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.”
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.
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.
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.