Archive for June, 2010
Hey Let’s Not Forget The Football

With CD Tenerife’s La Liga adventure ending several weeks ago my blog has been sadly devoid of football – time to put that right. We are of course just over half way through World Cup 2010 and it’s getting interesting with several big nations going out. In 2006 Italy and France met in the final, this time they are meeting at the airport. Some of the unexpected teams are showing well, I just watched Japan play some great football to beat Denmark.

IÂ was going to do a photo special for on different nations and their support in bars around Tenerife but it has not really worked out. To date the turn out for some games has been poor, partly because of the lack of people here in general and partly due to bars baulking at the gamble of bringing in giant screens and signing up for different TV packages. I saw the opening game with a few South Africa fans at Legends in Los Cristianos but apart from that and the obvious Spain and England games it has been slim pickings. One glowing beacon has been the Holland fans, they have been filling several bars around San Telmo in Los Cristianos and really getting into the spirit with orange clothes and make up, good on them. I loved the Holland teams of 1974 and 1978 and even painted my Subbuteo players in the Dutch strip.

FIFA have been pumping out stats all over the place, here are a few from todays batch. The most distance covered by a player – Khedira of Germany with 35.87 kms to date. Fastest player is Hernandez of Mexico at 32.15 kms per hour. Here’s a sobering stat, the most lost balls stands at 35 for Wayne Rooney, lets hope for better things to come.

A Burning Desire To Go To The Beach

Blimey all those thousands of people on the beach just to celebrate England’s World Cup win over Slovenia? Actually it was for something much more traditionally Spanish than that, and anyway most of the England fans had peaked too early, this was a mainly Canarian gathering. The night of San Juan celebrates mid summer with many methods of cleansing the soul and looking forward to better times ahead. I knew it was going to be a good one this year from the amount of wooden pallets and sealed off areas on both Los Cristianos beaches in the afternoon.

I had intended to follow the statue of San Juan on its short journey down to the beach but having not had a beer for 10 days (my own cleansing between football seasons) I felt the urge to stop off for a couple of pints of Dorada just in case I lost the taste. With my thirst part quenched I headed down to the old beach and was greeted by one huge bonfire, many smaller intimate ones with groups of family and friends, and flocks of people all over the sand down to the shore. As always the younger revellers were well stocked up on bottles and families had brought picnic tables and enough food to feed an army. As I mingled and smoked myself like a big blond kipper I came across a few people already making wishes over candles or tearing strips of written desires into fire fodder. At the side of the beach on a small stage canarian singers had gathered a decent crowd of keen dancers of all ages.

I went through the tunnel to Las Vistas beach and it was a similar story but on a grander scale. Along the promenade most bars were open and doing a roaring trade, a useful boost in these times of low tourism. As I sipped a pint with midnight fasilt approaching I lost count of the amount of people walking by dragging cardboard boxes to top up the many flames. just before the magic hour I ventured down to the shore and watched as people waded out into the sea, many still fully dressed. Others were jumping over small fires three times as required by tradition and flowers were also being thrown into the sea as an extra blessing of nature. I left about 2am and the party showed little sign of stopping, another wonderful cultural treat.

This afternoon I returned to the beaches for my daily swim and as ever it was hard to see that there had been any parties or industrial quantities of glasses, bottles, bags and plastic cuttlery. Arona council cleaners had done a fantastic  job, all the bins were emptied and had new black bags lining them and the paths were spotless. Hows that for service.

Eastern Promise And A Lark in The Santa Cruz Park

Up with the cock and in Santa Cruz by 8.30 am, early mornings are very lovely in Tenerife. Heading up the motorway on the 111 Titsa bus the sun rose up over the western mountains and bathed the coastline as hunters went about their business in the rocky wastelands beyond the laybys and bus stops. With plenty of time to spare I caught the tram to La Paz and caught up on a daily paper over a coffee and doughnut, the Spanish met office were predicting a record hot summer in the Canary Islands, pushing 40 degrees – maybe I wont need those thick socks.

I had a 9.30 am appointment at the Hotel Escuela with visiting Indian chef Ramamoorthy Swaminathan for . It was strange killing time around the desrted Heliodoro stadium, home to my beloved CD Tenerife and weird to think that despite the hotel entrance being a few yards opposite the usual Armada Sur turnstile, i had never set foot in there. Anyway it was a good interview and I had the full hotel tour from the helpful manageress, read it on www.tenerifemagazine.comÂ

Once in Santa Cruz I never ignore the chance to explore and check to see if anything has changed or there is anything interesting going on. My wanders took me down to Plaza Weyler and along to Parque Garcia Sanabria, always a lovely stop off. After reading that there is a new art exhibition in the park gallery, I had to pop in. Mecanic Comic by Oscar Perez turned out to be a collection of bright surreal paintings all with a very similar theme, it didn’t really float my artistic boat, bit too samey, I like diverse images. It is FREE so if up that way pop in from Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and 6pm to 9pm or Sundays and holidays 10.30am to 1pm.

The park is a visually stunning set of leafy walkways centreing on a huge ornate fountain, there is always free expression going on, at Carnaval time it gets very expressive! I stopped to watch two big groups of mainly ladies going through their Tai Chi paces, very relaxing just to watch and they all seemed to be getting some benefit from it. Further down a group of amateur painters were dabbling on their canvas’s, maybe a new genius was among them, drawing breath is as good as I get so I admired their work for a while. Down by the flower clock I stopped for a cold drink at the cafe and watched the world go by – and all this before dinnertime. Sadly my interview notes were burning a hole in my pocket so it was time to head back to the south, inspired by another joñlly jaunt up north.

On The Trail Of The Vilaflor Pine

When you turned your water taps on this afternoon I bet you were blissfully unaware that my rather sweaty bottom was resting on a deliciously cool main water pipe running down through the Vilaflor valley. It was just a short shade, food and cold drink break on another enjoyable walk into the green and welcoming interior of Tenerife.

The regular Saturday morning walkers were down to the bare bones, just four of us in all, but eager and willing to test ourselves against another scorching sun and clear blue sky. Driving up from Los Cristianos we stopped off for a coffee at a small cafe on a tight bend in Ifonche, the day was just getting into its stride and keen motorcyclists were buzzing up the hill headed for Teide national park. Onward up through La Escalona and around the village of Vilaflor, we parked up by the football ground looking down on the main road that heads on to Teide. There was a busy cultural fair Comarcal del Sur in the ground complete with workshops, gymkhana, music and sport, but we had a route to march.

Up past the first of many water reservoirs, we found the steep track carving its way between an army of tall pine trees. the buzz of the fairs P.A was joined by the hum of an overhead helicopter but that soon faded and the tranquil air was our only companion. To one side we could see the terraced hills, closer examination revealed the hard work and skill that had gone into making the walls that protect the fields from the winds and erosion. As the path rose and twisted there was also admiration for those who maintain the walks, large stones mark the boundaries and sawn off logs held in by metal pins make some of the corner turns a little safer underfoot.

Reaching a rocky cliff the pine forest fell away below and to one side we could see the ocre red soil that gives the mountain and walk its distinctive flavour. Pine cones like footballs littered the trail as we took a downward turn and glimpsed the large reservoir through the tree tops. Zig zagging down some testing terrain we found our shady resting spot for a breather, not only could I feel the coolness of the water in the pipe I sat on, I could also hear it rushing through at a fair pace. The Spaghetti Junction of pipes and control valves further round made me appreciate what goes into spilling water into my bath for my rubber duck.

Refreshed we moved on and it seemed all uphill again now, turning the brow of a hill we found a remote rural house, the owners, with slumbering guard dog nearby, told us the main part was 130 years old. The side add ons sported solar panels, enough to supply all electrical needs and with Vilaflor as a garden it was pretty impressive. Attacking the last stage we crossed dry barrancos but deep gashes in the main path showed where the last heavy rain had ripped through, one last rise and we were back at the main road.

The walk had seemed more ups than downs but we came out 2 kms down the hill from our starting point at a rough track by Km17, before the turn off to the start of the village. a determined effort, and a cold drink stop, got us up the steep road side lined with tajinaste plants bristling with bees and back to the last remnants of the cultural fair. The whole walk had taken just under 4 hours and was packed with more natural evidence of the diversity of Tenerife.

Arona Says, We Will Fight Them That Light Them On The Beaches

During my Tenerife sea swims I am often assaulted by many and various items of rubbish, one of the smallest and most annoying is the humble cigarette butt. I tend to see these more on the beach than in the water, mainly because they get easily swept out on the tides. I must admit I have never been a smoker so can’t say that I would clean up after me, but I like to think I would.

Arona council has just announced that they intend to bring in fines of up to 3,000 euros for dropping fag ends on their beaches. The councillor for the environment Antonio Sosa insists that it is time that people treated the beaches with more respect, and I’m all for that. Providing this plan doesn’t get scuppered like Arona’s unworkable plan to ban all smoking on it’s beaches, it wont come in until after this summer.

The council are proposing the measure to clean up the look of the beaches but there are other problems caused by ciggie butts. Years ago when at The Western Sun, I was shown some very unpleasant photos of an autopsy on a dolphin. The stomach was full of rubbish, mush of it cigarette butts that expand as they soak up water, the dolphin then swallows them and they fill its stomach preventing it from eating.

If this all sounds really heavy, it needn’t be, there is a very easy solution, just pick up your old cigarette butts. Many of the beach side Tourist Information Offices already give out free plastic cones for smokers, you embed the stem in the sand and have an instant ashtray and the butts just drop into the stem for emptying once you reach a bin. The council are prepared to make even more of these cones available free, so really there will be no excuse.

Tree Cheers for Icod de Los Vinos And The Long Road Home

That wise old sage Jeff Beck once sang “Your Everywhere And Nowhere Baby” maybe he had heard of my excursions into the nether regions of Tenerife. Another scorching day was setting out its stall as I made the short hop from Los Cristianos to the Las Americas bus station, a quick coffee upstairs reassured me that after a few years of neglect the cafe is back to its best with a good choice of snacks and a cool breeze blowing through from the roof terrace. Downstairs the 460 TITSA bus to Icod de Los Vinos was waiting and a 90 minute climb up through the twists and turns of Guia de Isora and over the tight high bends of Sanatiago del Teide brought me into Icod bus station with its wonderful wall mural bringing a smile to my face.

I have only made fleeting visits to Icod before so was glad to spend some time exporing, the main road leading out of town is a dull mix of old and new buildings including an awful modern white block church. Thankfully on the way back towards the station I found a small old church in the Plaza del Calvario, well worth a short detour to appreciate the amazing statues and decor crammed into such a tiny area. Just across from there the pedestrianised Calle San Agustin led me into the old quarter of town and a tight array of shops snaking down to the Ayuntamiento (council) building. A fine building like this would make you want to pop in and shake your councilors hands every day, the stone steps to the plaza flanked by statues and its setting at a corner junction gave it the look of a benevolant provider smiling down on its people.

Following the old lane past busy cafes and restaurants I arrived at another plaza and the church of San Marcos Evangelista. This was clearly a focal point for fiestas as a small stage was still in place and the sprawling plaza included a central cafe and a convenient viewpoint looking down over the famous Drago tree in its walled garden. There are many other smaller Dragos around the north but this one is probably the oldest and its knarled trunk and branches are full of character. Looking back at the lane I was equally impressed by stacked wooden balconies on the nearest building, a fine example of another great tradition. With a little time to spare before my bus, I found a nice restaurant just down from the bus station and enjoyed a ice filled cold drink and a snack. In the bar they had a shelf full of beer bottles from around the world, my eyes were instantly drawn to a bottle of Bishops Finger, a real ale treat that I have quaffed back in the UK.

My next selection from the map was San Juan de la Rambla simply because I had never been there before, jumping on a 363 bus for Puerto de la Cruz I had to be alert to get off at the side of the motorway 15 minutes later. Taking the rat run tunnel under the road I took the steep descent down towards the sea, to say it was quiet was an understatement, there was hardly anyone around and certainly no bars, shops etc. Arriving at the Las Aquas part of town I was greeted by a rugged rocky coast and just one restaurant at the far end, there was a small spit of rock out in the sea, a scaled down version of the Garachico bolder propelled into the sea by a huge volcanic explosion. Puffing back up the hill I took a right turn and found a closed tourist information centre, a church plaza and a roadside plaza that was more like a layby – all of them were deserted. A quick wander turned up no signs of life in the street beyond so I back tracked and found a cultural centre social club for a much needed cold drink. There were a dozen or so people in there and it was quite impressive, like a very basic and old fashioned gentlemans club with a restaurant, and games room leading off the bar.

With unusually good timing I turned up at the bus stop just as my Icod bus pulled off the motorway, and was back in time to stretch my legs before catching the 460 Playa Las Americas bus, but only as far as Guia de Isora an hour away. Breaking off for an hour I had a wander into the historic centre of Guia and the leafy church plaza which was pretty well deserted - I was starting to think I had trodden in something. Of course most people with any sense were hiding indoors away from the scorching sun but a mere 30 odd degrees isn’t going to stop me exploring. Guia is a lovely unspoilt place and as I walked back down to the main road I looked out to Playa San Juan and the Atlantic in the heat haze below. Thankfully I found an open cafe/bar, my thirst and my bladder were keeping about even pace. I noticed that the cafe had a cards competition coming up with bottles of spirits for third and second place but “a pig” as the first prize, good for several meals or if you are sqeamish, a new and unusual pet to share the sofa when you watch the World Cup.

My Bono bus ticket was flexing in my pocket, must be bus time again so back to the neat little Guia station and a short 10 minute hop down to Tejina de Guia to meet some friends that live there. As this was the last stop off I was able to spend a relaxing evening enjoying the sunset in good company outside one of the bars with a few Doradas quenching my raging thirst. With a constant eye on my watch I was able to get the last 417 bus back to Los Cristianos at 10.45, a smooth hours run before heading home to bed. What a great day of travelling and my Bono bus ticket had amazingly only clocked up just under 10 euros.

What The Blazes Was That?

There I was just walking out of my apartment block the other morning and a large yellow plane skimmed overhead coming over Montaña Guaza. A bit of digging and I now know it was a hydroplane, just arrived to help fight any forest fiires we may have in the Canary Islands this summer.

The recent scorching temperatures are a timely reminder of the previous fires here in the north of Tenerife and more so over on the islands of  La Gomera and La Palma. Last year when fires broke out on La Gomera, every old fire engine possible was dragged into service in Tenerife and headed to the port for the ferry trip across to our near neighbour. These hydroplanes are a much more effective and fast solution when it comes to dousing the flames.

Two hydroplanes are now stationed at Los Rodeos airport in the north, on loan from Canadair, part of the 43 group. Originally they were loaned to Torrejon airport on the mainland but they will be looking after us until September. Each plane has the capacity to hold up to 13,500 litres of water to drop on any raging inferno. In football type emergencies they could probably transport large quantities of Dorada to fuel the Armada Sur.