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Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk

Day 12: Taganana to Santa Cruz
Sunday, January 16, 2022

Today: 29658 steps/21.08 km/13.10 mi/4h 35m
Total: 405711 steps/299.13 km/185.87 mi/60h 58m

The calima continued, giving Tenerfeños another gusty day. I said goodbye to one of the cats (I did not see Nieves) and took the steep road out of Taganana.

I had my choice of the road and all its switchbacks, and a brief tunnel, or the trail up to El Bailadero over the Anaga ridge. I took the trail.

It was a gentle incline up the spine of one of the smaller mountains that make up the Anaga massif. This had been another well-trodden path for goods going between Taganana and Santa Cruz's eastern suburb of San Andrés. It didn't have as many vueltas as PR-TF-8, but it had plenty. Marked as PR-TF-4, perhaps it was intended to have half the sum.

The wind at El Bailadero, where I emerged onto a nondescript section of highway TF-134, was ferocious. Tenerife's early inhabitants used to perform a rain dance here by bleating their animals. The dance, called the Baladero, gave the area its name. A sign mentioned a building known as a "hideout of feelings" nearby, a place for contemplation with an exhibit on Anaga. It may have been the yellow building locked behind a gate, but the wind did not inspire me to linger.

The path continued across the highway and down the other side; originally it went all the way to San Andrés. I wasn't sure how far it would take me these days, but it started out wonderfully: a wide dirt track with tree branches creating a canopy overhead. It led straight down at a moderate slope, clear and beautiful, obviously heading the way I needed it to. It narrowed briefly (I had to leapfrog over a bush) but widened again.

It was an absolutely blissful path except for the last three steps. Vegetation had closed in, and it was thorny. I didn't notice until it caught on my jacket (thank goodness I had on my jacket). I must have spent five minutes on those three steps, trying to figure out how to pass without scratching my legs or having a branch snap at me. Finally I was able to take the final step and join the road.

There were no shortcuts from here. I had to follow TF-12 all the way to its end in San Andrés, every last hairpin curve. Whereas the Anaga on the Taganana side had resembled giant chess pieces, here it took the form of a cresting ocean wave.

In the final kilometer I heard grunts: a soccer practice below. I kept going and, near the junction with the Santa Cruz road, stopped for a couple of arepas. The beloved pita-like corn sandwiches are typically Venezuelan; the tradition was brought back from South America by Canarians who left for a while in the 19th century when the economy went downhill.

The walk of an hour and a half from San Andrés to Santa Cruz was ugly, passing the sprawl of the industrial and passenger port. I'd seen some of this heavy machinery from way up near Casas de la Cumbre a few days ago, and now I looked up to see where I'd so recently walked along the Anaga ridge. Giant oil containers marked the end of the industrial zone, and then I stepped into the city limits of Tenerife's capital.

I acquainted myself with a couple of Santa Cruz's parks -- my hotel was on the corner of one of them -- and checked out the SuperDino supermarket. In addition to water and blueberry juice (now that I know the word for it), I picked up something I've been meaning to get since September 26, 2006: true one-liter transparent storage bags for bringing liquids on planes. For more than 15 years it's bothered me that the United States sticks with its arcane ounces and quarts and advertises a "3-1-1 rule" in which "3" really means 3.38 and one of the 1's really means 1.057. For the Abecedarian Walks I bring just a sandwich bag's worth of liquids (not even that much), but for other trips I've stuffed liquids into a quart-size reclosable bag and had it bursting at the seams. That extra 5.7 percent matters. As far as I know, you can't get liter bags in New York, but the SuperDino had my back.

I walked to the intimate, mostly pedestrianized Noria district to check out dinner and drinking options. It wasn't time for the evening meal yet, but I was ready for a glass of wine and maybe a snack.

One place looked particularly appealing. All but three outdoor tables were occupied. The three had pieces of paper on them. The papers had times written on them. I understood what all that meant. A server came by and I explained my specific needs, expecting them to align with his.

"May I sit here for a half-hour and have a glass of wine?" It was a foolproof plan. The tables weren't reserved until nine. It was 8:17.

"It's reserved," he said.

"But not until nine."

"Maybe they'll come early."

I flicked a palm. "Well, why have the sign, then?" I said, lapsing into English as I tend to do when meaningless rules come into play.

I thought of European trains. Board the Deutsche Bahn and an electronic display above each seat is going to tell you whether the seat is reserved and, if so, starting at which station. If you have an unreserved ticket, you can sit there for the portion of the journey when no one has claimed the seat.

But not enough of the world operates like a good railroad. The restaurant had no need for my well-timed custom.

Across the way they were happy to seat me for wine and a splendid tomato-and cheese salad. When I left, at 9:08, none of the three tables at the first restaurant had been occupied. I enjoyed "secreto de bellota" -- ostensibly the finest cut of pork, even better than bichillo, though I can't say I appreciated the difference -- at another place, and then a couple of drinks at a bar in La Noria before the necessities of modern times forced us all out at midnight.

I did notice a haze in the air around sunset, perhaps the calima. Hopefully it won't affect my flight to Madrid on Tuesday or my return to New York on Thursday.

Go on to day 13