La Laguna And Santa Cruz Take Steps To Stem Covid Tide

Illegal bottle parties, and unlawful gatherings of more than six people, mainly young, have thrust Tenerife and specifically La Laguna and Santa Cruz, into the Covid spotlight. As I write, Tenerife has 80 per cent of yesterdays new infections across the seven Canary Islands, that´s 108 out of 139 new cases yesterday. Overall the Canary Island figures are some of the best in Spain but the pressure is on to squeeze a little tighter in the hot spots.

 

Christmas build up and Black Friday splurging into a week long event don´t help. I made a Saturday afternoon visit to the university town, and the capital city to see for myself. La Laguna´s main shopping area is centred on two main strets, Calle Herredores, and Calle Obispo Rey Redondo, a few policia local officers walked through the pedestrianised area, and a patrol car drove slowly through the link roads. This grid layout was marked to direct walkers in set directions to avoid close contact. It semed to work well without impeding the outdoor cafe table trade where masks, hand gel, and the six person group limit were the order of the day.

I made a call at the Museum of History and Anthropology and followed a small tour at a distance, There was plenty of space to avoid each other and browse, the staff even let me into a sealed storage area to see two ancient carriages, one with a London pedigree. I will return for a longer browse and do a post for here. It´s important that in these stressed times, that business´s and attractions continue to give good service – and they excelled.

After dark has been the main problem with Covid security but the current 11pm closing time for bars has helped as has the lock down of parks and plazas. Taking the tram down to Santa cruz, I turned my attention to Parque Garcia Sanabria, a delightful and popular park in the centre of the busy city. Large multi pathed and with many entrance points, I could see that barriers were already on standby for the 7pm sealing. Not robust enough to make entry impossible, but they represent another warning and probably and increase on the standard 100 euro fines. Video camaras near the flower clock would also play a part. Only time will tell if this measure will just move the problem or snuff it out,

My return trip to Los Cristianos was covered on my residents monthly payment card, cash seems unlikely to make a return to the bus drivers lives. Titsa have increased their payment options with tourist payment cards for a day or a week, and have increased the outlets where they can be bought, ncluding the airports and major bus stations. The whole rigmarol of Covid protection and measures is a monumental pain – but I´d rather stay alive!

Fonsalia And Alcala With A Pinch Of Salt

As the island of La Palma shimmered in the distance, it was all systems go for a coastal walk from Playa San Juan to Alcala in Tenerife´s west coast municipality of Guia De Isora. There were plenty of hints at choices to come from a small excercise park, to the anglers and rock pool explorers getting up close to nature. The well defined entry to the short walk had added a few new tweaks since I had last plodded forth.

A petanca court, and even a pet park offered distractions but the sea had an over whelming armoury  of counter claims. Rock cathedrals and foamy breakers with their soundtrack roar from the drag of pebbles had the most refrshing options. The stately march of palm trees lay ahead until a three option decision came just before the modern desalination plant. A new smooth elevated path, some old steps down and a scramble at the seas edge, or an inland detour through Fonsalia. The detour is worth taking, the small hamlet has just one main street but it has a strong sense of style, from the chair outside La Barrera bar-restaurant to the decorative house front diagonally opposite, and the small but sturdy Ermita Santa Lucia.

Threading back between the banana plantations to the coast, I had a pleasant encounter with a fallen pardela chick. A member of the SEO Sealife charity was overlooking the completion of its journey from mountain top egg to its natural Atlantic home. The helper said around 1,200 of the duck like birds had fallen on Tenerife this hatching season, confused by artificial lights and neon signs. Perched on a ledge, overlooking the sea, its instincts kicked in and a waddle and shakey take off soon turned into a controlled glide onto the waves. It would be unlikely to touch land again for at leadt four years. It was an inspiring sight and made my day.

As coves unfolded ahead of me, I could see the distant cliffs of Los Gigantes as Alcala loomed near. The long stone stairways down to the collection of shingle beaches where rocks reached out into the sea were a favourite sight from my days based in Alcala when working for The Western Sun newspaper. The compact Plaza del Llano was sedate and welcoming, and the bars cheap and cheery.  It´s not all mellow and traditional in Alcala these days, The new 1.9 million euro church was nearing completion, and its peaks peaked up above the edges of the plaza. Prince Charles may have been moved to call it a “concrete carbunkle” hopefully once open it will find some character to fit in with the old west coast ways.

Missed Chances Keep CD Marino Winless

Shooting practice will be on the menu for CD Marino after sharing a 0-0 draw with visitors Tamaraceite in Tenerife. Resolute defending and a packed midfield limited chances but the home side should have capitalized on their superior first half showing, especially Borja Llarena who had two golden chances.

 

 

Boosted by a bumper 700 plus crowd, the blues set off at a good pace with Nami flashing a shot wide of the Gran Canaria teams post. Aythami could only reply with a wild, deep, hopefull ball trying to find Quintero, their main striker. Pablo Santana prompted from the home midfield, setting Borja onto his through ball, but his shot found an alert defender. A delicate touch  from Nami  set up another go for Borja but he rushed the shot and missed the target. It took 30 minutes for the reds to threaten as Quintero put a header over the bar. A free kick just before half time was easily blocked by the Marino wall.

Maybe the reds sensed they had weathered the storm. Just after the restart Baez shot wide when Angel Galvan missed a high ball. The keeper was back on top form to snuff out afurther attack as Quintero thundered in. A rush from deep in the visitors half fizzled out as both teams struggled to grab hold of the game.Cristo came on for Pablo to pep up the Marino attacking options. It was still important to ensure that Tamaraceite didn´t break free, and there was danger as Padron beat Pedro Aleman before firing straight at Galvan.

Fede pushing up down the right offered some encouragement to his Marino team mates. A double change with 15 minutes left brought Moussa and Samuel onto the pitch. Moussa and Fede both had late  half chances but it was a frustrating finish for the single point.

 

Give A Lift To The Plunging Pardela Chicks In Tenerife

Yellow beaks and webbed feet should alert you to any of the thousands of Pardela sea birds falling to earth in the Canary Islands from mid october to mid november. Otherwise known as Cory´s Sheerwater, they are aiming for a life floating on the Atlantic tides, but increased street and advertising lighting disrupt their natural radar. An annula lure to lay eggs on high rocky ground makes the Canary Islands a popular call.

Thankfully a well established safety net led by SEO Birdlife (thanks for their excellent photos)  swings into action each year. just call the emergency services free number, 112, and mention pardelas and their location, that will bring a rescue person. In the meantime, don´t feed or water the bird as that may confuse their awakening natural hunting instinct for fish and other small sea creatures, and a thirt for sea water that they can clense via a special gland in their body. As you wait, if it´s possible, you can gently wrap a small towel or cover around the bird to keep it from hurting itself by flapping. If you have a box just bigger than the bird, pierce some breathing holes and that is a good temporary holding point.

In Tenerife, the main coastal falling zone is from El Medano, up and around the west coast to Los Gigantes via Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. The councils covering those areas are well versed in the proceddures to help these creatures. Road lights and advertising neon are dimmed within safe levels and the emergency services are used to dealing with rescue calls. This year the Pardelas have even got a lift on the Titsa buses with the poster above drawing attention to their plight. Once the fallen birds have been assessed and treated, they are released from high coastal points to enjoy roaming the Atlantic. Just a few minutes thought and you can take pride in helping to be the wind beneath the wings of the Pardela.

 

Fans In, Points Out, As CD Marino Ride a Higher Tide

Do pass go, do collect 500 fans. That was the set up for CD Marino on their return to Segunda B football. Despite giving a good account of themselves at the higher level, a sucker punch last minute goal from visitors RB Linense was enough to separate the two teams. Less than 24 hours after Marino got the go ahead to allow a limited capacity crowd, all places were taken with social distancing observed on the Playa de Las America terraces as well as for the pre match team photos.

A harder, more intense tempo greeted the blues step up. Danese blocked an early shot from new home striker Manu Dimas. Anaba, another new addition, posted his central defensive qualities with a strong clearing header. Pablo Santana matched him with some neat tidying up and a safe tap back to goalie David Kikvidze as Marino settled to their task. Dimas was probing for an attacking opening and Nadjib cut in from the right with a mazey run and a shot that veered wide. Alejandro looked lively up front for the Andalucia team but his finishing was wasteful. The best home effort of the first half came from a Dimas free kick that keeper Miras smothered. Anaba was rock solid in the heart of the blues defence, Linense had to rely on scraps, Antonio was cursing himself after he put a rare headed chance over the home goal.

The lateness of their confirmed promotion and squad strengthening left Marino playing catch up but they came out after the break with a renewed determination and a growing awareness of each others play. Captain Saavedra was in a unfamiar left back role but Niki was adding his usual attacking bursts down the right slot. Alejandro was still the danger man to watch from Linense, a quick turn to create space should have been finished with something better than his drag wide. Dimas had a similar miss at the other end as Marino stepped up the pressure. Saavedra found Cristo Diaz with a good through ball, although he forced a corner, Linense held firm.

Ahmed was having a quiet game by his own standards and wasn´t helped by the ref ignoring a foul on him when he was free in the box. New blood was needed, strikers Borja llarena and last seasons top scorer, Nami came on to push for the winner. Cristo Diaz came close with a powerful strike that deflected of a defender as time slipped away. In the final minute, a free kick just outside  the home box had the nerves jangling. Alejandro shaped up to take the kick but  Camacho took the job and lifted his shot over the defensive wall and into the back of the net. Marino tried to level in injury time but a bullet header from Pablo Santana was cleared off the goal line by the head of Sergio Rodriguez. The loss was a bitter pill but the sight of 500 fans in the stadium was a shot in the arm for Marino and football in Tenerife.

 

Beacons Of Hope In Abades And Arico

A sinister figure lurked in the doorway of the former leper colony site in Abades on the east coast of Tenerife. Phew, it was just a cheeky minion.

Space age wind turbines added their contradictions to the landscape, and a stark prefab church pitched in its own contribution to the myths and enchantment that surround a series of enticing beaches. The sprawling colony of nearly 30 part built structures was begun in 1943 on the orders of General Franco, he took his first steps to national power from a posting as military governer of the Canary Islands. The grand scheme was never completed as leprosy was wiped out before the work could be completed.

The first time I visited, I was a little in awe of the concrete graveyard, but this time I had a feeling of hope. Leprosy had been a world scourge since biblical times, if it could be tamed then surely Covid could also be banished to the history books. The graffiti daubed on the buildings seemed to mock the demise of leprosy. In 2002 Italian investors were said to have bought the entire site, security patrol notices, and well tyre tracked paths explained why the only recent invaders had been phantom painters but no goose bump seekers, film crews, or  campers.

The people of Abades clearly enjoy their dark sand bays down below. There´s a thriving diving scene and some nice bars and eateries in the sea facing plaza. A new commercial age is about to dawn. The Navaria Beach apartment and villa development was nearing completion near the shoreline. With white, two story buildings, it blended in nicely with the colour scheme of the well established houses without spoiling the skyline.

Heading back down to the coastal path, I was soon down and up the other side of a small craggy bay and got a glimpse of the Punta de Abona lighthouse. A classic Tenerife combination of tall candy striped 1978 original with a squat sidekick for remote operating. There are seven “faros” around the coast of the biggest Canary Island, “bagging” is the term used by enthusiasts who get up close with a new recruit to the farologists haul.

 

The municipality of Villa de Arico is one of the smallest in Tenerife but ambitious plans could soon propel them into the big league of tourism. In January 2020 a big new resort scheme was unveiled, including a new sandy beach, four hotels,3,000 beds, and 1,550 jobs. The intervention of Covid may well selay or even scupper the project completely.

As a fine drizzle swept in off the sea, I enjoyed the uninterrupted coastal walk views round to Arico Nuevo, and the steep climb to the Titsa bus stop at Poris. The fishing boat looking down on the TF! motorway seemed to underline the constant dilema of commercial progress versus unspoilt nature.

 

Barking Up All the Right Trees At Tenerife Palmetum

From the seed of an idea to fully bloomed botanical gardens, it took 20 years to transform a landfill mountain into an oasis of colour, featuring 2,000 species of plants at the southern entrance to Santa Cruz.

Splashes of colour from lake based blooms, cascades of frothy pom poms from palm trees, bulging bundles of berries and figs, and even a mangrove swamp. All this was harvested together from as far as the Caribbean, Americas north, south, and central, Asia, and Australia.

Five years on from the 2015 opening, I returned to find everything in the 12 hectares garden was lovelier than ever. The well planned layout guided me gently through the different zones. A river meandered through, linking two lakes complete with waterfalls. The water theme reached its crescendo at the partly covered central Octogona lagoon.

It´s difficult to imagine all the accumulated rubbish beneth your feet. The seven mirador viewing points reminded me of the park´s setting, and benches under leafy shade allowed me to gaze over Tenerife´s capital or out to sea. Although the dedicated team of gardeners keep a low profile, the wildlife caught my eyes and ears from time to time. Birds and ducks are drawn to the gardens, those in the middle of migration are joined by rarer species and natives.

The detail, devotion, and ecological value of the Palmetum are outshined by the sheer visual joy on offer. Few would Adam and Eve such a project could take place near a busy port, and refinery, but this garden of eden is a blooming wonder. The Palmetum opens every day and has disabled access and toilet facilities located on the site. Adult entry was six euros (half for residents) on my visit. You can check out the full updated offers at the multi language website.

 

Burning the Lava Trail From Icod To Garachico

Standing at the top of a near 400 year old twin lava flow and looking down at a sinking skull. My toes were tingling as I left the church at San Juan del Reparo and followed the sign to shadow the path that wiped out most of Garachico in the 1706 eruption.

What a beautiful crime scene, contrasting destruction and rebirth at every step. Perspective changes views, the offshore volcanic spitbristled with bird life but from my lofty perch, its empty eye socket fixed a mocking stare at the source of its dark origin. Pine trees now sprout healthily out of the hill side and the descent is a smooth 90 minute zig zag towards the Garachico church plaza.

My curiosity did lead me astray before spotting the real route beyond a modern estate. Taking a rough but clearly used trail, I found an old sealed water gallery. The hills in and around Icod are peppered with them, many unmapped and forgotten. In 2007 heavy rain caused the water table to rise and gasses were forced into tunnels being explored by visitors near Los Silos. Six people died and a big clampdown was made on the old galleries.

Back on the main trek, there were warnings of possible rock slides but heat was my only irritant, a good supply of cold water was my solution. As the path lowered, the horizon broadened, Los Silos lighthouse was visible to the west and the San Marcos coast stretched out in the opposite direction. The natural rock pools of El Caleton looked welcoming below but restrictions on times and numbers make it an elusive treat during these Covid days.

Old above ground water pipes and pumping stations were testaments to peoples ingenuity and determination to tame their charred landscape. Not many other people passed me on the walk, the heat of the day had chased most sensible folk to seek shade and cold drinks. Apart from the odd bird cry and church bell, a calm mood hung in the air. Garachico was a fine reward for my wander, there is plenty to enjoy at the top end of the trail as well, the settlements on the way into Icod are worth exploring. The descent itself was like peeling back the years and gave me a whole new appreciation of this part of the Tenerife coast.

 

Tenerife Tides And Peaks Through Anaga Rural Park

Was the ground dropping away or the mountains standing to attention? Both observations were true as the Titsa bus weaved and picked its way through Anaga in the north east pan handle of Tenerife. The occaisional blast of the bus horn pre warned oncoming traffic on the tight bends. Far behind, a cleft in the rocks showed freighters and cruise liners moored off Las Teresitas beach.

A delicate balance of fully laden trees and wedges of sloping man made terraces, added to the breath taking views that kept on coming in an hours journey from the bustling capital of Santa Cruz. How untouched by time the little hamlets and isolated houses looked. A cluster of post boxes on the lip of a plunging path was at least a small concession to the local delivery man. Secluded picnic areas and signposts to walking routes were evidence of the rise in rural tourism. The dominant peak of Roque de las Animas looked down on Taganana as the bus squeezed through the slimmest of hairpins.

It was barely 5 kms to the coastal destination but three mature ladies hurried to head us off with pre paid multi ride tickets and big broad smiles spilling out from behind their anti Covid masks. The vibrant sea seized the spotlight as we hit the coast road and young surfers piled off and retrieved their boards from the storage belly of the bus. Playa de Almaciga was busy but well below the previous heatwave weekend that saw the solo entrance road  gridlocked. The bus passed the gnarled Roque de Las Bodegas and turned up to the village of Almaciga perched on its crows nest position.

The last wave of passengers headed down the steep path to the wild sweep of beach heading to Benijo. It was very informal there, parking spots and makeshift picnics were the order of the day and back stopped the rolling waves. Back at Roque de Las Bodegas, rods and lines tried their luck from the well maintained path that skirts the rock itself. It´s a well worn tradition, fishing boats dried out near the shore. The sea was a minefield, of further jagged rocks piercing the water. Taganana wine used to be floated out in barrels for passing galleons to pick up. It must have been a supreme juggling act, as the afternoon wore on, the tides became more insistent and crashed their arrival in no uncertain terms.

Anaga is an inspiring area to visit, the few still functioning cafes and bars were doing a steady trade as the mid 30 centigrade heatwas softened by the spray of the sea. The return trip was shaved of 15 minutes from its hour expectation. The 946 and 947 buses leave each end og the journey at quarter past the hour, with the 6.15 pm the final chance to head back to the capital (check seasonal variations) and another opportunity to marvel at the amazing land that you have travelled through.

La Orotava – No Welcome Carpet Rwquired.

Worthy of more than just an annual visit to the Corpus Christi flower carpets, some healthy leg stretching was needed to explore the uncluttered streets of La Orotava. I arrived via a short hop Titsa bus from Los Realejos, eyeballed by an artistic mural proclaiming the virtues of the region. I headed up into the historic quarter where spires compete for  skyline supremecy.

 

Plaza de La Constitution offered shade and cold drinks while the three bell tower of San Sgustin church delivered a jackpot for architecture fans. The joy of non shuffling movement and time to gaze out over the La Orotava valley was worth savouring. It seems to be a sin in this charming town for buildings to be just ordinary. Even the less cared for barns and out houses had a rough diamond quality. The 2020 version of Corpus Christi was a vastly trimmed and mainly indoor concern but even naked, the Ayuntamiento (council) plaza demanded respect and admiration.

 

Don´t get the idea that La Orotava is only about food and drink for the soul. Passing up from the bus station, there´s a steady concentration of smaller bars and cafes on the left turn as the road rises to the football ground. It´s always offered ample refreshment before the almost annual pre season visit of CD Tenerife. The right fork offers more substantial fare backed with grand designs with intricate detail from top to toe. Casa de Las Balcones is a prime example of classic lines and traditional local Canarian wines and food. Plaza del San Franciscois a more under stated green area proving that simplicity is also an art form.

Museums offer glimpses into the workings of the past but be aware that several close in the afternoon. Whichever way you turn, it´s likely you will be drawn back to the magnificent Iglesia de La Concepcion. A short queue is a small price to pay for an inside view to compliment  the neck back gaze up at the dome and tower. La Orotava is packed with plazas and green spaces to relax and soak up the serenity, or if you have plenty of time. take a  long loop around the outer reaches of town with church bells as the soundtrack to your stroll. The carpets will return, but it´s always a good time to make a visit.