Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ancient islands

In some ways Tenerife reminds me of Crete (with its new motorway slammed along the lowlands between the mountains and the sea, or of Cyprus with its bare mountain steeps and scorched rocks). But here the history is so different. The first people known to have lived here were effectively expunged by the Spanish around the time of Columbus. Only about two hundred of their words were written down. They were blu-eyed, had sheep, goats and dogs and lived mostly in the plentiful scary-looking caves hereabouts. They may have been Berbers - hard to say. The worshipped a goddess who came to them from the sea, and which the devout Spanish renamed Madonnas, setting her up in a church where she held court for a while till the sea took her back. She was quite likely a ship's figurehead washed ashore all those years ago.
After yesterday's superb sights in the far east of the island, we will head north, back up into the forested mountains, away from this grasping, concrete, faked-up suburbia in the south. We have had breakfast of rye bread, lovely hard goat's cheese, croissant and fresh orange juice. The sun is up and getting hot.

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