Tenerife. Heard about it. Thought it was an exotic destination for the rich. Ignored it ever since.
That until three months or so ago when I was looking through the online pages of Lonely Planet in search of that new horizon I was longing for. I started off with the Azores, mentioned by a friend.
The Azores were an interesting option, but clicking at random through the Lonely Planet pages brought me to the Canary Islands.
Underneath it said: is not what you’d expect.
The line caught me. I played the presentation video, heard the name Tenerife again and realized that I didn’t even know where to locate that island until that very moment. Then I heard volcano – 3718 meters of it -, hiking, saw some jaw-dropping pictures and that was it.
I was glued to the screen. For several good hours.
Three months later I was glued to the airplane window while landing at the Tenerife South Airport, all super excited and eager to explore that new horizon.
But let’s roll back a bit because the adventure starts right at home. In bed. When you wake up by chance at 04:33 in the morning, stare for one long minute at the watch before you start realizing what’s happening. Yes, you’re about to miss the 5 am train.
And what do you do if you’re me and you still have the option to catch the afternoon train? Oh well, you go for the challenge. Like in those good old days in the army. You run like an idiot the 2 km or so from home to the train station in less than 10 minutes, in hiking boots, with an almost 15 kg backpack, camera in one hand, breakfast in the other. No warm-up, no time to think, no nothing.
Yes, still in good shape. I arrived at the station 7 minutes prior to the train’s departure, even had time to buy a ticket and catch my breath, and then hopped on for the ride to Bucharest. Which I won’t describe because there’s nothing to describe. I dozed off during the whole journey.
In Bucharest I slept even more, so I wouldn’t have to run to catch the flight to Tenerife next day.
The flight in itself, as any flight for me, was extraordinary.
But those kids. Oh, those kids. On the seats behind me, two little devils were screaming, kicking and climbing up and down the seats by any means possible. One even tried to grab my hair for that matter. Good luck with that, you little devil. I don’t have any.
After almost two hours, they fell asleep, so I was relieved. That until they woke up again one hour before landing and started the whole show again. But, you know, they had to buckle them up for landing, so I was happy.
I love it when people – and kids – need to be on their seats with their seat-belts fastened. They stop running like crazy through the airplane, making the flight crew’s job a daunting task. And then there are those people who fear flying and especially the process of landing, so they shut up and the whole plane goes silent for a few moments. It’s like a sacred ritual. I couldn’t love those moments more.
And since the airplane had a little delay, I got to enjoy these magnificent colors of the sunset fading away on the sky above the islands.
Then touchdown, clapping, the madness at the exit and the bus ride.
The bus ride from the airport to where I needed to go was an interesting one as well. Though it was dark and didn’t see much, I couldn’t help but notice that the bus driver was more like a fighter pilot than a bus driver. Fast, precise maneuvers, I loved it. And I didn’t even know what would wait for me a few days later on the road to the village of Masca in the Teno mountains. But that in another story.
At the hostel I wasn’t welcomed by a local Canarian girl as I was hoping for, but by an Italian guy. In their own casual way. How can’t you love these people?
Fast forward through the evening, shower, food, water and… right! Ocean. I had to. I couldn’t help myself.
Back at the hostel, I evaded some stories coming my way and threatening my sleep and went straight to bed.