Planning on visiting La Gomera for tourism? We have some recommendations for you, especially if you are traveling with children.
Our island, with beautiful beaches, vertiginous ravines, spectacular viewpoints, and amazing excursions offers endless possibilities. But, apart from its attractive geography and nature, there are also traditions and curiosities you will love to discover, such as the whistling language, or the shepherd’s jump.
The origin of the shepherd’s jump, part of the Cultural Heritage in the Canary Islands, has to do with the difficult access to the roads, due to the orographic features, the big ravines, and cliffs on the island.
Consequently, the shepherds that inhabited the island at that time had no choice but to seek ways and techniques to move along with the livestock through such a complicated area.
By then, they came out with an idea that is still in use. They used a long wooden stick with a sharp tip at one end to stick it in the ground, for them to jump to a lower point of the path. Repeating this technique, the ancient inhabitants were able to descend the mountain easily.
Although this tradition was created to solve a problem in order to move around the island, the shepherd’s jump is still practiced as a sport among the fans of the island nowadays.
How should the stick look like?
The stick must be made of beech, juniper or white wood. Its shape should be straight and smooth. The beech wood is the best material because it is light and soft to the touch.
In La Gomera, the stick goes from 2 to 3 meters high. Formerly, the wooden stick had a fire-hardened and slightly sharp tip. These days, two things have been added; the first one is a piece of steel, also known as “regaton” in some parts of the island, and the second is 20 centimetres of a ring-shaped leather to protect the wood against damage caused by friction such as rocks.
How do they perform the jump?
As mentioned before, the person who will perform the jump, grabs the stick in the upper part, and stick the tip into the ground to finally slide slowly holding the stick. Sometimes, if the distance is too long to reach the ground with the stick, the shepherds jump and stick the tip to the ground while they are in the air, what it is so-called jumping into the void.
Also, it is very important the position of the hands. The palms of the hands, regardless which hand, should always face up to be able to jump on both sides.
The distance between the hands depends only on the individual technique.
The shepherd’s jump is a tradition that is still alive in our island, and you can find exhibitions in different places of the Canary Islands. As a matter of fact, there are courses given by local monitors, if you are willing to learn, practice or get to know this tradition by first hand.