Return and Reflection

The final day was also largely an uneventful ‘waiting around’ day. I woke up on the terrance covered in mosquito bites, and so headed for the showers. I said goodbye to the people going on the boats, grabbed my shower, and then sat I the research room pretty much all day. I created a spanish version of the ReacTeam video, and then went for a wonder around Arona. For the only time on this trip, I had to walk past two Guardia Civil officers, but as predicted, they caused no fuss. I even said hello to them as I walked by. Food for the day was provided by the watermelon I bought the day before.

Teresa gave me and Laura a lift at five o clock to the airport. I offered her the due euros upon arrival, but she told me to give them to her when we got out the car. Lo and behold, I forget, and head off to Britain seven euros up. It’s enough for a quick baguette before lift off. I listen to my iPod ll the way through the flight – all five of my favourite albums. We arrive at Glasgow Prestwick at midnight, and the place looks like some sort of secondary school. It’s the smallest airport I’ve ever been in. It’s also one of the most deserted places in Britain I’ve ever been to – there’s no food outlets, no information screens, no buses, no taxis. Everyone is literally stranded, with just the toilets and service desk open. I grab three hours sleep on a bench whilst Laura watches Fight Club on her laptop.

When I wake up, we begin the next six hours of train journeys – Prestwick to Glasgow Central, Central to Manchester Piccadilly. We grab some food in the form of some breakfast muffins, then get the ride down to Manchester. Now Laura gets some sleep against the window – I look past at the Cumbrian countryside beyond in the morning mist as the train speeds southward. And at Manchester, we part ways for the last time on this trip – Laura for Stoke, me for Nottingham. It’s not all too bad – we know we’ll be seeing each other in a few weeks, to live for the next year during our final year of university. The final train to Nottingham is ninety minutes shorter than it was going out four weeks ago, giving me a little while to see how Nottingham has changed since I left (it always does change, every time I leave). With irony, just before I meet my mum, I see the ‘Nottingham by the beach’ attraction on the square, and just smile to myself.

And so that’s it. A multiple day-by-day account of ‘Tenerife Redux’ – my return to Tenerife to conclude the eight-week stint of the summer of 2011. Do I feel like a different person after the experience? Well, not really – perhaps just a better informed person that I was before.

The major difference that happened this time is the fact that the moment I arrived, I effectively ‘threw out’ the Media Production lot and started hanging out with other people. I was not going to be at all bothered by what other people were doing this time around – this time was more about me. And what people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had with them too!

The first notable experience was the night of the ‘Three Crazy Dutch People’ – literally three dutch people I’d met at the house. It could have gone horribly wrong – I didn’t know these people at all! They didn’t know me. But what a night – a night so mental (and so expensive) that – and I’m sorry to say this – most of my friends wouldn’t have survived without falling really ill and splitting the night up. It was nice to finally find some people to party with at my own level. I’ll hopefully meet up with some (if not all) of them again some day, when I go to the Netherlands, and we can party on some home turf.

On a more sobering level, Bronwen reading my tarot cards was an interesting experience. I almost burst out laughing when she drew the death cards and the devil – it wasn’t too bad, because I approach these things with an open mind. I told Bronwen I was slightly skeptical – skeptical is too strong a word though. I am open-minded about all things ‘spiritual’. It was interesting in how accurate it was – even if the whole thing is based on Bronwen reading me and feeding me information back based on these readings, she did a really good job – I hardly gave her any information, and those cards were still bluntly accurate, even though they were drawn at random.

You may wonder what happened to Eric, the shaman I met that same night. I never met him again – he left for England, and never returned. Maybe he made me a gift, or maybe not. I half expected this though – we’re both travelers, so the chances of us meeting again is down to very good fortune, and nothing more. I wrote a little tune based on the meeting, but it never got finished.

Candelaria was one of the biggest wastes of time ever. It was an ascent to the mid-section of Teide, then a descent through dry pine forests (the best bit) and dusty fields of volcanic ash that where apparently toxic to inhale. The tarmac roads were the final insult – the whole trek must have been (without exaggerating) about fifteen to twenty miles. There was never any hope of us making the celebrations on time, and the low mood broke the group up several times during the pilgrimage. Unless you’re a hardcore hiker, I would not recommend you take this one on unless your are adequately equipped.

Ironically, Teide never ceases to amaze. Kasper not setting his alarm properly was something to laugh at rather than be angry about – sitting and talking with him and Kasha and Davey on the way up was another memorable moment. Sitting under the moonlight on the rocks, in an area that I had aptly titled as my ‘Tenerife playground’. I owe Kasper many thanks for helping me to patch my injury up half way up. Photographing the sunrise was, obviously, another highlight. Importing seems to be back on track as well, so here’s hoping to a good movie out of it all!

I have to mention the PADI experiences in here somewhere – the teachers and the few people I dove with were all amazing. Being with my friend Faye during these dives was one of the few times I was actually with someone I knew before coming out to Tenerife this time round! Jaime was particularly inspiring to me – he was completely bonkers, whilst being a really nice guy. A person full of life, and yet not arrogant with it, and a genuinely nice guy. He is a person I would like to aspire to be in my life (along with the lifestyle, yes?). He’s shown me that there is a place out there for oddballs like me.

During the dives, several memories come to mind. Learning the skills at the bottom of Turtle Bay with Mica was memorable, as was the first proper dive there, where me and Faye were led by Jaime. The final dive was very assuring, as running out of oxygen is the one thing that stops people diving. Yet I did not panic. Nowhere near. I found it almost comical. At no point did I feel threatened or in danger (even though I most likely was). I knew exactly what to do, and for that reason, despite only having done five of the six dives, I believe the PADI certificate was rightfully awarded to me. And just to put it here: swimming with sea turtles never gets old.

On the subject, the workshops gave me one cause I actually have gained an active interest in. Sea turtles are endangers – all of them, all the species. I can hope to one day help conservation efforts using a position within the media industry – I’m in the right business to get conservation messages out there into the world.

Taganana was at both times an epic fail and an epic win. Driving around just got sickening after a while, and although the views were beautiful, it did drag at times. It was the best (and only) road trip I’ve been on yet, so it will always be remembered for that – definitely a story for many a ‘drunk party’, right up there with the ‘drunk DJs’ and the ‘body paint’ ones. On the subject, the best car journey was by far the night I went to Los Cristianos with Mihai and Nicoleta. I was sat in the back with Vesta and Rita, and we sat looking out over a neon-lit vista listening to Mihai’s trippy music. I don’t know why, but the image really stays in the mind.

Most of the days at the workshops were unremarkable, with not a lot happening. I had fun making the videos, as I feel I’ve spent my time constructively during this summer period (now having extra content for my showreel). It’s a shame the delay in getting started led to a heavy first week of presentations, and it was also a shame that the meals were so minimal. All in all though, this was the same gig as last time – conservation is key, but what I take out of the experiences of Tenerife in my young adult years are the real gain for me. I feel more worldly for these experiences I’ve had this time around (much more than the last time). If what you take from an experience makes it purposeful, this has been a much more interesting and beneficial visit to Tenerife than my last one. However, without my last visit, this visit would have been too intense to be enjoyable. I will always pair the two trips together, as one eight-week experience in Tenerife in the summer of 2011 (one to tell the kids in my later years).

Here is a revisit of the 6 things I wanted to do before I came out here:

1. Re-unite with old friends – Well, evidently Massimo and Teresa are holding up just fine. It was lovely to meet Helen and get to know her more this time round. As for Candy, I was never ‘on the boats’, so I never would have met up with her.

2. Get the PADI certificate – Absolute TICK.

3. Visit La Laguna – Well, that was disappointing.

4. Conquer Teide ‘Media Style’ – Still uploading… (But I did get the photos, so for better or for worse, this one is DONE.)

5. A sense of fun and romance – I got more out of the experience this time than last time. I chilled more and enjoyed the experience more this time than last time. A bionafied tick.

6. Sing a karaoke – I learnt Spanish to a level of ‘Spanglish’ I was happy with, and I definitely came back with more salsa moves than I went out with. But not once in the whole four weeks did I have an opportunity to tick this one off the list. Not ticked, but with 5/6 done, I can live with that!

In terms of media, here are some random photos taken on my phone throughout the experience:

Did you know: Tenerife is quite obsessed with the Japanese craze ‘Hello Kitty’ – the top photo shows the sort of merchandise you can buy in any decent supermarket (that is Hello Kitty candy-floss). If there’s any doubt in your mind, the bottom photo is a Hello Kitty store, selling nothing BUT Hello Kitty merchandise (located in La Laguna, if that’s your bag).

This sign, located in Zero Garvity’s dive centre, made a very prominent philosophical point.

This was a random photo of a meal chosen completely at random whilst being at the workshops – note the cheap and rather tiny plate and bowl it was served on. My plate was pink because someone stole my blue one. I don’t remember the meal – it looks like rice and vegetables. I’m guessing there was no meat on the menu tonight. Imagine my delight on the first day of the grand tour, when me and Laura went to Los Gigantes and I had one of these for as little as three euros and fifty cents:

This was the first of many meals out, and I got in the habit of taking photos of all the best ones.

Trips to Puerto Colon rarely went by without a trip to Victoria’s Cafe in the morning. This was my staple breakfast there – the famous ‘Leche Leche’ (Spanish for ‘Milky Milky’) espresso shot, and the bacon sandwich. 

These random heads were on display in Puerto De la Cruz, thanks to a local beach artist.

This was where I left my heart stone on Teide – right below the exact spot where the tripod rested when I photographed the sunrise. Good luck trying to find it.

Lara and Sara prepping their special ‘sangria’ recipe. These were the two we were planning to meet in La Laguna – I guess they knew the bigger picture. Las Americas is the party capital of Tenerife, but it also by far the roughest place as well. The Canarias’ very own ‘vice city’.

I should also note some of the best quotes from the four weeks as well, or least the lines that stay in mind the most:

Yeah Boi!‘ –> Crafted by Jay, made funny by the dutch. This was exclaimed many times in El Desierto, possibly in an attempt to lift spirits or alleviate boredom.

‘Sometimes, if you want to show someone you really love them, you have to let them go.’ –> Rita, during a night in the tent around a candle, as we explained our feelings about someone who was important to us. This quote rung awfully true to some of my friends – past and present.

‘When you feel it in your heart, it’s best to use your head. If it stimulates your head, it’s best to follow your heart.’ –> Shaman Eric, upon advising me about how to go on life. Use your head to attract women, but use your heart to make money. Do that, and you’ll be a happy man. Sound advice.

‘Have you ever heard of the Guardia Civil?’ –> Faye, upon trying to convince me that backpacking around Tenerife was dangerous. Her point was that the police were violent, and were perhaps prone to beating up tourists… as that is something that would naturally boost the local economy. I found her serious tone quite humourous when perhaps my humour was uncalled for. But all the same, it reminded me of this infamous viral video:

‘I tried to suck it, but only a little bit came out. Then it went in my eye.’ –> Laura, trying to explain how she attempted to eat a trifle we’d bought from the supermarket without using a spoon. It took her a while to understand why I was laughing.

To finish off, here’s some of Mihai’s ‘trippy’ music from that rather ‘trippy’ night:

As the Spanish would say:

Finito

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