La Gomera

Barbara Kingsolver writes about La Gomera in "Paradise Lost," from her collection of travel essays High Tide in Tuscon: Essays from Now or Never:

"Among urban Canarians, La Gomera has a reputation for backwardness, and the Gomerans themselves are sometimes likened to Guanches--the tall, blue-eyed, goat-herding aboriginals whom the Spaniards found here and promptly extinguished in the fifteenth century. No one knows where they came from, though it's a good guess that they were related to the tall, blue-eyed Berbers who still roam the western Sahara. Throughout the Canaries, the Guanches herded goats, made simple red-clay pottery, and followed the lifestyle known as Neolithic, living out their days without the benefit of metal. [...] On La Gomera they used a type of language unique in the world, which was not spoken but whistled. This exotic means of communication, called silbo, could traverse the great distances that routinely separate neighbors on an island cut through and through with steep, uncrossable gorges. (Whistling carries its subtleties over distance in a way that shouting can't.) I'd been told by many Canarians that the silbo has died out completely. But others claimed it still persists in some corners [...]." (pp.111-12)
"Easy enough a life, to stay forever in the paradise of San Sebastián. Columbus came close to doing it. Gomerans love to tell the story of how he delayed his first historic voyage for many months--nearly cashed it in altogether--having settled down here comfortably with the widow of the first Count of La Gomera, Beatriz de Bobadilla." (p.113)
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