and the possibility of the unreal becoming real. These are stories told around the fire, after a day of extraordinary experiences through its 650 kilometers of marked trails, with the wealth that makes the island a declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, with 17 Protected Natural Areas and ancestral traditions such as the whistled language of La Gomera, declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Don’t miss these places to feel once again that everything is possible here.
The Petrified Lovers
It is easy to understand while walking along one of the trails starting from Roque de Agando, in the Natural Monument of Los Roques, in San Sebastián de La Gomera, that for centuries these stone giants were considered petrified lovers who preferred to remain in that state rather than give up being together. Perhaps eternity would be generous to them and allow them to unite someday, as they watch and care for each other in the present day. They are outcrops of volcanic origin naturally sculpted by erosion and create a deep impression when observed alongside the silence that accompanies them surrounded by laurel forest. The natural monument is composed of the Rock of Agando and its three particular companions: La Zarzita, Ojila and Carmona.
Gara and Jonay for Eternal Love
The legend that gives its name to the impressive Garajonay Natural Park and that, for this reason, is told in all imaginable ways, like good stories that are unforgettable. According to Juan Carlos Hernández, a specialist in La Gomera’s heritage, Gara and Jonay “could have been brothers from the same aboriginal side of the island, so they were forbidden from falling in love, but who rules in love?” For this reason, and facing foreseeable punishment, they fled to the Alto de Garajonay, a sacred place where sacrifices were made, to ask for the favor of their divinities and to be able to remain united. However, they were persecuted and, finding themselves surrounded, had no choice but to commit ritual suicide. So they jumped into the void from the 1,487 meters of this peak, the highest of La Gomera. The park is located in the central plateau of the island and its surface area is distributed among the municipalities of Vallehermoso, Agulo, Valle Gran Rey, San Sebastián de La Gomera, Alajeró and Hermigua.
The Devil Awaits You on the Path
The aboriginal and colonial past of La Gomera, Christopher Columbus’ last stop before leaving to discover America for Europeans, has brought the Hirguan to the present day. This kind of half-goat, half-human demon is adored and loved if one encounters him on any of the trails of La Gomera. In Playa de Santiago, in the municipality of Alajeró, there is a path that goes down to the shore called El Perro Negro path. Other places where it may have been seen, according to oral tradition, is near the hermitage of Lourdes, in Hermigua. The first European chronicles speak of this incarnation of evil who roamed the heights of the island, stealing cattle and frightening men, women and children.
Water from La Gomera Makes Wishes Come True
The Vallehermoso-Chorros de Espina Trail, within Garajonay National Park, keeps a secret that only those who have drunk from the 7 Caños Fountain know. Between the murmur of the water and the trade wind stirring the plant canopy, you can almost hear the Gomeran proverb: “If you drink from the seven spouts you get married within a year.” The old oral tradition assures that women should drink from the even spouts and men from the odd spouts, always starting from the left. And only if women want to transform into witches must they drink from the men’s spouts. It is worth downloading the Info La Gomera App to consult this and other trails that cross the island through 650 marked kilometers.
The Witches of the Great Lagoon
The Great Lagoon is different from all the others in Garajonay National Park, as it is an endorheic lagoon that does not allow trees to grow inside it. For this reason, it has always lent itself to all kinds of stories, although if you ask the people of Gomera about it, they always keep silent and soon reveal the respect they have for it. Located in the heart of the park, fourteen stones form a perfect circle in which another block marks its center. It is the only clearing in this forest from the Tertiary Era and legend has it that the most important witches of La Gomera used to meet there.