Thursday, 17 March 2016

Island - Escape to Tenerife

In 1988 I went on holiday for a week to Tenerife. On the Friday, instead of flying home, I ripped up my return ticket and decided to stay. The wonderful climate suited me very well.  I found a well paid job, rented an apartment and a Golf cabriolet. When I wasn't working, I walked miles around the shoreline and ate wonderful fresh food at beachside restaurants. I also met a delightful Tenerife family, who helped me to learn Spanish (with a Tenerife accent) and to understand their customs.

When I told anyone my name they would serenade me with a song, 'Si Adelita mi fuera contigo,' the translation, 'Adele, I burn for you,' is now as embedded in my psyche, as the sulphurous smell of yellow volcanic water that runs through domestic cisterns from the underground reservoirs. There is no fresh water on the island, no rivers or lakes, so water supply is mined.

Like most of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife was born during a violent eruption that forced rock from the earth's crust to the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Local legend tells of an eighth island that is elusive, moving from place to place. It is a romantic notion but perhaps one that I will research and pursue in a poem.

During my time there, I explored every off-grid place I could find. El Teide is the most alluring landmark but I discovered many others that were just as interesting and unique. I love to explore a new place but rarely return.  Life is too short. I want to experience as many new adventures as possible. I can however share with you the benefit of my extended stay on the island by introducing you to some of the wonderful, hidden gems and truly unique flora on offer;

The Dragon Tree.

Legends say that when dragons die they become dragon trees: this living fossil is one of the symbols of the Canary Islands, one of the greatest treasure of Canarias flora. The tree was considered a divine tree by the early inhabitants of the islands. Until recently, Dracaena draco was considered to be native to Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde; however, it has now also been found in wild populations in Morocco.




The largest and most famous dragon tree with a diameter of 20 metres at the base, is 17 metres high and stands majestically in Icod de Los Vinos (Tenerife). It weighs approximately 150 tonnes not including the roots. There has been much debate over the age of the tree: some say it may be over 5000 years old.  Recent estimates suggest that the tree is no more than 800 to 1000 years old. In 1985, the tree was fully cleaned up and a ventilator was placed inside the trunk to facilitate air circulation and prevent a build-up of fungus. In 1993, the Town Hall of Icod de los Vinos made a deviation in a road that passed just a few metres by the dragon tree and now this iconic tree is no longer in obvious danger.


The Teide Violet


 
This unassuming flower, viola cheiranthifolia, is found only on the upper, rocky slopes of Mount Teide. It is quite rare and, as it only grows a few inches tall, is very difficult to spot. The conditions in which it exists are dry and cold. Many flowers found in Tenerife are peculiar to this one island. The village of Vilaflor on the south of the Teide volcano, is the highest on Tenerife at an altitude of 1,400m. Popular legend has it that Vilaflor owes its name to a Spanish Captain of the conquistadores; Pedro de Bracamonte who upon seeing a beautiful girl in the forest above the town exclaimed “Vi la flor de Chasna!” – I have seen the flower of Chasna (the town’s former name). The surrounding landscape is incredible.

Tajinaste
Covered by the Latin term echium wildpretii, this plant is found in large numbers in the Las Cañadas caldera. It can grow to heights of three metres and, although preferring warm, dry conditions, can withstand frosts of up to -15 degrees centigrade. It is a true indigenous species of Tenerife, flowering late spring to early summer.




Masca

A small mountain village, hangs to the coastal rocks and is home to around 90 inhabitants. The village lies at an altitude of 650m in the Macziio de Teno mountains, which extend up to the north-western most point of Tenerife. Forests including cypresses and palm trees abound. The village lies at the head of the Masca Gorge. The trail from the village down the gorge to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean is a popular, though strenuous, hiking route, taking about 3 hours each way.




El Médano.

A genuine Canarian seaside resort, nestled on the south coast of Tenerife. A lovely long stretch of golden sand and awesome waves are really what this place is all about. If you love water sports, this is the place for you. The World Kite Surfing Championship competition takes place there every year where hundreds of adrenalin-fuelled sportsmen and women take to the sea to perform tricks on surfboards attached to large kites. I had an apartment there and I no longer believe that Blackpool is windy.




The poem is a childhood favourite: perhaps the reason I decided to stay a while longer in Tenerife.


The Island, by A.A. Milne

If I had a ship,
I'd sail my ship
I'd sail my ship
Through Eastern seas;
Down to a beach where the slow waves thunder -
The green curls over and the white falls under -
Boom! Boom! Boom!
On the sun-bright sand.
Then I'd leave my ship and I'd land,
And climb the steep white sand,
And climb to the trees
The six dark trees,
The coco-nut trees on the cliff's green crown -
Hands and knees
To the coco-nut trees,
Face to the cliff as the stones patter down,
Up, up, up, staggering, stumbling,
Round the corner where the rock is crumbling,
Round this shoulder,
Over this boulder,
Up to the top where the six trees stand....

And there I would rest, and lie,
My chin in my hands, and gaze
At the dazzle of the sand below,
And the green waves curling slow
And the grey-blue distant haze
Where the sea goes up to the sky....

And I'd say to myself as I looked so lazily down at the sea:
"There's nobody else in the world, and the world was made for me."

Hope you have a great week. Thanks for reading.  Adele 





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2 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

What a fabulous blog. Thank you :-)

Lady Curt said...

Very interesting, thanks.....