Friday morning gave way to an uneasy awakening full of hung over volunteers. I was quite happy to sit the day out by the pool, but most of the others decided to go to the beach. Sara offered to drive me and a few others later in the day to a private beach near Puerto Colon. We spent a decent hour trying to get there, eventually arriving in the afternoon at a random beach that did not look in the least bit private.
The first thing I wanted to do naturally was get food, but the people we met on the beach decided they wanted to swim out to ‘the rocks’ instead. These rocks were a decent way out, but everyone seemed game for it, so I decided to try and swim for them myself. It was a bad idea – though I can pull somersaults underwater with great ease, surface swimming in speedos has never really been my forte. I could have made it to the rocks comfortably enough, but we stopped half way, and waited whilst someone went to fetch a water camera from the shore. I was treading water nearly fifteen minutes before I finally declared myself as ‘slowly drowning’. Funnily enough, swimming relaxed on my back, I rocketed back to shore like a torpedo. Fellow volunteer Vesta followed – she’d also had enough.
Davey retreated soon after, so we went to get some lunch. We went to a nearby shopping outlet, where I bought some cherry brandy and a hot dog. The hot dog was three euros, but it came with plenty of onions and HP sauce.
Not soon after we left the beach and headed for a restaurant for everyone to eat – a place called the Aberdeen Steak House in Las Americas. They served a three course meal for eight euros – pretty good VFM. I had a cheese and broccoli pie for a starter (though not before spilling my fruit juice everywhere), then I had a medium-cooked steak and chips for the main course. The steak was done to perfection – a little rare perhaps, but it definitely converted me to the ‘medium’ cooked meat eaters. For desert I had a strawberry mousse, which is when the dine descended into a huge food fight between Sara and Davey. The mess caused started to make my little error earlier look like an ‘entrée’.
We left the diner just before we got thrown out by the looks of the staff. It was funny, but also sort of embarrassing, especially for other members of the group. Perhaps you’d get away with it more if you were taking a girl on a date or something. In the end, six of us wanted to go home at once. Wd all piled into the car – two in front, four in back. We made it back with relatively no fuss – Kasper and Davey leaned out their windows to high-five each other on the freeway, which was quite… epic? When I got back, I crashed as much as my body would allow – I had a rather large challenge looming ahead…
Return To El Teide
One of the main targets of this return journey was to finish the business I started last time – stop-motion the sunrise from the summit of the world’s third highest volcano. For those who have forgotten, I actually climbed Teide on my last visit to Tenerife with all the equipment in hand – I was met with a blizzard and a white-out. Marko was kind enough to show me an online weather forecast – clear skies. This looked promising.
Kasper, Davey and Kasha were my three companions, looking to me for guidance up the trail (I was somewhat a ‘pro’ in their eyes). The gig was standard – another nighttime ascent upwards over seven hours. We stopped occasionally to loom at the stars – the moon rose up over the hills looking as red as Mars. We had food, had little talks – I tried to video things like last time, but apparently the tape-heads needed cleaning, so I took only the ‘important’ shots.
And just maybe I was a pro – despite stopping by all the landmarks, and despite having several breaks, we smashed every record going by reaching the refuge at 3,300 meters above sea level in just three and a half hours since being dropped off from the highway. The altitude was definitely taking it’s toll on me though – likely an effect due to the pressure changes caused by scuba diving. I did however incur one of the worst injuries I’ve made on the mountain, slipping on the path and cutting a chunk of my thumb off on the razor rocks. Luckily I had plasters and Savlon cream on hand to help. I also remember on one of the few stops up, talking to Kasha about mountain climbing, and during the chat I realized just what amazing, interesting and individual people from all around the world I had come to meet during this experience this time around.
We slept inside the refuge entryway just like last time, but we only got one hour when our sleep was interrupted by one of the owners chucking us out (probably to make way for ‘zee germans’). We rose a little way more up the mountain before finding a wall to sleep alongside – there were pipes all along it that looked ready to empty contents onto us at a moment’s notice, but we had little choice. I am pleased to say though that the pipes didn’t spew anything out at all, and thanks to a heft sleeping bag, this was the most comfortable night I’ve ever had on Teide. It was four hours worth of comfy.
It reminded me of that Aesop Fable – The Tortoise And The Hare. We made it to the refuge in record time. Kasper set his alarm, but unfortunately he set the volume way down low. When I eventually dragged everyone up, I realised we had less than an hour to make it to the summit for the sunrise. We’d made it up so far really quickly, so I gave it a shot. I was still suffering from the altitude change however – could feel it. Maybe I was still recovering from the Pilgrim Walk – I don’t know, but when the sky started turning light blue and we hadn’t even made the AWF camping zone, I knew the attempt to conquer the summit was over.
I gave careful thought before jumping aside the path to a pile of volcanic rocks and telling the others to go ahead without me. It was a strong thing to ask – one should never be allowed to stay on the mountain on their own, just for health and safety. LUCKILY though, we’re not in England. My ‘pro’ status was put to the test, as the rest continued upwards to the summit without me. I set up my tripod, readied the camera, then just fired away. I was sat for over three hours as the sun came up from my vantage point. The colour were initially not as striking as the first time I went up – I remember blues and reds being sharper. But then, as the sun rose, I felt I was actually getting a better sunrise – the colours were more subtle. The gentle hues of blues and pinks merged with the bright light of the deep orange sun created a heavenly scene unlike the previous one. And at over 1,500 photos, I caught every five seconds of it.
No sooner had I packed up, the other three returned. I quickly had a celebratory shot of cherry brandy, and then quickly started the descent. Much like the way up, the refuge almost refused to help us in any way – we had to ask if Kasha could use the toilet. And also much like the way up, we rocketed down, taking several short cuts and small breaks, making us arrive at the pick up one hour early. We sat in the baking heat and waited for Ed to pick us up. Thankfully, he was bang on time at one o clock, and drove us quickly back to El Desierto, where I proceeded to view the footage I had taken. To this day I haven’t seen it fully – the file sizes are making the imports a mammoth task. It looks promising though – hopefully a good contributor to a future university project!
I crashed at the house for several hours, but the place was empty. The reason was that everyone had gone to a place called Taganana, where there was set to be a mass congregation of people from all over the island meeting for a massive beach party on the shores around that area. I figured I’d missed it, and decided to call it a night – that was, until Sara and Lara came to my room, and loaded the Sangria from Thursday night into the boot of the car along with a load of sleeping bags. They were going to Taganana imminently, so I packed my things in earnest…
The Taganana Road Trip
Sara, Lara, and myself set off for Taganana as the sun set. Sara had been driving all day, and soon realised she had another two hours to go. There’s nothing worse than feeling that you’re missing out on something good, so I was feeling quite lucky these two girls had been around to give me a lift.
We drove all the way up the east side of the island, past Santa Cruz and up a giant mountain pass to Taganana. we passed through the summit by way of a giant tunnel, now running on petrol fumes (Sara hadn’t refueled for the trip). The car coughed it’s way down to Taganana, but no sooner had the car entered the vicinity, Sara got a phone call. Apparently, one of the volunteers called Henry had just been stung in the face by a jellyfish and had been rushed straight to the infirmary in Santa Cruz (the nearest medial center – almost one hour away from Taganana).
Sara immediately turned the car around, as her and Lara were the only Spanish speakers around to help Henry get treatment. The car choked back up the mountain pass and through the tunnel, back down to Santa Cruz. We were almost certain the car would conk out during the descent, but luckily we were wrong. Apparently, the whole idea of Tanagana being a massive beach party was false as well – the AWF volunteers were the only ones there.
we reached Taganana literally on fumes – Sara asked in a nearby petrol station where the infirmary was whilst she refueled her car – Henry was found minutes later around the corner. Sara quickly had a chat with the receptionist inside, and we all quickly discovered that this infirmary was privately owned. Even by their own admission, it would have cost Henry a fortune, so they recommended the actual hospital, which was located near the highway.
We set off from the infirmary with six of us the car – me, Lara and Sara, plus Henry and the two that had got him to the infirmary, Emma and Jesse. Six was an illegal number of people to have in the car, as we wouldn’t all be wearing seat belts (as it obligatory out here). Thus, every cop car that came near prompted one or two people to shoot their heads down and become ‘invisible’.
The time it took us to find the hospital was around two hours – ‘near the freeway’ wasn’t too helpful. Sara kept driving round and round the same island trying to find the correct turn off – she was also laughing hysterically, which was funny for a while, but evidently driving all day was beginning to take it’s toll on her.
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were immediately faced with two local ‘Guardia Civil’ cars parked outside. We knew there was no chance of us passing between them without getting arrested / fined, so Jesse jumped out and ran towards the entrance. We drove through the police cars without fuss, delivering Henry and Sara to the side entrance of the hospital. Then we lost Jesse, prompting Lara to drive several rounds around the hospital, much the annoyance of the police. Turns out that even though Henry didn’t have his E111 card, a nurse inside had given him free treatment (a shot in the bum as it turned out), and Jesse was inside taking photos of Henry’s reaction. We eventually tracked all three down, and we all piled into the car again and jetted away from the cops.
By this time, Emma (the shortest of us all) was lying across the three sat in the back, and I was riding ‘shotgun’ in the passenger seat at the front. We decided not to return to Taganana, in case Henry got worse again (even though he’d been feeling okay-ish since the infirmary). We decided we wanted food – Sara had never had a McDonalds before in her life, but she seemed to have decided that this was the night when one was needed.
We drove through Santa Cruz looking for someone to ask, and Sara eventually pulled up next to two men and a woman. She shot out, had a conversation, then shot back, none the wiser as to the whereabouts of the nearest Maccy Ds. Unfortunately, the three people she had asked were two men being accompanied by a prostitute, who was in the middle of ‘servicing’ one man whilst the other watched. The prostitute barked Sara back into the car, and she quickly took off.
No sooner are we all laughing at this, I look out the window to see a young man trying to leave a hotel lobby through a revolving door. The door jams at a point which seals him inside the glass entrance. He bumps his head on the glass, tries to push his way out, and then, realising he’s trapped, smiles and leans against the glass. His mates are outside the hotel laughing at him, so we decide to roll the windows down and laugh at him too. Not his night I guess.
Finally, Sara finds someone at yet another petrol station, who directs us successfully to the McDonalds – it’s right next to the main Santa Cruz monument, the auditorium. Sara had her burger, as do I and a few others. Jesse’s phone has broken, so he throws it on the floor in sarcasm. The bump makes the phones work again. It’s the last weird thing we can handle, and we decide to call it a night. We return to El Desierto, with some still out for partying, but I for one going straight to bed to sleep of the remnants of Teide and the events of the night.