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Sunday, April 01, 2018

New hippie caves

The 14 new 'Hippie Caves' (left). Image taken about 5 weeks ago when landscaping work had begun
Tourism in La Gomera started with an influx of hippies in the 1960's, as it did in many other now gentrified tourism destinations in Europe like Nice and St.Tropez in France, West Cork in Ireland, Matala on Crete, Ibiza,  etc., etc., and in all those tourist resorts some hippies still come and go, but now form a minority. They are still a major tourist attraction and 'the main crowd' always followed the hippies who first discovered these scenic locations and the ordinary travellers are attracted by the hippies. There's also the phenomenon of the 'weekend hippies', who are well-off ordinary people having a bit of fun 'dropping out' at festivals and when on holidays and relaxing by acting and dressing like hippies, but generally paying with credit cards.
The hippie tradition in La Gomera's Valle Gran Rey has continued since the first American 'draught-dodging' hippies arrived when the Vietnam war started. However, the Spanish law enforcement agencies carried out 'cleansing' exercises and evicted hippies from their favourite places such as crevices between rocks at Playa del Ingles, the caves at Argaga beach (aka 'Bay of Pigs') and the caves between San Sebastian and Playa de Santiago about once a year. Only a few weeks ago another such campaign was carried out when hippie numbers had increased after the end of a 'Rainbow Festival' nearby. Many hippies' temporary homes were destroyed by the authorities and many of them left La Gomera or had to find more remote spots to hide from public view.
So what to do with the hippies without losing them altogether and what to do with the regular hippies that have been coming for many years ? A novel scheme now offers a solution. Artificial 'safe social caves' (cuevas seguras sociales) have been built in the vast open space in the outer harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey. They consist of simple cells with a shutter that when opened make the room appear like a proper cave, but can be closed during bad weather or to protect their occupants' belongings. 
The first 14 caves of this novel social housing scheme have been completed and the first batch will be allocated to hippies who have been legally resident in Valle Gran Rey for at least five years. They can apply to the local council and will just have to pay a monthly maintenance fee. Each of the fourteen modern caves can sleep up to four people just as uncomfortably as in a real cave, but WIFI and electricity for charging 'phones and laptops, etc., is provided, making it a luxury cave fit for the digital age. A communal barbecue area will be built in front of the caves and an elevated platform will be erected to the right hand side with sweeping views across the Atlantic. There the hippies can gather at sunset to dance and play their drums which they artfully make from local agave stems, a well established tradition here, predating even the 'bajadas' of the local patron saint. The platform will boast a fine view of the sunset all year round, which the current favourite  hippie gathering spot in La Playa only offers during the winter months. Tourists and 'weekend hippies' are invited to participate, but are expected to make a small donation. Unlike in a zoo, here you are allowed to feed the exhibits and food donations are readily accepted. However local authorities have stressed that they do not intend to charge tourists to enter the compound, which when landscaping has been completed will be very attractive and a welcoming green area. The resident hippies are expected to decorate and paint their 'caves' internally and externally and will be given free paint to express their creativity.
There will be an official opening ceremony with fire-eaters, jugglers and dancers, didgeridoos, flutes and other instruments including about 50 drummers, tonight April 1st 2018, from just before sunset. All are welcome, but don't forget to bring food and lots of drink. The first ten people who'll arrive barefoot and with a flower in their hair will get a free henna tattoo, I've been told. With a bit of luck Tony Reece's 'Cave Song' will also be sung around the campfire tonight: ''You've got to be brave to live in a cave...'' See video below:

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

You had me for s second...

brazza said...

thoroughly enjoyed - thanks for the giggles.

Deepshikha Choudhary said...

Hippies do not belong to any particular place. They belong to the beauty of nature where there is nothing but the laughter.Great post. Check my site as well: pet bottles manufacturers

Samantha Williams said...

I would love to explore those hippie caves wearing my opal jewelry :) Really interesting stuff!