“I’ll mix us a small aperitif” shouts Sarah above the din of the steady disco beat emanating from the speakers and the constant whirr of my hairdryer.
It’s Thursday night, Sarah’s last with us before she returns to Doncaster and makes final preparations before leaving for Sri Lanka and 2 years as a project worker with VSO.
It’s been a busy day; up with the lark at 9am (larks sleep late in Tenerife), fruit for breakfast, make up the bocadillos for lunch, pack the rucksacks, grab the hiking boots and head off into the hills for some crater walking.
Parking the car at the visitor centre in El Portillo, we set off to do the circular Arenas Negras walk.
The north coast of Tenerife is laid out like a jewelled carpet 2000 metres below us as we traverse the crater, climbing steadily until we reach the flat retama scrublands with their myriad of earth tones where the debris of millions of years of volcanic activity has created a landscape where lakes of white pumice sit beside rivers of russet, brown, orange and crimson. Into the lunar surface, a vast canyon yawns, its sheer slopes layered in a cross section of volcanic evidence.
We sit on a bed of white pumice and, beneath Teide’s icy stare, tuck into our bocadillos.
The landscape turns black as we skitter and ski our way down the loose descent of the eponymous Arenas Negras before joining the wide pista of Siete Cañadas which will take us back to our starting point.
On the way, Jack teaches us how to ‘get in step’ Marine-style by way of a short stamp with the right foot to the back of the left heel which, almost imperceptibly, changes the lead foot. I’m extremely impressed by this revelation and we practice changing step in perfectly synchronised route-march style for several hundred yards, causing general hilarity and Sarah to drop her sunglasses, undetected, somewhere along the 2½ kilometre stretch.
We begin to re-trace our steps but luckily, I ask a couple of German hikers who are heading towards us if they happen to have seen the escapee ‘fendis’ and they produce them from a top pocket, thus saving us a great deal of wasted time and effort.
Unluckily, they then ask us if we can give them a lift back to their car which they’ve left at the Parador; a 40 minute round trip completely out of our way, thus causing us a great deal of wasted time and effort.
With the compulsory customary beer at the end of a Tenerife walk and the long drive home, there’s little time to relax before we have to head off for the bus and Sarah’s vodka aperitif gives us a much needed boost.
A second aperitif in Plaza Charco and then it’s off to Mil Sabores for a meal that does exactly what it says on the menu; a ‘thousand flavours’ racing around our palettes, the final lap being performed by the best profiteroles and tiramisu ever to grace Canarian crockery.
A couple of mojitos in ‘Elements’ bar round off a perfect evening and it’s near 2am when we arrive home, to find that Sarah left the freezer door open when she mixed the vodkas. The ice bag is now floating and our nightcaps are tepid.
On Friday night, at 10.30pm, a text arrives from Sarah:
“Hi, just got home to find I accidentally switched the freezer off before I left…whoops!”
Is Sri Lanka ready for Sarah, I wonder?