AN UNSPOKEN LANGUAGE

THURSDAY 4th FEBRUARY 2021

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’.
Which can be found by following the link below..

Prompt ~AN UNSPOKEN LANGUAGE


AN UNSPOKEN LANGUAGE

by John Yeo

   Alistair Carlton-Smith enjoyed his job, ferrying passengers on short pleasure flights, who were prepared to enjoy the spectacular views of La Gomera, a small mountainous island in the Canary Islands from the air.
  Alistair was an ex-pilot who had trained and obtained his flying qualifications in the UK. He was a happy-go-lucky man with an easy-going personality who excelled in his job and loved his laid back lifestyle. On the fateful day where our story begins, he picked up a young couple at the airfield. The young man, conspicuous by a shock of bright red hair with a face full of freckles, was quite short with a bubbly demeanour. He was accompanied by his girlfriend; a pretty young woman with long auburn hair and piercing green eyes.

    ‘Welcome aboard folks, Lovely to meet you both, I’m Alistair, what do you call yourselves?’

    ‘I’m Jenny, and this handsome man is my boyfriend Mike.’

    ‘Lovely to meet you both, we have a few formalities before takeoff, but you are in for a ride you will never forget.’

  Little did Captain Alistair realise how prophetic those words would be. The scenery they flew over was spectacular, steep rocky mountains that engulfed the island sheltering fertile valleys where hardy people had lived and survived on the rocky fertile land for centuries; scraping a living by exporting their produce to the mainland. Captain Alistair handled his aircraft with ease, climbing high peaks and diving down low into rocky valleys, pointing out the precipitous beauty of the landscape, with soaring ravines and sleepy villages. 

  Suddenly there was a shudder in the engine as they were making a steep climb.

   ‘What’s that Captain?’ Mike yelled as the plane began to nosedive towards the floor of a large isolated valley containing what looked  like a dried-up riverbed. 

   ‘I’m not certain,’ replied Captain Alistair, ‘Seems to be a fuel problem, although we were fully refuelled before we took off, I’m going to attempt a landing in that riverbed and call for help. Hold tight’

. The aircraft hit the ground and came to a juddering halt.

   Jenny and Mike were shaken up but unharmed. Captain Alistair attempted to send an SOS, but sadly the radio was badly damaged in the crash landing. Mobile telephone signals were impossibly non-existent here.

  ‘What are you going to do?’ cried Jenny, looking at the steep sides of the mountain that surrounded them.

   Captain Alistair  grinned reassuring and proceeded to purse his lips and emit a loud, sharp, series of whistles. 

    ‘What are you doing?’ shouted Mike ‘This isn’t the time to whistle in the wind.’

   The response from the erstwhile pilot was a further series of even louder whistles. Jenny began sobbing helplessly as the whistling continued unabated. Suddenly there was an answering whistle from one side of the valley and another fainter whistle from further afield. After a few moments of this weird symphony, Captain Alistair turned to his passengers and said,

   ‘Don’t worry, help is on the way.’

  Jenny and Mike were astonished when a rescue helicopter arrived and hovered above them sending down a rope ladder. 

The alarm had been raised by the use of a whistling language that is unique to La Gomera, a fascinating demonstration of La Gomera’s unique whistling language. This is a historical form of communication the early settlers developed, to pass messages from one high ravine to another. Sadly assumed to be redundant, in these days of mobile phones, the authorities are trying to preserve this whistling language, through compulsory lessons at school.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

(Information from the internet)

‘On the small and mountainous island in the Canaries called La Gomera, Silbo Gomero is a language that employs a range of whistle sounds in place of words. In Spanish, “silbar” means to whistle, and the language of Silbo Gomero consists of four ”vowels” and four ”consonants” that when put together form as many as 4,000 words. This avian method of communication is believed by scholars to have arrived with the early African settlers as long as 2,500 years ago. And it can be heard for up to two miles. “Silbadors” were once considered a dying breed, but since 1999 Silbo has been a required language in La Gomera schools.’

HE WAS A WHISTLING WONDER

THURSDAY 20th FEBRUARY 2020

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’.
Which can be found by following the link below..

HE WAS A WHISTLING WONDER

by John Yeo

  In July 2015, Margaret and I visited La Gomera, a small island in the Canary Islands. This tiny island is extremely mountainous with narrow winding roads leading from valley to valley. The journey from one small village to another could take hours along the narrow, winding roads. 

 In the days before mobile phones arrived, the quickest and most reliable form of communication between the rugged valleys would be a whistling language. This is a historical form of communication the early settlers developed, to pass messages from one high ravine to another. Sadly redundant, in these days of mobile phones, the authorities are trying to preserve this whistling language, through compulsory lessons at school

   Pedro Hernandez was an expert whistler and managed to communicate with the surrounding villages by using this unique whistling language. This was similar to the famous jungle drumbeat form of communication, but this was developed by using the power of breath and the human lips and lungs. Given that whistles can travel much further than normal speech – as far as 8km (5 miles) in open conditions – they are most commonly found in the mountains, where they help shepherds and farmers to pass messages down the valleys. 

  One day a lorry had collided with a car and pushed the car off the road into a deep ravine.

Pedro raised the alarm by whistling the recognised SOS whistle. This was picked up by a farmer in the next valley and passed on to the nearest rescue centre and a rescue helicopter was soon on the way.

Pedro’s whistling abilities were in demand when he was recruited to pass them on to the children in the village schools.

© Written by John Yeo