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La Gomera's a-peel; Taking a trip to one of the quieter Canary Islands bears fruit for SARAH TETTEH.

Byline: SARAH TETTEH

WITH its jungle fever, mountains and idyllic beaches, it's no surprise that I'm going bananas for this quiet corner of Spain.

Forget that it's a bit south of Tenerife, La Gomera is more like South America with its tropical landscapes - perfect to beat winter blues.

Deep in the jungle in Garonjay National Park, you can explore the amazing scenery and lakes that wouldn't look out of place in a Hollywood movie.

But you get the best views by navigating carefully through the mountains.

There, I discovered all about the trials and tribulations the local farmers go through to feed their families.

Heading through the volcanic mountains to pick their crops, they make their way from the south to the north to trade bananas, wheat and potatoes for fish, sleeping in caves at night.

The population of 22,000 is a real contrast to the million people on Tenerife.

It feels like it's just you and your shadow once you hit La Gomera, a 40-minute ferry from Tenerife situated off the coast of Africa.

Our host Ricardo took us for a drive to explore the island's beaches and rural landscape, complete with goats on the mountain tops.

All this sightseeing was thirsty work and thankfully, there's the agave plant from which Tequila is made.

The Mexicans may have cornered the market on the alcoholic beverage, but their Spanish counterparts aren't far off.

Ricardo explained that farmers travelling with their produce could find welcome refreshment in prickly pear plants. He peeled one for me, having vigorously rubbed the fruit in hay to remove the vicious needles.

You simply suck out the juice - a corkscrew is not provided.

Up in the mountains, temperatures dip to 8C. But just an hour away by the coast, it is 26C degrees and the weather stays like that from January to October.

When it's time for the quiet life to morph in to nightlife and those looking for a party will be pleased to know each village celebrates its saint with fiestas to die for.

A salsa or flamenco band is called to a historic venue in the mountains, where the locals dance from midnight to 5am.

That'll certainly give P Diddy's Daylight to Daybreak a run for its money. But after a long day of adventure, it was time for us to crash. And where better than the four-star Jardin Tecina hotel? With its three stunning swimming pools - one with a bar in the middle and another overlooking the Atlantic - there are plenty of opportunities to burn off the sumptuous food.

The Jardin Tecina stands on a cliff with fine views of Tenerife and its majestic 12,000ft Mount Teide.

The highlight of our stay was undoubtedly our day out with tour guide Ricardo, a steal at EUR90 for the trip.

The Gomeran native even demonstrated the island whistle, the language only shepherds can understand and use to warn each other of danger - and if the boss was coming.

It's always best to stay the right side of the top banana...

GET THERE

PRESTIGE Holidays has seven nights' B&B at the Jardin Tecina, La Gomera, in a twin room with Thomas Cook, flights from Gatwick, transfers and the services of Prestige's local reps from pounds 595pp. Based on December departures and two adults sharing. Includes a reduced-rate offer, saving pounds 129 per couple. www.prestigeholidays.co.uk, 01425 480400.

Time zone: GMT

Currency: Euro pounds 1 = 1.15

Best time to go: Perfect peaceful winter sun escape

CAPTION(S):

MAJESTIC n Garonjay National Park BAY WATCH Scenic harbour TOP BANANA n Sarah picks the best of the bunch WINTER nBLUES Pretty sea views
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2011
Words:611
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