Gilles speaks at least three languages: French, English, and Spanish. (For all I know he probably speaks Latvian, German and Klingon, too. I didn’t want to ask, for fear of being embarrassed by a “yes” answer.)
His knowledge of the ecology and geography and geology of the area is impressive and comprehensive. Who knew there are thousands of species of lichen in the Canaries? Gilles did. Who knew that orange lichen only occurs where birds poop? You got it: Gilles. And now me. And you. Now you can impress everyone at your next party with that bit of trivia. Or maybe in a StoopaTrivia? Hmm…
What struck me was the presence of life struggling through the layers of rock and ash. There are some fig bushes (yeah, not trees) that have been there for many decades, if not a few centuries. The lichen is everywhere, and the occasional flowering plant can be found peeking through. Considering a significant percentage of the island was nearly entirely covered with lava and ash in the mid 1730s, and that there is really very little precipitation, the fact that anything is growing that hasn’t been specifically planted is outstanding.
Life will always find a way.