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Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk

Day 5: El Médano to Costa Adeje
Thursday, January 6, 2022

Today: 34111 steps/25.69 km/15.96 mi/5h 3m
Total: 156471 steps/120.88 km/75.11 mi/22h 41m

Today's Epiphany or Three Kings Day holiday made it a relatively quiet day in the towns, following a noisy vehicle parade through El Médano last night. Brightly dressed women poked through cars' roofs and a final car carried the gifts: Epiphany is the traditional day for exchanging presents.

I left El Médano and walked west past Montaña Roja, the volcanic cone that's red from iron. Other cones protruded in the distance, but TF-643 was mostly flat and straight. There was a walkway of sorts, but it was narrow and rocky, so I mostly stayed in the paved shoulder. At the fishing village of Los Abrigos I climbed up to the terrace that overlooks the ocean, only to notice that there had been a trail along the coast for at least the past couple of kilometers.

I wish I'd had more time in Los Abrigos. The view was lovely, the narrow alleys -- I could barely fit through one, but it was a legitimate street -- exuded mystery, and the town opened up onto a fantastic elevated oceanfront pedestrian promenade lined with seafood restaurants (and one Lebanese eatery). A few people were seated facing the ocean, easels out, painting the scene. According to an information board, many of the restaurants are owned by families that had been, or still are, in the fishing business, and everything is delivered fresh daily. If it hasn't been Epiphany, I could have checked out the fish market. Alas, it was too early for lunch.

TF-65 ran northwest from here, past a community called Golf del Sur and under the landing path of Tenerife's busy south airport, and deposited me at a roundabout near a Chinese shopping center. On the second floor was a restaurant called Wok Chinatown. Well, why not? It was a major Christian holiday; of course I should have Chinese food.

It was an unlimited menu for €14.95, and that menu boasted more than a hundred items: dim sum, sushi, sashimi, soups, noodles, saucy Chinese favorites, even Beijing duck. I started out by naming everything I wanted, and then I noticed that people were ordering by number. Around the restaurant it sounded like the verification of a bingo game. "Sixty-one. Forty-eight. Seventy-seven." And so I did the same.

None of the food was amazing, but it all hit the spot, and the tuna sushi was surprisingly tasty. I sat facing the ocean, but of course they had put the parking lot there, so while diners had views of bulky metal all the empty cars got to enjoy the sea view.

The Chinatown shopping center was at the edge of a strange community called Las Chafiras. It seemed vaguely suburban but a little too industrial. It had a main street with a wide park-like walking median, at intervals in which were installed exercise contraptions. There was a German bakery called Der Dinkel, but it, like almost everything else, was closed for the holiday. Maybe I needed to see the place during business hours.

TF-655 ran almost parallel to the autopista, past a couple of towns interspersed with lonely stretches, then finally up a long incline. At the top was Los Cristianos, the easternmost of the holiday towns in Tenerife's southwest. I descended once more, passed through Playa de las Américas, and finally reached my destination, Costa Adeje. I enjoyed the sunset from my hotel room and set about finding a pre-dinner drink and then a meal.

The area is popular with the British, and I heard more English than Spanish. The FaƱabé beach had a two-tier stretch of places to eat and drink. The upper level had the larger restaurants and lounges, one of which -- El Gran Sol -- seemed to go on forever, with a lounge area and a dining area and menus posted in ten languages. Underneath were smaller, more casual restaurants and bars.

They know their gins in this town, and I found a place on the lower level that served me a garden in a glass -- a Bulldog gin and tonic with cardamom, lemon, lime, and orange. I sat facing the walkway, and the man at the next table struck up a conversation.

His name was David and I wasn't sure whether I couldn't understand him because he was Scottish or because he was drunk. He had three drinks on the table in front of him, two cocktails and a beer. He never made much progress with any of them; occasionally he took a sip of beer. The damage had already been done.

He asked where I was from three times in about five minutes. We talked about sports -- he was admirer of James Sands, a soccer player from New York -- and we got to my walking project.

"How much do you walk each day?" he asked.

"About twenty-five kilometers."

"How many miles is that?"

"About fifteen."

"Fuckin' mad," he said. "So how many miles have you walked in five days?"


"That's like from Montrose to Perth!" (I looked it up later; he wasn't too far off, given his stupor. The two Scottish towns are almost 50 miles apart.)

Eventually Claire, his girlfriend, appeared. "Where are you from?" she asked.

"New York."

"We were going to go to New York for David's fortieth birthday!"

She was in charge of at least one of the cocktails. She didn't stay put for long, though; cigarettes called.

"How long will you be here?" I asked David.

"A week. We were here for one week in December, and we went back to Scotland. Then our cat died, and we decided we might as well come back for another week. And it's minus four degrees in Scotland."

"Good time to get away."

Claire reappeared.

"What time is it?" David asked.

"Almost nine," I said.

"Yes, it's ten minutes to nine," Claire said. Then she had an epiphany. "Ooh! We have a reservation at Winchester's at half eight! Will you join us for some food? I want some nachos."

I had mentally prepared for a nice seafood meal upstairs, but I was curious where these characters would take me. They might have been drunk, but they were friendly.

Winchester's was a few doors down. There was plenty of room for us. David ordered a beer, Claire a purple rain: a vodka and soda with blue Curaçao and grenadine. I ordered one as well.

Claire immediately left to go smoke again. She had suggested we split nachos but I wanted something more substantial. I also wanted to be sure I got to eat it. When the server arrived, David ordered nachos for Claire and I asked for a half-rack of ribs.

Claire wouldn't be back for about 15 minutes, because for Claire, going out to smoke meant stopping at each of the other tables and talking to each of the patrons. They seemed to be more amused than bothered, but by the third or fourth cigarette excursion, I wondered whether they had had enough.

David leaned in and addressed me in his Scottish brogue. "I bought a bag of coke from a guy. Do you want some?"

"No, thank you."

He went to the restroom to try it himself, leaving me to make eye contact with the other tables and gauge whether Claire had crossed the line from a mild nuisance to completely intolerable.

He returned.

"How is it?" I asked.

"It's pretty bad. My mouth is numb. I think it was baby powder," he said. "Are you sure you don't want a bump?"

"No, thank you."

Meanwhile, a singer named Ed from New Jersey had set up his audio equipment and was preparing to entertain us with standards of the swing era, singing to prerecorded tracks. This was not a bad thing, as it directed some of the focus away from Claire, and Ed proved to be quite good.

The ribs and the nachos arrived. I ate all the ribs. Claire hadn't been to the table. When she came back, she didn't want to eat anything. Neither did David. The nachos sat there.

Ed gave us a tour of songs of the major swing artists -- Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Tony Bennett, and others -- and then said, "This is the song I get asked to sing the most." Then followed "Mack the Knife."

And then, "And this is the song I like to sing the most." That was "Mister Bojangles."

He started to introduce his next song.

"The fucking Reds won! The fucking Reds won!" Claire shouted above the entire room. "Who doesn't like Man United?" She realized the intrusion and magnitude of her outburst. "Sorry, sorry."

She went away for another check-in with the other tables and another cigarette. Ed had found out I was from New York and started playing to me. I ate the nachos. David sat in silence, until Ed sang Chuck Berry's "You Can Never Can Tell," at which point he started dancing.

Claire returned. "I've got to get to bed!" she said. Then she had another cigarette.

I was ready to move on. I summoned the server and said I'd pay for everything we'd had so far. I got up and passed by the next table.

"Are you taking her away?" they asked, a little too hopefully.

"I'm afraid she belongs to him. I just met them at another bar."

"You are very brave."

I inserted a quick goodbye to Claire, who was bothering another table, and David, who was by now engaged in conversation outside while having a smoke himself.

I wonder whether they'll remember having met me.

Go on to day 6