Islandmomma

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


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Is There Spring on the Island of Eternal Spring?

It wasn’t the aboriginal Guanche, who lived on this archipelago before the Conquest, nor the Spanish Conquistadors, who named the island chain, but Juba ll of Mauritania, well,  at least according to Pliny it was. The word Canaria (Canary) coming from the Latin word for dog, canis, and having nothing at all to do with our feathered friends. Apparently, back in history, multitudes of wild dogs roamed the islands, or, another theory postulates, possibly it was seals, canis marinus, but whatever, the name stuck.

There is an abundance of myths surrounding the islands, which some claim are the Lost Garden of the Hesperides; and others claim to be the site of Atlantis. They were also known as The Fortunate Islands – an ancient Greek version of paradise, which was somewhere in Macronesia, they say. Take your pick, and remember that perhaps choosing one name does not preclude another.

Whichever name you like to use, there is no doubting that the Canary Islands are idealized, and that is, largely, because of their climate, which is, overall,  warm, rather than hot, and rarely extreme; even when snow falls on the mountains of  Tenerife (remember that El Teide is the highest peak in Spain) it never settles long. When you put the gentle climate together with the rich and porous, volcanic soil you have a veritable Garden of Eden (and, yes, that is another theory).

So, is there a Spring? Are there seasons at all? I’ve written about Autumn here before, about how different it is  from countries further north, and about how much I miss it, but I’ve hardly mentioned the other seasons apparently. Odd in one way, because Tenerife’s nickname is The Island of Eternal Spring. In a way, that confirms the idea that there is no change in season, and that’s not really true, and yet in another way it is!  If you’ve lived in countries where seasons are more clearly defined as the year rolls around, it takes a while to get used to the subtle seasonal changes.

Summer

Blue skies, blue ocean and fun on the beach. Summer on Tenerife - oh, wait a minute, this happens all year round!

Blue skies, blue ocean and fun on the beach. Summer on Tenerife – oh, wait a minute, this happens all year round!

Summer is a state of mind in the Canary Islands.  A change comes over the islands. Local television celebrates the onset of the season every bit as much as if it signaled the major  weather change which it does further north. Familiar faces disappear from local tv as long holidays are taken. Life moves outdoors whether beach or mountain barbecue, or simply sitting on a terrace or balcony, however humble, to catch the morning sun, or the evening breeze. It’s that evening breeze which keeps us sane, curtails the temperatures, so that when you step outside after 7 or 8 o’clock there is a pleasant balminess, a breeze which can  feel even cool on  sunburned skin.

Many offices grind to a near halt in late June, and school is out until early September. Flights are more expensive – which makes me feel trapped. In an emergency I would have to pay a small fortune to get to mainland Europe. A weekend visit to Santa Cruz is a delight as the city streets empty and residents flock to the coasts. The highest temperature I ever experienced here was in Santa Cruz, an unpleasant, but not unbearable, 43º. As in all cities, the heat bounces off the concrete, hence the weekend exodus. Many residents of the capital have holiday homes in the south, or elsewhere along the coasts, and it isn’t unusual for mom and the kids to decamp for the entire summer, to be joined by dad on the weekend. Yet, with low humidity and Atlantic breezes the heat isn’t nearly so exhausting as I’ve experienced elsewhere in Europe.

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My “Sunlit Mountain in the Sea”

From Bruce Chatwin’s  ‘In Patagonia': “The tenant of the Estancia Paso Roballos was a Canary Islander from Tenerife. He sat in a pink-washed kitchen, where a black clock hammered out the hours……………….. …………….Homesick and dreaming of lost vigour, the old man named the flowers, the trees, the farming methods and dances of his sunlit mountain in the sea.”

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My – but Chatwin’s way with words was poetic and his early death a sad loss to the world; and my –  but that old man’s dreaming speaks volumes for the magic these islands weave. “My sunlit mountain in the sea” –  meandering the foothills of Tenerife’s west coast the other day it I couldn’t get it out of my head…..whatever parts of the book were, as some claim, a fiction, I haven’t the slightest doubt that the exile’s story is a true one.

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It’s January, and, effectively Springtime in these islands, sometimes called “The Islands of Eternal Spring” for their generally balmy climate.  It’s likely that we will have more rain before Summer comes, possibly snow on the high peaks, but all along the coast and on the lower hillsides spring blossoms and flowers are vibrant. I think the old Canary Islander in Patagonia would have loved it his year.  We had around two years of very low rainfall, none in many places in the south of the island, but this Fall brought enough to revive the landscape, coat the parched vistas with greenery at last, and imbue our walk from Chirche  to Arguayo, near Santiago del Teide, with a sense of the earth’s renewal, as well as present us with a feast for the eyes.

Colorful houses in Chirche at the beginning of our walk

Colorful houses in Chirche at the beginning of our walk

Tabaiba Dulce

Tabaiba Dulce

It always amazes me that folk actually live in Chirche, but according to figures I looked up around 224 people do. It perches on the heights above Guia de Isora,  its streets seem almost vertical, and require a confident sense of balance, but I totally understand the attraction, it has a serenity which is palpable, even when we returned mid-afternoon to collect the car we’d left at the beginning  of the walk it was utterly peaceful.

Margaritas overhang the old, cement water trough which carried water to the fields and villages

Margaritas overhang the old, cement water trough which carried water to the fields and villages

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In Celebration of El Día de Canarias

Today I should have been out celebrating and enjoying myself, quaffing some local wine and no doubt stuffing myself with traditional foods, whilst listening to Canarian musicians and learning more about “my” island. However, I wasn’t, instead I am lying on my couch, amusing myself by writing this to distract myself from the constant urge to empty the contents my stomach. All is not perfect, you see, in paradise. I seem to have food poisoning.

In lieu of joining the celebrations I thought I might do one of those boring posts which really belongs in a tour operator’s webpage,  but which will relieve both my  boredom and my self pity by reminding me how much I enjoy being here.

Traditional Tenerife: You would be surprised at just how many folk possess and wear with pride their traditional dress. There is said to be a different variation for every municipality on the island.

El Día de Canarias

The first parliament of the autonomous region, Canary Islands, sat on May 30th 1983, after a long wait. The creation of autonomous regions had first been undertaken by the government of the Second Republic in 1931, but by the time the Civil War broke out in 1936 nothing had been implemented in the political bickerings which preceded the Civil War  – and of course everything then went on hold during the war and the consequent iron grip which Franco had on the country.

With his death in 1976 many of the reforms and projects which had been abandoned or iced began to resurface, and the new (and current) Constitution, drawn up in 1978, provided for the establishment of autonomous regions and some decentralization of government, and so the Autonomous Parliament of the Canary Islands was born.

May 30th was declared a fiesta (bank holiday) in celebration of its birth, and the day is marked throughout the islands with displays of traditional crafts, sports, costumes, foods and music.

Historical Tenerife:  The original capital of the island, La Laguna. An UNESCO World Heritage Site and seat of the province’s university, it is both charming restoration and vibrant hub of the island’s creativity.

Tenerife

Tenerife, for anyone who is new to my blog, is just one of the seven main islands which make up the Canarian archipelago. It’s been my home base now for over 20 years. It has an image in some European circles of being merely a mass-tourist destination, but it is so much more, and if you need proof then just check some previous posts.

Since I can’t give you a first-hand report on the festivities to which I didn’t go, I offer you, in honor of this day, a photo essay of this island of Tenerife, showing its different faces, its variety and perhaps an understanding of why it fascinates me so much.

Musical Tenerife: Two things come to mind when you combine the words Tenerife and music – folk music and the salsa of Carnaval, but there is so much more for lovers of all kinds of music. This photo was taken at the annual Santa Blues Blues Fest in June. July sees a prestigious jazz festival, autumn an opera season and year round classical music lovers can listen to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra.

Coastal Tenerife: tanning addicts swarm to the resorts, but there are also plenty of quieter, more natural beaches to be found.

Gourmet Tenerife: In recent years the standards and aspirations of restaurants and hotels have simply soared. You can now find cuisine from almost anywhere in the world, and quality equal to big city eateries. This sushi at Restaurant 88 in La Caleta, Costa Adeje.

Mountainous Tenerife: The island’s mountains actually come in all shapes and sizes from lushly forested ones on the north east tip to the surreal volcanic landscapes of the Teide National Park, home to Spain’s highest mountain, El Teide.

Wine Lovers’ Tenerife: Canarian wines were famous as far back as the 17th century, and were famously (for we English-speakers) mentioned by Shakespeare on more than one occasion. Tenerife boasts no less than 5 regions. Oh, and I throw in here cheese too, because the goats’ cheeses are the perfect accompaniment!

Hiking Tenerife: Volcanic badlands, lush forest, coastal trails a walker’s heaven, in other words.

Tourist Tenerife: This is, believe it or not, the only Tenerife which some people know. I am a beach addict, but this is my least favorite face of the island, which is not to rubbish it. It’s just that sharing a beach on this scale is not my thing, but clearly it is for thousands, and the municipalities of the south, mainly Arona and Adeje cater for mass tourism, leveling rocky stony beaches, building hotels (the more recent ones of very high standard) and generally attempting to cater for every whim of the sunseekers. Tenerife does not have the prettiest beaches in the world, but they are some of the sunniest.

Agricultural Tenerife: OK the photo is just a bit of a stretch, and may have been more appropriate under the “traditional” heading, but it’s just that I love oxen. These days they are, so far as I can make out, brought out only for fiestas and other traditional events, but were an important part of the island’s history at one time. There are none of the huge farms of the US prairies or even the big farms I’ve seen in Scotland here, but thanks to co-operatives bananas, tomatoes and the famous Canarian potatoes are still exported, though not to the extent they were in history. Did you know that London’s Canary Wharf was named for the islands? So great was the volume of exports to England alone at that time.

Shop-till-you-drop Tenerife: Neither the Via Veneto nor the Champs Élysées, nevertheless shop shopaholics can have a ball in the swisher parts of the southern resorts and in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz, these days.

Sporty Tenerife: Surfing, windsurfing, hiking, cycling, paragliding, sport fishing, running, golf, kite surfing, climbing, trail running, triathlons, tennis…….that’s just off the top of my head, the sports which immediately come to mind.

Delicious Tenerife: Fine dining apart, Tenerife has a wealth of simple and traditional dining too, with fresh ingredients sourced locally from mineral-rich farmland, the variety of the ocean and locally raised goat and pork. Go inland to find small bars and restaurants, or to the kiosks at the fiestas.

Cultural Tenerife: Santiago Calatrava’s magnificent auditorium in Santa Cruz is symbolic of the wealth of island’s Cultural (with a capital C you note) events. An icon of modern architecture it is home to the symphony orchestra and scene of ballet, opera, jazz, world music, modern dance and many other events. In addition the capital has the historic Teatro Guimerá and La Laguna is home to Teatro Leal. Then there are museums, art exhibitions, photo exhibits and other events galore. Granted, you may need to speak some Spanish for some of these, but a little can take you a long way.

Romantic Tenerife: They tell me we have the best sunsets (and I would add sunrises) in the world. Since I haven’t been everywhere yet I can’t confirm that, but, well, they are pretty amazing.

Quirky Tenerife: I suppose everywhere has its quirky side, but I would put money on it I could snap a photo every day of something out-of-the-ordinary here!

Floral Tenerife: This was the hardest photo to decide, so in the end I chose two. Bouganvillea, hibiscus, geraniums, marigolds and heaps of other domesticated flora decorate the towns, villages and cities of the island, but only in the mountains will you find the tajinaste, indigenous to the island and found in the wild no where else on earth.

The almond trees, on the other hand, were brought by the Conquisadors, their flowering marks the beginning of a new season in January, and the nuts are the base of many artisan sweets.

Travelers’ Tenerife: Finally Tenerife as gateway to the archipelago, the launching point by ferry or by local airline to the other islands in the chain.


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Playing Tour Guide and Loving Every Minute

One of the nice things about living on a sub-tropical island is the number of times the opportunity comes up to play truant, and spend time with visiting friends or family, and, of course, over Christmastime an ex-pat often finds themself playing at tour guide.  Sometimes it’s lazing on the beach, or taking a boat trip, shopping in Santa Cruz or going to a “hidden” restaurant for a wonderful meal, and sometimes it’s exploring the parts of the island their brochures hadn’t covered.  I enjoy it all, but especially the last, because I love to see people’s reactions to stunning scenery like the lunar landscapes of the Teide National Park, to peaceful,  pretty villages and to a history which they didn’t realize were the other face of Tenerife.

In recent weeks I’ve “toured” two lots of visiting friends, and scratched my head about where to take my father, who almost always comes at Christmas, and so has seen a fair bit of the island.

First of all let me hold up my hand and say that I was the one whose mis-impression was shattered, when I went to pick  up friends at their hotel.  Hotel Be Live La Niña is situated in what is usually described as a “lively” part of Playa de las Americas, Torviscas Bajo, and I feared the worst!  It’s years since I was in this particular area, and my first impression was that it had cleaned up very nicely, a bit like the post I wrote last year about the other end of the town.  Although not actually pedestrianized, the road was now one way and a sort of modern cobblestone, not somewhere vehicles would go screaming through, as traffic used to before.  I pulled into the hotel’s underground parking, to find ample space and signage, and stepping into the hotel was like stepping into another world, leaving behind the street sounds, to find an oasis of calm.  My friends were happy with their room-with-a-view and with the hotel food, and I can’t really tell you more than that, except that I’m quite happy that times they are a changin’.  I fully understand that it’s great to be able to stay at the beach and alternate lazy days with exploring ones,  (Done it myself elsewhere to be sure) so it’s nice to have places one can recommend, in a place where there are still too many places one wouldn’t.

So, my own mind expanded, time to initiate others into the wonder that is Tenerife.  I make no apologies for writing about Santiago del Teide again, maybe it’s because it’s almond blossom time, or because we are having such incredibly wonderful weather, and the sapphire blue sky is such a vivid backdrop for photos, but I find myself  captivated by it at the moment, and for visitors its tranquility provides a perfect contrast to somewhere like Playa de las Americas.  Just getting there, driving through villages like Chio and Guia de Isora and the cacti-studded scenery between them, opens up the mind.  Apparently, my father hasn’t stopped talking about it since he arrived home, even though he has been here almost every year in the past 24.

I always take the high road, and so we can marvel at the ocean, spread out at the foot of  the hillsides which fall away to the left, and at the variety of flora, both native and in gardens.  At this time of year, of course, that includes stunning almond blossoms, as you draw closer to Santiago del Teide.

Arriving last week I saw that notices said that the church closed at 1pm, and it was getting close to that time, so I began the “tour” there.  The belén was gone now, and it was a lazy weekday and not a fiesta, but it was still chock-a-block full of colorful, over-the-top art work, almost looking like an overstocked antique shop than a place of worship, after a coffee on the main street, we simply ambled around the village a bit, up to the cemetery, stopping to take in the fragile almond blossoms, as cocks crowed in drowsy village yards, and lizards scuttled from our path.

I  ate twice at Señorio del Valle, the beautifully restored rural hotel/museum complex, just behind the church. I love the museum there, which is interesting and  displays the history of the  Chinyero volcano to excellent effect, there are also a couple of small art exhibits, a gift shop which sells stuff which is actually made on the islands (just a small shelf of identifiably-made-in-China things), restored wine presses in the courtyard, and artifacts displayed in the restaurant.  All in all a genuine Canarian experience it seems.  Shame then that two things let it down.  If I find somewhere disappoints, my sense of fair play usually kicks in and thinks it might have been an off day, so I don’t condemn without giving it another go (unless it’s truly awful), but having eaten there twice now I’m disappointed to say it was the same both times.  The food was at best mediocre, and the service bordered on rudeness.  The details are boring,  sufficient to say I can’t, honestly,  recommend it, other than as a very pleasant place to have coffee.  My understanding from this article by local journalist and blogger Andy Montgomery, is that actually staying at the hotel is an outstanding experience, and the hotel itself  does look delightful, so I figure that anywhere is worth a third try, and I will in the near future. It’s a tribute to the overall ambience of the village that an indifferent lunch didn’t spoil the visits.

I have a kind of litmus test for people.  If I round the bend and the awesome view of Los Acantilados de Los Gigantes doesn’t draw a sharp intake of breath from my passengers, then I probably don’t have much in common with them.  It’s only happened to me once, and that was a few years back now.  Last week we had enjoyed a perfect day, with clear, achingly blue skies and little haze, so the view was good when I stopped on the way back for the photo op.  I don’t take friends down into the Los Gigantes development any more.  I didn’t like it when times were more affluent, and now it has a definitely shabby feel to add to its lack of charisma, so we meandered on south keeping as close to the coast as close as we could.

Alcalá, Playa San Juan and the tiny Puertito are all en route, and if you’re returning at the end of the day any one of them is a rewarding place to stop a while, sip wine and watch the sun go over the yard-arm.  My favorite is Puertito simply because it has, up to now, stayed so wonderfully quirky and untouched by commercialism.  It scarcely earns the title village, but of anywhere on that coast it is the place which feels most different to the brashness of the man-made resorts.  Playa San Juan may suit some guests more.  It’s been prettied up and sanitized over the last few years, with an eye to custom from the posh hotels which are appearing on the west coast, but at least it isn’t beer and skittles.

Sunset at Playa San Juan

The only problem in whiling away a half  hour or so this way is that the magic of the Canarian wine takes hold and I always want another glass, but since I still have a twenty minute drive after I leave Las Americas, it just isn’t worth the risk.  Driving here is hazardous enough without being tipsy to boot.  Still,  I can always have another glass at home whilst I look back over the pictures of the day I’ve taken. Almost 24 years on, and I still marvel at the variety to be found in something less than 800 square miles!


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Of Almond Blossom and St Anthony

In the week or so since I visited Santiago del Teide I’ve been itching to get back there because I could see that the almond blossom was going to be early this year, and the weather is almost too good to be true since Christmas.  Last year I went the chilly weekend before the official Ruta de las Almendros, and thanked my lucky stars because in the ensuing week the heavens opened, and wind and rain put an end to the blossoms and celebrating them.

Now, I should explain that my friend, Maria, and I have decided that we should make a point of regularly going out to look for photo ops, instead of just pointing the camera when one comes up.  Faced with a stunning vista or a cute baby goat, it’s too late to practise the art, and we both need to practise, so I was really up for making our first sortie to Santiago del Teide!

Maria drinking in the scenery.  In the background the Chinyero Volcano.

We set off early on a morning so crisp and clear you could feel it on your skin, and had the winding roads almost to ourselves.  We followed the autopista until it ran out, and then meandered the hillsides to the north-west of the island.  The ocean lay vast and blue off to our left , kestrels hovered above, and we began to glimpse the odd almond tree in all its glory as we neared the village.  I stupidly missed the turning which takes you a little higher up the mountain, so that you see Santiago del Teide cradled in the valley as you approach, but we did see lots of blossom by the roadsides, so we were, as my sons would say, stoked by the time we arrived.

We hung out on the outskirts of the village, snapping happily away in the stunning, still early-morning light, stopping for a while to chat to a lovely man who was strolling down from Valle de Arriba, a tiny hamlet close to the village, who spoke with pride of the numbers of people who now come to see the spectacular blossoms.  He reckoned that this year they are a month ahead of where they normally are, so good thing, going on Sunday.

I just lost track of time, playing with exposures and the changing light and such, but the time came when we were over-ready for coffee.  You know how it is when you make the perfect coffee?  Well I’d done that in the early morning, remarkable, considering the hour, poured it into my thermal mug and then totally forgot about it as we chatted our way en route, so there might have been a kind of withdrawal symptom thing going on, since I like my coffee scalding hot.  We headed for  Señorio del Valle, a complex which includes rural hotel, museum, small art gallery and gift shop, in a setting so bucolic you might be forgiven for thinking you’d landed in the middle of a film set.

Old wine press which forms the centerpiece of the courtyard at Señorio del Valle

Stable block at Señorio del Valle

There, we drank milky coffees and nibbled tortilla española in the courtyard until the violent clanging of the bells from the adjacent church of San Fernando Rey disturbed our relaxation, and we remembered that the charming man we’d spoken to earlier had reminded us it was the feast of St Anthony Abbott, so we coppered up and strolled around to see what was going on.

It was one of those delightful, unexpected moments that you sometimes stumble across when travelling (ok I know we’d only travelled about an hour from home – but the journey, not the destination, remember!).  We’d gone to record the blossoms, totally forgetting the feast day.  The sight which greeted us was a troupe of local dancers, dressed in white, trimmed with red, and hats adorned with flowers or feathers and other ornaments, not unlike English Morris Dancers.

Those costumes were immaculate, snowy white and beautifully trimmed in embroideries anglaise, and they danced with a great sense of fun and enthusiasm.  Maria and I sneaked about, snapping happily away, just a bit high on the color and the ambience.  When they stopped, Maria chatted to one of the guys, who told us that those amazing hats are decorated with medallions and charms which are personal to each person, medallions which have been blessed, or charms picked up on travels, and that the origin of the costume lies in the neighboring island of El Hierro.

With mass being relayed to the people who couldn’t squeeze into the tiny church, we wandered off down the road I’d followed with my dad a few days back, and further on, noting paths for future walks and admiring more almond blossom until we reached the picturesque village cemetary.  Something I’d wanted to do for a few years was to take my camera to a local cemetary after All Souls’ Day on November 1st.  Whilst it isn’t celebrated in quite the manner it is in Mexico, where families picnic by the graves of  their loved and departed, and sugar candy in the shape of skulls is devoured, it is a day when  many families still make a point of visiting and decorating family graves, and I’d imagined that there must be some excellent photo ops.  Maybe it was because Christmas wasn’t so far back, but I was moved and happy to see flowers on so many of the graves, just as I imagined it would be after All Souls.  This cemetary was not the dark and forboding place that so many I’ve visited have been, but a riot of color, given that those flowers were symbols of love, it was an emotional sight, and we spoke in whispers as we wandered the tranquil paths and took it all in.

In the distance we heard the church bells tolling again, signalling the end of the mass, and we headed back to the square, to see the procession emerging from the church, preceded by the dancers and drummers, and heading off up a narrow street to bless the community’s animals.

I was a bit confused for a while, when I realized that St Anthony is the patron saint of animals.  I’d always thought it was St Francis of Assisi, but now I get it.  St Anthony Abbott is the patron saint of domestic animals, pets and farm animals, in other words.  Reading up on him, other than that he was tempted by the devil who took the form of wild animals, I can’t quite figure why this is, but it makes for some colorful festivals in Spain at least.  For complicated reasons I hadn’t gone to the Romeria de Arona this year, which is a much grander affair than this one in Santiago del Teide, but which, basically is a blessing of the local animals, there is also a rather scary festival in the mainland village of San Bartolome de los Pinares, but this happy and gentle festival had a lovely, joyful karma.

We followed the procession until it came to the very place where we’d had our morning coffee.  The complex offers horse riding and pony and cart rides, has a resident parrot and no doubt other animal associations, and having once been the manor house of the district was possibly always the procession’s first stop.

Maria admiring one of the hotel’s horses


We took the chance to duck into its little museum, which is beautifully appointed, with lots of well-presented information about the Chinyero Volcano, which was the last place in the island to erupt in 1909, the small art gallery and the gift shop, which, actually, was selling local crafts, wines, honey etc and almost nothing “made in China”.

Maria looking very pleased with our excursion :=)

It was my fault we had to leave at that point.  I had commitments for the late afternoon, and I’d come expecting only the almond blossom, which only goes to show that on a small island, where you have spent 20-odd years of your life, you can still find pleasant surprises.  I felt guilty about having to go, but my reasons were not light.  We could have received a blessing from the local priest, who was occupied in blessing the community’s pets as we drove past (we’d seen  numerous dogs, a horse, a pony and a tank of turtles as we followed the procession), and I would have been totally over-the-moon with the magnificent blossoms alone.  Sometimes life has bonuses.


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Almond Blossom Time

Now that I have more time I realized that I didn’t post these lovely pictures of the almond blossom at the end of January. It was the weekend after the Friday on which I was fired, and the weekend before I moved house, but this walk was something I had wanted to do for years. You can imagine, when you only have weekends (and one of those days is, inevitably, taken up in cleaning, shopping and all the boring stuff), and short, Winter days what a short window you have to do this. And, sure enough, just over a week later, storms with orange-alert winds and heavy rains stripped the trees of these gorgeous blossoms – phew, was I happy that I had decided to go!  It was a brilliant day, with clear, oh-so-blue skies, and the trees were groaning with the weight of the blossoms.  It was early.  The festival in Santiago del Teide (near to where these photos were taken) wasn’t for another week or so.  In the end we didn’t walk so much as amble, because there were so many photo-stops!

At this stage I had bought my new camera, but hadn’t even opened the box!!! I knew that once opened it would take over my life, and I knew that I had to finish off the packing and complete the move and unpack enough to get by before I could risk it! So these were taken with my very basic, little Kodak, which had no view finder. It was afternoon and Winter, so the sun was low, and looking at the screen sometimes I could see nothing at all, and had to guess……..very lucky guesses on this day! I went with my friends, Colleen and Pablo, and Colleen’s battery packed in, which meant that she very kindly took charge of Trixy, which did make it easier for me to snap away- it is well-nigh impossible to snap around Trix!

And the added advantage (apart from their delightful company) of going with Pablo and Colleen was that he explained to me how these almond plantations came to be here. Apparently, almonds were brought to the islands by the Conquistadors, yes, the same ones who went on from here to seek for treasures in the Americas, and had been taken to Spain by the Moors centuries before that – you see how, even then, there was a kind of globalization, how cultures mix and grow.  There are still commercial plantations here, but, I imagine, far less than there once were.  Where we were snapping looked a bit abandoned, as you can see, many of the trunks are ancient and twisted.  Between the trees were rows of cabbage and other vegetables (I couldn’t get too close because I didn’t want Trixy to maybe do any damage), looking like the allotments I remember in the UK.

Going back to Colleen and Pablo’s afterwards for tea and cake I snapped the sunset from their balcony….lovely end to a lovely day!

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