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Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk

Day 8: Buenavista del Norte to Puerto de la Cruz
Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Today: 54644 steps/40.41 km/25.11 mi/8h 11m
Total: 291213 steps/218.30 km/135.65 mi/43h 13m

Ron's contacts weren't just in the north. When I was in Costa Adeje, he arranged for me to have an interview with Radio Sur Adeje for their weekly English program. It aired on January 13, 2022, following an interview with a representative for Tenerife tourism.

The noise from the bar down the street lulled me to sleep last night; the bells from the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios roused me. Both were pleasant in their own ways, keeping me synched with the town.

I needed an early start to meet Alfonso in Icod de los Vinos and make it all the way to Puerto de la Cruz before dark. Karin at the Tabaiba Guesthouse had prepared me a breakfast that was more than I wanted; a banana, an orange, and a little ham and cheese was plenty to get me through the day.

The ten kilometers from Buenavista to Garachico brought me past the villages of San Bernardo, Los Silos, and La Caleta de Interián, all connected by banana plantations. Some of the plantations lacked walls facing the road, and I had a better look at the banana stems. There must have been more than a hundred bananas on each stem, arranged in rings.

I arrived in Garachico about 420 years too late. Sure, I got to sit in the main square by the church and watch the Christmas camel get loaded onto a truck for storage. But if I had arrived in the 16th century and stayed, I could have been part of a busy trading port with mansions and a respected music scene, thanks to the town's deep harbor. (The existence of slavery is, of course, an awful mark on that period of Garachico's history.)

In the 17th century, things started to go downhill for Garachico. Bubonic plague, floods, locusts, and fires challenged Garachico to stay strong. The nail in the coffin was the eruption of Montaña Negra in 1706. The harbor was destroyed, the town lost its status as a port, and the people resorted to agriculture and fishing. Bananas made the economy stronger again, as did tourism, with the creation of rock pools among the lava.

Google Maps would have had me zigzag into the hills again, apparently unaware of how to foster a healthy relationship between me and two tunnels on TF-42. But Alfonso had assured me that the walk was possible.

"This tunnel, yes," he had said in Buenavista, referring to the walkability of the first. "This tunnel, no. But you can go around."

The first tunnel was at the side of the mountain, open to one side and with a sidewalk. The second didn't accommodate walkers or bikers, but a pleasant diversion through the village of El Guincho ("The Osprey," a bird that used to live in the area until human development drove them out) didn't add much distance.

Alfonso and I reunited a little after noon. A professional photographer for this area of Tenerife, he had arranged for our free admission to the Parque del Drago, home to a living thing that existed during Garachico's heyday. The magnificent drago tree is between 700 and 1000 years old. It demanded contemplation, its hollow trunk sprouting into a zillion intertwining branches. Alfonso introduced me to other Tenerife plants displayed in the park, such as a medicinally used incense, a cactus used for fishing, and the sweet-sour fruit of the arbutus tree.

Had I known there was so much to see in Icod de los Vinos, I would have planned to spend the night. But it was after two, and I still had at least 20 kilometers to go. Alfonso and I took a final photo (he spent a good bit of our tour photographing me against the various trees), he directed me out of town, and he headed to his car. He saw me about 15 minutes later and shouted as he drove by.

I pressed on. TF-42 merged into TF-5, a fast road with a wide shoulder. I headed into Santo Domingo to avoid another tunnel, and I headed into the quiet old town of San Juan de la Rambla for a brief rest. I had no appetite for lunch -- and no time for it.

I could have gotten back onto TF-5, but a road promised to bring me across to Las Aguas and a pathway beyond that. The path was clearly marked and intended not to be difficult; when it went steeply up or down it did so via steps, sometimes with the aid of a rope. It was not a dangerous path. The only question was, how far could it take me?

It took me up above one rocky beach and through a cluster of buildings centered around a place called Plaza de La Rambla. It took me down through a barranco and up the other side. There were a few homes here that suggested access back to a road. And then the trail took me down to a rocky beach and ended. The other side was a cliff.

The houses had no access from my position to the road. Back I went over the barranco (you got to do it in six words; it took me much longer) and almost to Plaza de la Rambla. An alley seemed to head in the direction of the road. I emerged from the alley and was on a farm road, passing a plantation. There was festive music; perhaps the workers were celebrating the end of their day.

"Pase, chico," a woman said as I peered through the doorway.

It was a guachinche, a kind of informal eatery sometimes attached to a farm, plantation, or winery or even a house or garage. This one was called El Rincón de Edu and had been open for just two weeks.

"'E' for Eduardo, 'D-U' for Dulce, my wife," Eduardo told me.

I was way behind schedule; it was almost 5:30 and Google Maps still gave me 12 kilometers to get to Puerto de la Cruz by car, 11 by bike, and it wouldn't even offer a walking option. How many tunnels were there? But Eduardo and Dulce were so welcoming. And the groups enjoying wine were having a ball; I couldn't resist joining them for a few minutes.

The guachinche was attached to a banana plantation, and they served me fresh banana juice next to a banana plant. They offered accommodation as well; how serene that must be! But I had to get going. When I left, they presented me with a fresh banana.

Canarian bananas are small and sweet, and I gobbled it down -- bananas were apparently the only food my body wanted. With a spring in my step from the banana and the urgency to make it to Puerto de la Cruz before the day's last light, I pounded an under-nine-minutes kilometer and kept the next couple to under ten.

Then there were three short tunnels -- short enough that I could see the exits shortly after entering, or even before. The shoulder was reduced, but not to nothing; there was perhaps a third of a car's width.

That was plenty of room for cars to pass. But midway through the first tunnel, of course, a truck came at me when I was midway through. I jammed myself against the wall. The driver blew the horn as it went by. I don't think it was a close call, but it wasn't whatever the opposite is either, and I hastened through the other tunnels.

From here a pathway led to Puerto de la Cruz. Alfonso had mentioned it and told me it was an easy walk. It was, and I had the company of other walkers and their dogs. It was dark by the time I arrived at the last stretch of the path. A gate seemed to be partially blocked off, but it didn't appear to intend to prevent access. I turned my phone's flashlight on and proceeded. Somewhere down below, powerful waves were attacking the shore. I was alone on the path, but in a short distance I would emerge on the fringes of Puerto de la Cruz.

I neared the end of the path. An opening in the wall on the landward side led...where?

"I might have to find out," I said aloud.

I soon came to the exit gate, and it was fully closed, preventing access. I did not want to go back across and along the highway in the dark. I retreated a few steps to the opening and shone my light. It was easy to exit the path here, and to my delight, it was easy to get around the gate.

Puerto de la Cruz was the first real city I'd seen since Costa Adeje, maybe even since La Laguna, as Costa Adeje is more of a resort sprawl without the spirit of a city. Here in Puerto there were multiple churches and parks, shops, supermarkets, hundreds of restaurants, and residents born on the island. I arrived at the Hotel Monopol a few minutes before eight.

The manager was friendly. "Just one night? I'll give you a bigger room with a sea view," he said.

I thanked him and settled in three floors up. I wasn't very hungry, but I'd had so little all day. Maybe Italian would do the trick, a change from Canarian food.

I sat outside at Mamma Rosa, near an intersection of little pedestrian streets in the old part of town. A layered caprese salad with green olives resembled a Muppet with googly eyes; the black ravioli stuffed with salmon and shrimp gave me what I wanted.

I still hear the waves, but it's nice to be inside.

Go on to day 9