Just back from a day in the mountains, particularly to see the Caldera de Bandama, which is a pretty-near perfect volcanic relic, one kilometre wide, 200m deep and utterly awe-inspiring. A huge bird (eagle?) was being harried by some sort of rook. Everything was so quiet, misty, far away, but with a great wind blowing through the peaks, so that even the sturdy and beautiful Canary Pines had their 12cm fronds sucked into a horizontal position. We went up to the mirador for a coffee but it was all being renovated. Fantastic fantastic views.
Another section of the tops has been designated as a special nature zone, planted with more of these pines, and with lots of happy families picnicking with tents etc. It was damn cold. No lights in the ladies lavs because someone had nicked all the bulbs, and no paper - till a girl took pity on me and gave me a tissue. NB - always have some loo paper with you up in the mountains.
In the morning we had zigzagged our way to Vega de San Mateo for the market - reputed to have such a strong agricultural tradition that farmers bring pigs, goats, hens etc. This turned out not to be the case, but the drive up was fabulous, and the market filled with beautiful plant produce. The hall is about the size of 2 football pitches - and there were at least 10 stall selling all sorts of dried herbs and remedies. These were very variably labelled as to the benefits of each plant - sage, oregano, and many things I have never heard of. The complaints they purported to heal or their effects were to be seen in each stall - rheum, arthritis, expectoration, etc - but ascribed to different herbs. It was all very pleasant, and we bought papaya, prickly pears, and local bananas which taste extraordinarily delicious. (Why can't we get bananas like this at home?)
Our lunch was another wonderful find - we had tried several routes into the Jardin Botanica, where they have a snazzy resto up at the top, but our only way in (led by a kind man who was buying bread but diverted to show us the route) was at the bottom of the park. All paths leading to the top seemed to be out of bounds due to 'works', and although this garden is a treasure-trove of wondrous plants, we were getting hungry. Reluctantly we went back to the car to try once more to find the top entrance, but the valleys are deceptive, the roads very contrary... We ended up far away, but found a cafe stuffed with jolly (old) people, who were making a sort of quiet roaring noise which was the only advertisement for Josefina's bar. No signs outside at all. Amazingly she had a table free, and swiftly brought us fantastic bread with a garlic/mint mayo dip and a dish of cottage cheese. Then came a huge salad complete with smoked tuna, pineapple, peach, and every kind of greenery. Then came fried calamares and some perfect chips. It was all divine, and we couldn't finish any of it.
Our drive home has been past stupendous basalt cliffs, through more cool pine forests, past miles and miles of slopes covered with dragon-tree shrubs and almonds, and orange groves, and tiny villages with happy families wandering about. It is a kind of paradise, with the sun softened by this strange mist, and the howling winds just in some zones - enough to remind you about how nature can be terrifying as well as tranquil, and in very close proximity.
This is written in haste on the iPad one finger at a time before the lobby is locked up & I lose internet access. I meant to describe our trip last night to the Playa des Ingles, which has a wonderful beach, and 70,000? restaurants, some of which look ok. There must be 210,000 Spaniards working in catering. We also saw a little triple shrine made of sand, about 7' high and covered in niches, decorated with dozens if candles in glass jars. The artist who made it says he makes a new one every day.
That's it for today. I will try to find a plant nursery to buy a small Canary Pine plant, or some seeds, while we are here.