Most tourists and many ex-pats think they’ve visited Adeje when they visit the island. Sure, the coastal resorts of Costa Adeje are a vast improvement on the way Playa de las Americas used to be, but Adeje “proper” is light-years away in style and atmosphere. If you think of Adeje as a county and Adeje village/town as the county seat, then you will get the idea.
The municipality of Adeje, which, together with neighboring Guia de Isora formed the Guanche kingdom or Mencey, of Adeje prior to the Spanish conquest, is a thriving and prosperous community. That’s because the area has the most hours of sunshine on the island, that for which most tourists still come. This coast is crammed with names familiar to the tourist trade, Playa de las Americas, Torviscas, La Caleta, Costa Fañabe, Costa Adeje, Playa Paraiso and Callao Salvaje, maybe others I’ve forgotten. However, the county town, sitting around 250m above sea level overlooks them, and it’s still a lively, but laid back, local community.
Neighbor on the other side, Arona, has moved much of its paperwork and offices down to the coast, but main post office, town hall and cultural center of Adeje are all still sited in the heart of town. This week I needed to make a trip to the town hall, and had the luck to choose a blissfully clear and sunny day. I like to get paperwork and such stuff out of the way as early in the day as I can to avoid the queues and delays which build up as the morning grinds on (laid back, remember!), so I arrived a little early and wandered around for a while. I’d been meaning to come and take a look at the new town square, which was much publicized when it was dedicated not so long ago. With the town hall on one side and the parish church on the other it teeters on the very edge of the Barranco del Infierno, and is a fabulous vantage point to view the valley and surrounding hills, which at the moment, after the winter rains, look as if they are covered in green velvet.
As you can see in the picture above, it is a stunning juxtaposition of natural beauty, history and modern architecture, not something you see very often elsewhere, and yet, for all the concrete construction and spoiling of the coastline, it’s not that uncommon on this island.
Sitting on the steps of the plaza I fell into a conversation with an old guy who was watching his two small and elderly dogs frisking about. ”That one’s 70, the same age as me,” he boasted. I resisted the temptation to scream or to reveal my age. I noted the walking stick laid next to him, and also the fact he was quite heftily over-weight. ”People in Adeje don’t like dogs,” he commented. I agreed, having stayed there for a few months some years back. I told him that El Médano was a much friendlier place for dogs. ”Used to work there,” he said, “On the banana plantation.” This sounded interesting. I’ve seen workers being bused in to work there, and I figured that the conditions were quite hard under the plastic sheeting used to protect the plants from the high winds, and I was thinking of sitting down next to him. I knew if I did my morning was probably shot at, and it would be hard to get away. Then he said, “All Communists there, you know.” No, I hadn’t realized that. ”Oh you need to be careful. I’ve worked there, and they’re all Communists.” OK, I figured it was probably time to go see if the motor taxation department was open yet, so I wished him a nice day and strolled off, wishing maybe I’d had that conversation a few years back when possibly his mind was a bit more agile.
My business done, I wound my way through the one-way system out of town and passed this canon which stands in front of the old Casa Fuerte, or fortified residence. Adeje was a prosperous area almost from the beginning of Spanish rule. Sugar cane, which was a major crop on the islands for a long time was grown there and shipped to Europe from the port of La Caleta, where I watched the ceremonial bathing of livestock on festival of San Sebastian last month. tI would be a bit grand to call Casa Fuerte a fort, but the historical marker provides a sketch of the original layout of the building you see behind the canon. It included the lookout tower, residence and servants quarters, a small chapel, grain storage and an archive room, and it reminds me for all the world of something from one of those old movies about colonial Mexico….and, I suppose, with reason. There are parallels and comparisons to be made between colonization in the archipelago and that in South America. . The building was more or less destroyed by fire over a hundred years ago (does it seem ripe for renovation and exploitation to you, or is it just me?), but happily those archives were rescued and turned over to the local authority.
This morning is pretty much what an average day can be like here. The motor tax thing was pretty straightforward for once; I had a glimpse of history and of Mother Nature’s allure; I admired modern architecture and I had a quirky conversation – and in the midst of all that I forgot to get myself a coffee on the pretty main street, which is a very tempting place to sit under the trees on a warm morning.