Archive for the 'Life' Category
Calling On Friends Is All About Timing

As Agatha Christie brought murderers to book in Puerto de la Cruz, Alexander Von Humboldt cut a lonely figure surveying the La Orotava valley from his concrete mirador a mere 5 kms up above the city. Back in the post Covid world, the Fenix was raising job hopes in Santa Ursula. With Santas already abseiling up and down musical ropes, it was time to recharge my Titsa unlimited travel residents ticket for another month.

Events were outlined on the Puerto de la Cruz street posters for the 8th Agatha Christie festival from 5 to 14 November, all based on a short stpry penned by the prolific crime queen back in 1927 on a visit to the north Tenerife city. It´s grown over the years to include readings, plays, and music, and has helped to raise the city profile far beyond Tenerife. Always keen to turn the page to new activities, Puerto de la Cruz had just become the first Tenerife municipality to confirm their 2022 Carnava, fom 17 Feb to 13 March.. Santa Cruz is the biggie and is preparing for their own parties but are still a little shy of confirming dates as Covid restrictions change.

Von Humboldt invented geo botany after sailing in to Tenerife back in 1799 with his journals and telescope, and marvelling at all the plant and insect life that abounds here. This was my third visit to his lofty free viewpoint, and it seemed like the great German explorer was edging nearer to the sheer drop edge of the balcony as he waited for people to pop in to see him. The only other visitors were a German couple who said they didn´t know about our Alex, I suspect they had eased their hire car into the tight layby in hope of finding toilets, but all facillities have been closed since re-opening after a previous spruce up. Maybe an online visitors book address by his biography plaque might encourage some feedback.

I shall keep taking this high road on the TF-21 as it leads onto Santa Ursula, La Victoria, and La Matanza, three of the smaller but most interesting municipalities on the island. Santa Ursula had declared November, Fushion En Verde month with revamped premises, offers and an overall push to help local businesses as part of the Proyecto Fenix campaign, and the response looked encouraging. The neighbours were looking decidedly quieter. It´s a tough situation, these areas have to fight for their share of rural tourism trade. All credit to those who take chances and try new ideas, maybe the influx of tourists from newly accessed destinations will filter through to boost others as well in the north.


Folllow In The Tenerife Footsteps Of Admiral Horatio Nelson

Planting one foot on Tenerife soil, Admiral Horatio Nelson drew his sword with his left hand and prepared to lead the assault on 25 July 1797. Then it all fell apart. A musket shot from the defending forces pierced his right elbow and sent him crashing to the ground still half in his landing boat. Disaster for the British naval force and potentially a career ending moment for the Norfolk born 39 year old leader.

But in an incredible display of mutual respect between two leaders of seafaring backgrounds, a very civil surrender led to the failed invasion becoming part of Tenerife culture and Nelson´s name being remembered with dignity. Over 250 British troops were killed as firece resistance and strong fortifications frustrated other landing parties that tried to breach other points around the coast of capital city, Santa Cruz. Nelson negotiated the surrender via his number two Captain Troubridge.

Rowed back to his ship the Theseus, Nelson had made light of his wound and pulled himself up onto the ship by a single rope and insisted. ” Let me alone, I have yet my legs left and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and get his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it is off the better.” In his journal he praised the hospitality of the Spanish Governor of Tenerife. ” It is right we should notice the noble and generous conduct of Don Juan Antonio Gutierrez. The moment terms were agreed he directed our wounded men to be received into the hospitals and all our people to be supplied with the best provisions that could be procured, ”

To this day, Santa Cruz is full of reminders of Nelson´s attack, normally reenactments are carried out on and around 25 July but Covid has severly limited that. For 2021 it will be mainly acts of remembrance at key points that featured in the repelling of the foriegn fleet. However you can tap into the past all year round via in Santa Cruz. Nelson touched land at the southern entry to the capital, Castillo Negra, just along from the modern Auditorium, was the power house for the rebuff of the sailors. Just next to it, a small concrete quay meets the sea.


At this point you will find the first in a series of silver plaques marking the spots where various clashes and strongholds were. They pepper the coast aalong as far as San Andres beyond the old dock area. Nelsons face even appears among clasical composers and poets on the large square concrete blocks that line the San Andres shore. One of the early warnings of the approach of the British ships, came from a female trader on her way to market, she rang the church bell to alert everyone, it assured her place in local folklore.

A short stroll along from the Auditorium to the Plaza de España lake opposite the cruce ship port, reveals a treasure chest of past echoes. Steps down below the lake lead to the remails of the city wall, only rediscovered after the plaza was dug up for redevelopment at the start of the 2000 millenium. The underground area shows a complete history of the Castillo de San Cristobal that was above, and those who tried in vain to take Tenerife. Pride of place goes to the Tigre (tiger) canon that was instrumental in keeping Nelsons and previous hopefuls pinned back off shore. Entry to this hidden world is free and very informative. Over in the cruce ship port, a canon ball impact on a low wall shows how close the city came to receiving greater damage.

For the best in depth history lesson, follow the port road along to the huge winged statue and above you will find the Military Museum. This covers all Spanish conflicts and is illustrated with maps, uniforms, and weapons. In the case of Nelson, an interactive map shows exactly how the battle played out, and the Union Jack from the flag ship Emerald, surrendered by Nelson, is on disply in a glass cabinet. Outside they have a wealth of military vehicles from different ages.

The museum is free to visit, open from 10 am to 2 pm Tuesday to Saturday. Altough it´s still a working base, there is a small cafe and a terrace. Keep looking out for other reminders of Nelson in the city, new murals have been added in recent years above La Noria near the main shopping area. Nelson´s name is immortalised on a street sign near the old bull ring at La Paz. There are also plans for a more permanent exhibition, fittingly, close to the sea front.






Keep It Clean Tenerife Dig In To Keep The Coast Clear

Rugged beauty draws sun worshippers to Playa El Callao beach just below the rising ridge of Guaza mountain in Los Cristianos. Not everyone takes their rubbish away with them, that´s why Keep It Clean Tenerife leapt into action armed with rubbish sacks, gloves, and bags of enthusiasm.

As a baking hot Sunday morning hit its stride, 58 volunteers covering a wide age range, left no stone unturned to capture  an impressive haul of assorted leftovers, they normally scoop up around 100 kilos each event. British  founder Tim was chalking up the groups 10 th clean up. “It started  just over a year ago when I picked up some rubbish when walking my dog, and its grown from there. We target the coast and have included Abades, La Caleta, El Medano, El Puertito, and Los Abrigos on a roughly monthly basis.”

The key is in the preparation, they set up base camp and welcomed their diverse team including Brits, Spanish, and Dutch. The long handles grabs were useful for the less fragrant deposits, but they didn´t hesitate to delve in along the craggy sides of the rock pool at the Las Tarajales entrance to the beach. The pool showed the diversity of the bathers from scuba fans to swimmers, and there were also  a few cans and plastic glasses from social gatherings perched on rocky ledges.

Large plastic water bottles were a perfect home for discarded cigarette ends. Tim explained that they could be recycled by a company in Holland. If that sounds unusual, a haul of old rusty nails and screws was an even bigger surprise. Tims guess was they were from wooden doors and pallets burnt on the beaches during the annual Night of San Juan (23 June)  when mid summer bonfires attract large groups to all Spanish beaches.

Two hours of combing the beach significantly reduced thethreat of more rubbish finding its way down into the sea. There are plenty more clean ups planned around the coast, including a big spruce up of the nearby Playa Las Vistas. Volunters are sure of a warm welcome, keep an eye on the Keep It Clean facebook page for full details.

All Dressed Up For A Dickens Of A Christmas Tale In Tenerife

Santas little helpers are furloughed and Papa Noel has put the elves on ERTE. As 2020 sneaks out the back door, it´s giving us all more indigestion than the turkey, but young eyes are sparkling with hope, and the halls are being decked with bells and holly. The streets of Tenerife had been defiantly decked out too.


My latest wanderings were back in the north of Tenerife starting at El Tanque and their tree trunk reindeer outside the town hall. On a chilly day with drizzle in the air, it coaxed a smile out of passers by. Icod chipped in with a shadow nativity in the church plaza, bold but brooding, the mood was lightened by outbreaks of poinsetia all over town. I was used to seeing the red and even yellow versions but was pleasantly surprised by the pink blooms.If your looking for positive signs, the Mariposario(butterfly house) below the plaza,is open again after years of planning arguments. Long may their wings flap.

Dropping down to Garachico, the nativity in the Plaza de La Libertad was very traditional and bursting with cuteness. Was that a yard of ale contest I could see over by the Castillo San Miguel? No, just wishful thinking on my pary morphing the musical herald. A cage like red heart nearby was hardly needed but added a bit more variety to the scene. Across the cove, another more basic nativity was a magic link to the wild sea and spray.

Back down in Los Cristianos, tradition had another stronghold. The scaled down statue of the Virgen del Carmen is lovingly tended daily with flowers but at this time of year that is augmented by a few christmas toys and baubles. It´s an appropriate nod to the Virgen´s role as protector and guide to the local fishing families.  A short hop away, the church plaza benches were getting the benefit of a painting makeover from the team that did such an uplifting job on the beach promenade seats. Hope and renewal will be on many wish lists as this year fades away -we will take any encouragement we can find.





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!

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.


Refreshing Changes Lap At Tenerife´s West Coast

Heat haze shimmered in a 35 centigrade stamina tester. most people chose to admire Playa San Juan coast under shade with cold drinks, but the recent widening and gentle sloping of the harbour wall path was a welcome option for my visit.

The flower beds were a blaze of colour, and dispite a Covid induced shortage of tourists, the beach had a fair sprinkling of bathers. The closed kiosks were frustrating but hopefully new tennants will be found once the times improve. This was my first chance for a close up look at the plaza that replaced the old church. Too stark and too angular from the outside, it was reprieved slightly by a spacious and welcoming interior, with bars and play areas.

Heading further up west, Playa de la Arena was busier. Their detailed, colour coded social distancing zones added a touch of class and even looked cheery after six months of turmoil and rwstrictions. Going back to school was the last thing on young minds around the craggy coast of Puerto de Santiago. Crab Island was in sedate mood to attract plenty of sea dippers, thankfully there was none of the clawing  waves that the area often delivers.

Los Gigantes was my first Tenerife base, the whimsical urban art of Momoshi made me smile even though the lack of passing holiday makers was sad to see. There was more art on the approach road to Los Gigantes beach, this time from Matias Mata (AKA Sabotaje Al Montaje). An even more pleasing sight was the slightly extended Los Guios beach, with more improvements partly done. An easy access ramp would be very helpful, and a new lifeguard tower would back up increased security.

My feet soon remembered the steep rise of cardiac hill as I made my way up and out of “the village” and my reward for the ascent was the sight of the fisherwoman´s statue looking resplendent ringed by a higher than usual burst of natures blooms. The days heat was well worth it to catch up with some of my favourite ports of call.


Past Future And Present Push Santa Cruz Forward

Cleanse your memory of forced museum visits in your school days. Times have changed and Tenerife capital Santa Cruz is a prime example of this. The Museum of Nature and Arqueology (MUNA) fitted the bill perfectly for the first of my months unlimited travel, residents pass,journey with Titsa bus company. The chance to rediscover some old favourites, neglected corners, and overlooked attractions suited the mood of the steady recovery from the Coronavirus lockdown. Phase Two was just about to dilute into the wider freedom of Phase Three across Spain and I´m keen to put Tenerife firmly back in the tourist window. The museums were offering free entry to their Santa Cruz and La Laguna buildings on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm until normality returned.

The three floors of the bright, modern layout before me, covered the birth and evolution of our planet and the Canary Islands in particular.  From minerals and rocks, through plants, animals, and natures volatile interventions, it was all in my face on large video screens, many interactive, and in a choice of Spanish, English, or German.They really pack a lot in to the building, the display halls were a treasure trove of interest and all a far cry from the stuffy presentations of my youth. The most famous exhibits are the mummified remains of the Guanche people, the original inhabitants of Tenerife, The foot in this photo is just a tease, the preserved skeletons are both stunning and shocking and best seen for yourself. Updates of all the museums are on the website along with normal times and charges.

Outside, Santa Cruz wasn´t standing still. The Auditorium had recently played a part in the filming of an advert for the new Porsche 911 Targa 45. A short splash away, the Floatel Reliance, a moveable hotel serving the oil exploration rihs, had just made its own showbiz bow. The long term upgrade of the giant worked out just right for its large kitchen galley to host filming for the new HBO series “The Head” which debuts on 12 June 2020. The Antarctic based mystery series will be shown in 30 countries, the Canary Islands are really striking oil these days as a location for film and TV projects.

Up in town, the La Recova market was buzzing and coping well with the social distancing restrictions. They have a keen sense of history and are restoring the original clock mechanism for the tower which has stood proud since the centre opened in 1943, I might as well name drop and tell you that La Recova was used for the final of BBC Masterchef a couple of years ago. Santa Cruz and La Laguna have an impressive quick link tram, it only seems a blink ago when I first discovered its sleek journeys but this last week it was celebrating 13 years of smooth running.

Down in the port, the Aida Nova cruise ship smiled sweetly, pleased to have found a temporary berth until the worlds ebb and flow regained some stability. Time for me to check my maps and time tables and to relish the prospect of my next excursions.




Splash Of Sport Eases The Pressure Of Coronavirus In Tenerife

Slow and gentle were not on my agenda as I raced into the calm blue twinkling sea at Playa de Los Cristianos. After over two months denied my swim by the coronavirus lockdown in Spain, it felt so relaxing and uplifting to take an 8.30 am dip at one of Arona councils newly established four aquatic sport zones in the south of Tenerife.

Leaving Kirby Towers, daybreak treated me to a bright full moon pinned against a radiant blue sky. Our nearest neighbour island, La Gomera, was already bathed in sunshine, and Roque del Conde was sporting a Donald Trump wig of wispy cloud. The slowly unfolding coronavirus recovery programme had full beach openings reserved for two further steps, around four weeks, down the line, Thankfully the well organised sport excercise programme was just starting up, so I headed for the selected part of the beach via the entrance by the sailing school. This led me directly to a narrow strip of shoreline that already had attracted a well spaced out bunch of swimmers.

Once in lapping distance of the gentle waves, people were discarding clothes to leave the beach looking like a mass homage to Reggie Perrin. Sun beds remained stacked, secured, and out of use. This was swimming unplugged, no sun bathing or castle building and no showers afterwards. The usual wash areas were among the sealed sectors and receiving a daily blitz of disenfectant as part of the fight against the virus. Life guards were on hand though to ensure safety, but the old beach is much calmer and gently shelving into the water thanks to the embracing arm of the ferry port and harbour wall. Once refreshed by my swim, I headed to the exit point by the small quayside where the boat excursions depart.

Arona aquatic sport zones cater for surfing, kayaks, and padel surfing and are also at Playa de Las Americas (2) and Las Galletas, Granadilla council have a similar scheme. Hopefully it wont be long until we can return to normal sea freedom but in the meantime its a pleasure that reminds us of what we are striving for.



Money In The Post Coronavirus Age – Can We Handle It ?

One of the first lockdown restrictions here in Tenerife was the suspension of coin payments on the public service Titsa bus service. Big changes are on the cards for bars and restaurants everywhere, not just limits to seating and time allowances. We will have to adapt to tight rules and regulations that will change our social habits. One of the big issues is the handling of frequently palmed coins and notes. Of course our flexible friends, credit and debit cards, as well as phone swipes, will eliminate much of the interaction but wont cover all situations.

Small purchases like a small drink or a coffee are usually paid for in loose change, also many low paid bar and restaurant workers rely on on coin tips to make up their wages. Another popular use for shrapnel is the charity collection boxes you see on many a counter. Spain hasnt gone down the road of plastic, washable notes, maybe coins could be run through a beer glass like cleansing machine, but its all more detail to slow the slick process of business.

There are already more radical alternatives to filthy lucre. Crypto Currency has a lot of supporters. A dinosaur like me can just about cope with Paypal, a crypto bar opened in Los Cristianos a couple of years ago and a friendly waitress shocked me by revealing a crammed page of the menu just devoted to crypto currency, as well as normal money, but she looked blankly at me when I offered Esso World Cup coins.The bar didnt last long which maybe tells its own tale. It makes my mind creak to think I have witnessed two changes of currency, in 1972 decimalisation shook up my UK piggy bank, and in 2002 the euro replacement of pesetas put my brain to the test once more. Amazingly pesetas can still be redeemed through the Bank Of Spain until the end of 2020, some estimates say there are millions of coins and notes tucked away out there.

All changes are met with pockets of resistance but we soon learn to live with them. Maybe the aftermath of the Coronavirus will inspire new easier and safer ways of trading and if all else fails we can take a quantum leap back to the days of barter and skill swaps. Imagine topping up your phone by handing a chicken or some other poultry over the counter. At least it would bring a more humane ring to the term battery hens.