Friday, 20 January 2017

Tenerife - An Explosive Canary

Teleférico to Heaven






At 3,717.98 metres above sea level, Pico del Teide is the highest point in Spain. The air is thin, so anyone with a heart or lung condition is advised to stay away.  My gynecologist (sic) didn't say a word, so I guess I'll live, though the Teleférico is heart-stopping enough, swinging 1,200 metres up in eight minutes....





At the top of the teleférico the views of the 17 kilometre wide caldera below are stunning, though cloud cover around the coastal fringe of the island obscures some of the scenery..... For example, the bits sticking up in the distance here are the peaks of neighbouring island La Gomera.....





Which, I guess, is fair enough if you compare it with this view of El Teide taken from the Armas ferry Volcán de Taburiente out of Los Cristianos....







Not surprisingly, the cable car doesn't quite get you to the very top of the hill, and, not surprisingly, we stick with the pink brigade resting on brittle lumps of lava beneath the peak....





And then, advised by our ticket not to spend more than one hour at this altitude - and foiled in our attempt to find a bar - we swing vertiginously back down to the car park and the cinders....






At this base level, though at still well over two thousand metres above sea level, there is plenty to explore, from the geological fantasy of El Roque Cinchado,






To gullied desert  landscapes which have been likened to the moon, as portrayed here in one of Martín y Sicilia's paintings (currently on display in La Laguna)..... 





Then further down the slopes we enter forests, with pine-scented air and refreshing walks,






Then you hit the cement level, where isolated villas and hamlets coagulate into sprawling villages, towns and coastal strip development....







Though the shoulders of this active volcano are still present, whether in the north, at Puerto de la Cruz,







Or in the west at Los Cristanos.






And, although there has not been a major eruption since 1909, the sulphurous fumes near the top suggest that it is by no means extinct (there's no such thing as an extinct volcano, Ed.) so one day there may be some spectacular fireworks.  In fact there was worrying seismic activity in 2003, and it is a cert that at some point in the future it will, like Vesuvius, blow, with the bonus of pyroclastic flows into the bargain. 

Somehow I don't think I will be buying a flat in these environs just now!



Monument to the Canary Island Emigrant, at Garachico

Anyway, some people don't seem too bothered....






And others probably wouldn't even notice a pyroclastic flow even if it was served with mojo.....








While for others it would at the least be something to talk about.....








Yup, there's more to Tenerife than volcanoes and cable cars.  There are the Pirámides de Güímar, for example, which inspired Thor Heyardahl, of Kontiki fame, to cross the Atlantic on Ra II, his reed boat.  Ra Ra, (as they might say....)







There are plenty of churches, of course: old ones with their elaborately decorated doll-like Virgins with Childs,






Or new ones, with all-singing, all-dancing Christs on orange walls,








And, occasionally, rebuilt ones after earthquakes, with decidedly modern style stained glasses.....



 




There are museums, indubitably, such as the Museo de Bellas Artes in Santa Cruz, where, perhaps predictably, the second floor with the Flemish Art (commemorating close ties between Flemish ports and the Canaries in the 17th century) is closed for work, and the statues on the first floor seem to be staging a sit-in....







Or there is a delightful museum of wine and honey, La Casa del Vino at El Sauzal, which boasts a splendid picture of Horatio Nelson signing a surrender document having failed to plunder Santa Cruz in 1797, but also claims that Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Shelley and Alexander von Humboldt all produced works which reflected the importance of the wines of Tenerife..... 

And, according to evidence posted here, Poet Laureate William Shakespeare was given a barrel of Tenerife Malmsey every year as part of his salary..... Well, travel certainly broadens the mind! I had been labouring under the impression that the first official Poet Laureate in England was John Dryden in 1668 (though Ben Jonson had been given a pension by James I in 1616....)  

How very confusing!  Depressing - almost.....





And then there is an extraordinary museum in the ex-Augustinian convent at La Laguna, where presently there is a stunning exhibition by local artists Martín y Sicilia.....




Also here I was taken back to my childhood with all the scientific clutter of the science labs my father inhabited. Here there are model steam engines, alembics, test tubes, measuring cylinders, and so on in memory of Blas Cabrera Felipe, the father of Spanish Physics.  Oooh, how I miss those prep rooms....?






Within the same complex, there is also a remarkable collection of stuffed animals, while round the corner there are some live ones too....



Amores perros



Apart from all this, there are bananas (once the main export of the island).....








Wild scenery: (this is looking toward El Teide from the Anaga Mountains in the north-east)....







The sea: (some pink folk think again about the combination of strong waves and jagged lava at Buenavista del Norte)......




And fish: (local artists at San Andrés promote their fishing industry).....







Perhaps.... (local fisherman at Puerto de la Cruz falls asleep on the job - as it were)....








Crumbling buildings: (the roof of a significant palazzo in La Orotava seems to be in need of some attention)....








Flowers: (a beautiful Hibiscus)....







People: (don't you just love the elbow patches?  They go so well with the  mirror shades)......




Sunshine:  (Ah yes, the ubiquitous Russians.  Here you see them at Poris de Abona.  They are doing so well these days.  Absolute Trumps!)......




And canaries......






Poor little bird. But, even if you feel caged in (I have a diploma in bird psychiatry), or if the ground begins to shiver and shake (my minor study was in the geophysics of terremotion), Tenerife is not a bad place after all.....








Especially if you've got a Cactus!








Adios!  (my prickly pair).....










Yellow bird
Up high in banana tree
Yellow bird
You sit all alone like me



The pictures by Martín y Sicilia are reproduced with the kind permission of the artists. 


martin & sicilia
(1974 y 1971, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, España)
Viven y trabajan en Madrid, Tenerife y Berlín


Recientemente ganadores del Premio “Brugal” Artistas Emergentes en su primera edición en la feria de ARCO, Madrid, 2007, José Martin y Javier Sicilia trabajan como dúo artístico desde 1995. Su obra es principalmente pictórica y fotográfica, las cuales en conjunto dan forma al proceso de su producción artística. Hacen una revisión histórica del arte a la vez que se autorretratan en sus obras, no como espectadores sino como protagonistas de las escenas que representan. La tradición de la pintura converge en sus piezas con las nuevas formas de comunicación visual, fotográfica, cinematográfica y publicitaria. En sus últimos trabajos la instalación se ha convertido en un medio importante para destacar el carácter teatral de las imágenes. Las temáticas recurrentes en sus piezas son la destrucción del bienestar social, los problemas que coexisten en Occidente, como la migración, la cultura de masas y la identidad ante nuevas realidades políticas



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