Samuel Hernandez Concepción, Product & Operations Supervisor
What makes you a local?
I am as local as a banana, the folklore and mojo picón sauce! I was born and grew up in Villa de Mazo, a picturesque farming village in La Palma. I have lived abroad in both Germany and England, which I enjoyed, but I started appreciating what I had at home – family, friends and ultimately my roots, so I returned and now once again live in Villa de Mazo, 20 minutes from the port. For a short time I also lived in Tijarafe, in the middle of the countryside, where my mother was a teacher at a rural school and I was one of fifteen pupils of different ages in the same class. After teaching, my mother became the first female mayor of La Palma and fought to maintain the island’s traditions and culture – something that has been ingrained in me.
What is your first memory of La Palma?
Perhaps not my first, but a beloved memory is when I was a child and my grandad took me fishing close to Cangrejera Beach – I was not really that interested, but my uncle Tomás gave me a mini fishing rod and I caught a crab; in that moment I was the happiest child on earth.
What do you love about La Palma?
Why do you think La Palma is known as “la Isla Bonita” (the beautiful island)?! La Palma is my little paradise – an easy island and countryside lifestyle, with the perfect balance of the four elements: the Water of the Atlantic Sea; the Trade Winds; the extinguished Fire of the Caldera de Tabueriente Volcano; and the fertile Earth that is home to vineyards, banana plantations and Los Tilos Rainforest. La Palma is considered to have all continents in one tiny island – whatever you are looking for, you have it.
So many – enjoy the countryside, whether it is the mountains and volcano, or rainforest and ocean; perhaps even see some whales and dolphins. A couple of new experiences I have been working on:
- The Casa Roja Museum – Slightly biased as it is in my home village of Villa de Mazo, but it is a beautiful building and is also a venue for intimate, classical concerts from local, professional musicians.
- Lava River Caving – Something totally unique; caving down the 500m deep and 3m wide Lava River of San Juan Volcano – Unforgettable!
Why are you an expert on this destination?
I am the guy that everyone (locals or visitors) asks when they want to know what to do or see – friends, relatives, work colleagues, friends of friends…..they always turn to me as their “personal guide”. I love music – I am a tenor and play the piano and saxophone – which means I know all about the folklore and classic concerts. I also have a passion for food and went to Chef School, so can suggest the best local tavern or high-end restaurant. In Spanish “la palma” means the back of my hand, so I guess you could say “I know the back of my hand like the back of my hand!”
Do you know any local “characters”?
Julio Gomez used to drive through all the island villages and teach children how to play different instruments. Unfortunately he recently passed away – he was not famous, but has left an incredible footprint on the island.
What will you smell, see and hear in La Palma?
You will smell pure, clean, fresh air and hear the wind as it blows through the Pines of Fuencaliente, complemented by viewing all nature’s majesty in the sight of the Caldera de Taburiente, which still leaves me speechless.
Tell us about your role with Intercruises…
I joined in 2001 and work on all parts of the operation. The thing I like the most is the same now as when I started – after a tough day at the pier with loads of things going on, it means the world when a guest or member of the crew finds the time to say “thank you for a wonderful day in La Palma”. This satisfaction of knowing that the job is well done is what makes me get out of bed in the morning. Product development is also very fun and I am doing it constantly – the best ideas come when I am on a break or having a walk and I see a hidden or undiscovered place; I immediately start brainstorming on how to incorporate it into an excursion.
What does the future hold?
For La Palma, visitor numbers are increasing year on year, but a proactive effort is being made to ensure this growth can happen without having a detrimental impact on the quality of the destination and calm way of life. I personally do not see myself leaving any time soon, although I am ambitious and want to keep developing as a person. I also do love Norway; the perfect combination of water and mountains, with spectacular landscapes, so we will see.