Islandmomma

Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age


6 Comments

Finding a New World Close to Home

“Face your fear!”   “Do one thing each day which scares you!”    “Take the road less traveled!”

Needing to get out of a rut, into which I’d inadvertently slipped the last, few, post-Christmas weeks, I take out each of my secret anxieties, and examine them, trying to find one within my budget (zero) and timeframe (a free half day); something which will challenge me even just a little, and get the juices flowing again. Is there one of my vast collection of hidden angsts which fits the bill?

I lie in bed, waiting for the alarm, and mull them over, camping solo in the mountains is out because I have work to finish by the end of the day, and anyway it requires gas, and my budget is zero. That’s the killer for almost every idea I drag out. I could just go down to the beach and swim, swim further out than my comfort zone, but the wind is rattling the shutters, which tells me that wouldn’t be facing a fear, it would plain foolish.

I close my eyes and take an imaginary flight over El Médano, since there is no money for gas meaning further afield not an option,  and as I hover at the end of the beach, where the windsurfers play, I spy it – what I’ve thought of as a “hidden valley.”

About to enter a "Lost World"

About to enter a “Lost World”

So many times, curving the coast road home I’ve glanced over to admire raw, volcanic forms. A few weeks back my son, Austin, came back from trail running there, waxing quite poetic about the scenery. I mentioned I’d always meant to go take a look at it, and he replied that there were folk down there, living in caves, and I shouldn’t go without him. We never made it before he went away, and I’d been wary since on account of what he said. Today I would face my fear of wild men jumping out from behind tabaiba bushes, and go see the splendors for myself. I remember that the light there will be best in the early morning, so I jump out of bed quite sharpish and get myself ready.

A quick walk with Trix (who is too old now for the walk ahead), a strong coffee, slip a canister of pepper spray into my pack – you know, just in case my fears are justified – and I sally forth.

I amble, drinking in the way the sun scintillates off the ruffled sea; the virgin-white waves crashing along the harbor wall; the contentment of the folk taking early coffee in the street-bars, and the kind of relaxed bustle of the folk setting up the market, fighting against the stiff breeze to put up their awnings and set out their goods.

IMG_7278

It takes me ten to fifteen minutes at that pace to reach that part of the beach which is claimed by the windsurfers and kite boarders. Unlike surfers, these guys aren’t such early risers, and it’s quiet. I hanger right under the bridge which carries the main coast road across the end of a barranco, and pause. The landscape before me is exactly as expected. “A mini Arizona,” had been Austin’s words (he’s been there, I haven’t). It’s that sort of arid, weird-shaped scenery which begs for Apaches to come cantering around the bend, whooping and in full war paint.

IMG_7268

IMG_7266

IMG_7292

Once past the heap of rubbish under the bridge, there  is, at first glance, no sign of humans. Of course, even without Austin’s warning I know this can’t be true. As I pad down the trail, other paths open up before me, they criss-cross the area; certainly worn by modern feet, and also used for hundreds of years, if not more. The main trail leads to a cave where the goat-herd/saint Hermano Pedro dwelt (more of him another time), so we know that the trails were in use in the 17th Century, and probably by the aboriginal Guanche before that. Again I get that little shiver I’ve had before walking this island, the palpable connections with the past are everywhere. Ghosts walk the pathways, but this surreal landscape was created millions of years before man ever set eyes on it; layer upon layer of history lies here. Continue reading


18 Comments

Granadilla de Abona

Writing this blog post for tenerife.co.uk a few weeks back I needed to go up to Granadilla de Abona to take some snaps. I’d wanted to see if the floral crosses from El Día de la Cruz were still worth photographing too. So photos were very much on my mind, and an early start was called for. I’m lucky in that I actually like early mornings. I think I’ve said it before, but give me a sunrise over a sunset any time.

After using the photos I needed there were one or two left over, and I thought you might like to see them. There were a couple I really liked there. Granadilla de Abona lies in the foothills, about fifteen minutes’ drive from El Médano.

The parish church of San Antonio de Padua surveys the town from a slightly elevated church square. The original church was destroyed by fire, and this was constructed in the early 18th century, the bell tower being added in 1885. Frequently, when I’m showing visitors around they remark that architecture reminds them of South America. The reason being that, of course, the history of the Conquest of Tenerife follows a very similar timeline to that of the Americas.

The Senderos de Abona Hotel Rural  is sited right opposite the church. I haven’t used it at all, but if the exterior restoration, and its attention to detail, are anything to judge by, it seems very inviting. Perhaps further investigation is needed, methinks.

Some pictures of floral crosses in the street between the church and the hotel from El Día de la Cruz which didn’t make it into the original post.

We stayed mainly in two areas, because that’s where the crosses were. The street up from the church has some nice details too.

These plants growing on the roof of the building in the other photos. Maria challenged me to get the bee in the photo – he’s a bit blurry, but I did!

Calle Arquitecto Marrero lies close to the town hall and other public buildings. It’s a quiet street, especially at 9am on a Saturday morning, and many of its buildings have been restored. It reeks of charm.

That said, the restoration bit, I mean, don’t we love the ones which haven’t been restored? Don’t we wonder what stories they could tell? What secrets are hidden behind rusting locks on warped doors?

Walking back to where we’d left the car, close to the town hall, we walked along the main street. It’s narrow, and sadly traffic-choked most of the time during the day. It’s an odd mixture at attempts at modernization and some seriously rickety old buildings, but hard to photograph on account of the traffic. Civic pride is quite evident, however.

Mural depicting rural life in Granadilla of yesteryear on a building on the main street.

Under the cloud you should just be able to make out El Teide and Alto de Guajara. Guajara marks the northern boundary of the municipality. View from the main street.

And lastly, simply because I loved the gaudy colors – which are ok because it’s a nursery school.

It’s so often the way here. I went meaning to get a couple of snaps for a short post, and some pictures of the floral crosses, but the more I saw and delved the more there was to know, but that’s for another post.

 


6 Comments

We Don’t Do Sunsets in El Médano

I had to laugh this week when I read a “review” of a restaurant situated on the boardwalk in “my town”, El Médano. It claimed that it was the perfect place to enjoy a tipple whilst watching the sun go down over the horizon. Now, there are many fine and even wonderful views from the boardwalk, and even better ones from other parts of the coast, but to see a decent sunset there is nowhere you can sit in comfort and sip your wine at the same time, while someone whips up a tasty meal for you – unless you take a picnic to the beach perhaps – haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure.

The picture above is about as much as we see of a sunset in summer, over the mountains and far away, in other words the reflection of the glory on the clouds. Granted, in winter I’ve snapped some pretty nice sunsets, but not whilst sitting in a bar. Although, come to think of it, probably there’s a nice winter sunset from Manfred’s Bar, but I can’t think of anywhere else. Although sometimes what happens is that clouds  echo the sunset; catching the colors, turning them candy stripe pink and puffing them along the horizon like so many rosy cottonwool balls.

That pink sometimes shades into lavender and melts along the horizon right around the island, it’s a pretty sight,  but not the evening we took our walk, and granted, if I hadn’t stopped to snap so often we might not have been slopping around in tidal pools as we made our way back for tapas. When Guy was visiting, we decided to walk one evening,  before eating, to Bocinegro, that’s the smaller of the two volcanoes which mark the perimeter of the beach.

Bocinegro is an after thought, a punctuation mark at the foot of the iconic Montaña Roja. It’s an easy walk, almost a stroll – unless you forget about the time and have to clamber over wet rocks in the dark, as we did that night!

The sky was darkening over the foothills even as we circled the beach, the sun just tinting the underbelly of the cloud mass behind us.

The sun was sinking fast.  Coastal sunsets at this latitude don’t linger long. They are often dazzling, but over quite soon, and night descends fairly quickly.

Nevertheless we made it to the top of Bocinegro’s 118 feet in good time. It’s just about the right length of walk to work up an appetite, but not overdo it. Guy was in training and I had a wonky knee. Being so familiar with the area I didn’t worry too much about losing the light, but as we reached the beach I had to fumble for my torch (always useful to keep a torch with your camera bag I’ve learned!) The night had turned to pitch black, and the moon wasn’t up yet. We skidded on the loose stones as we neared the beach, and then picked our way between damp sand and rock pools, as tiny fish skittered to hide from the torchlight, but it was worth the slithering and sliding for the views of nighttime El Médano from a different angle to usual, as the lights flickered on along the bay.

I don’t need another reason to be thankful for living here ….. as you might have gathered from my previous post!……but this did give me another, I have to admit. Being such a lover of early mornings, I often find it hard to burn the candle at both ends, so I’m not that much of a night owl, but I’m thinking that from time to time I should break my habits, take a siesta and go out late with the camera again!

 


18 Comments

Local Goats’ Cheese Doesn’t Come Any Fresher Than This!

Some days here you set out with one thing in mind and it turns into something quite different, or it leads to another thing quite unexpectedly, so broad is the medley of lifestyles which rub along together in this small space in the Atlantic.

When Maria and I set out to take the photos of the floral crosses I wrote about the other day, I had suggested that we come back by an indirect route, because I wanted to take a look at Barranco Orchilla. I’d seen an amazing photo

of it on the internet recently, and I wanted to see how difficult or even possible it was for walking. To my shame I should explain it’s at the most 15 minutes drive from my home, I’ve driven over it countless times, but not fully absorbed before just how beautiful it is.

The picture I’d seen was an aerial photo of this bridge, which, I can promise you, looked even more stunning than it does in my photo. Right now, like all of the south of the island it’s much drier and browner than late spring would usually find it.  We’d gone to Granadilla de Abona early to catch the light (we hoped!) so it was only mid-morning when we set off back, after being side tracked for a while by a pretty cross in the hamlet of  Charco del Pino. It’s hard to take in the depth and drama of those craggy ravine walls as you drive over the bridge, so we pulled in at the first chance, which was just over the other side. We’d driven from right to left of this picture. As soon as we spotted a space by the roadside we stopped and yanked out the cameras. It turned out to be an unmade road, so we wandered down to get the best view.

What opened up before us, as we turned a corner, were the views above and below to one side and the other. Utterly spectacular cliffs, even in drought conditions, sporting tree and plant life on their sheer sides. Though we could see traffic crossing the bridge from time to time the silence which enveloped us was broken only by fragmented bird song, and a lazy peace hung in the air, like a lazy summer Sunday afternoon.

To our right the ravine widened and flattened out, as it meandered its way down to the ocean, and we could see agricultural buildings poised on the top of its sides as if ready to tumble down to its depths. Strolling back to the car, we noticed a wooden sign which read Queseria (a place which makes and sells cheese). This seemed way too good to miss, it was turning into one of those days I mentioned, you see. There had been the crosses and the ravine, some unexpected photo ops and clear, blue skies, this was clearly another path we were meant to follow.

Arriving, we realized that the buildings we’d seen, seemingly in imminent danger of tumbling down into the valley floor, had been this finca. Whenever I go to somewhere like this, I time travel straight back  to my granddad’s market garden sixty years ago and two thousand miles away. There is the same ramshackle disorder; the piling in the corner of old bits of wood or wire or pipe “just in case” they might be useful; the outside tap for water; the dusty dog, tied up but wagging its dusty tail in greeting. Here a couple of baby goats huddled in a corner too, they weren’t in my granddad’s place, nor was the chugging of a small tractor which entered the farmyard at the same time we did from the other direction. Granddad’s tools certainly weren’t mechanized.

We enquired about buying cheese, and the owner was summoned. He greeted us in that cautious but not unfriendly way that country people often do, perhaps surprised to see a couple of women turn up without warning, perhaps wary of strangers in general, and invited us to follow him as he went to see if any remained, explaining that because it was Saturday it was possible there was none, because their produce is taken to sell at the local farmers’ market in San Miguel de Abona, which happens over weekends. Happily for us he found a tray.

Realizing that we wanted to buy one, and weren’t simply being nosy, he willingly answered our questions about how the cheese was produced, having a nice old rant about the EU regulations, as cheesemakers Europe-wide like to do – and not without justification. He pulled back the cover on this vat to show me the morning’s milk which was sitting and waiting to curdle, and begin the process of becoming cheese.

Goats’ cheese is probably one of the very first dairy products ever made, long before man thought of utilizing cattle, and the Berber-descended Guanches, who first inhabited these islands are known to have kept them, so in Tenerife it has a long history.

Goats, of course, climb to ridiculous heights in search of a choice morsel, and will, famously, eat just about anything if left to it. They are survivors, and the perfect animal to farm in this rugged landscape, where, even in the lusher north, the gradients would be impossible for other animals to scale. There is hardly any pasture land on any of the islands. This flock was penned in, but roaming free, that’s the other nice thing about goat products, they’re not factory farmed.

Clutching our cheese we wound our way back up to the main road, and home, where we divided it in half. I had some for breakfast the next morning, drizzled with just a smidgen of honey, and I can only tell you that it was the freshest taste of just about anything I’ve ever had. At this stage I should admit that I’m not hugely fond of queso blanco, the freshest form of this cheese. I prefer it cured or semi-cured, with a stronger taste and firmer texture, and apparently on this farm they do smoke and cure cheeses too. That said, if it was always like this I would like it this way just as much!

Let’s just backtrack a minute from that Sunday morning breakfast, though, because there is just a wee cheesy tidbit more. This Saturday was the same Saturday as the Supermoon, and after chilling for the afternoon, Maria and Colleen and I spent the evening chasing the moon up and down the Médano coast, and eventually sank onto the terrace of a local bar in need of refreshment and a little sustenance. Maybe it was thinking about the morning’s wee adventure that made me order the goats’ cheese…….this time, grilled and served with a local mojo sauce, perfect way to end an unexpected and fascinating day!

I can’t, hand on heart, say it was a “typical” day, but it certainly wasn’t that unusual by standards here, so perhaps you can understand why, despite downsides (and there ARE downsides!) I just love living here.


2 Comments

Day of the Holy Cross in Tenerife ….. or almost.

It’s a sign of neglect – of this blog – that this post refers back to May 5th, and that it’s taken me all this time to get my sh*t together. The neglect comes from happy stuff (my son’s visit) & the springtime urge to clean out and put things in order. Quite why I should feel that urge, when I live in a climate where seasons are hard to define, I cannot say – perhaps too many years of living in England…….but, then, perhaps it is relevant to this post, this refresh and renew compulsion – hold that thought! Early May does seem to be the real kick off of warmer times, however, and this year Tenerife celebrated with a heatwave of record-breaking proportions. Happily that’s over now, and we are basking in warmth rather than heat again.

Cross in Calle de la Iglesia, close to the parish church in Granadilla de Abona.

…..back to May 3rd then, which is the date about which I intended to write……..May 3rd is the Day of the Holy Cross, or Santa Cruz in Spanish. If you are brought up in a country whose main religion is Christianity, and, however loosely, are brought up in that faith, as I was, you tend to take the cross, as its symbol, for granted. I attended, sporadically, Salvation Army Sunday School, where brass crosses  were paraded with pomp, seriousness and much clashing of symbols (my burning ambition was to be allowed to play the symbols, but they never let me, which might explain why, in the last throws of my adolescence  I became a Catholic). My childish mind  associated the cross with fire, brimstone and fear, and its relevance to Christianity seemed obvious. I didn’t question just how it had been chosen as opposed to other possible symbols.

Spanish Conquistadors had the habit of planting a cross on ground  they claimed  for the crown of Spain. Remnants of the cross which Alonso Fernández de Lugo stuck into the soil of Tenerife are stored in the church of La Concepción in the city of Santa Cruz. The full title of this Spanish province (as opposed to this island) is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or Holy Cross of  Tenerife, so that tells you that there is connection here – stay with me!

Cross outside the church in the little village of Charco del Pino

This is one of those stories where it’s hard to separate fact from fiction, but back in the 4th century AD, when Constantine was jefe of the Roman Empire, he is said to have seen a symbol in the sky, a cross and the words In hoc signo vinces, which translates, roughly, as “With this sign you win.”  This, the day before he was to go into battle. Later Christ appeared to him in a dream to explain the apparition, and Constantine ordered that a symbol of the cross  be constructed and carried into battle in front of his army. Natch he went on to win, otherwise this story would have no point.

That there was an emperor named Constantine is true. That he had learned about Christianity from his mother, who had converted, is true. That he won the battle is true. That, later in life, he too became a convert is true. The rest, of course, is speculation and hearsay, but it makes a nice story, and back in those days they were really into these sorts of stories. Nowadays we seem to recommend therapy for folk who claim to have had visions.

The sequel is that he then dispatched his mother, Helena, to the Holy Land to search for the true and original cross. That is its whole own story, but of course she found it, and it was her dying wish that Christians henceforth would celebrate its finding. Early May, like so many dates, was a handy one for the early Church to pick to honor her wish, because it was the  celebration of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and Springtime. The powers-that-be of the day therefore tacked the Holy Day of the Cross onto the same date, eventually, swamping that “heathen” festival, as they did with others.

What remains, however, of Flora are the flowers which adorn crosses throughout the Hispanic Catholic world on May 3rd, so I’m thinking perhaps she has the last smile. Some of these displays are simply gorgeous. They certainly celebrate the hope and beauty of spring, the sense of renewal. They are, also, very photogenic :=)

A simple cross by a doorway. Granadilla de Abona.

Any town with the world “cruz” in its title in the Spanish-speaking universe celebrates this day by adorning the town with these floral crosses, outside churches and public buildings, and outside private homes and businesses. In many places there are parades, and in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife it is its annual fiesta, the equivalent of its saint’s day. I couldn’t make it to Santa Cruz or anywhere else on May 3rd, as I had a very important barbecue to attend, so it was May 5th when Maria and I wove our way up to Granadilla de Abona (about ten minutes from El Médano, straight up into the foothills, and where I’d seen the crosses last year) to see if there was anything left to photograph. It turned out that there was, although some of the flowers were droopy and some were already withered, so we did miss them at their best.

The cross outside the parish church, Granadilla de Abona.

This, and the next two photos, of crosses outside private houses, on walls or balconies.

This gorgeous display was sited between the town’s museum and a rural hotel.

It struck me that, regardless of one’s views about religion, these festivals do both maintain cultural traditions, and a sense of community, neither of which is any bad thing in this day and age. And so the skeptic in me is stilled because, you see, at the end of the day I think that is what “religion” is – that sense of community and connection, and I’m not sure how much it matters how you arrive at that, so long as you do.

This lovely display was on the wall of a refurbished, old building which turned out to be a hairdressers.

Calle de la Iglesia and the cross in one of the previous photos, from a different perspective.

We were leaving the village when we spotted this cross outside of a shrine.

………oh, and they are good for the sort of tourism this island needs – those who are interested in its past and its culture.


2 Comments

Just Another Day in Paradise?

Just kidding, people. There used to be a T-shirt back in the 90s with words to that effect, or a little cruder, to be honest, and whilst petty bureaucracy and inefficiency have been taking their toll of me to a huge extent of late, there are times when living here is, well, heavenly!

Yesterday, for instance, my day began like this:

And ended like this:

And for once the bit in between was entirely satisfactory :=) But no time to scribble about it now, I’m off to inhale a bit more of the wonders of Mother Nature, but I will fill in the gaps ….. soon.

 

 


9 Comments

Blue Skies & Sculpture in El Médano

This sculpture stands at the end of the beach road, where El Médano becomes a bit wilder, where you can, actually see where the name médano comes from – it means sand dune.

Simply because a photo of this sculpture was the last picture in my last post I thought I’d show you a completely different view of it. It is said to represent the seven islands united, whilst on the wall behind you can see the seven pieces separately, as individual entities too.  Why do I say “it is said to….”? Because despite asking the local authority I couldn’t get confirmation of what I believed to be true. Though there are several interesting works of art on El Médano’s streets, they go their artists go unsung, which I think is a great shame.


6 Comments

An Unexceptional Sunset

I suppose it was obvious of late that I have been a bit disenchanted with the flow of life here.  There are some reasons, which I will come to one day, but not today, because I had one of those random experiences which make me blot out the crap and remember my passion for the island.

I was doing normal chores, I’d done a bit of shopping and went to pay my rent.  The real estate office is in Plaza Roja, close to where I live, and of late I’ve gone back to carrying my camera everywhere with me again. I’d stopped doing that during the move, and the not-doing-it kind of stuck. When I came out of the office around 6-ish the sun was going down, and so I thought I’d stroll over to the harbor to see if it was going to be a spectacular sunset. It showed no signs of being out of the ordinary, although ordinary is pretty good here, but it was pleasant after the heat of the day, so I walked along the boardwalk and onto the shore opposite to Montaña Roja.

This shoreline is pure volcanic lava frozen in time, sharp and sinister rocks which creep darkly into the ocean, and where countless rock pools form at low tide.  I took a few snaps. It wasn’t ideal. Foreground too dark, sun too bright, it was too early. As I picked my way amongst the rocks, the haunting cry of a curlew, who circled round in his search for easy pickings, and a lone, wee plover bobbing amongst the dark rubble.

There were few clouds around, and the sunset didn’t look like amounting to much, so I trod my careful way back to the promenade and the corner of the harbor, and as I ducked under the small bridge there it was the photo which had been worth waiting for, and which made me smile to realize that this was just an average day.

After the sun dipped beneath the horizon the sky took on a rosy afterglow, not as sensational as it can be perhaps, but pretty, and the for-once calm waters in the harbor and across this small bay turned that unreal shade of metallic blue they achieve after sunset and before sunrise.

I sat for a while longer, because you never know what may happen next at this time of day.  The old boys who hang out by the boats next to the slipway decamped for warmer places, it was beginning to get chilly, and the gulls circled as if they were surveying the waters one last time before they went to rest, and somehow all the things which had been nagging at me faded, not away, but into the background for now at least.


9 Comments

Finding Autumn at last on Tenerife!

Okay – I can hear you saying, “If she misses Fall so much why doesn’t she just move?” – so this will be the last time I mention it for this year, and anyhow I can now tell you that I know just where to go to get my Autumnal fix next year.

Some days here, October through May, dawn is so incandescently clear it simply makes me want to cry.  The heat haze of summer gone for a few months, no Sahara dust hovering in the air, and early enough so that the clouds which encircle the mountains later in the day are still abed. Yesterday was one of those days.

Cristina and I, for different reasons,  had missed hiking on Sunday with  friends, and since it was her day off yesterday, and I badly needed some fresh air, my sinuses filled with dust from all the pre-removal packing, we decided to head up to Spain’s highest village, Vilaflor (roughly 4,590 ft above sea level), for some fresh, mountain air. We left the south coast as the sun’s rays began to warm the skin, passed through Vilaflor and left the car by the roadside a little higher, at the beginning of the entry road to the Madre de Agua recreational area.

Just stepping out of the car the atmosphere felt different  - sights, sounds and the feel of cool air on the face are all a world away from the beaches. Though on the first steps of the walk we could see a landscape still in need of rain, it was nowhere near as parched as the coast. Vilaflor is an agricultural area, and soon we were looking down onto cultivated terraces, and over the tops of pines and hillsides to the ocean.  Montaña Roja, which I always think of as marking my home, was clearly visible, and though the countryside was dappled with shadows from passing clouds, the ocean still sparkled way below.

This route would take us through the municipalities of both Granadilla de Abona and Vilaflor, land which is the source of the bottled waters of Tenerife. Right now dried-up streams and water courses mark the route.  When the rains come, any time now, they will be in full flow again, and the detritus of summer will be washed away.

What I hadn’t expected was to turn a corner and see Fall colors, yellows and golds clinging to the black skeletons of chestnut trees.  I really hadn’t realized that they grew over this side of the mountains.  We noted that they aren’t the tall, leafy trees of the northern slopes, but seem stunted, as if deprived of some ingredient to make them grow.  Nevertheless, broken shells of chestnuts littered the ground along with the fallen leaves.  Clearly there had been fruit, and folk had been here to collect the bounty.

 

 

 

We walked for a couple of tranquil hours, occasionally greeting other walkers, returning or overtaking us.  It was good to see that people now realize just how rich this island is in walking routes as well as beaches. We breathed that fresh, energizing scent of pine trees.  We stopped and perched in a wee, stone circle to lunch, the sort of place I would have thought of as a fairy meeting place when I was little. I’d made sandwiches of  turkey mortadella – well, it was Thanksgiving!

When turning to return, we met the mists which we’d seen drifting through the tall pines, vistas which had been clear were now hazy, and the graceful needles of the Canary pines were strung with droplets of brume, and looked like delicate Christmas decorations.  The air now was perfumed with the smell of wild fennel, which reminded me of summer. It must have been aroused by the damp.

 

The colors of the  bare rock faces, which had appeared dry, now glowed, their reds and ochres enriched by the moisture, and I found the last flower in this autumnal scene amongst the dead leaves and grasses.

Now I know where to come when my homesickness for Autumn kicks in.


4 Comments

Of Big Swells and the End of Summer

It’s strangely quiet outside my window today.  A few kids are splashing about in the pool, but nowhere near the hooting and screaming of the past few weeks.  This morning in the silent supermarket there were still lettuce and tomatoes left on the shelves – granted a bit tired-looking, but for the last four to six weeks the shelves have been bare on a Monday morning after the weekend rush, (well, even on a Monday afternoon – it takes them a while to restock here).  It’s a sign the summer residents are gone or about to go, and life is on the cusp of change.

To an outsider it may seem as if everything is the same year round in El Médano, but if you live here the changes are obvious.  There will be parking again.  Once the annual fiesta is passed in another couple of weeks, the stage which occupies a corner of the main town square, will be dismantled and put into storage for another year.  Although there are always tourists, there will be fewer, and they will be mostly people here for a purpose. The spirit of El Médano, certainly for visitors and foreign residents, is very much sports-oriented. We come at the very least for the good dog-walking, and then, depending on your level of fitness, for windsurfing, kite surfing, running, cycling, swimming or power walking and more. Mix this with the folk from the old fishing community, throw in a few “hippies,” and you have the odd blend of people who rub together easily to give the town its quirky character.

In August, however, it turns into a family resort, as does just about any stretch of beach on the island with a few houses nearby.  When I strolled into the center with a friend to enjoy a glass of wine or two the other night, we were surprised to see the  climbing frames and equipment of the little playground in the square swarming with kids at midnight. Like so many indefatigable ants they were climbing, running and, of course, screaming to their hearts’ content. El Médano isn’t known for nightlife, more often than not, arriving home after dark, I’m surprised by how quiet it is, but not in August!

The other great precursor of the season in the south  that the landscape has turned to desert. Oh, the well-watered public areas of the resorts are lush and colorful as always, but the natural landscape is parched and thirsty, dying for some rain you might say.

From the approach to Montaña Roja it looks as if nothing could survive, vegetation is wilted if not skeletal.  It’s an easy walk up to the top, which is about 170 meters I think (from memory), and the views from up there are extensive along the coast, over the airport, and to the mountains beyond on a clear day.  Saturday, when I went with the photo group, it was clear-ish, and the views revealed a harsh landscape, seared by the summer sun, and apparently devoid of life, except some scrubland between the beach and the road.  Nothing much was growing other than the resilient tabaiba.

Wave beginning to build

From the times I lived near the beach in La Tejita I remember the big waves seeming to mark the end of the season too. From the hilltop on Saturday we watched for around an hour or so as the waves built and came crashing down onto the sands, the crests already being blown back out to sea by the strong winds, sometimes forming brief rainbows along the peaks of the wave.

La Tejita isn’t a surfer’s beach, although there are always waves as ocean meets the shore.  The waves break far too close  for surfing, but yesterday, when I went with Maria to take a closer look at the beach, there were a few bodyboarders out there catching a ride, and even a couple of hopeful surfers.  Not very long rides maybe, but definitely exciting. Waves rose, glittered like jeweled, turquoise glass, dragged sand from the shoreline and tossed it up in their foam, before creaming onto land.  They say that the waves come in sets of seven, every one bigger until they die away and you wait for the next set.

You can see from the color of the rock how the mountain got its name.  Anyone wonder why this, despite the barrenness at the moment, is my favorite beach in the south of Tenerife??

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 215 other followers