Sip a refreshing brew and listen to the ocean waves crash on the rocks below. Sit on the edge of a cliff at the aptly named “Cliff House” in Tenerife, one of Spain’s Canary Islands and gaze at the rugged volcanic coastline. Breathe in the fresh wind current. Hard to pull away from this setting, but we must venture out to purchase food, bottled water, and of course beer and wine.
Boom, climb up one hundred-fifty steep stone steps, and then traverse a straight up quarter mile (.40 kilometers) hill hauling bags of garbage to the bins. Up one more hill brings us to restaurants and shops in the small town of El Toscal. We often forget something without realizing it until we are half-way up. More huffing, back down and up again. Cannot purchase too many supplies because we have to haul it back down in bags, and we are quickly reminded that cans of beer are much lighter than bottles. “I’m going to have an ass like Kim Kardashian before this is over,” Marilynn says. Personally, I am not sure who that is, but she must have a bum made of solid rock.
Quit whining. In truth, we transform into excellent hiking condition after traversing these trails and sidewalks for the last couple of weeks. Great preparation for our upcoming adventure of strenuous hiking in Uganda to spot gorilla families!
The simple act of walking up to Guachinche El Pino, our favorite restaurant, burns up the calories we consume from a flaming link of chorizo sausage.
Smell that “grilled cheese,” no bread in it, just grilled strips of fresh cheese covered in red and green mojo sauce and seared with honey.
Then comes our main dish of Gallaecian octopus, fried rabbit, the special papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes boiled in heavily salted water) and a bottle of wine. Going to need more hiking after this. No problem. In this place, walking be hiking.
I am still amazed at how everything costs half price in the Canary Islands as compared to mainland Spain. Usually, things cost more on islands. Beers, a bottle of wine, and all the food I describe in the above meal cost USD 30.00. Tipping anything over ten percent comes across as an insult, as restaurant workers earn fair wages in this part of the world.
One must rent a car to explore independently. Driving these steep up and down volcanic island roads is an adventure in itself. “S” and hairpin curves exist everywhere outside of the main highway. They make Highway 1 north of San Francisco, CA feels like a tame drive. If that is not challenging enough, cars crowd the road, and drivers climb up your rear while whipping around narrow passages with no margin for error.
Good thing that cars are small here. I get carsick just by being the driver, and do not know how Mare has the fortitude to ride shotgun. Ascending the sharp slope of a couple hills requires first gear only, as second gear bogs within seconds.
Sometimes it feels like the car will flip over backwards. Worth the effort to get up to the live, snow-covered volcano “Tiede” who’s top is visible even while your eyes remain peeled to the road.
Time for a bit of history and culture, so off we go to the Museum of Man in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
A plethora of interesting items here, but the mummified corpses grab our attention. These first inhabitants of the island were cave dwellers from north Africa called “Guanches” and Tenerife was the last island to fall to the Spanish in 1496. The mummified remains date back 2,250 years. The culture of this island portrays an interesting blend of African, Latin, and Spanish influences.
The natives identify as “Canarians,” and do not appreciate folks calling them Spaniards. I must admit that we mostly see Germans and hear that Brits occupy the southern beaches.
Okay, enough culture, time to smoke a chunk of Moroccan hash. Not bad, fairly mellow, but intense enough for Marilynn to run smack into our shut sliding glass door at Cliff House. She bled like something out of a “Dexter” episode. Oh, brings back memories of her black eye years ago when we got into a bar-brawl the last time we were in Spain. Click here for Spanish bar brawl post
Back in the car, driving around the northern coast wows us with natural volcanic coves in the town of Garachico.
We stop on the way to see the world’s oldest Dragon tree, which the Guanches once worshiped, as well as extracted the sap for embalming the dead. “Dracaena draco.”
The Calima returns, that thick cloud of fine dust particles blowing over the ocean from the Sahara Desert.
We drive south, along the eastern coast in an effort to find clear skies. Instead, we find desert terrain and high winds perfect for kite surfers.
Meanwhile, I am getting the hang of flying around these “S” curves and starting to drive like a local. Only got flipped-off twice.
After stopping in small towns for tapas, the only thing we know for sure is that parking is a real problem and we do not care much for the taste of limpets (aquatic snails).
We keep returning to the African Market, as we cook most of our meals at home. With over 300 stalls, food stays fresh as each shop specializes in one specific item.
Separate shops for olives, pastries, coffee, vegetables, wine, red meat, fish and of course seafood.
Plus, we can always get a breakfast of beer, cuttlefish and sardines at one of the numerous sidewalk cafes.
We look forward to walking back down to our Cliff House, where we sip cold brews and listen to the ocean waves crash on the rocks below.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!