Tenerife: Paradise found, misconceptions lost

TenerifeThe “Hairy Canary” sat on the next table. Old before his time. A face more sandblasted than sun-kissed. Life lines so etched that no amount of moisturiser will ever remove.

His wife ,however , was trying to defy the onward march of time. But countless visits to a cosmetic surgeon had failed miserably. A feline face. She had had so much attention that recent work was meeting previous attempts coming the other way! Oh such a forlorn look. Should have gone to ” El Specsavers ” senora.

Hairy Puff Daddy wore a puffa jacket. In this heat? Astronaut silver with non matching khaki shorts. And hair protruding from all areas and at every angle.

He nodded and smiled. “Hola “.

“Hola” I replied.

TenerifeWe communicated through the international language of mime and schoolboy pigeon Spanish. We couldn’t understand each other. But it didn’t matter. We were trying!

Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary or “Fortunate” islands. 1928 miles from Doncaster, far less from the coast of Africa.

And fortunate we had been with the weather. Glorious winter sunshine, this volcanic isle gently caressed by the tropical Trade Winds.

Tenerife has always been a Marmite destination. I have always been put off by the black/brown sand. Sand should always be, well sand coloured. Nothing else will do. Dirty brown is not the new fawn!  Too many holidays as a youngster in Scarborough and on Bamburgh beach to change my mind. Apparently Tenerife does have golden sands mainly on its southern side. Imported surely? We were staying on the muckier side of the island – geologically speaking. The award winning beach (how?) of Playa de La Arena reminded me of a flattened slag heap back home.

TenerifeBut I was slowly being won over by its charm!

As the heat rose, La Gomera, the island to the West, disappeared in the haze and for a couple of hours the sea and sky became one. A mass of milky silvery grey. Boats bobbed in hypnotic rhythm. Waves crashed on lava rocks, a wonderfully soothing sound. The sun shone dappling the water. Fishermen became silhouetted figures in a painting. The sound of speedboats and jet-ski a distant throbbing. Above a plane purred.

Everything calm. And finally this beautiful island had won me over. PARADISE FOUND, MISCONCEPTIONS LOST.

“Tomorrow you meet Papas Arrugadas”. Hairy grinned.

TenerifeAre we meeting his Dad? or the head of the mafia? Do they have a Spanish mafia here?

We arrived at the bar at the usual time. Hairy Canary nodded.

Ten minutes later a plate of wrinkled jacket potatoes surrounded by red and green blobs appeared at our table. “Papas Arrugadas” and he roared with laughter.

These are the indisputable champions of Canarian cuisine – potato boiled and pan-fried in masses of salt. Served with red or green garlic based mojo. Green, mojo verde or mojo rojo red. Delicious.

Lose your mojo? Never on this island. But you will probably lose your heart.

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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