The ‘Tenerife Redux’ Productions

Blogging over, this post is based on what I actually made whilst I was out there. Two videos and a poem in a nutshell – this will not be university standard:

The Turtle Conservation Promo Video

This video was the one that changed the most. The original cut featured simple ‘stock footage’ of turtles with text over the top. I found the best online footage I could, compiled it all together and sent it out onto the press:

http://vimeo.com/28509039

The feedback was generally negative – the music for one seemed okay to start with, but went a bit too ‘waltzy’ towards the end. Apparently, the shot of divers feeding the turtle was bad as well, as feeding turtles can damage the ecosystem of an area. My argument was that feeding animals was only bad if it was a prolonged activity, but I was too tired to argue, so I just cut it out the final cut. I felt this made the one shot with the diver seem a little out of place – luckily during the interview, I got Jesse to talk about diving. However, the shots of the turtles I had chosen to use certainly looked the part – if possible though, I just needed footage of more variations of the species.

The interview was the main thing that was missing – every other video had at least one in it. The lack of one seemed to destroy any human element in the video, which is why it was important that I did one. Jesse put himself forward as the person to be interviewed, so I drafted up some quick questions with him, and we did the shoot in one night in about five minutes. I lost half the footage by accident during the upload, but it ultimately had little effect on the final piece. I gave Jesse a strap-line so people knew his name, and could perhaps relate a little more to him.

I added some extra footage of different turtles. Jay finalised the logo and I placed it at the end. Also, when hunting for music, I always find several variations of a similar ‘mood’, so if one doesn’t fit, I simply change it. That’s exactly what I did here, and the final piece looks like this:

http://vimeo.com/28507555

The Royal

Sitting in the initial presentations in the earlier days of the workshops got tiring after a while. Whilst listening to the ‘Plant A Tree, Fund A Dream’ talk, I wrote a poem about trees (as you do). This was probably around the time me and Marko had that ‘Poetry Night’ thing as well:

I once stood on the shoulders of wilderness

Amidst an army of towering royals

To reap the seeds of our gentle labour 

Where the only thing we feared was soil

We marched over mountains of hardest earth

And down through deepest, dampest vales

We breathed the air and churned the ground

Upon the remotest of meadows and dales

But now the time of balance has passed

As the once rich army will now see fall

The fruits of our labour consumed and destroyed

As the children fear ancestors no more

I foresaw an age of changing winds

But no royal soldier expected this

Material things for a material world

When I once stood on the shoulders of wilderness

The React Team Promo Video

By far the most challenging of all the videos made out there was this one – the React Team promotional video, co-directed by Chris Light with the help of his media crew, and spear-headed by Lara and Sara (who were coordinators of the project to start with). Whereas almost every other video featured interviews inside the meditation tent nearby, I knew that would look boring and repetitive, so in talks with Sara, we decided to use use one morning to drive around to various places and conduct interviews.

Me and Lara planned the video fairly in-depth, with me even having a rare moment of drawing some rough stills of what the shots would look like. We also did a test shoot which looked like this:

http://vimeo.com/28510207

The overall video was filmed in just two days, and it was completely edited by myself over the course of one night. I also used some shots from one of Chris’s documentaries which he’d made a while back. The end result looked like this:

http://vimeo.com/28509461

Feedback was largely positive this time, with most of the criticisms actually coming from within the group itself. The cheesy music needed a little work, but again I had at least three back-up tracks to play with. Strap-lines were preferable with each team member – difficult in places as the members were on screen for a matter of seconds. Some shots were taken out, like the science lab. Some shots were added, like the turtles. Henry finalised the logo, and the end result looked like this:

http://vimeo.com/28507983

Both videos were shot on DSLR cameras, with the audio captured separately and synchronized on FCP. Ed, the head of the AWF, met positively with both finished videos. The React Team was, in my eyes, certainly the most interesting and most ambitious of all the videos created at the workshops, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of those who were involved. A solid team effort all round. You may find a later edit of the React Team video with Spanish subtitles and an added e-mail address at the end. This was classed as the finished article, but I did this edit just hours before my flight back home. I was annoyed they’d left it so long to tell me I needed to do these extra things, and as a result I consider the above video as the final (and best) version – I needed much more time to create decent subtitles and make them work within the video. I was not so happy with it, but it could still have gone a lot worse given my time window:

Overall though, a lot more productive than my usual summer vacations!

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

Tuesday 30th August

Our journey ended with checking out of the Hotel Carel in El Medano before 10:00am and getting the first bus to Los Cristianos, bringing the trip full circle. The bus was late, and then it broke down en route. We stopped in a strange place – a colony of British people by the looks of it. The adverts were all in English, and all the passengers on the bus were speaking English too. Call me crazy, but it was like being in another country.

The sunburn hadn’t gotten much better, so I was making the point of staying out of the sun today. However, Laura was expecting a beach day that had been long waiting. I grabbed a full english breakfast for under three euros (that came with an orange juice that cost over three euros), and then we hit the beach. I went out to splash about with Laura, but she didn’t want to leave the bags on the beach. She went back in another huff, and it was apparent the close-quarters were taking their toll. True, my macbook, DSLR, passport and other things were in the bags, but by the same token, we were on a beach full of tourists. Still, I understood why she was being careful (*cough* machete *cough*), so we’d have to ‘take turns’ being in the sea. I only wanted one swim though.

On my own in the sea, I felt the past catching up, almost like the whole experience had gone full circle. Where it had begun – me, Laura and Yasmin swimming here watching jellyfish float onto the beach on our first weekend back in April, and now myself in the very same spot. The boat Must Cat was floating in the distance – the boat that had been recurring throughout the whole eight weeks here. The water was of the same coast line that I’d learned to scuba dive in. It felt like the official end of the whole business. After I left the water, that would be it for Tenerife. I left in peace.

Laura didn’t want to go in the sea just yet, so I left the beach and found some shade. I people watched for about forty minutes, and then went back to the beach so Laura could have a paddle. She lasted all of three minutes before she was taken out by a huge wave, and came staggering back. I listened to Bob Dylan and Meat Loaf on my iPod whilst I waited for her to dry off.

After the beach, we decided to do one final thing – visit the ‘Royal Fish Spa’ on the seafront. A fish spa is basically a room full of fish tanks – you wipe your feet, place them in, and then a load of fish come and eat all the dead / dry skin off them. It’s a ‘natural pedicure’. It lasted fifteen minutes for seven euros each – and it wasn’t as half as ticklish as I thought it would be. I’m pretty sure I’d seen some of the fish in turtle bay during my diving trips as well. This is what the view looked like from above:

After this little experience, we went straight for the buses – I picked up a watermelon wedge from a market en route. The bus brought another minor conflict – our two hefty bags wouldn’t fit in the underside compartments of the bus. Although I told Laura I was having difficulty getting both bags in, she went on the bus and left me to it. There was little she could have done anyway – I closed the door as much as I could, and got on the bus myself. The door hadn’t closed properly, so every time the bus banked left sharply, we both pressed our noses to the window to see if the bags were flying our beneath us. I thought it was quite funny – Laura less so.

The final return to Arona was a welcome break. Laura found her hubby Chris waiting on the terrance, and they headed off together. Much like El Desierto, I left her to her own devices now. I went out onto ‘the wall’, but it was cluttered with bird guano, so I came back (no tai qi happening on that). I tried to play some games on my mobile (set a new record, wahey!) but then had the idea of visiting Helen’s Bar one last time, to say goodbye to the heart scot.

I was quick to make friends with a guy called Ryan and another dutch guy called David. Ryan was leaving tomorrow same as me – David was here for five months. The three of us went down to Helen’s Bar relatively late, but it was still open and pretty busy. I had a double shot a ‘Liquor 43’ and a Sprite, along with some grapes, and also got a free banana in the deal. I also got to meet Helen’s daughter Chantelle, who every bit as ‘Scot’ as her mom. Helen has high hopes for the bar in the future – I wish her all the best.

The real deal – Liquor 43. Drank ‘on the rocks’, and also with a Sprite.

The night ended with one final thing that I can also cross over my ‘to do’ list – with no bed, I was practically forced to sleep on the terrace (upstairs in the open in the AWF house). I got my sleeping bag out, which kept me warm all night. Mosquitos were local, and I had my net handy. This is the only time in the whole four weeks when I’ve remotely needed it (but it’s still good to have). Funnily enough, this is probably the first night in a long time that the terrace was empty. The fresh air was nice, but generally unless you’re planning a late night party there that breaks noise curfew, there’s not a lot of point in the hassle. The night came in, I set my alarm for the final early rise, and went to bed. And that is pretty much how the story unofficially ends – me in my sleeping bag on the terrace. Still alone, and still smiling 🙂

Monday 29th August

Our penultimate day of the Tenerife Grand Tour featured a beach day that we knew wouldn’t happen, and the conquest of the Red Mountain on the sea front. We had another early start, and by ten o clock we’d set off for the mountain. It’s basically a miniature version of Roque Del Conde, from sea level to about 700 meters. We scaled it in about ninety minutes – the wind up the top was strong enough to rival the summit of Teide itself however.

The day was perhaps the windiest one of the whole experience – the waves were disintegrating before they even begun to smash into the sea cliffs. The tide swept back into El Medano’s shores as we headed back to the hotel after the climb – it flooded the entire bay, sweeping under deck chairs and sending huge waves up the sea wall, drenching unsuspecting passing tourists.

We headed back out to the ‘beach’ (what there was of it), and I refused to go to the place were at the day before (atop a glass-covered rock), so we headed down to the windy beach at the end. There, we were battered by a low-level sandstorm that penetrated our ears and noses. We lasted about thirty minutes, before realizing we were covered in a silt/sand substance that had stuck to our sun lotion.

We relocated to a giant glass-covered rock, where I made a genuine effort to get sunburnt. I succeeded – all down the back of my legs, a little on my chest, and all down my back… a little under my arms too. With the tan sorted, I headed back to the hotel about an hour earlier than Laura did and grabbed a shower. I blogged up to the present day, and chilled to Jimi Hendrix and Opeth until she came back. When she came back, she grabbed a shower too, and then we both went out for our final evening meal together about quarter past eight.

We walked around, but ironically found that the cheapest nice place to eat was the same chinese place we’d been at the night before. No sooner had we sat down, one of the waitresses told us that the cheap menu (three courses for seven euros) didn’t apply after half past eight – in other words, we missed it by two minutes. It was still cheaper than the neighbouring chinese restaurant though, which was the funny thing.

We had hot and sour soup with a spring roll each, and then I had beef and black bean sauce (token meal) while Laura went for the sweet and sour chicken. We shared egg fried rice. The meal was just as nice as the evening previous, although my sunburn was soon starting to affect me, prompting me to head straight back to the hotel after the meal for a rather sore night’s sleep.

As a side note, to conclude, I gave careful consideration to where El Medano sat on my ‘holiday list’. Put simply (and honestly) – El Medano is without a doubt the worst beach resort I have ever been to. For starters, all that ‘longest beach in Tenerife’ crap is at the most basic level ‘hypothetical’ – maybe it is when the tide is out (at midnight), but that’s no good to anyone wanting a tan. The broken glass everywhere makes the spare sand impossible to walk on, and also plain dangerous. The silt sandstorms make lying down on any sand pretty impossible as well. The people walking around getting splashed by the giant waves from the violent seas didn’t seem too happy about it either. So, do not go to El Medano under any circumstances if you fancy ‘doing’ Tenerife… unless of course you like cheap Chinese meals.

Sunday 28th August

Today was our downward trek to El Medano – more or less just south of El Desierto where the workshops had been over a week earlier. Like Los Gigantes and La Laguna, El Medano had been on our ‘to see’ list since the beginning, as it has the longest beach on the whole island (partly due to imported sand from the Sahara). First we had to get there, though.

We had beans on toast for breakfast, which we’d brought the day before from the supermarket (there was a stove in the hotel room, you see). We set of for the bus, which took us back to the La Laguna bus station. We almost got the wrong one and headed back to Puerto De La Cruz, but finally found one going to Santa Cruz. It cost fifty cents (less than fifty pence). Upon arriving at the largest bus station on the island, we realized that the next bus to El Medano was about two hours away. To kill some time, we went to the nearby auditorium, and sat in the shade for a bit. The waves were a little crazy today. We also got another bus card, which saved us a small fortune on the way down to the south coast.

When we got on the bus, Laura grabbed some sleep. I was getting worried – I didn’t even know the name of the hotel we were going to, let alone where abouts it was in El Medano. When Laura awoke, we had a small panic that the bus may just pass El Medano from a several mile distance and carry on to the airport. Luckily, it went down a side road straight to the town centre. Even better, we saw the hotel from the bus window.

We jumped out and speedily entered the hotel. However, typically, the one hotel that Laura had recommended booking on a different site was the problematic one. We were given the keys, but then the receptionist started saying something in Spanish. A local resident was kind enough to translate – we hadn’t paid the bill apparently, which I was inclined to argue with, as the site ‘booking.com’ had asked for my bank details when I’d made the booking. The receptionist was kind enough to let us into the room, where tensions between Laura and me began to rise. I called my mum to check my online details, and indeed the money hadn’t been taken out. I paid at the desk the next chance I got – this had now put a one hundred euro set back into my finances, leaving me now with no money to pay Laura back what I owed her for the return flight. It also left me with little to end the tour with (and pretty much took out any option of doing a final scuba dive). I thought I’d paid online – Laura seemed to know that it was possible that I’d never paid it online. It was lucky that the clubbing night in La Laguna didn’t happen, otherwise we’d have been right up sh*t alley about now.

In a little huff, we travelled down to the beach in silence. However, it took only a few minutes for us to realize that the beach didn’t even exist. At midday, the tide was fully in. At full tide, there is no sand at all in El Medano. There’s a little bay with a patch of sand, which the whole of Tenerife piles onto. Then there’s another beach a ways away, where it’s gale force ten and wind surfers have taken over. What’s more, the beach is also full of glass and broken bottles (looks like the beach crews of the island hit it up here instead of Taganana!). Laura cut her foot on a piece of broken glass, as she was wearing flip flops. I recommended going back to the hotel, but she said she was fine. On the plus side, I found a nice shell on the rock pools.

We staggered back to the hotel with some more supermarket foods – even I was on a budget now! Thankfully, the mexican salad I bought was the nicest ‘supermarket meal’ I’d had yet. We still felt like feeding ourselves up a bit, so we decided to hit up a restaurant provided we could do it for under a tenner. We found a chinese restaurant up the task almost straight away, where I had a spring roll, chicken and chips, and a vanilla ice cream for seven euros (also included a Dorada beer). Funny with chinese diners – we went to a chinese restaurant last time we were in Tenerife as well!

As the night drew in, we looked onwards to Roja Montana (Red Mountain – to be scaled tomorrow), and then went back to the hotel. Laura went to sleep almost straight away, whereas I was up until midnight blogging and uploading pictures and charging all variety of things. As Peter Kay said, the room looked like the ‘inside of a space ship’.

Saturday 27th August

This was to be the big one – today we left before 10:00am, checked out and got the first bus we could to La Laguna. La Laguna has been quoted by many to be the Las Americas of the north (partly due to the high student population there). We got to the La Laguna bus station, but when our bus left for Santa Cruz, we found ourselves a little lost.

The ‘universidad’ was right in front of us, but I knew for a fact our hotel was a fair way away. I asked at the tourist information desk at the station how to get to the Nivaria Hotel, and the lady there had no idea (no maps either). She pointed us towards a bus, and then desk subsequently closed at midday.

Laura and I sat outside for a few minutes, unsure what was really happening. The bus we were meant to get on pulled up in the middle of the coach park, not really heading to any bay. I jogged across and asked the driver whether he was going to the plaza where our hotel was located. He spoke a load of Spanish and not a word of English, but this was a ‘moment’ when the penny was dropping, and I understood what he was saying. It was something to the tune of ‘This is the right bus, yes. I’m going to pull into that bay in a moment, you can get on over there’.

Subsequently, the bus pulled into the bay, and we hopped on. We sat on the bus for a while as it did it’s round trip. At one point, it pulled up in a council-estate-looking area (i.e. full of ‘local lads’), and I slowly started to get up, as my luck usually states I’ve booked a hotel in such an area. The bus driver then stopped me, and pointed me back to my seat. Ten minutes later, we were in a much posher area – an isolated plaza with trees and fountains and cafes. As I left the bus, I asked if the driver knew of Nivaria. He did – it was two minutes away across two roads. I gave him my utmost thanks – this day would have been a much bigger deal had it not been for his help.

We were getting into the drill – checked in (a four star hotel too – I don’t remember booking one that swish…). The room was lovely, cool and sizable. Again, we wasted no time in ditching the bags, and going out exploring. The plaza were in hadn’t got much in it, so we took a stroll in one random direction to see what was about.

Now, this is where things went funny. There was a tram that the bus route sort-of followed, which had hardly any clubs or bars on it. We ended up walking that way during our explorations, but indeed there was not a lot down there. We walked along two high streets, to a plaza called ‘La Conception’ which had a church, a tourist information that seemed to be always closed, and a cafe where I had a spanish omelette. There was an art shop on the high street, which I considered buying something from (but then it closed, as most of ‘em do).

After dropping by the hotel for a refresh, we took a final stroll in some other direction, which was much more deserted. We found a giant abandoned stadium / arena type place, where I’m guessing Tiesto did a concert in a few weeks back. Now there was only remnants. We found our way back to the high streets, and after walking around a local park, we got some food from the supermarket for tomorrow’s breakfast, and then went back to the hotel.

This was meant to be a party evening, but we had not seen a single nightclub anywhere. Not a club, or bar, or dance floor, or karaoke bar. Even the cafes were limited. Laura wanted to dress up and go for a meal anyway, which I was game for. Turns out, we had all on just trying to do that – Laguna doesn’t even have restaurants. I’m guessing were in the historical area or something – nonetheless, we had seen about eighty percent of La Laguna from the bus. The place is a ghost town essentially – maybe there’s a few clubs inside the university – sadly, that’s not a lot of good to a lot people. So, if this is a contest, Las Americas wins flat out. We were set to meet some AWF volunteers here tonight to go out with – I guess they knew something we didn’t!

Laura and myself found a pub that claimed to sell ‘fried cheese’, which Laura was big fan of. We ended up having some fresh, local chorizo on local, fresh-baked bread, followed by four fried cheeses and a meat-filled potato. This was traditional as it got – this was almost the back of beyond. A local pub for local people.

The food was delicious either way, and it filled the spot. We went back to the hotel, as there was little else to do. We spent the night plying with make-shift paper cards, mostly three games – ‘spit’, ‘roomy’ and ‘solitaire’ (bet you only know how to play the last one!). We played some music, talked a load of very probable rubbish, and then went to bed. The beds were on wheels, so every time you turned, the whole things slid around the room as if it were on an ice rink. Fun times, but ultimately a rather disappointing night considering the hype.

Getting in the habit of taking photo of all the more interesting foods I eat – here’s the Spanish Omelette from La Conception, and the Fried Cheeses from the nearby pub:

Friday 26th August

The second day at Puerto De La Cruz started early again, as today we were going to the Botanical Gardens – conveniently placed on the highest slopes in the whole city. I grabbed a lasagna for breakfast from a little french cafe where they couldn’t understand our ‘Spanish’, and then we headed upwards. We faced a giant climb up a series of over three hundred steps.

We got to the top and found a man asleep at the reception desk. Me and Laura just smiled at each other whilst we waited for him to come around. When he finally stirred, he just gave us a knowing, sheepish look. Three euros got us in, but sadly there wasn’t much to see. Most of the flowers weren’t in bloom. It reminded of the Lost Gardens Of Heligan in Cornwall, but there was much more variety of colour there. There were a few blues, reds and yellows, and the rest were trees. Laura found a mother and baby terrapin, so she took loads of photos on her DSLR. Unfortunately, my DSLR was out of action, as I was having trouble importing the sunrise photos of Teide (gulp).

We took a little ‘pootle’ around, and then headed back. We were quick to realize that there wasn’t much else to do, so we went back to the hotel and changed gear, then hit the ash beach again. Again, little sun to speak of, and again, this was followed with a trip to the supermarket. This time however, I joined Laura in her ‘budget diet’, grabbing a few packet salads and tit-bits. Most of it was border-line disgusting (to me), so I ended up eating bread and drinking orange juice (and wine / brandy coke) for the rest of the night.

We spent the evening fixated on Youtube, watching videos of Riverdance, Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Usual Suspects.

My pocket camera seems to be on it’s last legs, which is sad since I’ve only had it just over a year. Yet it can still take some darn good snaps: