Archive for August 1st, 2011
Garachico Keeps Its Cool After The Big Heat

It was like being slapped in the face with a wet fish, in the nicest possible way, jumping off the Titsa bus on the Garachico coast road a cool salty breeze laced with foam from the crashing waves was just the cooling greeting I was seeking. The south of Tenerife was in the grip of a calima with humidity pumping the temperatures into the mid thirties so an escape to the north seemed a great idea.

An early start saw me in Icod de los Vinos for 11 am after a 90 minute ride on the 460 Titsa bus for just 3.65 euros on my Bono ticket. The route always pleases my senses, up through the lovely villages of Santiago del Teide and around the tight roads that cling to the mountains with a sheer drop below. I have owed Garachico a proper visit for years, brief stops on the way through just left me hungry for the full feast, since my last pass through a year ago little seemed to have changed with the new marina but a leaflet picked up later assured me it would be open for January 2012. the 33 million euro project started in 2008 and should give a big boost to local fishermen and the sporty boating brigade.

The rock is the big star of Garachico, a volcanic deposit spat into the sea when a huge eruption of lava engulfed much of the town in 1706, it had played peek a boo with me as my bus travelled along the high road into Icod but close up it was a powerful reminder of a turbulent past and a defiant marker for the future. Climbing the stone steps up to the Ex Convento de Santa Domingo de Guzman I found a shady green plaza in front of the old building. Built in 1601 it’s now a geriatric hospital, exhibition hall, and auditorium as well as a neat spot to survey the sea. A small fountain trickled sedately and lizards scuttled across from plant to plant, one patient at the hospital snoozed in the shade, I was tempted to join him but pushed onwards back down on the Paseo Maritima.

The waves were lively but not threatening but there were plenty of signs of their full power, an old water mill Los Molinos is preserved for visitors, the last remaining one after others were pummelled by the sea, even the football ground had large breaker like protection just a roads crossing from the sea. Nature does balance things up, the El Caleton rock pools are a wonderful collection of channels and fissures in the rocks, free for sun seeking bathers to enjoy. Health and safety in the UK would have them sealed off but in Garachico there are not even any life guards, just a colour coded safety flag plus stone steps and metal stairs into the churning water and then it’s down to your own common sense. There is also a more formal man made pool but the natural way looked much more fun.

Turning away from the sea and up a side street I was rewarded with the Plaza de la Libertad and what a rich treasure that turned out to be. The Iglesia De Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles and the Ayuntamiento building were impressive but shelling out a paltry euro I entered the Ex Convento De San Francisco which dates back to 1524 (that’s nearly half past three). The concentric cobbled corridors were lined with cabinets full of rare shells and fossils, exhibition halls led off displaying various art works, and the courtyards just brimmed with beauty. Up on the first floor the exhibition Canarias – Volcanes En El Oceano was continuing its educational tour and although closed for the afternoon the library offered another service to well served locals.

Heading back out to the sea front I ventured another euro to make the short walk onto the tower roof of the Castillo San Miguel. This had survived fire and lava since its birth in 1575 and the rusty canon and anchors just below stood testament to its valiant efforts to repel pirates. Nature had of course proved to be a more formidable opponent and even now the slopes of the cliffs show the path of two of the main lava flows, there were seven seperate prongs of the volcanic activity. Grabbing a cold drink left my in perfect time to catch the 363 hourly bus back to Icod, just one euro and ten minutes and I was back in a rather deserted home of the drago tree. Retracing my bus trip back south I broke the journey in Tejina for a few cool drinks with friends before pitching up in Los Cristianos for a few late Doradas at a party packed Merry Monk, well it was still very humid in the south.