Monday, February 1, 2016

A month in Tenerife

31 January 2016

December and early January were slightly busy times and I was remiss in keeping this blog current.  Too much socializing and a bit of sight-seeing kept us occupied, plus a very enjoyable visit by a longtime friend…left us living life rather than writing about it.  Time to catch up.  I am writing this posting; however, we have no internet connection so publishing this posting must wait until we find a bar or restaurant with wifi.  The wifi in our current location is barely sufficient to access basic email.  I cannot remember where I left off at the last blog posting, so bear with me if things are repeated.

Herbert and Bill in Santa Cruz

We arrived in Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife on 6 December, escorted for a short time by a short-finned pilot whale.  An Austrian friend, Herbert, was on his beautiful Santorin docked just down from BeBe.  Herbert joined us for a celebratory dinner the following evening for my 67th birthday.  The next day he set off for Cape Verde.  His plans are to visit Brazil and we are headed to Martinique, so who knows when or where we again will meet up..

Glenn and Judy on Christmas morning.  Lox on toasted
slices baguette with capers and champagne.

We walked around Santa Cruz most days to acquaint ourselves with the city but we saved sight-seeing for later in the month when our friend, Glenn Martin, planned to visit during the Christmas holidays.  We last saw Glenn when he visited us in Cyprus around November 2011 and we were looking forward to catching up once again.  A few more of the rally boats arrived at the marina.  And people on other rally boats flew back to their respective countries to celebrate Christmas.  I do not think any of us mentally could get into ‘crossing’ mode until after 1 January.

Our only Christmas decoration,
courtesy of Glenn.

On Christmas night the Puertos de Tenerife presented a free symphony concierto with opera and holiday music.  The stage was erected near our berth so we enjoyed the music from the comfort of our cockpit rather than deal with the 25,000 people seated in the stands..  It was very nice.  Fireworks at midnight completed the festivities.

Glenn and Bill on one of the pedestrian streets of
La Laguna
The following day Bill, Glenn and I found the ‘tram’ (light rail) and visited La Laguna.  La Laguna is the original capital of Tenerife; today the capital is Santa Cruz.  The light rail is extremely inexpensive and makes a trip up the mountain easy for tourists to visit the historic town.  It was quite blustery on the day of our visit and too cool for us to eat outdoors.  These Europeans are a heartier bunch than we of the more southern climes.  We found a nice restaurant and enjoyed a delicious indoor lunch.  Took us a few minutes to realize that we were eating in a Turkish restaurant!  Did not expect to find a Turkish restaurant in La Laguna.  It was great.

This Bethelem/nativity display covered an entire room.
While walking in Santa Cruz that day we visited the parliament building for the Canary Islands to see an exhibit presented on  the ground floor and open to the public.  This was a huge nativity scene.  It encompassed Bethlehem and included everything one might think of regarding the biblical story of Christ’s birth.  It was refreshing to see this common sense approach by a governmental entity regarding religion.  What a difference from the contentiousness in the USA regarding displays of religious significance in public spaces.  The Spanish approach is that the majority of the country is Christian so it is most appropriate to display Christian displays in public spaces.  Displays of other religions are also allowed; those are just not as common.  Presenting a display of acknowledgment of one religious belief does not diminish any other religion nor does it impose a connection between government and any religion.  We are so overly sensitive about this in the USA and it was refreshing to see this common sense approach here.

Bill and our temporary crew member for the Atlantic
crossing, Andrew Blum.
Our crew member for the upcoming Atlantic crossing arrived on 27 December.  Let me introduce Andrew Blum, a young fellow Texan from Huffman who wanted to add an Atlantic crossing to his sailing resume.  Andrew contacted us while he was still working at a yacht charter company in Thailand last summer.  At first Bill and I were not interested in taking a crew member; we have enjoyed our ocean crossings with just the two of us.  But upon further reflection we decided that two people nearing age 70 probably should have another person along.  If one of us became incapacitated for any reason, the other person would be left to single hand and neither of us is up to that task.  Therefore, we agreed that Andrew could join us for the crossing.  His arrival overlapped four days before Glenn’s departure and we decided to see the island together.

El Teide in background
We had been trying unsuccessfully to rent a car for a couple of weeks.  Finally we scored a car for two days only.  The first day we drove to the Teide volcano near the center of the island.  The landscape was unworldly!  Driving up through the national forest was so very different from the other Canary Islands we visited.  Views were spectacular!  Nearly an hour from the cable car we passed the observatory that friends had suggested we visit, but we continued onward.  Figured we would not see much at an observatory during bright sunlight hours.

Those little things are cars.  Looked small from this
elevation.  This 'valley' resembled a smaller version
of the Grand Canyon.

Turned out to be an excellent decision!  We arrived at the cable car parking areas and decided since it was so late in the day that we would drive past the outlying parking areas and try our luck right at the entrance.  Another car pulled out and we parked right at the entrance.  What luck!  We rushed to get in queue to purchase tickets.  The attendant closed the line right behind us!  Had we parked farther down the mountain and walked up then we would not have arrived in time to catch the last cable car of the day.

View from our cable car when headed up.

Teide is the second or third largest volcano in the world.  As previously mentioned, I do not have internet access at the moment and do not remember any specifics about Teide.  What I do remember is that it looked like we were driving on a narrow twisting road on the planet Mars.  Or maybe on the moon.  As I stated, it was unworldly.  I developed much respect for the guys who built that road through that terrain; it had to have been a most difficult job.  

Another volcano crater down lower.

The tippy-top of El Teide.

Bill at uppermost point that we visited.  Had patches
of ice and snow in crevices up there.  Very cold!

Each of us said that this was a place to which we would like to return for another visit someday.  Few places strike us like that, but this was so unique that it would deserve a second visit.

The top cable car platform sits at elevation of 11,388 feet.  Consider that for a moment.  That is almost 1,000 feet ABOVE two miles above sea level.  That famous Colorado ‘mile high city’ has nothing on Teide!  And was it ever cold!  It was shorts and tee shirt weather down at sea level and it was winter coat weather up here!  We had debated whether to bring jackets or not because it was so warm and still at the marina that morning.  Thankfully, common sense prevailed and we had jackets because it was very cold even wearing those jackets.  Temperature was 32F or 0C and wind was blowing about 20-knots.

Another lower section of El Teide which we visited
with the bus tour.
For those more physically fit (and probably younger), it is possible to obtain a special permit from the national park service of Spain to hike to the very top of Teide.  I had looked into these permits when we first arrived at Tenerife but they were booked through 15 January.  I was glad that we had been unable to obtain the hiking permits because there was no way I would have been able to hike up there.  I found it difficult to breathe when merely walking level, no way I could have managed that steep incline to the top.  We stayed at the upper level for about an hour soaking up the cold.  

The observatory
Glenn and Andrew walked out a path but Bill and I stayed at the beginning of that path.  I was leery of walking very far because did not think I would be able to walk back.  Breathing was difficult and reminded me of our visit to Cusco, Peru and those high altitudes.  People with any cardiovascular ailments are warned not to venture up this high, and I could understand why.  My faulty mitral valve was causing my heart to pound just standing; any physical exertion (even walking on flat level) caused slight chest pain.  Take care visiting heights like this.

My favorite photo of the day.  The setting sun caused the shadow
of El Teide to cover part of the 'valley' below.  Loved the lighting
of the area at that time of day.

Our cable car ride back down the mountain was right at sunset.  The lighting over the scenery below was gorgeous.  It looked very different than it had in full sunlight and we were glad to have had the opportunity to see the area in both conditions.

Los Gigantes

The following day we drove the main highway to the southern end of the island and then up the northwest coastline to see Los Gigantes. Los Gigantes are very high cliffs that go straight down to the sea.  The views are gorgeous.   

After lunch in the seaside town we visited a Lidl supermarket to stock up on junk foods for the upcoming Atlantic crossing.   And found a dark rum that was manufactured by the Ron family which is branded only for distribution to Lidl.  It was wonderful!  Love the convenience of a rental car every once and awhile. We wished later that we had bought several cases of this particular rum, but without a car that was impossible since it is sold only at Lidl and the nearest Lidl was half-way down the island from our marina.

The western coast of Tenerife just south of Los Gigantes.
A somewhat rough 'beach'
The Ron family rum (the name of which I have forgotten) led us to research sugar cane and the production of rum in the Canary Islands.  We got curious because we had seen no sugar cane growing on any of the islands we visited. Turns out that sugar cane is not native to the Caribbean or the Americas.  Sugar originated in India and remained locally until the Arabs brought it to Europe, where it spread rapidly thanks to the normal human desire for sweet tastes.  Sugar cane arrived in the Canary Islands from Madeira, also thanks to the Arabs.  Columbus brought sugar cane from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean (Cuba to be specific) on his second voyage to the new world.  That sugar cane came either from Gran Canaria or La Gomera rather than from Tenerife.  Anyway, all that sugar cane in the Caribbean and the Americas originated from the Canary Islands.  Odd that this was never mentioned in our history lessons.

Glenn departed on 1 January.  We enjoyed his visit very much and look forward to him visiting BeBe again somewhere in the Caribbean.

Very different weather conditions on the day of the bus
tour than on the day we visited El Teide in the rent car.
Marina level was cloudy and drizzling rain.  Up above the
clouds, beautiful sunshine weather.

Cornell Sailing opened their offices at the marina for the rally festivities on 4 January.  The Port of Tenerife hosted participants for a cocktail lunch (fabulous!) and the Real Club Nautico hosted participants for cocktails again that evening.  They served the most delicious octopus we have ever tasted; many other delicacies too, but the grilled octopus was fantastic.  The local wine also was pretty darn good.  So good that we went out and bought a few bottles of that label.

The island of La Palma in distance.  Above cloud level.

Another day a bus tour was organized by Cornell Sailing for a trip to Teide for participants of the Atlantic Odyssey II.  Great!  We would get our second opportunity to see this unique landscape.  The tour guide stated that there are over 200 volcanoes on Tenerife.  I suspect that something got lost in the translation.  It is more likely that there are over 200 vents that can erupt from the single enormous volcano.  But we are not geologists and have no special education on volcanoes, so maybe the guide was correct.

Top of El Teide.  That tiny structure on the right is
the upper cable car station.  No way I could hike up
to that top!

Bill with El Teide and clouds
in background.

This area of Teide national park was called the Wedding
Cake.  This shows a small sample of the varying soils
and rocks in this area.

The Atlantic Odyssey II departed Santa Cruz, Tenerife on 9 January in very light winds due to a tropical LOW situated southwest of the Canary Islands.  Another blog posting will cover the crossing.

1 comment:

  1. Still enjoying your blog! If you don't remember, we moved to Hot Springs Arkansas a few years ago. Barb is coming to visit next month to play bridge with Gretchen. I'm sure we'll be talking about your travels!


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