Life is a constant learning curve, no doubt about it. If you allow it to be of course.
Last Friday I was in the Teide National Park (and World Heritage Site), proudly showing visiting friends what is probably the most dramatic scenery of my island home. The sun shone, the sky was bluer than blue, and we strolled around comfortably without jackets or sweaters. Though I heard later that the coastal weather had been a bit less sunny, we had driven through the mists, which writhed through the forests as we drove up from La Laguna, and emerged into crystal clear air and warmth. Looking down, over those clouds, is akin to the view you get from an airplane, acres of cottonwool and an endless, azure horizon. But, up here, the difference is that from all that fluffy white, tree-lined mountain flanks, strangulated rock formations and volcanoes rise.
Yesterday was a day of quite different hue, however. Fellow blogger RunawayBrit has been wintering in Tenerife, and we’d spoken a couple of weeks ago about making a photo trip one day. So inspired by the rainbow colors of my daytrip, I asked her if she wanted to do a similar one yesterday, but with the focus on taking photos and seeing parts of the island which she had not yet visited. Remarkable, ain’t it, how, on an island which boasts around 350 days of sunshine per year, and which is currently suffering drought conditions, I could pick a rainy, cloudy day for a photo excursion…but pick it I did.
It’s odd, but, living here for so long, I sometimes feel responsible if some aspect of the island or island life doesn’t live up to the picture I, or others, have painted, and so I found myself apologizing for the gloom which was obscuring views I knew to be quite amazing on a clear day, as we left the coast behind and meandered up the backbone of the island. Even so, there were photo ops. The clouds are never still, they shift constantly, crossing paths, hiding mountains only to reveal their grandeur for seconds before drawing a veil across the scene again, and we stopped a lot, sometimes waiting patiently for the wind to speed the cloud cover on its way.
Friday, by the way, is always a good day for a trip to the National Park. It remains the busiest arrival/departure day, so there are less visitors everywhere. A few coaches passed as we hovered around waiting for scenes to unfurl, and it was hard not to smile, noting how glum the faces peering from the steamed up windows were. I’m a big “lemonade” ** fan personally, and yesterday was just proof of the saying. Looking back at my pictures this morning, I can see elements and colors that the brightness had hidden the previous week.
It was my decision to make our way back via the Orotava Valley, thinking to hanger left to Garachico and over the hills to Santiago del Teide by way of return. I should have known better. Although we’d seen some drizzle and lots of cloud, the weather hadn’t seemed too threatening, but we weren’t too far down the mountainside when those clouds truly closed around us, visibility was severely reduced, and we joined a line of traffic inching its way coastwards behind one of those tour buses. We stopped off for warming soups, local cheese and papas arrugadas, but when we emerged the rain was almost as full on, and had found its way into the car even, forming a puddle on the passenger side floor, so when we eventually found ourselves near the autopista the wiser decision was to go for Plan B and wend our way southwards, leaving the lush but damp north, and trusting that the south would live up to its dry reputation. With frightening predictability, within a kilometer of Santa Cruz, the rain began to ease, the visibility increased and by the time we joined the southern autopista, although the clouds looked grim, the way ahead was dry.
And so it was that we detoured to Candelaria, the island’s spiritual home. I have stacks of photos of this town. It’s center, around the basilica, which is home to the statue of Tenerife’s patron, the Virgin of Candelaria, is small but photogenic. The main square is bordered on one side by the church, and on another by some impressive statues of the Guanche Menceys, who were the rulers of Tenerife’s nine kingdoms before the Conquest. They line the promenade, guarding the black sands of the beach.
I’ve never been especially happy with any of the photographs I’ve taken of these statues, even when not surrounded by other happy snappers, the sun always seemed to be in the wrong place to get the shot I wanted. Yesterday, however, with those moody storm clouds overhead I really liked the way they came out.
This morning, at least here on the south east coast, the sun is bright, the sky blue and the clouds white and fluffy. At dawn, however, those somber and heavy clouds still dominated the horizon when I walked along the seashore, lending drama to the sunrise.
So – I can say that I am thankful for clouds; for the variety and drama, color and interest they bring to familiar scenes, and, in the words of the song, I think I can say:
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still, somehow,
It’s clouds illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
And so, here’s to the next time there are clouds on my normally blue horizon :=)
** Just in case there is anyone who has never heard the saying: If life hands you lemons, make lemonade!