Leafing Through The El Sauzal Summer Collection

Mount Teide rising through a cushion of cloud, seemed to be admiring the cascade of neat houses on the terraced green slopes of the north east coast. Must be my stop, I thought, after letting the Titsa bus take me below and beyond my previous samplings of El Sauzal town. The tight modern road revealed plants and trees bursting forth from every rocky crevice. It´s a thirst for life, shared by the locals of the Tenerife municipality, especially as they geared up for three big religious fiestas.

My upward walk back into the heart of El Sauzal was a constant battle between the blue and green for my attention. Flowers, a knarled tree trunk, and even seed pods got into the act. The Parque de Los Lavaderos looks more impressive with every visit, this time, June heat brought a myriad of pond insects in the old washing area that lends its name to the park. Some had evolved into red and blue dragon flies that skipped across the surface of the pools.

Up near the church of San Pedro Apostol, the tower was decked outfor the patron saints (St Peter) three day fiesta, Santa Cruz de Ravelo, from 22 to 26 July, and Our Lady of Los Angeles on 2 August, The wooden peacock Luis Stinga was stunning as always, framed by seasonal blooms as it marched up the steps of the town hall. Even smaller touches made a big impression, the street signs of El Sauzal have their own flourish. The wine coloured background making a subtle reminder of the municipality´s rich harvests of wine, often sampled at the Casa del Vino uphill beside the motorway linking Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz.

Hermanos Toste are legendary firework experts who paint the skies like a huge canvas, the Los Realejos based company would be busy over the next few months plying their trade at fiestas across the Canary Islands. Specialist safety was also being deployed in El Sauzal for their celebrations, the posters outline some very precise guide lines including advance tickets for all performance areas, and even a check list for pet owners to ensure no undue stress. Music drifted across from a sound system trail as I sipped my coffee outside the Cafe La Avenida as I waited for my return bus. Once again it was clear I had only scratched the surface of the municipality, but seeds had been sown for my next return.


Olympic Lure Drives Arona Combined Events to Gold Standard

“My legs felt like matchsticks, it was painfull for me on the last stretch.” But still the smile remained after Holly Mills from Andover as sh was overtaken in the 800 metres final of the senior heptathlon at the Arona Combined Events weekend in the south of Tenerife. That dropped the 21 year old into fourth spot at the end of the meeting in the Estadio Antonio Dominguez near the beaches of Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. . Zhen Ninali (below) clinched the top spot, only months after becoming naturalised Chinese after originally representing Canada, the country where she was born 22 years ago.Second place went to Maria Vicente with Noor Vidts of Belgium in third.

Holly recovered well and was soon weighing up the positives gathered from the two day event, to add to lessons learnt from the Covid restrictions.” I feel the disruptions to my training programme have given me more time to grow and figure out what areas I need to concentrate on. I was really pleased with the massive improvement in the javelin this weekend for a new personal best, and I have had a good indoor season after moving into the senior level of competition. “Arona Combined Events was a ranking competition so the overall points gained could propel athletes towards Tokyo. “I still have a lot to do in the next few weeks but i´ve shown myself that I am capable of a lot more to come. ” The big day for Olympic confirmation is on 1st July, so good luck to Holly to receive that landmark news.

Kate O´Connor competing for Ireland had a frustrating early end to her heptathlon after a leg injury kept her from completing her  final three events. it follows a complicated year. ” I was born in Newry in Northern Ireland but competed for Dundalk in the south and have also trained in Belfast and Dublin. The Covid measures were tough back home, even the national championships in Dublin didn´t allow for coaches to join the competitors. At least my studies in Sports Development at Sheffield University worked out well with course work done on line.” Kate was in upbeat mood after a first day that included a personal best in the shot put.

In the mens decathlon, there was a top two domination for the Czech Republic with Jiri Sycora taking top spot and Adam Helcelet (above) finishing just behind him. It was close all the way through the ten events but the duo both did particularly well in the high jump and javelin. It was the tenth Arona Combined Events , last year didn´t take place due to Covid. but it came back and coped admirably with the added restrictions. Athletes, coaches, and family members were the exclusive guests of the Andorra Hotel, just a short walk from the stadium. The Hospiten Green Clinic acted as a sponsor and took care of the PCR tests required before athletes could return home. Everything in the arena got constantly sprayed and wiped, the landing sand pit was squirted between jumps, and even the shot was soaked and wiped before its throwers could retrieve it.

This years tournement attracted 63 athletes from 19 countries as far away as Estonia, Switzerland, and Venezuela. The giant screen replayed the action, and it was available on line at laliga.com. In between races, a selection of Tenerife´s many natural attractions helped to bang the drum for tourism. None of that ever detracts from the legacy of this major sporting event. Local young hopefuls got valuable experince on the first day with races between the programmed challenges. It must be working, the weekend saw success elsewhere as the Caja Canarias Tenerife ladies athletics squad regained their place in the National League of Honour, and the mens squad confirmed their continuation in the top section , a status that goes back to 2008.


Ancient And Modern Tenerife Pride In La Victoria De Acentejo

All tight sinews and seductive promise. Not quite what I expected when answering the motorway sign invite to “Visit La Victoria de Acentejo” in the north west of Tenerife. There were plenty more surprises to come in this natural treat of a municipality that packed an historical punch.

Just a few minutes after getting off the Titsa 101 bus from La Orotava, I was face to expressive face with Evolution, a metal sculpture from Julio Nieto, a Vizcaya born artist who  settled in Tenerife in 1986 and has stopped me in my tracks before with his bold, attention grabbing work.

The wild sea drew the attention as the road rises just above the motorway and wild coast beyond. That was just the access, the best goodies were stacked inland. The steep incline from my arrival unveiled wider views of green hills rising to meet the shyline. Evolution was in a prime elevated position, on one side a modern sports centre sat below walking trails up into the barrancos (ravines), but my eye was caught by the church tower, a more elaborate version of a popular Tenerife theme.

If I was being reeled in, I wasn´t complaining, the church led onto the Ayuntamiento (council) building for the municipality of La Victoria. An under staed  blue, and dark wood combination stood alongside a large plaza and gave me a wonderul view of a two stage towering pine tree. At the foot of the dominating tree, a carved stone provided me with a history lesson of historic resistance.

When the conquistadors from mainland Spain were invading the Canary Islands at the end of 1495, they met stiff resistance from the Guanche natives. Yhe north west provided the last pocket of defiance and Fernandez of Lugo was held at bay in Acentejo as the locals prevailed on 26 December 1495, and he had to draft over reinforcements from Gran Canaria before his troops could push on to the final vicrory in Los Realejos in the new year. The sturdy pine tree is a monument to that La Victoria stand.

There are always pointers to the life and community involvement of any town. An upcoming early Sunday clean up and walk in the Barranco Hondo caught my eye on a poster. Mentions of wine, pottery, and chestnuts filled in some more background. A poster for a second competition of historic photos of the municipality hinted at a well supported earlier contest. Even on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the town centre and main shopping street had a good choice of bars and cafes to tempt me. La Matanza de Acentejo, takes over at the end of La Victoria, I will have to return to see what they can add to the mix.






CD Tenerife Season Without Fans Goes To Last Kick

Just a sight and a touch of the Heliodoro Stadium in Santa Cruz brought memories flooding back. It was 15 months since fans were allowed in to worship CD Tenerife, and for the final game of the 2020-2021 season, a small group of Armada Sur members popped up to make a couple of pre match presentations.We had hoped at least some fans would be let in the ground for the final game but that hope was dashed.

Captain Suso Santana was the focus of much speculation and attention in what could be his final game wearing the shirt with boundless pride. The 36 year old local born forwards contract expires in June 2021 and no news of a years extension has come from the club. Either way we wanted to mark his superb service, Suso is loved by the fans and plays his heart out for CD Tenerife. The commemorative plaque summed it up. “Heroes are never forgotten and legends never die.” Over 100 fans turned up outside the teams pre game hotel, across from the ground, to praise and support Suso – and to give a gentle nudge to the club management. There was also the Armada Sur player of the season award to bestow on USA international Shaq Moore. The right sided player from Powder Springs, Georgia has made a big impact in defence and supporting the attack from the wing.

Real Oviedo were the visitors, neither side had anything to play for, guaranteed a safe mid table position. The ref decided he would be the star of the game by showcasing the weaknesses of VAR. Oviedo took a 6th minute lead after a Dani Hernandez punch out wasnt cleared away, leaving Sanchez to score. The second half opened with Vada being floored by an Oviedo player, it took the ref an age to consult VAR and give the blatantly obvious penalty that Fran Sol finished with ease.

The script writer, or rather coach Ramis, set up a dream scenario when Suso came off the subs bench just after the hour. Just 15 minutes later English forward, Samuel Shashoua was pushed to the floor and there was only one man who could take the penalty on such a day. Suso looked as cool as ever to beat thr goalie and give Tenerife the lead.In the current climate, dreams dont always´thrive, with six minutes of time added on, Oviedo pushed forward and Blanco bundled in the leveller for a 2-2 draw.

Coach Ramis is another CD Tenerife employee who´s contract is about to expire, there´s a lot of discussions ahead for the club. At least we got a glimpse of the future, Jorge Padilla came on as a late sub, and Felix, another young gem got a few minutes towards the end. Whatever happens, the fans will be ready to return next season and will once again pump passion and emotion into the grand old stadium.

Stand Back In Amazement Over Valle San Lorenzo

Threading delicate strands of cotton to make an artistic roseta is a Canarian art form. So it was fitting that it was featured on a series of large murals that greeted me on my arrival at La Escalona, just 6 kms below Vilaflor.

Walking down through La Hondura, an even bigger mosaic of natures making  spread out below with ancient tracks almost touching before heading down to Valle San Lorenzo, Arona town, and the south coast of Tenerife beyond. How does nature pack it all in? Between neat terraces and the peaks of the Ifonche walk, the  modern road that brought me to the higher ground, skirting along the lip of the deep barranco (ravine).

It was a seroiusly hot day but I passed a full reservoir complete with a memorial stone on its side. Further down there was a more unusual road side tribute A bag of Canarian potatos added a few more wrinkles from the heat, normally salt gives them the distinctive look and delicious flavour. The sweep of the valley below stretched as far as the rising road to the La Centinela viewing point to my left as well as showing familiar land marks from Arona town, a little further adrift than anticipated to my right.  A nifty cut back took me to Camino Altavista and swung me back on course for the village of Tunez.

I keep on seeing abandoned farm buildings on my travels, stripped of their past glories by the ravages of time and weather. Altavista showed showed some that had been kept in tip top condition and looked magnificent and functional, Other dwellings have found a new lease of life as rural tourism holiday retreats. One new recruit just below my path included a clear perspex bubble in the courtyard for observing the uncluttered night time skies that attract many astronomers to Tenerife.

In between the two extremes, there is always plenty of scope for good old muscle stretching on challenging paths that link villages and trade routes. I could see the distinctive white tower of Tunez church far below but it wasn´t going to come without some effort. Plenty of twists and turn over large awkward and uneven stones dominated the slowly descending route. Eventually it opened out to a flat exit at the entry to Tunez and a water break in the shade of the church plaza. Tunez commands a wonderful position looking out over the valley bowl of Valle San Lorenzo and an easier descent towards the town.

Barranco de Chijas dominates the valley as it carves irs way down from the hills. An old stone viaduct was always a popular diversion. It´s now sealed off but still worth the hour extra to head up to imagine rain water powering down through the tall bridges when the rare heavy rains arrive. There are more precarious view points to survey the valley but I had my eyes fixed on the circular terrero (Canarian Wrestling hall) and the football ground beside it. Once past that its an easy exit back to the main street of the busy and popular town.

Los Cristianos Puts The Plug In For Safety

Like a huge orange tongue that Gene Simmons of KISS would be envious of, the  protective boom was rolled out across Los Cristianos port to start a Monday morning contamination simulation excercise. A drone hovered over one of the small fishing boats in attendance as a sprinkling of sun bathers settled on the old beach just yards away.

Los Cristianos is a busy port and recent strengthening of the harbour wall showed the ongoing commitment to safety. This was still a working day, the Armas Taburiente ferry slowly glided in just beyond the port building and disgorged its foot and car passengers from the nearest of the Canary Islands. The local TV outlets gathered on the roof of the building but I settled on the terrace of the El Teatro cafe with my coffee.

As the boom spooled out to encircle a large section of the docking area, it left a large yellow cotton reel empty on the dock. The boom was pulled out into position to protect what would be a safety zone. Thankfully there was no danger involved, even the stacked boxes of crisps made it uncrunched onto the Armas ferry. OK it wasn´t exactly Thunderbirds but, practice now will help to ensure perfect arrangements in the unlikely event of a real spill.

The main operation took nearly an hour but I couldn´t help wondering how long it would take to rewind that tongue back onto the spool. It was a different way for me to spend a leisurely hour, but as a regular sea swimmer, it was reassuring to see that all was ship shape.


Feeling The Rub Of The Green In Erjos

It could have been dawn breaking as sun filtered through leaves, casting eerie shadows. Noon was a more accurate time check, and I was just ten minutes into Erjos in the north west corner of Tenerife. The large green wedge of laurisilva forest marched across Teno rural park as a robin flitted away from a wooden gate. It was an inspiring welcome after I had stepped off my Titsa bus from Los Cristianos, after it had passed through the 20 degree sun of Santiago del Teide.

It was an easy transition from the blue skies and bursts of flowers as I trailed family groups strolling up the gentle grass rise. As the foliage closed in, moisture hung in the air, and moss clung to branches, it summoned thoughts of myths amd legends. Views from the mirador, about 30 minutes in, added to the contrasts and marked the point where most people retraced their steps to the plaza and church.


Others pushed on through the stark contrast of  the cool  tunnel created by tree branches entwined overhead. Twisted roots and dribbles of water made it all seem alive, I wouldn´t have been surprised to see strange eyes  glowing in the undergrowth, birds singing lightened the tone and sharp bends offered a realm of possibilities with each step.

Erjos offers a range of well signed walks, more choices cme up after two hours, I was doing the full 11.7 kms to Los Silos so took a tight dipping path marked for Monte de Aqua and Los Marados on the way down to the finish point. It was like opening a door on another dimension as fertile valleys plunged into the barrancos (ravines) as trees and plants hugged the hill sides. The roof was off and the sun sneaked through to spotlight a circular trail down the mountain.

Every branch and leaf was a conduit for moisture that eeked out of the clouds and into the thirsty soil. Rocky fingers protruded from the high sides as if reaching out to grab their share of natures bounty. There were only a few other walkers on this stretch, and they were coming up from the coast that appeared in the distance between the peaks. Los Maradas farm dwellings bore witness to the lure of this area, plentiful water being a must for cattle grazers and farmers.

The final 30 minutes trek was another tight path to the left of the derelict dwellings and linked up to a wider water modern channel that emerged just oposite the urban centre of Los Silos. I wasn´t too impressed by the seven adventure cyclists who poured down behind me, despite signs at two points forbidding their access. Lycra clad and in helmets they must have felt secure, but I didn´t fancy tyre marks up my legs. The good news was the walk emerged just by the Titsa bus stop to Garachico and Icod.

It was a very rewarding four hour walk in this rich corner of Tenerife,Erjos in the inland key to a range of walks of varying lengths. Coming up from the south, the first bus stop is Puerto de Erjos for the black caves, or in my case, two stops later was the busier Erjos with the plaza and a few cafe bars. There is limited parking near both bus stops to unlock a choice of options. !Quite a green heaven.

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.

Geisha And Samurai – The Art Of Japan, Holds Court In Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Seemingly totally opposed aspects of Japanese culture, but this exhibition at the Caja Canarias Cultural Foundation in Santa Cruz showed many similarities between the subservient Geisha and the warrior Samurai. Both require a tight discipline, dedication to detail, and a flair of expression. Some 200 exhibits showed how both lifestyles had paid such a big part in the history and development of Japan.

From the spiritual through theatre, flowers, and mystic icons like Mount Fuji, sketches, documents, and paintings explored the growing process of people and country over centuries. Textiles, like the fine fabrics for kimonos, and hand carved ornate fans showed the amount of preparation behind everyday life. Split over two floors of the building, the exhibits grew in size and stature as I toured the rooms as gentle oriental music played in the background.

Geisha tradition has a strong sexual element, a warning sign made that clear before visiting the section of explicit drawings explaining the Geisha role in society. The costumes are the big showpiece stars and appear in the later sections. The delicate, flowing nature of the Geisha costumes contrasted well with the robust fighting armour of the Samurai. I was surprised to see how intricate the Samurai robes were, but their lances and other combat weapons looked suitable savage.

The exhibition is on at the Espacio Cultural of Caja Canarias in Plaza del Patriotismo, about 5 minutes up from the port area, until 24 July 2021. Opening times are Monday to Friday from 10 am to 1.30 pm, and 5.30 pm to 8 pm. Saturdays times are from 10 am to 1 .30 pm only, and closed Sundays and fiesta days. Entry is FREE on Mondays, and 5 euros all other times.








New Blooms Sweep Through Santa Cruz For Day Of The Crosses

How nice when old friends turn up for a special birthday. Santa Cruz welcomed back the flower crosses for the 527 th anniversary of the founding of the Tenerife capital. La Rambla missed the colourful event in 2020 due to Covid restrictions but 16 crosses took pride of place to raise the tradition back to its former heights.

I arrived early from Los Cristianos on the Monday morning, swapping the Titsa bus for the tram. Getting off at La Paz, I could see the display had extended across into Avenida La Asuncion to the left, and a family were still adding fine touches to their entry. Dia de la Cruz (Day of the Cross) is always popular but bigger gaps this year allowed more freedom of movement and a chance to appreciate the blooms from all angles. La Rambla is the perfect host with its wide pedestrianised walkway through the heart of the city.

Many of the local groups that had created the works of art, had ties with the health sector, very appropriate after their sterling efforts to keep us all healthy. As it was a public holiday in Santa Cruz, many families enjoyed a stroll under the shade of the spreading Indian Laurel trees, thes all year round  inhabitants and the dazzling violet blooms mixing in made it a natural green house of beauty.

The mood is infectious, several surrounding homes had added small crosses on their balconies, and I noticed an old peoples home was having an outside tea party in their grounds, based around a small home grown cross with a guitar playing singer adding a gentle vibe to the big day. La Rambla is a treasure trove of historical interest, the old abandoned bull ring harked back to Tenerife´s past, and at the far end of the walk, the Parque Garcis Sanabria made a nice entry point back down into the  shopping centre of the city and the port.

The crosses were sturdier and more restrained this time, but as pleasing on the eye as ever. With less wild strands , and strong wooden frames at their heart, the crosses have more chance of staying in top condition until the end of the Tres de Mayo celebrations on 9 May. The Parque usually has a big flower and crafts exhibition in tandem with the crosses but this year it was moved indoors to the Recinto Ferial at the entry to the city from the south. I called in there later and there were over 50 stalls faeturing  cakes, sine, basket making, wine, and chocolates. The Flower and Artesans  show is FREE to enter and finishes on 9 May. Opening times are 4 to 8 pm until 6 May, and then 10 am to 8 pm.