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

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Postcards from the Island

I have a certain mental lethargy at the moment.  Recent days have been full, and dictated by events and necessities other than exploring or writing or photography.  My son, Austin, has been in hospital (successfully and he’s now recuperating at home), and boring stuff like dental appointments and car checks are driving my life, so for now here are just a few glimpses of the island I’ve had in recent weeks, things I want to know more about, places I want to revisit and some food for thought.

Las Teresitas. Probably the most photographed beach on the island, because of its beautiful, golden sand, imported many moons ago from Western Sahara. Something which is now forbidden, I understand. Often overlooked by the run-of-the-mill tourists who favor the more predictable weather of the south of the island. Las Teresitas lies about ten minutes from Santa Cruz, and was quite breezy on the day we passed by, killing time between appointments.

From the same vantage point, overlooking the coast on the other side from Las Teresitas, where you can see almost to the tip of the island.

Las Teresitas lies just a heartbeat outside of the village of San Andres, and this, so far as I can make out, is the local graveyard.  It’s quite a contrast with the one in Santiago del Teide which I photographed last month, which was colorful and pristine, but it looks as if it has a multitude of stories it might tell.  Many of the graves were unkempt, even tumbledown, and some were unmarked.  I’ve asked some questions about it, but not as many as if I were going to write something in detail about it, so it remains a bit of an unsolved mystery for me, although one fact which has emerged is that it was used by U2 on an album cover.  A quick search didn’t find it, but maybe someone who’s more of a U2 fan than I can tell me more?

I often remark on what a fascinating little city Santa Cruz is.  Of late the city part has seemed more “real” to me, being there for business or appointments I’ve felt something of that  city vibe one gets in London or Madrid, but having an hour to spare on day I strolled a bit in Parque García Sanabria in the heart of the mini-metropolis, and found that same sense of peace one finds in pretty city parks the world over.  This one is especially tranquil, and, of course, in this climate, always green and shady.

Finally, just to prove two things:   (1) That even a pretty city has its ugly side, and (2) that there is some drama and beauty even in that ugliness, I snapped this picture from the roof of a shopping mall the other day.  Over the top of the smelly Cepsa refinery on the very edge of the city, the sun, almost ready to bid  goodnight to the earth, breaks through the clouds a last time.


The Sunsets on my Doorstep

El Médano, basically, faces east, so faced with a desire to photograph sunsets I zoom over to the west coast, yes?   Well, yes, I did that last week, and whilst I was more than happy with the purple/grey stormy skies I snapped I felt cheated of the sunset, but Mother Nature had a treat in store for me….and here is another lesson in always having your camera handy……I popped out the other early evening to get a couple of items from the supermarket, which is only around a couple of corners from me, and then decided to treat myself to an ice cream, so I ambled over to Plaza Roja to Gelateria Demaestri to torture myself over whether to have the chocolate brownie, the cinnamon or the coffee ice cream. Now, the biggest problem with Demaestri’s ice cream is that it has to be eaten at once.  It’s all natural stuff, and so it melts incredibly fast, meaning before I can make it home it’s dripping all over my fingers.  So I went to sit on the benches facing the harbor, and that’s when I realized that just maybe there was going to be a chance of a good sunset.

So I decided to chill out and wait.  This bench runs the length of the boardwalk which, in turns, runs the length of one side of the harbor, and at this pre-dinner or post-afternoon-activity hour the area all around it was buzzing with people engaged in all sorts of activities.  There were a couple of men fishing from the rocks between the boardwalk and the ocean, who were getting all sorts of angsty about a guy who was power-swimming too close to their lines.  Eventually he heard their yelling and veered off in another direction.  People passed with windsurf boards and skate boards, dogs and towels wet from their swimming.  Children clutched kites and wobbled on inline skates, and two or three couples huddled together further down the bench, waiting in anticipation of a romantic sunset.  More folk emerged from the ice cream parlor and sat to enjoy the confection and the view.  It grew a little chilly, as it does here, even in summertime when the sun begins to disappear, and I wasn’t prepared for it, this being unplanned, but it was worth the wait and the chill, as you can see.

El Médano is blessed with some great street art, which, unfortunately, is mostly uncredited, despite suggestions to the delightful lady in the Tourist Information Office, who is entirely in agreement, and has passed on requests to the Town Hall.  They remain however a mystery, which is a shame.  The one which is set against the sunset above is part of a set, and any interpretation would only be rumor, so I won’t go there until I can say anything with authority.  It is, however, a beautiful piece of polished rock, the layers and colors of which you can see better in subsequent photos.

The next evening storm clouds had gathered again, and as clouds are often a requirement of a really dramatic sunset, I popped down again at the same time to see if there was anything to see.  There was, as you can see below, and the photos say much more than I could ever put into words, so I’ll shut up now.


Dramatic Skies on a Chill Early Evening

Someone I know posted a glorious picture of this morning’s sunrise in Tenerife, and I cursed my sloth in not getting up early enough.  I live right next to a beach which faces east, and I had a feeling last night that it was going to be good, but I allowed Morpheus to cajole me, and turned over when the alarm went off.

We had heavy rain again this afternoon.  No-one I speak to remembers so many days of consistently bad weather, or is it just nostalgia.  The period between Christmas and the end of January was gloriously sunny, in the south at least, and my photos taken in those weeks show unbroken, sapphire blue skies.  It’s true, though, that nights have seemed to be unusually cold, even when the days have been bright.  I certainly never before went out with the express purpose of buying fleecy pyjamas, which I did a few weeks back, and although my feet and body have been warm as toast as I sat just now watching a movie, my hands and nose are like ice, which is not normal for coastal living.  Could be, though, that I didn’t warm up from taking the photos below!

Having missed the sunrise I thought I’d idle down to Playa de las Americas and see if those clouds were going to be party to a spectacular sunset.  The rain had eased off, and I went to El Conquistador, where my sons used to surf.  Even if the sun let me down there might be waves.  Sun and waves were both a bit iffy, but the storm clouds were quite impressive, as you can see.  Truth be told, even though the winter has been a bit chilly, it does make a change from blue skies.  The sky was multiple shades of blue through grey through white and purple.  Maybe not so awesome as one of those scarlet sunsets, but pretty dramatic even so.

This channel has been cut through the sand and pebbles by excess rainwater, finding its way to the ocean, and the mountains, which are catching the very last glow of the sun are reflected.


Never Be Without a Camera

It’s no secret that I fell in love in January, no, not with Mr Right, and not, even with the Nikon 70D, I was lusting after, (and whose picture was the wallpaper on my computer at work the day I was fired), but with my Canon EOS 500D.  It was, in many ways, an impulse buy and an extravagance, but I haven’t regretted it for one second.  Well, only one or two, seconds that is.  It’s not that I would swap it for all the tea in China, it’s just that I’d like a nice, wee one to slip into a pocket when dog walking, or going out for dinner.  The Canon is almost always with me, but just isn’t practical sometimes……….but far be it from me to whinge, one day it will have a little brother, this I know.

I’ve had a couple of reasons to be happy it was with me this week, outings when I really didn’t expect to use it, but took it anyway, because you never know what will turn up on this remarkable island.  I’m sure it’s the same anywhere.  Carrying a camera makes you look for photo-ops, and look at things in a different way, makes you more aware of the journey.  What you would spot in England or in Tennessee wouldn’t be the same things I spot here, but I guess this is the draw of photography, sharing impressions and how we see them.

The first time was returning from a late afternoon lunch in Adeje.  It really had been late, because the sun was about to set, as I drove along, parallel with the coast.  To be honest, what I’d expected to use the camera for this day was the shoreline (too bright), the food (forgot because it was so delicious!), or the restaurant (light was all wrong), so none of the shots which had been in my head were in the camera, and I was chastising myself a bit even though the wonderful lunch had left a mellow glow.  So I was delighted when I glanced out to sea and saw that we might be due for a really gorgeous sunset, and I looked for somewhere to pull over.  Though it was a busy road, basically a motorway access road, which I knew well, the spot I chose wasn’t familiar, but turned out to be a bonus, because not only did I get the snaps in the previous post, but also these (more about where they are another time):

This morning I decided to take myself to the ER after a restless night with the mother of all toothaches.  Last night we had heavy rains again, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to drive with combination of extreme pain and washed out roads – good call, because the road up to the medical center had some deep puddles, even at 9.30am.  I took the camera because, well, after that kind of rain, and the orange alert we’re under you never know what you might find, plus the center is on a hillside, with always the chance of a good view down to Los Cristianos.  It stuck me afterwards just how much I love this camera, because  I was in so much pain I couldn’t even eat, and had difficulty downing my very necessary morning coffee.  After one of those shots in the bum that seem to go on forever, (but hardly felt a thing …. I am full of praise for the staff in the ER at El Mojon!) and by the time I found a pharmacy open to get my prescriptions filled, I was beginning to chill at last, so when I noticed the surf on the beach at Las Vistas I had to stop.

The novel thing about this site, on an island of surfers, is that this beach doesn’t normally have waves at all.  The main surf breaks end on rock or pebble, as you would expect from a volcanic island, so to be able to ride a wave right onto the sand of this man-made beach must have been cool I imagine.  I have seen it in this state before, but not too often, so this is kind a historic little collection of snaps here.

The day was warm and very humid, and mist from atop the waves drifted across the beach.  Even then there were a few vacationers stretched out on sunbeds, and a goodly crowd watching the surfers.

I was tempted to take a look at the ocean from the El Médano side as I drove home, but the meds were kicking in, and I was beginning to feel a bit drowsy, so I headed straight home, but later, I decided to break one of my own rules and take a camera when walking Trixy.  I have to be very careful, she’s a great subject, but not a very patient assistant, so I took the car down to Montaña Pelada to see how that was looking:

Not so much surf here, although there are some guys waiting in the water.  Still a bit drowsy, I wasn’t in a mood to clamber down there, so we turned tail, but not before I had chance to catch this incoming plane and its vapor trail.  In a blue sky you barely see that, and right now they are approaching from the opposite direction to normal.  I’ll know when the weather is on the turn when I begin to hear to roar of takeoff again.

So, when you’re remembering that Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination – remember to take your camera!


And We Have Sunsets Too

I’ve notice sometimes with sunrises and sunsets, that whilst we’re focused on the scarlet ball on the horizon, sometimes amazing reflections happen elsewhere, like the grass the other week.  Thursday morning it was the mountains which were basking in the early glow.  I have no doubt I missed the best, and didn’t have a good enough lens to get a nice snap, but just to give you an idea of the environment.  Yep – know the “little boxes” spoil it…..that said, how about living there??? ………..did skip home with Pete Seeger ringing in my ears, though!

And just to prove that this isn’t paradise, these cute little birds (which I think are sanderlings, but I’m hopeless at identifying birds, so would be grateful for a proper id if anyone knows, please?) were breakfasting along the shoreline, and I crept slowly and silently as close as I could, when some great, clod-hopping iggit clumping along scattered them.  No thought for the birds, or for me who was clearly trying to photograph them…….see we have our share of numbskulls here too!

One of the reasons I love El Médano is  that people watching (numbskulls apart) is so much more fun than it is in the resorts.  Here people are, actually, doing something, and not just shuffling along the promenade, or letting it all hang out on a sunbed.  Even early there were quite a few runners and joggers around, as well as the usual variety of dog walkers, and I sat for several minutes watching a skin diver as he backed himself into the waves, and then disappeared, long fins waving in his wake.  Every morning I see a guy I call Tai Chi guy,  gracefully greeting the new day from the rocky outcrop overlooking the beach, and I pass cyclists, and several elderly couples who do their own version of power walking.

Out there, on the ocean, and only specks on the photos there was a tall ship to stir the imagination and dream about, and a small fishing skiff, hauling up cages to check if they’d caught any pulpo overnight, as well as one or two yachts.

Full of good humor (despite the clod-hopper) I scooted down to Los Cristianos to collect my mail before all the parking spaces within reasonable walking distance of the Post Office were taken.  At the back of my mind was a breakfast of croissant and coffee at the French Bakery to prolong my mellow mood, and, indeed, I sat and ordered as I gleefully tore open packages  (a jiffy bag of Kendal Mint Cake from my dad, and a book from a friend :=)).  Then the choking, acrid smell of cigarettes wafted across. Even outdoors it was revolting, so I changed my order to to go, and trotted across to the little park place where I used to eat my lunch when I worked in Los Cristianos.  There I was greeted by the yucky smell of dog poo, so I carried on back to my car.  It’s a tribute to the bakery, that even sulking, not-that-comfortable, and glowering in my car,  the croissant, which melted in my mouth all buttery and light, brightened my mood again.  Paradise lost.  Paradise regained – kind of.

I was out on the roof terrace again around 5 pm when it occurred to me that maybe the sunset might equal the sunrise, and how nice it would be to bookend my day that way, so I took myself down to Los Cristianos again, to where I remembered my great sunsets from last year, and settled down amongst the pebbles to wait.  In coastal areas we were on yellow alert (and on high ground on orange) as a huge weather system was closing in on us.  You can see the storm clouds hugging the horizon and spiralling over the harbor of Los Cristianos as dusk fell in the last picture.

It turned out to be not so bad.  Clearly some rain had fallen here overnight, and the wind rattled my blinds and woke me once, but nothing major, neither did the tv, nor reports from friends on other parts of the island, indicate anything much overnight.  Worse is predicted for Sunday, so we may see a white Christmas on the mountain peaks.  Living near the airport, even if you don’t listen to weather reports, you know when bad weather is on its way.  First, you get the clear views of Gran Canaria, like yesterday morning; then you notice the planes as they glide effortlessly in to land instead of roaring up and away on take off, that means the prevalent winds have changed;  if you have a dog like Trixy you notice her sniffing the air when you go out in the morning, sensing a change in the wind-bourne scents only she can smell.  Few people really mind the storms here in the south, so long as no major damage or fatalities occur, as they bring a respite from heat and dust.  A good downpour and the hillsides which are now desert scrub after a long summer’s heat, spring to green life, as dormant seeds and roots are nourished.  So, we wait to see what the weekend brings.


Stunning November Sunrise

I love words.  I think I loved words before I loved pictures.  However, there are times when I’m lost.  There just aren’t the right ones, at least not in my lexicon, so I will let this morning’s sunrise speak for itself.

The only thing I will add, for those who have never been to these “Fortunate Islands” is that the island you see on the eastern horizon there is Gran Canaria.


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