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

“I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now…………”


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!



Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

12 thoughts on ““I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now…………”

  1. You have to have the cloudy days to appreciate the sunny days, and that skyline at Candelaria was spectacular to say the least. As for the tourists on the buses, they looked like they had been sucking lemons 🙂

  2. … (lemons that is)

    or as a Wise Man* once said: “life is full of banana skins – the trick is to find the bananas”.

    Last week we spent the night up at Izana looking at the stars through various telescopes (we have an astronomer friend who has access). We drove up before sunset through thick cloud and drizzle, but once above the tree line we were in sunshine and clear sky, with the Mar de Nubes spread beneath us as per your second photo. The sunset behind Teide was spectacular, and the highlight of the evening was seeing Saturn and it’s rings so clearly through the eyepiece that it looked like a cartoon planet. It was a bit a bit chilly though (about zero), as you know from your night in the cave.

    (* me 🙂

  3. Wow, Richard, just reading that takes my breath away! I’m thinking it’s all so cool up there perhaps I might go live in that cave!

  4. Incredible, I didn’t see any of this!

  5. Do you mean you’ve been here? I was following closely when you were in Spain, but I didn’t think you made it to the Canary Islands? I went to see the movie “Soul Surfer” the other night, and was struck by the similarities between the Hawaiian Islands and the Canarian archipelago. I think, overall, the Hawaiian Islands are more dramatic and probably greener, but volcanoes (though there are not as active as in Hawaii), lava beds, forests, rocky coastline – all the same I think. Must, just must, go and find out one day!

  6. I love it when I’m out in the hills and we get a cloud inversion. And without the clouds you wouldn’t have that rainforest habitat that you have on the northern slopes of the island.

    • True. I don’t mind them at all – except perhaps when they are as low as they were on the return journey on the second occasion, with visibility about 10 or 12 feet – not so much to see :=( We were up just below the cloud level yesterday, barbecuing, and it was just a tad chill, but lovely to come back to coastal sunshine too. Honestly, I thrive on the variety here. I just feel a bit bad when I can’t show anyone what I would like to show them! My first visitors, btw, were Mike and Olive. Olive isn’t keen on having her photos online, so that’s why there aren’t any. The weather was just beautiful the day they were here, though and apparently, as they were cruising, out at sea they missed the clouds, which hang around the islands.

  7. Your photos brought memories flooding back of that same vista we had whilst in Teide National Park, several years ago.

    Where we live now, east of Málaga – on the Spanish mainland, our house is at 435m above sea level, and when the clouds roll in from the Mediterranean Sea, it´s like we are living in our very own “castle in the clouds”.


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