Tenerife - Joyce and Martin visiting
Posted by Kath
Caramor arrived at Marina Santa Cruz, Tenerife early evening on 16 October. We spent the following day finding our bearings and hired a car in preparation for the arrival of our guests; my mum Joyce and brother Martin due to arrive the following day.
I departed for the northern airport, just 20 minutes away, in hot sunshine but by the time their plane had landed and they had made it through customs minus their suitcase which had decided to spend a night in Barcelona, the clouds had descended and it was raining. "Honest, it has been really sunny until now" I reassured them.
That night we experienced the 'best' thunderstorm I have ever been in. It went on for hours and the rain lashed down. The thunder echoed round and round the steep slopes of the nearby Anaga mountains. According to the local radio the amount of rain that fell in Santa Cruz was 122 litres per square metre! By morning the rain had eased, only to get going with renewed vigour by 9am. Gradually the colour of the water in the marina changed from limpid blue to muddy brown and filled with all sorts of debris.
We phoned the airport to arrange for the late luggage to be delivered to the marina. "That won't be possible, it is stuck in customs, you'll have to pick it up yourselves." That old chestnut! My greatest concern was that the delicious Swiss chocolate Martin had kindly brought had been impounded.
We were getting 'boat fever', a well known condition caused by too many people cramped together in Caramor's cabin and decided to head towards La Orotava, a pleasant town on the north coast. Santa Cruz marina is next to the extensive ferry and container port and all three are connected to the town by a service road. We went left, the road was completely flooded, littered with a couple of dead cars. We went right, again blocked, a major retaining wall had burst and large blocks of concrete lay right across the road. I was prepared to turn back but Martin spotted that security staff were guiding cars through the debris.
La Orotava had a pretty centre and we wandered round for a couple of hours. On the way back we successfully retrieved the suitcase which had just landed.
During the week we were able to visit most of the main tourist attractions; El Teide the dormant volcano which dominates the island at 3,718m, the Anaga mountains on the north-east tip, Masca a village with a view in the Teno mountains on the other side of the island, the Güímar pyramids and the Santa Cruz Hospital casualty department ... yes, Mother broke her arm on her third day here.
The Güímar pyramids
There are six pyramids of Güímar, these are terraced structures built from lava stone. It is possible to walk round them through a very pleasant and well interpreted arboretum. Apparently there used to be other pyramids around Tenerife but most of these have been destroyed.
In 1990, Thor Heyerdahl of Kontiki fame (and other crazy ocean crossing experiments), became aware of the "Canarian Pyramids", he thought these supported his hypothesis of a transatlantic link between Egypt and Central America, with the Canary Islands as a stopping off point on voyages between ancient Egypt and the Maya civilisation. He moved to Tenerife and spent many years researching pyramids across the world, his work is well documented in the information centre next to the pyramids.
Not everyone subscribes to his theory. There is so far no evidence that the structures pre-date the 19th Century, the archaeological dig carbon dated them to the 19th Century, built on a layer of rubble which had possibly been laid to level the site, while local researchers continue to maintain that they are simply stones piled up by farmers clearing fields.
In 1991, three researchers from the Canary Institute of Astrophysics, demonstrated that the long sides of some of the terraces marked the direction of both solstices and the stairs on their western side faces the direction of the rising sun on the winter solstice. Also, standing on the platform of the largest pyramid on the day of the summer solstice it is possible to experience a double sunset, as first the sun sets behind a mountain top, then it emerges again from behind the mountain and sets a second time behind a neighbouring peak. One of these researchers then looked into the importance of the solstices in freemasonry belief during the 19th Century, he also established that one of the wealthy owners of the land during that century was a freemason.
Thor's sailing adventures must have been great fun, if very very uncomfortable, they do show that it may have been possible for ancient man to cross oceans, it doesn't prove that he did. When it comes to the Güímar pyramids, however, I think he is barking up the wrong cactus.
'El Teide' means the devil in Guanche language and the volcano has certainly caused death and desolation over the centuries. The last eruption in 1798 resulted in the formation of the current summit cone. El Teide is of course a very popular attraction and a permit is required to climb to the very top of the crater rim (fully booked for the next 40 days).
There is a téléphérique which takes tourists from the high plateau to a viewing platform thirty minutes from the top. From here there are a couple of walks round the side of the volcano and the route to the top which is closely guarded for permit holders only. Martin booked the téléphérique online the night before and we arrived at the time specified thinking we would whiz past the waiting crowds. Not so, even with tickets in hand we had to wait two and half hours. The slogan for the attraction is "Volcano Life Experience", indeed, there were few at the end of the day who would be prepared to go through that again!
Unfortunately there wasn't much Joyce could do at the top, Martin went off for one of the walks and I decided to stay with Mum. Except ... I got talking to the guard of the summit gate, before I knew what was happening he had dragged me into his office and issued me with a pass for the summit! Too good to resist, I abandoned poor Mother and shot up to the crater, on the way I warmed my bum on a fumarole and ran back down again, in time to catch up with my family in the queue to go back down. Martin was not amused.
The view from the top was rather extraordinary and I am hoping Franco and I will get a chance to walk all the way up, staying at the refuge on the way, before we leave the Canary Islands.
Santa Cruz Hospital
Joyce's arm break was spectacular, more so that she landed on the other side. The Radius bone in her right arm was no longer aligned and much force was required to put it back in place. Poor Mum!
We arrived at the hospital at 2p.m. and x-rays were carried out promptly, patients came and went, some under police escort, others completely drunk or mad, slowly the numbers were going down and we were still there ... along with all the other fracture victims. Clearly there was no bone doctor on duty. Eventually Joyce's name was called. I had been listening out carefully, I had anticipated that it could sound something like "Roythe" but the nurse could speak quite good English. Unfortunately because the break was so bad, more x-rays were required to check that the bone had been put back in place correctly and it was midnight by the time we eventually left. Franco cooked us delicious spaghetti al pomodoro and we ate a midnight feast.
Joyce and her broken arm in the Teno Mountains
During the week we managed to fit in quite a few ice-creams, a couple of snorkelling sessions for Martin and Joyce wrote all her postcards with her left hand. Martin took us out for dinner to an Italian 'nouvelle cuisine' style restaurant and Joyce treated us to very nice meal at a fish restaurant in San Andres.
Joyce and Martin left very early Sunday 26 October, in fact they left even earlier than planned as it was the night the clocks went back and we hadn't realised!