Trip 29 -- Tenerife Walk
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Convinced by the late summer that big, festive year-end gatherings would be all but certain, and having in my schedule a Friday-night New Year's Eve synagogue service, I figured that January 1 would be the ideal time to head for Tenerife. But nature still had other plans and the service went away, so when Iberia Airlines offered me the chance to move the trip up by a couple of days, I decided I might as well go early. It means I'll miss the New York City Scrabble club's final meeting of 2021, but having started last week's session by playing "scrooge," I'm content to move on to the next season ahead of schedule.
Tenerife is the largest of the eight Canary Islands, which are part of Spain but closer to Morocco. Tenerife is shaped like a ladle, with the handle tapering off to the northeast. At the far end of that handle are the Anaga mountains; in the middle of the handle are the north airport, the capital and main coastal city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and the slightly inland university city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, where I'll spend the new year. In the middle of the ladle is Spain's highest point, the active volcano known as Teide, which last erupted in 1909.
By the time I committed to my new itinerary, there were only three places to stay in La Laguna. One was an Airbnb hosted by a young-looking guy whose profile picture showed him shirtless and in sunglasses and swimming trunks, posing with thumbs up and apparently ready to plunge backward into the ocean. While his expression suggested an ability to guide me to the most raucous new-year party in La Laguna, I wondered whether he truly wanted a late booking for the holiday, especially for a visitor from one of the world's most prolific viral spreads.
So it was a choice between the two hotels. The Gran Hotel was more than I wanted to pay, but the Laguna Nivaria Hotel & Spa didn't seem too exorbitant for New Year's Eve, especially for a place housed in a 16th-century mansion. In came the confirmation, along with a detail that wasn't disclosed beforehand: "A fee for a mandatory New Year's Eve gala dinner is included in the total price displayed for stays on 31 December." The price didn't seem to reflect such an addition and the note may well be a relic from normal years, but if there is indeed a gala, I hope the accepted attire includes Clothing Arts Pick-Pocket-Proof Convertible Travel Pants.
The possible existence of a year-end gala dinner is among the least crucial points of ambiguous information in the world these days; more-pressing contradictions and vacancies abound. The other day I dined with my dad and friends from Italy. One was showing us her double-sided Covid pass, which is required to do pretty much anything in Bologna. One side was the QR code for her vaccination, the other for her daily test.
"To eat in a restaurant, I must show a negative test from the same day," she said. Even being vaccinated. "It will be the same in Spain."
Yet I could find nothing to corroborate that claim. Spain doesn't even require a test before entry for those who are vaccinated. And the country doesn't seem headed toward a lockdown like other parts of Europe.
I'll reach the Canary Islands in less than 12 hours; it took Ronald Mackay more than five days to get there from the Spanish mainland in 1960, on a cargo ship whose passengers were hurling from the turbulence. In his memoir "Fortunate Isle," he illuminates the little town of Buenavista del Norte in Tenerife's northwest corner (near the front tip of the ladle), where he spent most of a year working for a banana export company, hunting octopus with a chef's knife, and dodging the Civil Guard under Franco.
I hope for a smoother journey, kinder authorities, and easier access to seafood.
Go on to day 1