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Ever expanding developments on the coast and abandoned terraces in the hills.

Ever expanding developments on the coast and abandoned terraces in the hills.

Hiking in the hills above the south coast last weekend, the landscape was dominated by dried up terraces overgrown with brown weeds where only the lethal leaves of giant Agave plants punctuated the arid monotony.
A derelict farmhouse told its own story. Set into a hidden valley with the mountains at its back and the Atlantic Ocean laid out at its feet, its once crop-rich lands were today in ruins, a back-breaking life of toiling terraces long since abandoned in favour of the easier and more lucrative option of providing shelter, food and drink to sun-hungry tourists on the coast below.
You could see the attraction. Up here the earth was baked, the only rainfall coming from dense low cloud and the rarest of winter downpours. Just negotiating its contours on foot brought on a sweat, I could only imagine how hard it must have been to plough, sow, weed and harvest the unyielding earth.

Bordering the ocean on the coastline below, the developments of the last fifty years spread ever further westwards, closing gaps between resorts and swallowing small fishing hamlets into their hungry jaws. Down there the terrain was just as barren as up here but everywhere it was dotted with the green swathes of a golf course here and a banana plantation or a hotel garden there.
Despite the distance, I could hear the amplified instructions of an aqua aerobics instructor and imagined her class in their five star swimming pool, unaware that life even existed in the mountains that provided their holiday backdrop.

Further along the road there was a picnic laid out on long trestle tables and forty or fifty hunters were gathered. In all probability they lived quite locally, spent their working days serving in the hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and banks at the coast below and retreated up here at the weekend to don their hunting clothes and get back in touch with a way of life which seems mostly to have been lost. Apart from one or two notable exceptions, these guys all had huge bellies overhanging the waistband of their camouflage pants and were smoking big, fat cigars as they wandered the two strides distance they had left between their parked 4x4s and the tables containing their generous lunches.

I couldn’t help wondering if anyone had done research into the life expectancy of the Canarios over the last fifty years. I wouldn’t mind betting that, for all its severity and deprivation, the old way of life would have kept their grand parents a whole lot healthier than many of their descendants are today. It would have kept their hills a lot greener too.

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