I have arrived on my favourite island. The island of El Hierro, the smallest and most recently formed of Spain’s Canary Islands. And the furthest West. El Hierro can be the last port of call for yachts crossing the Atlantic from East to West. Most people stock up with supplies in Tenerife or Gran Canaria not realising the gem of a place they then pass by. El Hierro is known as the island with soul, and with its dramatic scenery, lush pine forests and sparse population barely numbering 10,000, El Hierro remains a magical place, ideal for rejuvenation, relaxing, and for finding yourself once again, after the rush of modern living elsewhere.
I have been here maybe 5 or 6 times, the last time being about 15/16 years ago. Vague I know but I would have to sift through diaries which are back in the UK to pinpoint dates. I would have to borrow my Mother’s too. She kept an eye on my travels. She still does. (Thankfully!).
I have come here to write. I have come here to think. I have come here to walk, to breathe freely, and to attempt to do some good in this world. My subject, although this could change should the Universe, or God, or circumstances direct me otherwise, is the subject, reality, and horror of Missing Persons. And my focus is to see, bringing with me my life experiences, whether I can be of any use in somehow reducing, (to a greater degree as possible), the horrors associated when someone goes missing.
Can I help? Can’t I help? I won’t know if I don’t try.
I have returned to my favourite island. I have a typewriter. I have use of laptops and libraries. I have a hut on a hill without electric but with running water that I can live in. I have a few possibilities of earning money through my trade as a cabinet maker. I have the hills, the walking trails, a life experience to draw from, and I have a God I believe in that will surely tear me away from any direction that He/She/It doesn’t think I belong too, so long as I listen to that God.
15 or 16 years ago, on my last visit here I was on one of my many long walks. I started on the South of the island and trekked for maybe 5 or 6 hours up and over the majestic volcanic ridge that marks this island as so dramatic. Realising that darkness was approaching, and that there was no way I could safely trek back over the 1500 metre peak, I hunted for ways to get back to my caravan. There was one way, but it was a bizarre way. And it was a way, looking back, that could quite possibly have led me to have been a missing person myself. (This is not the only incidence of its kind). How stupid and careless can we sometimes be in moments of panic and nervousness.
El Hierro now has a tunnel linking the two sides of the island. The tunnel, called Los Roquillos, is 2,240 metres long, and 15 or 16 years ago it was nearing the end of its construction. Nearing it Simon, nearing it.
I found a long stick, walked past the no entry barriers, and as a blind person would do, scraped the tarmac in front of me whilst carefully hitting the kerb with the stick, every step. This was an idiotic thing to do. As the light of day went out behind me and I walked in the pitch black darkness, I relied on my stick. There could have been many hazards in that 2,240 metres, holes, machinery, God knows. Twenty minutes later, with a racing heart and a sigh of relief I saw the light of day again and the other side of the island. I caught a bus back to my caravan in the dark. How stupid can you be. I could have been a missing person. Anyone can be a missing person. I use this affirmation alot now. I WILL NOT BE A MISSING PERSON.
Have you ever affirmed this aspect of your life?