We had intended to leave Tenerife at the beginning of November but the fates were against us and we had to stay a little longer. Firstly, the weather turned and we had days of rain and high winds. Friends tried to leave for La Palma but had to turn back. Lori and Clive were coming to Los Cristianos on the 8th and we had planned to visit La Palma for a week then drop down to La Gomera to meet them via the ferry from Tenerife. We then intended to sail for a few days then return them to Los Cristianos. The main reason all this didn’t happen, however, was that Pat’s new computer still hadn’t arrived, over a month after being posted from England. Enquiries at the marina office revealed that waiting for this length of time was normal and we were told that it would probably be here ‘next week’! We had no reason to doubt them as we had had replacement life jackets delivered with no problem, although they hadn’t taken as long.
So we decided to make the best of it and one day we, Joanie and Graham from Karma, Barbara and Chris from Dream or Two, and Vicky from Soteria booked a mini bus and left for a days walk in the Anaga mountains in the north of the island. You could get the bus to Chamorga, but it leaves Santa Cruz at the ungodly hour of 0645 and returns at 1630 and 1930. Not very convenient. The walk was up from the village to a saddle where we’d stride out along a lofty ridge then drop to the Anaga lighthouse, then again to a tiny, almost deserted hamlet at Roque Bermejo. Then we’d return up the barranco to Chamorga, all in all a fairly strenuous trip of about 8 kilometres which should take 4 hours or so.
The day started badly for Pat as Graham was going to drive and she was going to be a passenger for a change but when we got up to the airport Graham had not brought his passport. It hadn’t asked for it on the verification e-mail so he didn’t think of taking it with him. Luckily, with just having hired a car the week before, the woman let Pat hire it in her name, but wouldn’t allow Graham to be the second driver without his passport!
So back we went to Santa Cruz to pick the rest of the gang up. The Mitsubishi people carrier was really nice to drive so Pat wasn’t too upset about having to be chauffeur for the day.
Actually, the day had got off to an even worse start in that the night before, Pat had found a gigantic cockroach on the table in the saloon and had hardly slept all night expecting it to crawl into bed with her! She had managed to spray it a few times before it disappeared under the floor but she wasn’t sure if it had been killed or not! Cockroaches are a problem on cruising boats and both Karma and Dream or Two have been invaded by them before. Mike will tell you more about the different types and on the methods of dealing with them on his page this month.
Anyway, forgetting cockroaches, we set off for Chamorga at 1000 and finally found it at 1100, after taking a wrong turning on the narrow mountain roads. When we reached the parking place there were several cars parked and we finally persuaded some Germans to move along a bit and we squeezed in. Pat’s excuse for what went wrong then was that she had driven them so she wasn’t doing any map reading. We had in the party an RYA Yachtmaster (Mike), a yacht delivery skipper (Graham), and a Yachtmaster Instructor (Chris) who, in addition, is a Mountaineering Leader Instructor. How we went wrong then was anybody’s guess. Chris complained that the walk instructions and accompanying small map had been pushed into his hands at the last moment, Mike hadn’t even seen the map, and Graham always left that sort of thing to Joanie anyway!
We don’t know how it happened but we started off on the wrong track and it took us over an hour to realise that none of the instructions seemed to fit the terrain we were walking in! The Germans had swiftly overtaken us and had descended energetically towards the coast. We should have been on this airy ridge with wonderful views but we were in a laurel forest with no views at all! Mike, with his dodgy knees was managing OK but Barbara, who is asthmatic and had only had an operation on her knee earlier in the year was starting to struggle a bit. After realising our mistake we descended to the village again, found the start of the proper walk, ate our lunch in front of the deserted bar (which should have been welcomingly open, according to the book), fed a motley collection of local dogs and then were ready to begin again.
By this time it was 1330. After checking that Mike and Barbara were OK to carry on, we then did this spectacular walk which really is amazing. Halfway down the ridge towards the lighthouse we passed the Germans toiling up (they must have wondered what on earth we were doing and where we had come from)! They had reached the coast from the first path then came along to the lighthouse and were returning the way we were coming down. In retrospect it might have been better for us to stay on that path but we weren’t to know. By the time we’d passed the lighthouse and descended to the crossroads above the hamlet of Roque Bermejo, both Mike and Barbara were really struggling so we decided to give the extra half a kilometre each way a miss and to just climb back up to Chamorga from there. The sign at the crossroads said 3.2 k but it seemed a lot further than that as we toiled endlessly up the barranco. This track is the only access to Roque Bermejo apart from a small harbour. They must be very fit to live there!
Pat made the excuse that she was lagging behind to keep an eye on Barbara, but in truth wasn’t much better. She eventually overtook Mike who was doing his Orson Welles impression and muttering, “Where’s this bloody village”! She offered him the use of her walking pole which he took in addition to his. She had to stop for a pee then and when she started again the pole was lying in the middle of the track! Whether he had thrown it down or he had fallen into the barranco she couldn’t decide! She didn’t much care by this point and she overtook him again near the top. He was at that moment overtaking a really old man who was in an even worse state than him. When Pat reached the bar (still shut, the sods) the others were patiently waiting so we walked up to where we’d parked the car (no sign of the Germans - long gone) and returned just in time as Barbara hobbled up with Chris, who had gone back for her.
So the four hour walk turned into 6 and a bit hours and we were all pretty much done in, although Graham, Joanie and Vicky are really fit and were OK. Graham, in addition had done an extra mile or so as he realised he had left his very good sunglasses behind at one point and had to go back for them. We treated ourselves to food and drink in San Andrés on the way home so felt a bit better, although Mike and Barbara had seized up in the bar and were hobbling to the car again afterwards!
By this time, Pat’s computer had still failed to arrive so she reluctantly had to go and buy another at PC City in town. After installing her own version of Windows XP she eventually got rid of all the pre-installed Spanish programmes and was ready to go. It’s quite good having a Spanish keyboard as it turns out as all the ç’s ñ’s and é’s are already to use without importing them in or using function keys! Sheila, in the meantime, has had to put in a claims form to Parcel Force for the lost computer. We were told that getting parcels out of the country is no bother, but incoming ones often get lost in the ‘hub’ in Madrid and are never seen again!
Then came the day when Lori and Clive arrived and down to Cristianos we went again on the bus. We are getting to know down there by now! We spent the night at their apartment then they came back up to Santa Cruz and spent a couple of nights on the boat. We hired a car one day and visited the north coast of the island where we hadn’t been before.
We went to Garachico, a tiny port which at one time was the busiest on the island until yet another volcanic eruption destroyed over half the bay. The seas along this coast are always heavy and there was only room for two ships to tie up alongside of the old pier. It must have been an uncomfortable few nights at anchor for those waiting their turn to load or unload their cargo!
We then went a few miles along the coast to Icod de los Vinos, a small town which is the site of the oldest dragon tree in the world, supposedly 2,000 years old. We ordered a variety of tapas in a small restaurant there and Lori and Clive enjoyed them, we hope!
We finished the day in Puerto de la Cruz, the oldest resort on the island, which has another very small harbour. Both Puerto and Garachico are on the ‘wrong’ side of the island as ports but the main agriculture is in the Orotava valley nearby and it was probably easier to transport the goods there than across the island to Santa Cruz before the road system was improved.
After Lori and Clive left we pottered about doing maintenance and beginning our provisioning for the trip to the Cape Verde’s. We decided it was too late to visit the next island, La Palma, which is a shame, as it’s supposed to be really beautiful. Maybe another time! There is a link to La Palma here. The weather didn’t improve much but there was time for one last walk in the mountains. It was to be along the paths of two canals, not unlike the levadas in Madeira, but with a hard climb and descent in between. Mike decided he couldn’t do it, Joanie decided she didn’t want to do it, and Chris and Barbara were away sailing, so Pat and Graham took it on one cloudy day. It started and finished at Punta del Hidalgo on the northern coast and climbed up to an exquisite village at Batán, the centre of an old flax growing community. The walking along the old canals was exhilarating and exciting, having to clamber on all fours in some places to avoid the overhanging rock! We still managed to go wrong at the beginning, although we only lost twenty minutes or so as we realised early on that we were going the wrong way!
Finally came the day to leave and it was quite a wrench. Not only were we leaving the town and island we’d come to love, but also our good friends Graham and Joanie, Chris and Barbara, Jim and Sharon and family from Wendreda and also Arnd and Bente and baby Siri who had returned from their trip to La Palma and La Gomera a couple of days before. That is the worst thing about travelling, leaving the people you have met. We still especially miss ‘The Lads’ on Sea Spirit!
So we left, on the 1st December, for La Gomera, the small island you can see opposite Los Cristianos. It was a journey of 56 miles which we split by anchoring overnight just by the southern airport on Tenerife then carrying on the next morning. We spotted some whales the second day and after some fuel problems on the way (see Mike’s Page) we finally arrived at 1500 hours on the 2nd and were pleased to be reunited with Miti and David, Valerie and the boys! We are intending to leave for the Cape Verde’s at the weekend so will not be able to explore Gomera much, which is a shame, but we want to get to the Cape Verde’s in time for Christmas.
It is over 700 miles to Sal, the nearest and most easterly island, so we are hoping to do the journey in a week. Let’s hope for good weather!
Merry Christmas everybody. Hope to be in touch before the New Year if internet access exists down there. We will e-mail everyone on our list when we arrive if we can, to let you know we are safe!
This months photos below as usual.