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Posts Tagged ‘walking guides’

The best place to be if you need a reminder of why you love Tenerife

Sometimes events conspire to make me wonder why on earth I continue to live in a region of Spain.

A week or so ago I was chatting to my brother who lives in the UK and after my groans about the stagnant feel of the tourist market at the moment and the slowness of work, he said:
Oh well, the World Cup starts soon so at least that’s something to look forward to.”
Except that it wasn’t. Well, it was…and it wasn’t, because although I love the World Cup and would happily watch every single game (in the unlikely event that deadlines permitted), Spain is one of the few countries in the world that is not actually airing all the games on free-to-view TV.

But the World Cup is all about embracing nations in the love of the beautiful game! For God’s sake, Andy, get out of Spain and get back to Britain where you can at least watch the footie!” said my bro’.
I laughed and explained that the list of reasons in the ‘for living in Tenerife‘ column far outweighed the ones in the ‘against living in Tenerife‘ column, but a seed had been planted.

Only showing one live game a day and concentrating on Spain performances is indicative of a country that exhibits astounding levels of insularity. Hamstrung by outdated monopolies and an autocratic business culture, Spain has a complete aversion to looking outside itself for anything, and ‘best practice’ and ‘benchmarking’ are not just conspicuous by their absence – they’re an anathema to Spain. When the rest of the world saw the financial crisis looming and took damage limitation measures, Spain carried on with business as usual which is why it’s now facing financial melt-down. I could go on…

A couple of days later Jack and I walked the Chinyero Volcano route for a new walking guide we’re preparing and within 5 minutes of setting off I had mentally registered any number of things I loved about Tenerife. The smell of the pine forest; the fact that I could see the sea from almost everywhere on the island; the unrestricted ability to walk wherever I wanted; La Gomera and La Palma on the horizon…

Some time ago, when we first set up Tenerife Magazine, Joe Cawley wrote a short piece entitled ‘10 things I hate about living in Tenerife‘ and clearly it rung a bell with lots of people who added their own pet hates to the list. So when I got back from my walk, I compiled a list of ‘10 things I love about living in Tenerife‘ – mainly to remind myself why it is that I continue to live in Spanish territory. It’s not an exhaustive list, it’s just the ones that popped into my head and I’m sure others will have their own reasons which will be nothing like mine.

I just wish Tenerife wasn’t in Spanish territory and could sub-contract its World Cup coverage from the BBC. That’s number one on my ’10 things I wish about living in Tenerife’ list.

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Generally speaking, I prefer circular walks to linear ones; somehow I feel that you get double the scenery for the same energy output.

So last week when we went walking in the hills above the south west coast, we took what was essentially a ‘there and back again’ walk and decided to make it circular by finding a different route back to our starting point.
We were making good, downhill progress on a dusty, unmade road until we reached the point where there should have been an old path cutting off over a barranco (ravine) and back through the abandoned terraces to our starting point. But endless searching for the start of the path proved futile, despite the fact that we could see it quite clearly running up the other side of the barranco.

We were left with no choice but to cover the 1 kilometre distance by following the main road which stretched into endless switchbacks for 3½ kilometres in searing calima heat with no pavement. A completely unacceptable end to what had been a glorious walk. Fed up, tired and disappointed, we arrived just a few hundred metres from our starting point to find a newly-erected Cabildo (Island Government) board showing the start of the very path we had been trying to find from the other side. Frustrated and annoyed, we resolved to return and complete the final section the way we had wanted to.

Yesterday we went back into the hills of the south west to do what we considered to be a linear walk. But we discovered that we could in fact easily turn it into a circular one by returning along quiet country lanes through picturesque hamlets, enhancing what we had initially feared might be a fairly uneventful route. The Cabildo had cleared access and put in signposts and wayside markers, making it easy to navigate the many paths and turn them into a thoroughly enjoyable walk.

When we finished we drove back to last week’s route to do the final section of the path we’d failed to find. We parked up and followed the directions given on the fancy Cabildo sign at the start of the path. Within minutes we’d been followed by barking dogs snapping at our heels; we’d taken several wrong turnings through completely overgrown and confusing terrain with no clear path; and we’d finally ended up in what looked like someone’s driveway where two parked vans completely barred the way.
Frustratingly, we could quite clearly see the path climbing up the other side of the barranco – the side we’d been completely unable to see last week – but we couldn’t see where it emerged as it disappeared into undergrowth.
Re-tracing our steps, Jack tried shimmying down the barranco but ended up on a sheer precipice, speared by spiky seed heads that impregnated his shoes and buried themselves into his feet.
Clearly the Cabildo had put up a nice sign at the start of the path but then had done nothing. Any path that may have been there had long since been reclaimed by nature and by man.

You may find some paths have been usurped for 'other purposes'

A couple of old guys whose back yard we’d practically walked through twice, came out to offer their help, one indicating that the path was where Jack had tried, the other sending us in the opposite direction.
Jack sat on a rock and extracted the spikes from his feet while I explored another possible lead which once again led to a precipice over the barranco.
“Right” I said, eventually. “Let’s drive back to where we couldn’t find the path last week and try doing it that way round”.

Less than convinced, Jack agreed and we set off back down the road we were learning to hate as it zig-zagged its way interminably covering very little real distance. After a kilometre or so, we spotted the house where we’d come unstuck and there appeared to be a path alongside. We parked the car and set off to see if the owners were in fact using a public path as their private garage.
“You’ve got the notebook, haven’t you” I said to Jack. The notebook contained all my scribbled descriptions, directions and timings that would turn our experience into a detailed walking guide.
Jack’s face looked as if I’d just asked if I could use his dog and his Granny for target practice.
“It’s still on a rock on the path where I took the spikes out of my feet” he said.

With not another word, he got into the car, drove back up the road which we’d both decided we’d be happy if we never saw it again in our lives, and retraced the gauntlet of snappy dogs and overgrown barranco to retrieve the book. Meanwhile, I followed the path to be confronted by two large, growling, slavering dogs guarding what appeared to be private land with not a path in sight.

When Jack got back with the car, we called time on the whole fiasco.

Some walks are just not meant to be circular.

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Last week we had a meeting in the south of the island at 10am and not being sure how bad the morning traffic into Santa Cruz would be, we decided to set off by 8am. It’s a journey that would normally take us just over an hour so we were erring on the generous side.
At 7am I leapt out of bed and went into the kitchen to put the coffee on. Through my sleepy haze I could see a dozen or more ants running around the draining board. Raising my eyes I noticed a thin black highway of ants running up and down the wall above the sink and slowly, as I scanned the worktop I saw the thin line running to and from the old plastic container in which we keep peelings and egg shells that are destined for the compost heap.

The night before, I’d taken some eggs out of the fridge to make an omelette and had just slightly knocked one against the other (well you know what they say about making an omelette without breaking eggs). When I looked down, there was a small hole in one but as I couldn’t be absolutely certain that it had only appeared that instant, I didn’t take any chances and put it in with the compost peelings. Clearly, I had inadvertently given the local ant population a midnight feast.

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

Immediate action was called for. The ants were ‘tapped’ back up the wall until we could see where they were coming from and then rounded up from all over the worktops and herded back whence they’d come before spraying the wall with ant spray (sorry environment – short on time). We were planning to hike up Montaña Guaza after the meeting and so had to make up sandwiches, pack clothes to change into, hiking shoes and water into the rucksack. Not to mention, have some breakfast.
By 7.30am we were still in our dressing gowns and hadn’t even drunk our coffee.

Half a headless chicken hour later and feeling like we’d already put a full day in, we were driving at a nifty pace up the motorway until we rounded the corner just shy of Santa Úrsula (about 8 km into the journey) and ground to a halt. For the next 45 minutes we watched the clock race and the speedo’ crawl until we finally reached the Tacoronte turn off and took the exit. We crossed the bridge and headed back on the westbound carriageway.
An hour after we’d set off, we were back at the Puerto turn off and heading towards Icod to take the shorter, but considerable slower route over the mountain to the west coast.

Normally a spectacular Tenerife drive to be enjoyed and savoured, it seemed today like just about every other vehicle had developed a top speed of 15 kilometres an hour, causing much high blood pressure and an inordinate amount of swearing. Eventually we arrived at the southern end of the motorway and picked up speed, only to grind to a halt once more in the rush hour traffic heading into the south from the west side of the island.

We finally arrived in Los Cristianos at 10.50 am, the perfect time to not find a parking spot. A brisk ten minute walk later, we arrived at our meeting, 3 hours after we’d set off.

Meeting over, we drove out to Montaña Guaza and parked up. A quick change of clothes, a swiftly swallowed butty,

A barren landscape

A barren landscape

some slapped on sun cream and off we set. We knew we were in for about a three hour hike so Jack set the pace like a greyhound out of the traps. All was going well until the directions we were following told us to ignore the path straight ahead and detour off into the barren, arid wasteland whose only identifying features were a grid of trails leading in every direction, none of them reflecting the instructions in the book.

After going miles out of our way, we finally tracked back to the path we’d left in the first place but by then the humidity and greyhound pace had sent me into light headed land from which I could not escape. No amount of ‘head between the knees’ would banish my near faint and I had to concede that I wasn’t going any further.

We got back home at around 6.30pm to find several ants on the worktop where they’d presumably spent the day running around, directionless and thwarted at every turn. I knew just how they felt.

Some days the Gods are just not with you.

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