Canary Islands part I

Island nr 1- Tenerife.
A heatstroke, panic attack and incredible views.

Again way too much time has passed since my last post but you know, life takes over.

So I just got back from my summer vacation on Canaries and started my MSc in Manchester. I am not going to stop on the school and the new life in here as there is not much to say yet but I am going to write about the vacation. I think it is going to be way too long for one post so I decided to divide it.

Where do I start? Oh, yeah, first stop TENERIFE.

As always Tom did all the planning part and chose (based on recommendations) 4 islands to visit- Tenerife, La Palma, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. Before taking off from Birmingham’s airport I thought Tenerife is going to be the least interesting of them all. Why? I have no idea. Now that I am back, I must admit Tenerife was one of my favourites.

We landed in the evening so the first day we had to just find a place to put up the tent. In the first car we got to talking with the locals and it came out that hitchhiking nd tenting is going to be a huge problem here. Locals don’t tend to give lifts and the landscape might be too rocky and touristic for camping. So the first night we spent in our sleeping bags without a tent. Location was perfect- warm night on the beach without any city lights.

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The next day we were supposed to go to hike a little and then hitchhike further. I was so excited as it was soooooo warm and I missed sun so much. We managed to leave our bags to a small bar and as we planned to hike just for an h or 2 didn’t take anything with, just my camera. Even the water not. We regretted that after half an h of hiking. It was so hot and the air was so dry that it was difficult to breath and swallow. No one had mentioned it and we did not expect anything like that. After an h or 1.5 I started feeling dizzy. Every time I took few steps uphill I felt I’m going to faint. And that was supposed to be an easy one. I gave up and started crawling back down towards the bar, water. I had my head covered, sunscreen on. I thought I was ready, but clearly I wasn’t.

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Tom came back from the top and admitted it was a little difficult even for him. We took a beer from the bar and it has never tested better. After sharing one beer, we both felt a little drunk. Yes, you read it right. We shared 1 beer and we got both drunk. That’s how bad it was. Getting a little more sober, we hit the road again to hitchhike further. First time in my life I felt that the shadow is my friend. By the end of that day I had a heatstroke. I felt sick, I had a headache and I didn’t want to see anything related to sunlight. Somehow (looking shit) I got us a ride in the mountains and we decided to put up a tent in the most amazing place so far. You could see the highest mountain, sun falling asleep behind the clouds. The most incredible sunset I have ever seen!

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The second full day I decided to wear a damn hat the whole day. Tom had one with and I looked stupid with it but I didn’t care. As long as I don’t get any strokes. All the rides we got were by tourists who wanted to stop on every viewpoint. Convenient to me as I wanted to take pictures from all angles. On one of the stops it was so windy that when I lifted my hand off from the hat to take something, the hat flew away. And not just on the ground but over the damn cliff. Yes, I lost the only hat we had. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as the day before, so no strokes whatsoever. We visited few little villages and Tenerife just managed to make a little nest in my heart and stay there. I was a little naive to think that the vacation is going to last that way.

The one big hike Tom had planned was climbing El Teide. And not just that, but from the sea level. That is more than 20km, 3718m elevation. We started with a nice cloudy weather. Seemed like it is not going to be too bad. On our way people started throwing us thumbs and waving. One got even a little concerned and told me to go pasito. By the way, I learned so much Spanish on that trip. It seems like a nice easy language to learn, so I’m planning to get more into it in England as well. Back to El Teide. After walking 4-5h, as always, I felt I’m braking. “I don’t want to do this”, “Why are you making me do this”, “How much longer” “I am giving up”, all those usual sentences were on repeat in my head. After hiking higher of the clouds, the sun came out again. And this time hotter and drier than ever. First time in my life I experienced a panic attack. With the 10kg bag under a hot sun, after 5h hike I felt I cannot breath. Didn’t matter how much i tried, I felt I am not getting enough of air. My hero saved me again. Tom took my bag and without an extra weight I managed to go at least that far that we got into a shadow. On around 1600m of elevation we met the forest guards. As it is so dry, the danger of fire is very very high. Every single person mentioned us not to do any fire there. We were not planning to because we already knew that, but they still felt it to be needed to say. The guys gave us water, fruits, chocolate. What else could I ask for. We told them it is very difficult for us as we are not used to that dry air. They said on top of Teide the humidity % is around 5-10. What????? I knew, I am not going there. On that day I managed to push myself few more hours, but I was sure I am not going to hike it to the top.

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2150 was the elevation from sea level that we hiked that day. We had a rough day with amazing views behind us. We spent the night under the starts and had the most amazing dinner (chickpeas and salad). Tom woke up at 2am to catch the sunrise on top of Teide and I started walking towards the road first thing in the morning. This night I slept so bad. Not just because it got suddenly freezing and Tom was snoring, but as soon as he left me 2am, every little noise made me nervous. The only animals there are lizards, and still I felt like someone is walking towards me. I fell asleep at 4am, woke up at 7 and did my little solo hike. After 2h I was on the road. I had 2 options- to walk 7km on a very narrow curvy road or to hitchhike them. I had enough of hiking and I didn’t want to take a single step on  that road. I decided to hitchhike alone, first time ever. I do not recommend it, but as it was very touristic part, I felt it was okay. 3. car I hitchhiked stopped. It was a couple that was driving to the exact same place. Lucky? Maybe. If You are ever planning to visit Tenerife, then Teide is a must! Especially if you are from anywhere but a warm country. The dessert-like surroundings and mountains are nothing like you have seen in Europe. If you are not a hiker, then road goes up to 2200 and on not windy days you can take a cabin lift from there until almost to the top.

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I met Tom 2-3h after and he was exhausted. I had been napping on a bench while he was climbing up to the top and back. We decided to hitchhike somewhere to get a bite and take a rest. When I am abroad I want to taste authentic local food, so I ordered a Canarian salad. I got a plate full of fruit, veges and fish. Everything was good, but did not match at all. Who would eat banana and orange with tuna? After many Germans we arrived to a small town and spent the night on the beach. Is it allowed? No. But if you go in the dark, make no trouble, no noise, leave no litter behind, no one really cares. The best meal that day was local watermelon. SO GOOD! I must say all the local fruits are tastier than you are used to. We ate hundreds of mangos and watermelons on that trip.

Next day with the heat we hitchhiked to the capital. Seemed like a nice place, but nothing special, really. If you are into partying then probably this would be the place (or south of the island, where all the tourists with this habit are). From Santa Cruz we got a lift by 3 students who where driving to the beach. The local one of them said the best beach to be Las Teresitas, so that’s where we went. Finally I saw the part of the island that I was imagining it to be like. Palms, sand, waves. That is my happy place.

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After an h we were back on the road again. Tom wanted to reach a small village before going to the airport, but for some reason up on the mountains no one took us. We managed to see a little bit of the famous laurel forest but that was it. In there you simply forget where you are as it looks nothing like rest of the island. We spent the whole evening hitchhiking and did not get a lift. In the morning we decided to skip it as we did not simply have any time left. We had to get back in order not to miss the flight to La Palma.

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In conclusion, Tenerife is amazing! You wouldn’t believe how different one small island can be in it’s different parts. I think everyone would find something to do there. Weather you are into hiking, partying, nature generally, people, beaches. It is all in that one island. When it comes to hitchhiking, it is not so bad as they say. Most of the cars that give lifts are of course tourists’, but locals do take hitchhikers as well. When it comes to camping, then you have to be a bit more flexible than usually. You may have to sleep on rocks or without the tent, but the views will make it all worth it.

As the first post came so long I might need to have a separate post for each island. Will see. I hope everyone of you will have the chance to experience this kind of place, a palmtree’s island!