Monday, 13 January 2014

Sublime and Ridiculous

It was just chance that our Saturday expedition led us to one of the happiest and most satisfying days of my life.  The day was still and warm. We chose well.  We went up to Santa Cruz, on to San Andre, over the mountains where the edges are the most tortuous you have ever seen, worthy of Ghormenghast or some other wilful and terrifying romance, with the colossal tectonic forces of the volcano laid bare in a series of spiked peaks and teeth, one after the other tearing into the air in a savage and breath-taking dance.  We saw a sky-fight between a huge bird (eagle, buzzard?) and something smaller - and then we climbed into ancient forests, all mossy and draped, with fantastic birdsong and cool echoes.
Down the other side, more precipitous than our ascent, and there the rocks and peaks are towering right up to the sea in a set of savage pointy cliffs.... This was Roques de las Bodegas. We had time to sit and contemplate them, then to order lunch, and I tried painting it.
The man at Casa Africa brought us plate after plate of astonishingly delicious food. We watched the young people surfing in the bay - the water cannot have been too cold as they stayed in for hours and some were not even in wetsuits.
Later we went up to the peaks again, turned east to the far extreme of the island's roads - Chamorgo. There are the famous dragon trees, and more birdsong.  To get to a loo, you must beg the key from the cafe man.
We offered a lift to a couple from Devon, and had a delightful time with them, discussing geology and many other things - her degree was in Politics, Philosophy and Physics (from Durham). His was in engineering.  They took us to San Cristobal de la Laguna - a city built up above Santa Cruz too far away to be of interest to pirates, and the model for renaissance Spanish city-making which they took with them on to Cuba and South America... hence it has a grid pattern, and double courtyards in the fine houses.  We are going back there today.
In between - yesterday - our choices were less sure and less pleasing. We thought maybe to go up towards Mount Teide(rhymes with lady), but we hadn't taken enough warm clothing and the roads were filled with push-cyclists and attendant traffic queues, and the developments along the road as it winds up those 3000m are - frankly - horrible for a lot of the time.  We turned back, and down to the western edge of the island, where there is a constant interplay of ghastly ghastly concrete tourist villages and banana plantations - the gardens or orchards swathed in beige netting presumably to protect against wind damage.  The effect is depressing.
The developments are just like finding yourself inside The Prisoner.
The saving grace was to get as far as los Gigantes, where the massive cliffs are about 800m high, and sheer.  Dark and brooding, they can only inspire thoughts of death... the Guanches, who lived here before the Spaniards came (and a Mr Murphy who helped build San Cristobal de la Laguna in the 16th century), these Guanches thought the cliffs were The End Of The World.
Actually if it is not too hazy, even from the beach level, you can see the next island, la Gomera, so I don't know what they thought of that.  Maybe that island on the horizon was their heaven.

No comments:

Post a Comment