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Posts Tagged ‘Storms on Tenerife’

Jo's scented terrace in Los Aceviños, La Gomera

When the winter storms and cyclone Xynthia hit Tenerife, they took the tangled mass of hedge which borders the bottom of our garden, bent its back low and hung its flowering heads in shame, so low over the nectarine and peach trees that no light was penetrating to the buds.
When it gets to the point that even Mother Nature is giving me one almighty hint that my gardening input has fallen way below par, I have no choice but to take action.
So, three weeks ago, armed with a €10 tree cutter and two rusty, blunt saws; Jo, Jack and I set about trying to free up the nectarine tree. After four sweaty hours of grappling with entwined, overgrown branches beneath which we wouldn’t have been surprised to find Sleeping Beauty, we’d cleared about one fifth of the hedge and allowed the sun to fall on the nectarine buds.

Jo declared our saws useless; suggested we invest in some proper tree loppers and returned to her mountain home on La Gomera where tackling two months of overgrown rain forest would feel like gathering buds in May after the trials of our hedge.
Meanwhile…we bought some tree loppers.

A profusion of flowers as Spring reaches the mountains

Last weekend was Jo’s birthday party and we went over to La Gomera on Friday to help her organise and celebrate.
We arrived at her finca at 6pm in a hot and sticky calima. As we trailed down the forest path to her terrace, we were enveloped in rich, heady perfumes. The slopes bordering the path were awash with wild lemon thyme; the terrace was a blaze of sweet-smelling freesias and spicy jasmine interspersed with vibrant lavender and the elegant heads of white Calla lilies. From the front of the terrace, the garden spread down the barranco in a profusion of orange nasturtiums punctuated by pink geraniums, more freesias, the ruby flowering spikes of aloe vera and delicate faces of purple daisies.

At the end of the house where the terrace leads to the ‘new garden’ we walked through a haze of lemon blossom and freesias to the delicious vanilla scent of a Heliotrope in full flower. We sat on the terrace until late, inhaling the perfumes which intensified with the night.
On Saturday morning, enthralled by every new discovery of scent, colour and form I wandered Jo’s garden with a growing sense of shame and determination.

It's enough to inspire even the most reluctant of gardeners

We arrived back on Tenerife late on Sunday and by yesterday evening, I’d left the keyboard and headed, new tree loppers in hand, down to the hedge. An hour later, with barely any flesh left on my bones from the midges, I’d hardly made any impression at all.
But I’ll be back there tonight, and tomorrow night and at the weekend until I’ve cleared that hedge.

Then it’s time for the avocado tree to be tackled…

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Barranco de Santo, Santa Cruz

We set off down south yesterday at 1.30pm to go to a meeting in Los Cristianos. It had been a drizzly morning in Puerto de la Cruz, nothing particularly spectacular, just showers and the occasional bright interval.

As we drove through Tacoronte the sky looked as if the end of the world was nigh. Nothing unusual there, this is Tacoronte. But as we continued into La Laguna it was really strange to find that we were driving through thick bruma (low cloud), or at least, that’s what we thought it was. The further we drove, the thicker the cloud became and we realised this was actually fog – a real pea-souper of a fog, the kind I haven’t seen for many years.
Traffic crawled through the slip road from the TF5 to the TF1 and gradually the fog lifted.

Passing through Candelaria in steady rain we could see gushing torrents of water cascading over the side of the road bridge and strewn rocks over the hard shoulder where they’d fallen down the cliff sides.

We continued through the rain, commenting on the amount of debris that was filling the hard shoulder and the inside lane of the motorway and realising that there must have been a helluva lot more rain on this side of the island than we had so far witnessed in Puerto.

When we reached Arico the mobile phone went. It was John Beckley, the guy whose office we were heading to for the meeting. John told us that the Cabildo (Island Government) had issued a severe weather warning and were advising people to switch off all their electrical appliances and to avoid all travel. Schools had been closed and the island was on full alert. John advised us to turn back.
We’ve seen storms on Tenerife before and knew that this was sensible advice.

Taking the next exit we headed back up the TF1 towards Santa Cruz. The sky grew progressively blacker and raindrops the size of small swimming pools began to hit the windscreen. I knew we were in for an outburst. Within a minute the heavens opened and torrential rain lashed down onto us obscuring visibility and sending all the traffic into a braking frenzy. We slowed and left a vast distance between us and the car in front, the wipers on top speed trying to keep the windscreen clear. In seconds the surface was covered in water which was spraying up from lorries and a Titsa bus in front of us causing even worse visibility.

As we approached the turn off for the TF5 at Santa Maria the traffic ground to a crawl. Through the driving rain we could hear sirens but couldn’t see anything until they were almost on top of us and we had to pull as far into the side as we could to let Policia Local pass by. We crawled all the way onto the TF5 until past La Laguna when the rain began to lighten a little and we finished our journey without incident.Back in Puerto it had rained, but it was nothing like we’d witnessed on the east side of the island.

Within minutes of returning, the thunder and lightning began and we

Avenida Venezuela, Santa Cruz

unplugged all our appliances and went back to good old fashioned pen and paper to work. But the storm never really came very near us and after a couple of hours we plugged everything back in and turned on the news.
We were horrified to see the devastation in Santa Cruz. By 4 pm the island had been put onto a level 2 alert, more than 25,000 homes were without electricity and almost 130 litres of rain had fallen in a single day. Avenida Venezuela was under water; the trams were swimming; people’s houses were flooded and the Barranco de Santo was a raging torrent.

This may be the island of eternal spring but when the weather hits, it’s a small island in an archipelago which is exposed to Atlantic storms. Thankfully they don’t hit very often but they’re no stranger. In the six plus years that we’ve lived on Tenerife we’ve seen plenty of tropical storms.

Last week the British Guild of Travel Writers was on the island and Tenerife was courting their good impressions. When I spoke to several members they were complaining that the weather in the south had been quite cloudy since they got here and it wasn’t as good as they’d been expecting. They went home on Sunday…phew, that was close!

Photos from La Opinión

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