Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk
Day 3: Güímar to La Cisnera
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Today: 45388 steps/35.15 km/21.84 mi/6h 34m
Total: 81754 steps/64.04 km/39.79 mi/11h 43m
I skipped breakfast at the Villa Ariadna but had another friendly chat with the owners, who knew I was headed to Arico, about 35 kilometers farther along TF-28. My lodging was one ravine beyond that, in La Cisnera, but Arico was the place everyone knew.
"You will have a nice day," Ariadna said. "Sunny and warm. You'll go up a little at first, but then it'll be downhill. Today it's like summer."
"I'll put on the sun cream."
"And when you get to Arico, there are two parts. Arico Nuevo is the old part, and Arico Viejo is the new part. They're reversed."
The reality would turn out to be not quite so straightforward.
I climbed up through the back roads of Güímar, along a paved road that continued as a dirt road with a sign marking it as a dead end. A car would have had to turn back, but I scaled the short concrete fence to turn left onto a road that soon brought me to my trusty highway. Had I turned right, I'd have reached Bodega Tempus, who produced the excellent Moon white wine I enjoyed at last night's dinner.
It was a noticeable rise in altitude, with the drop-off to my left ever increasing in depth. Here a continuous barrier ensured that I couldn't trip and plunge into a ravine, but as it was one of the highway's few straightaways, what little traffic there was contributed to my feeling of smallness against the great cliff and the fast cars. Near the top of this section was a memorial to José Antonio Díaz Amador, who suffered a cardiac arrest at that spot and died while cycling with his team almost a decade ago to the day.
At what I hoped was the top, I came to a large statue of a man dressed casually in short sleeves and shorts with his back to the sea. This was the Mirador del Puertito de Güímar. To the north was the view of yesterday's walk and to the east was Gran Canaria island, rising out of a sea of white, foamy clouds. Cyclists zoomed around this bend in the highway and downhill toward Güímar.
This seemed a good place to stop and apply sunscreen, an act that attracted a family of chickens that resided in the little park surrounding the statue. Once I'd donned the cream, whenever I moved for a different view, they followed me.
My watch's altimeter had the height here at 403 meters. After a brief descent the road climbed again, to 467 meters -- not grand in the scheme of things (it's an eighth of Teide's altitude, for crying out loud) but noticeable. For the rest of the day the road bent inward toward the mountains, then outward toward the sea, then inward and outward again, alternating for the entire walk.
When the road bent inward it was to cross one of dozens of barrancos or ravines, most of which were dignified with their own names. The road would descend and narrow to one lane, with a sign indicating which direction of traffic had priority. The single lane would cross a short bridge with a handsome stone arch or two before widening and ascending again. The barrancos usually offered a welcome breeze.
As I emerged from one barranco into the hamlet of Cruz del Roque, a giant belén appeared. Like the other nativity scenes I'd seen, it was extensive, with a whole village's worth of socializing, tending to animals, gardening, cooking, and mending clothes. But this was food-growing country. Tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, and avocados were planted as high as the slopes would allow, on terraces that became thinner and tapered to nothing with the gain in altitude, often accompanied by impossibly steep roads. Surely these people would augur a prolific harvest by including the very character who would contribute to the soil's fertility.
And there he was, close to the street, with his back to me: my caganer. He was dressed in a white shirt and a red cap and hiding behind a tree log, gazing out at the scene from the same angle as I. And with the satisfaction of that important discovery, I headed toward the next promontory.
Noticeably absent from today's walk was the autopista. Whereas yesterday its traffic rang up to TF-28 with a persistent hum, today I caught but a couple of glimpses of it. Beyond El Escobonal, TF-28 carried substantially fewer cars, but there were still many bikes. I usually uttered a hello, hoping they didn't feel obligated to return it; any unnecessary effort such as a nod or a grunted word might siphon energy away from their uphill progress.
At a bend in the road (everything on TF-28 is at a bend in the road) I found Las Cuevas de Ramón, where I took my lunch. I sat inside at the one table that allowed views of the sea and of the blue interior dining room that formed part of the cave. Ramón served me his grilled goat cheese and specialty of conejo al salmorejo (rabbit in a spiced-up white-wine and garlic sauce), accompanied by the traditional papas arrugadas (small boiled potatoes), his own white wine, and the best baguette I've had in Tenerife. Most restaurants here automatically serve a log of crusty, tasteless bread with butter that needs to be held in the palm to soften, and charge for it regardless of whether it's eaten or wanted, but this bread was perfectly warm and dense and crackly and the accompanying red mojo made it a lovely start to the meal.
After two more hours of up and down and inward and outward, I saw the whitewashed buildings of Arico Viejo -- supposedly the new part of Arico -- and, arriving in town, paused for a moment not far from Bar Central, where a raucous crowd of beer-drinking men were spilling out the door. Immediately after Arico Viejo came Arico Nuevo, where a moment's walk down a side street would have brought me to the cemetery and municipal buildings.
But, the signs said, five kilometers farther along the highway was a third Arico, sometimes called simply Arico and sometimes referred to as Villa de Arico, and that's where I was headed. I passed through it, followed the road across one more barranco, and left TF-28 just after kilometer marker 61, turning right onto a road that climbed up steeply for a few minutes. This put me at just over 500 meters of altitude.
Antonio met me at the entrance to Casa Maye, where I have my own apartment under the house, looking over the next barranco. I had two questions for him.
"Where can I have dinner?" The barranco between Villa de Arico and La Cisnera was traversed by a long highway stretch that I didn't fancy walking twice at night, and the couple of places in La Cisnera were closed.
"There's a place called La Salinera," he said. "Farther south on the highway." I typed the name into Google Maps and it whizzed me to a place northeast of Barcelona.
"I don't think that's it," I said. I showed him where I was looking. "Here's Tasca Laurel."
"And Restaurante Mencey Yumar."
I didn't see any other eateries beyond those. "Then there's a gas station."
"Yes! The restaurant is there. It's open until eleven."
I was skeptical but it seemed the best option. I still had one more question.
"They told me that Arico Viejo is the new part of Arico, and Arico Nuevo is the old part. Is that true?"
"Yes. They're reversed," he said offhandedly, as if the setup were perfectly logical. But he couldn't explain the reason or the existence of a third Arico.
I decided I'd better get to the supposed restaurant well before eleven. I did have to cross one barranco, but it was a very small one. The side street occupied by Casa Maye had streetlights, to my surprise; along the barranco I used my phone's flashlight.
I realized that what I'd heard as "La Salinera" was probably "gasolinera," a gas station. Or perhaps it was Antonio's attempt at remembering the attached eatery's real name, Luna y Sol. Five other men were inside, drinking beer. I ordered a cheeseburger, chips, and a Dorada Especial, a Canarian pilsner -- and an orange as a nod to good health -- and asked the attendant about the three Aricos. She directed me toward one of the other patrons.
"I heard that Arico Viejo is the new part of Arico, and Arico Nuevo is the old part. Is that true?"
"Yes. They're reversed."
"And what is the place called just Arico, or Villa de Arico?"
"That's also new."
"So which was the first?"
"The place with the cemetery?"
"So Villa de Arico is the newest?"
"Between the Aricos there are five kilometers. Are those something else?" The signage had clearly indicated where each of the three Aricos began and ended, and the stretch between Nuevo and Villa didn't seem to have a name.
"It's all part of Arico."
"OK," I said, pretending I understood this arrangement. "Why are Arico Nuevo and Arico Viejo reversed?"
"I don't know."
Apart from the lingering mystery of the three Aricos, and the lack of a robust dinner (though the place was convivial and the burger sauce a tangy novelty), it had been an excellent day: sunny but not too hot, full of excellent views, and varied with towns and scenery. My original plan for tomorrow was for a significantly shorter walk down to the southeast coast, but I recently noticed a couple of pages of "The Real Tenerife," my guidebook, that led me to reconsider.
Go on to day 4