Just a few snaps from last week:
When the tide goes out, you’ll always find someone poking about in the rock pools left behind. Sometimes an octopus hides in between rocks, waiting for the next tide to move back out to sea, and the small fish who didn’t get washed back into the ocean make bait for local fishermen. Nice half hour whiled away eating passion fruit ice cream with mango sorbet and watching this guy in El Médano the other day.
From the south of the island our view of El Teide, highest mountain in Spain, is from a distance, surrounded by foothills, as in this picture from last year after the first snows, which was taken close to where I live now.
But, as you drive north, taking the motorway route, instead of crossing the mountain, you come to a point on the autopista del norte where the mountain rears to your left, almost as if it’s in 3D, so different does it look from the views so familiar from the south. Of course, tempting though it is, you can’t stop in the middle of the motorway to snap, but the other day, stopping in El Sauzal, I snapped this from the church plaza. You can see how it dominates the skyline above Puerto de la Cruz, and can imagine how fierce it must have been for the original, aboriginal inhabitants, the Guanches. There was still significant volcanic activity on the island at the time it was conquered at the end of the 15th century.
And this is the pretty church square of the church of St Peter the Apostle in El Sauzal. We didn’t go inside, because it was Sunday, and mass was in progress. The church with its 18th century tower, and its square are quite typical of the island.
When I first realized that there was a village called El Sauzal on Tenerife, my Steinbeck-loving heart skipped a beat, and I envisaged a little fishing village peopled by outrageous but loveable characters, so I was disappointed when I finally went there (expectations are the parents of all disappointments!). That was silly of me, of course, similar though the climate is to parts of California, this is an island off the coast of Africa! El Sauzal, the place where the willows grow, in Tenerife was about agriculture rather than fishing, and these days is more about being a pretty, suburban area with some very elegant properties around. There is also a very attractive mirador, which has a highly recommended ice cream parlor (no, I am not obsessed with ice cream parlors, since you ask……..well, maybe, just a little!), which was closed on Sunday morning, a fact for which my hips are eternally grateful. The mirador itself, however, was open for us to enjoy its stunning views.
La Casa del Vino, which has been run by the island government since 1992 is well-maintained and interesting. I’d highly recommend a visit if you still have any doubts about the quality of Canarian wines. The displays in the little museum, however, are a bit faded and refer to pestas – so I think they are in need of an update, especially since wine making is thriving again here.
This is the huge, well-restored wine-press, which takes pride of place in the courtyard, along with barrels and other implements historically used in wine making.
The links between Tenerife and England are strong, despite Nelson’s attempt to snatch the island for the British crown, which has, from time to time, puzzled me. Why aren’t we resented more? (and I won’t even go into what today’s Brits have wrought upon the island!) It hit me, going around this museum – it’s the wine! I knew that historically England had been a huge importer of Canarian wines (as well as other produce – hence Canary Wharf in London), and I knew that Shakespeare had given the nectar several plugs in his works, but in the museum I learned that Shelley, Keats and Marlowe, amongst other great English names, were also aficionados, and the panel pointing out the connection between the wines and literature was composed only of English figures, so we must have historically been as important to the island economy as our tourism is today! And maybe we can lay some of the fault for our high alcoholic consumption on the island’s doorstep, in which case the nightly behaviour in the Veronicas has a certain irony.