On 19 September, the volcano on La Palma erupted again after 50 years and, as of today, eight weeks later, there is still no end in sight.
There is currently one victim, and the damage is enormous. The lava has destroyed more than 1,400 buildings and farmland. Part of the island is covered in a layer of volcanic ash.
Apart from the misery, this spectacle (like any natural phenomenon) also offers powerful images and is a sight you will probably only see once in your life. Despite some negative reactions, like ‘playing the drama tourist’, I really wanted to take this chance! Friend Monique had been there twice as a driver and offered to drive me there again, and friend Cliff also wanted to experience this, so it was quickly decided that the three of us would take the boat to this island.
The boat trip.
Monique took care of the boat tickets, which she bought at the port itself because there you have more chance of discounts that are not offered online. We would take the Fred Olsen Express which only takes 2.5 hours instead of the Armas which takes 4 hours and is more luxurious. In retrospect, we were very happy with the right choice!
As a tourist, I paid 90€ for the outward and return trip.
The check-in went very smoothly. First there was a ticket- and pass control and because of Monique’s blue parking card we were allowed to stand in the front of the queue. That way we could follow all the activity. After the boat docked, the arriving tourists first drove and walked outside, luggage was also taken outside and then it was our turn.
With the blue parking card, we also got a reserved space, close to the ramp. The space was rather tight and you had to watch out for other cars (sometimes with little patience/understanding) but we managed quite well!
From the car park to the entrance, there was a small ledge and then a not very wide ramp in three parts to reach the inner area. With a manual wheelchair and my scooter this was certainly doable, but I doubted whether a large electric wheelchair would be able to turn here.
We chose to sit at the front of the boat so that we would have a beautiful view through the windows.
After several boat trips without any problems, Monique became very sick, just like many others around us … The travel pill she took in advance and her breakfast came out completely and the vomit bags were handed out here and there by the very friendly and compassionate staff. I thought more than once, ‘Wht a job … To assist and help sick people who are vomiting like that …’.
We were advised to sit at the back of the boat because apparently the waves would be less noticeable there, but all the seats were taken so we would definitely remember this for the return trip!
Going to the toilet on such a wobbly ship also proved to be the wrong choice for someone who is not steady on her feet … ?
Getting my trousers down while sitting was quite easy.
Going back up was a different matter with ‘only’ two hands, as I really had to hold on tight to the bars! After a long struggle, I put my scooter between the dustbin and the toilet seat so I could stand against it. This way, I could ‘aim’ the fall if I should lose my balance.
But not to be repeated!
Our stay for 1 night.
2.5 hours later, we reached Santa Cruz de La Palma and first we drove to our hotel to drop off our stuff in the room.
H10 Taburiente Playa has a very beautiful inner garden that is perfectly maintained. Our room was on the ground floor and needed an update, but it was spacious and clean! As far as wheelchair access is concerned, it was ok. The beds were okay to use a hoist and because of the tiled floor there was no threshold to the bathroom.
The weak points were the low toilet and the bar in the shower that hung over the shower seat, in a very uncomfortable place.
First route, going north!
As the last picture clearly shows … We were really looking forward to it and left for a first route towards the volcano and then to the north of the island … ?
The viewpoint to see the volcano was in El Paso at the little church. From here, all radio and TV recordings were made and you were about 2 km away from ‘the beast’. After a bit of searching for a parking place and then ‘drifting’ with my scooter through the ashes … Again … It was something different!
Two videos on which you can hear how hard it was blowing and see how the lava made its way to the sea. I was surprised that no sound could be heard from the volcano itself. I had expected a heavy roar …
We immediately noticed that La Palma, compared to Tenerife, is much greener. Via the north side we saw houses ‘planted’ here and there, but we didn’t see any real town or village centres. Hiking trails were plentiful though. Every few kilometres, there was a post with signs indicating where a particular route departed from.
And ashes … everywhere …
To strengthen the inner person, we stopped somewhere along the way to eat some very tasty food.
The volcano in the dark.
Afterwards, we drove back to the hotel and by dark we drove to El Paso again, where we could admire the volcano in all its dark glory. Again without any sound (except still the very strong wind) but just impressive … The red glow of the lava, the poison green at the top of the craters … It made me think of two dragons spitting fire and a witch’s kettle overflowing with sorcerer’s soup …
We ended our first (very impressive!) day on an Italian terrace …
And then all three of us were ready for a good shower! Did I mention that there were a lot of ashes? ??
In part 2 you will read the rest of our amazing trip later!
I would like to thank Monique and Cliff for the photos and videos they took along the way, which I was allowed to use!
At this link you can see live webcam images of the volcano.