Loose stones skittered from under my feet as I clambered up the hillside, and I cursed the backpack I’d chosen, which has a tendency to sag backwards in its old age. Temperatures were hitting 35ºC (90ºF) around then, midday, and it was only the enticing thought of cool waters, swimming and snorkelling which had made me think this walk was a good idea.
You can well imagine, living here, that finding places to enjoy the coast, but escape crowds isn’t that easy. It was my mission for the day. My work was done, and I needed both the sunlight and the exercise. What I didn’t plan for was recording this walk, and if you can walk and kick yourself at the same time, that’s what I was doing. I didn’t take my camera, so any pictures you see here were taken with my new toy, my Blackberry, which, while very adequate for some things, just wasn’t up to portraying the full majesty of this scenery.
There was some exaggeration in that first sentence. This walk wasn’t really going to be that hard, and, in fact, there is an easier pathway. It was more about the swimming than the walking. Between the tourist resort of La Caleta and the as-yet unspoiled beach and tiny village of El Puertito there are a couple of coves, which you can only reach by walking, one of which has a stunning, almost unspoiled beach, known locally as Spaghetti Beach.
La Caleta is a very quiet resort, and not blessed with much of a beach, and what there is is mostly occupied by pulled-up dinghies of the locals. It’s tiny and entirely pebbles, it’s a cove on the rocky coastline, but the sun often seems to shine there when it has deserted other places, so you’ll find people in the know sunning themselves on the rocks, especially at weekends. The village I first remember is gone now, we used to park next to the dusty football ground (also gone) and traipse down to the rocks, dodging chickens and dogs and the occasional goat. We hauled all manner of beach gear. It’s a great spot for snorkelling, and from time to time there are a few waves off the point of El Cabezo where local kids surf. These days smart developments of apartments have replaced the football ground, and La Caleta’s main claim to fame is the abundance of good eateries in such a small space. I wrote about some of them in this post for Sunshine UK’s Tenerife blog.
We’d decided it was quicker to cross the pebbles and scramble up the hillside, rather than walk around the buildings on the easier path, once we’d reached to top it was easy going, and we had a great view back, overlooking La Caleta. You can see in the picture the mix of old cottages and new apartments, plus the folk sunning on or diving from those rocks.
The headland crossed, it was all downhill to the first beach, admiring the raw rock formations of the next promontory, which shelters Spaghetti Beach on the other side. You can see from the pictures how the different strata of rocks are shown off to dramatic effect against the ocean’s blue. Yesterday’s sky wasn’t so blue, hazed over by the calima, the dust which the winds blow across from Africa, which hangs in the air and drives up the temperatures, trapping heat beneath it. We are on orange alert for high temperatures – but, back to the rocks. After being in the forests recently I was reminded yet again (yes I know this gets boring but it’s just so true) of the variety this island holds……not only in landscape but in culture and a myriad of other ways.
Yesterday reminded me of my first visit to El Teide and the caldera. It was August, and
the temperatures sizzled pretty much as they are doing right now. The starkness of the malpais (badlands), the preternatural rock formations and the paths where lava had flowed millions of years ago all seemed to fit with the sultry temperatures. I was reminded that we were only a stone’s throw from Africa and the Sahara. The landscape of this coast made me feel the same way.
I was thinking of how we adapt to new surroundings, how things which used to be exciting or unusual become the norm once you’ve settled down in a new country. Arriving in Tenerife for the first time in early 1987 the landscape seemed arid and barren. We flew into the south airport, which is the main one of two. Had we flown into the north I would have had a very different impression, but I didn’t make it up north on that first, fact-finding trip. The ruggedness didn’t deter me though – I’d watched far too many westerns set in similar landscapes not to be drawn to this one, and I knew that deserts harbor plenty of life, it’s just that perhaps you have to look a bit harder to find it.
Lizards scurried across our path as we walked across to the beach, something which was novel to me twenty years ago. A kestrel rose and squawked a warning, and gulls glided into perches on the rocks, things which I might have seen back in England, but not with a background of cacti and scrub I don’t know the names of. As always we marvelled at their capacity to stand up to the arid terrain.
Around the beach were dotted a few tents and makeshift shelters. It used to be common for people here to move their lives down to the beach for the summer in years gone by, returning home to shower or collect food. I know people who still do so, but with the “touristification” of the coastline camping is prohibited around all but the more remote beaches, like this one. Now there’s something which would be a novelty back in England, though I suppose we could compare the habit to the relentless hauling of caravans up and down the motorways as people regularly make their escapes for the weekend.
As it happened, we didn’t get any further than that first cove, so that leaves Spaghetti Beach for another post, and maybe other musings. A combination of various aches and injuries meant that we didn’t move on after our picnic lunch on the rocks. In my case I was having a bad reaction to antibiotics taken for a dental problem, so I wasn’t too disappointed when it was decided to turn back after lunch. It was good to have this reminder of yet another face of this wonderful island though.