Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A Day Going Native in Tenerife Part 2 – …and the Old

15 minutes after I’d left the frantic tourist resorts I was in the little town of Arona. Arona is the administrative centre for some of the southern resorts, but its character couldn’t be more different; quiet and quaint as opposed to modern and brash. As I got out of the car an old lady smiled at me and bade me a ‘buenas tardes’. I went into the first tasca that I spotted. Inside a barman was cleaning glasses whilst his only two customers, a bearded pair who had the wiry grizzled look of Yukon gold prospectors, sat glued to the television.

“¿Hay bocadillos para llevar?” (do you have baguettes to takeaway)
“Of course.”
“What do you have?”
He pointed to a glass cabinet which was full of cheese and salami.
“Hmmm, I guess I’ll have cheese and salami then.”

As he made up the bocadillo on a loaf-of-bread sized roll I turned my attention to the TV. There was a football report about the Champion’s League final.
‘Barcelona V Manchester United will be a much better game than Chelsea V Manchester,” I commented to the gold prospectors and that was it, they were off and running.

For ten minutes we debated the outcome of the game.
“It’ll be 2-1 to Barcelona,” shouted the barman.
“Nah, we’ll score two,” I countered.
“Then Barça will score three,” laughed the barman as he slapped a slice of salami on the roll.

And so it went on with the prospectors telling me why they didn’t like Chelsea (too physical) and why they liked Liverpool (England’s Spanish team). I grabbed the bocadillo and headed for the door.
“Good luck for the final,” shouted the barman as a parting shot.
I replied with a wave.

I ate the bocadillo in the tranquil setting of a mirador (viewpoint) overlooking the lovely alpine-esque village of Vilaflor with its pumice coloured patchwork quilt of potato terraces then headed through the pine forest and into the Mount Teide crater.

The crater’s landscape is rather surreal at the best of times, but passing the wrecked prow of an Ancient Greek galley was the first indication that the scenery was even more mythical than usual. An amphitheatre of Ancient gods sitting nobly on their thrones amidst the volcanic terrain should have seemed out of place…but didn’t. The Clash of the Titans movie set was looking pretty impressive and as though it had been there forever. I spent some time watching the workmen put the final touches to the polystyrene pillars before heading for home via a wonderful drive through the dappled pines on the northern slopes accompanied by tantalising glimpses of the coast way below. The road twisted and turned, passing little agricultural communities where Shetland ponies played in the fields and the occasional thatched roof gave a glimpse of life in the past on these verdant slopes.

People continually try to categorize Tenerife as nothing more than an oversized tourist resort. You really don’t have to travel far from any of the resorts to discover that this perception really couldn’t be further from the truth.

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