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Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk

Day 6: Costa Adeje to Puerto de Santiago
Saturday, January 8, 2022

Today: 34460 steps/25.81 km/16.04 mi/5h 7m
Total: 190931 steps/146.69 km/91.15 mi/27h 48m

I took a day off of walking yesterday and rested in Costa Adeje. The Hotel Best Jacaranda had several pools, but only one was heated; once the aquatic exercise class ended I was able to enter and let the water soothe my legs, feet, and hips. The hips seemed to need it most; maybe it was all the ascending and descending.

I almost brought a shower towel down from the room and then thought, no, there are always pool towels available -- and of course here there weren't. They had to be obtained at the front desk after the collection of a deposit. I couldn't be bothered, choosing instead to try to make it up the outdoor elevator inconspicuously while dripping and shirtless. The doors were almost closed...and then they reopened to admit a couple, a chorus of children, and two strollers each the size of a Cessna. I looked outward at the pool and tried to make myself small.

I did some walking, of course: up to La Caleta, the northwestern corner of the Costa Adeje sprawl and one of its few parts that aren't totally built up. A terrace of restaurants appeared, much as in Los Abrigos. I'd wanted to try the parrotfish, known as vieja in Spanish, and I thought the restaurant bearing that name would be a good place to do that.

The wine, bread, and red and green mojos came out before I knew they had no vieja on offer. If it had meant that much to me I'd have asked first, but there was plenty else to choose from: little squid in their ink with sweet onion confit, oddly shaped razor clams (they're usually straight), and a Galician spider crab with its meat tossed with its roe. Then it was back to Playa de Fañabé for the sunset.

I was destined to have my time wasted by the towel scheme even without participating in it. I slept later than I wanted to today and almost made it out by ten, but I failed due to my appearance at the reception desk immediately behind a family of Italians who were each giving their deposits in cash -- cash! -- in exchange for an allotment of towels sufficient to dry a herd of elephants. Each note of currency had to be paper-clipped (paper-clipped!) to a piece of paper indicating the room number. This is a hotel that had begged me to check in online. Why were they collecting cash and attaching it to paper?

The twice-a-week Fañabé Market was on my way out of Costa Adeje. Except for a couple of stalls selling painted volcanic rocks and jewelry made from lava, most of the items were the same stuff you find at markets everywhere -- socks, sandals, T-shirts with insipid quips in English like "If you take out my daughter, I'll take out my gun" -- and therefore my interest faded after a couple of minutes. I was hoping for food stalls, but the only food on display was being used for demonstrations of modern kitchen gimmicks: the best wine stopper you've supposedly ever seen, something called "Stretch 'n' Save" that resembled malleable Tupperware, a "magic peeler" for vegetables, and something labeled as Portasciugamani ("No more nail! No more holes!") intended to hold things to a wall using suction.

On the way out of the market was a brown statue of a man -- wearing a mask, like everyone else -- and holding a wine bottle, with his head down in despair. He was clearly installed to exact a moment of reflection from people spending their money frivolously.

I went over. There was a pail in front of the statue. It wasn't a statue at all. Well, you got me, I thought. I put a coin in the pail and the guy spun to life and took a swig from his bottle.

"Salud," I said.

To head north I had to go inland (and therefore upward) to cross a few barrancos before coming back down to the shore. The road up from Costa Adeje was marvelous: bougainvillea, palms, a wide sidewalk, and a two-way bike lane. It should be used as a model for roads everywhere.

I crossed in front of a mountain up which stood the launching point for paragliders. They flew out every couple of minutes, sometimes together like lovebirds. The view must have been magnificent; I wish I had a head for heights. I certainly wouldn't do it solo. Maybe strapped in tightly in the vicinity of an experienced pilot. Preferably with room to stretch out and a service of champagne and caviar. Ideally if the aircraft were a long, enclosed metal tube bearing the word "Etihad" or "Emirates."

In contrast with the lovely ascent, Route TF-47 back down was among the worst roads for walking I've ever experienced. There was no shoulder. There was something of a walking path, but it was narrow and on the wrong side of the guardrail, so that whenever the road crossed a barranco the cars were safe but the walkers would be testing their confidence with heights. The path was also made of rocks and dirt and littered with thousands of cigarette butts. How had they gotten there? There were lots of bikes, and a sign urged drivers to watch for them due to the eight accidents in the area in five years. Well, at least the Cabildo de Tenerife knows the highway is poorly designed for bike and pedestrian safety.

A surefire indication that I was heading north was the presence of banana plantations. They stretched in terraces up and down the western slopes, densely planted, encaged in cinder walls with gaps to protect the trees from harsh wind but allow even ventilation.

TF-47 led me down to the fishing village of Playa San Juan. It's a relatively new place, dating only from the 19th century. Its origins lay with a factory for salting tuna operated by two entrepreneurs named Juan, and the Los Florios tuna-canning company flourished in the 1920s and early 1930s. It remains a fishing village and the base for the Cofradía de Pescadores Nuestra Señora de la Luz (Brotherhood of Fishermen Our Lady of the Light).

As I was reading one of the information plaques facing the shipyard, I heard a commotion below me. I also detected the scent of seafood. It was the restaurant operated by the same brotherhood of fishermen, in the shadows of the colorful shipyard.

Well, that must be a perfect place to eat. I had only a short wait, but the line soon grew; not many tables fit between the shipyard and Playa San Juan's seafront walkway. On the way to my table I eyed others' ample portions of octopus salad and wine being poured from unmarked carafes, and with the same began my meal.

The salad was simple and blissful: large octopus pieces, tomato, pepper, and onion, The octopus was almost the consistency of seared tuna and so tasty that I let out a "Whoa!" The cuttlefish elicited similar satisfaction.

Workers from the shipyard came in and out, their hardened hands and faces showing years of respectful work in the fishing industry. A man of similar dignity sat behind me, mumbling fast phrases in Spanish that I had no hope of understanding but exuding such cheer that I could only nod and toast him.

I walked near the coast, high on sea air and wine and whatever endorphins are produced by cephalopods. I passed the fishing village of Alcalá and then Playa de la Arena. My destination lay just past the latter, in Puerto de Santiago.

The Barceló Santiago hotel was awkwardly located high up above Puerto de Santiago, part of a cluster of British-style bars and eateries a steep and circuitous climb from the main part of town. This was a place where the extra $7 or so for a sea-view room was well worth it. Below me was a craggy shore with thunderous waves. In the distance the sun set behind La Gomera island, cuddled by clouds to the north. My neighbors were out on their balconies, too, watching nature's art.

I slithered down into town for a dinner of properly shaped razor clams that were so good I ran the empty shells along my tongue, as if rolling cigarette papers. Then I stopped at the little chapel near the water's edge, a tribute to fishermen, before heading back up to Barceló Santiago.

Music was beckoning from the British pubs, but an early start is essential tomorrow: I'll climb up over a thousand meters before going all the way back down to the coast at Buenavista del Norte.

Go on to day 7