The Goat

Despite not being in Spanish class any more, I kept in touch with Sandra and my classmates, as we started a group thread on WhatsApp.  On 4 March, we got together at Edelweiss.  There were 8 of us, and since the table sizes were capped at 6 people due to COVID restrictions, we got two tables of 4.  Crystal and I were at a table with Sandra and Alex.  Alex was originally from Switzerland, but I got the impression he’d been in Puerto for at least a few years, and he and Sandra were good friends.  I had suggested the restaurant, so I was glad to see that everyone enjoyed their food and drink.  As usual, everything was phenomenal.

On 5 March, after chatting back and forth with Janice, she suggested that perhaps we should hire an attorney to help us expedite our padron and visa applications.  We reached out to an attorney on Calle La Hoya named Carlos.  He told us to stop by on the following Monday, 8 March, where we could meet and then walk down to the Ayuntamiento to (hopefully) pick up our padrons.  As it turned out, on Monday they still didn’t have our padrons ready – I have no clue what more they needed, or what was taking so long – but they told Carlos to bring us back the following day.

Also on 8 March, I made my last trip to the hospital for my lung issue, this time to see the doctor to discuss my CT Scan results.  Since Crystal didn’t have class, we went into Santa Cruz together.  We tried to find a nice restaurant, and ended up choosing Guannabi, which had good reviews from a variety of sources.  It wasn’t too busy, and did have quite good food and drink.  Since I was just chatting with the doctor, I had a couple drinks at lunch, and I couldn’t remember ever drinking before a doctor’s appointment before.  Then again, I’ve always had to drive to doctor’s appointments, so maybe that has more to do with it.  After lunch, when I walked to the doctor, Crystal walked around town to check things out, as she hadn’t spent too much time in Santa Cruz.

My lungs had been feeling fine for some time now, so I wasn’t too worried about the appointment, and was firmly convinced that it a muscular problem, perhaps from the day I moved all the stuff from the Airbnb to the bungalow.  Also, I hadn’t really been dwelling on the appointment since we’d had a meeting with Carlos, then went to the Ayuntamiento, then caught a bus to Santa Cruz, then had lunch, etc.  But after I checked in, and walked over to the area by the doctor, I was sitting in a waiting area for just a minute or two, but during that minute or two it dawned on me “Oh shit, I might be about to find out I have lung cancer or something.”  Not a great thought, very surreal, and I was happy that the wait was so short.  Thankfully, I was fine, nothing in the CT Scan troubled the doctor, but she said that if I wanted, I could get another CT Scan in 3-6 months and see if some tiny dots (that she wasn’t really worried about) were the same size, because at least now I’d have a baseline image.  Once more, it crossed my mind how completely screwed up the US healthcare system is relative to actual first world countries.

The most difficult part of the doctor’s appointment was after it was over.  There had been some back and forth over whether my CT Scan was covered by insurance or not, and if not, how was I going to pay.  I was peeved about this, because before I booked the CT Scan in the first place, I spoke to one of the English-speaking women on the ground floor of the hospital, who called Sanitas right then, prior to me arranging for the test.  From experience in San Diego, I knew to do this.  But now, long after the test was already done, the hospital said that Sanitas informed them the test wasn’t covered, and since I wasn’t on the phone call between the hospital and Sanitas, I couldn’t prove what had transpired.  It was the same sort of bullshit that happens all the time in the US, just for a far cheaper amount of money.  Anyway, before they’d let me leave (they had my insurance card, so I couldn’t just up and walk out), they wanted to square this away.  Figuring there was a chance this might happen, I’d let my insurance agent Lola know what had happened at the prior appointments, and also gotten her contact information, just in case.  People at the hospital reached out to Lola, and she knew what I’d told her about me getting the okay before the CT Scan was even arranged, etc.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, as my cell signal was horrible since I was downstairs (below ground level), and I could only intermittently text with Lola, but eventually it all worked out.  I texted Crystal “I made bail.”

I met Crystal on the main pedestrian shopping avenue, Calle del Castillo.  I wanted to check out Decathlon, a sporting goods store, as I was still hoping to find a tennis racket.  Decathlon didn’t have any tennis rackets, only paddle rackets, and they suggested that I go to their bigger store in La Laguna.  Before doing that, however, we stopped by a couple bedding places and found some pillows.  The ones in the bungalow weren’t the most comfortable, so we found a place where we could get two pillows for something like €35, so we went ahead and did that. We took the light rail train from Santa Cruz to La Laguna (no extra cost for our day pass), and got off near the main bus station and the university.  The walk to Decathlon wasn’t too bad, except the weather wasn’t great with a good amount of wind and some light sprinkles here and there.  Inside Decathlon, the store was as big or bigger than any sporting goods store we’d go to in San Diego, and over two floors.  I found the tennis area, and there were a litany of different rackets.  Fortunately I’d done some research online and had a list of 3 or 4 rackets that were highly rated that were on sale.  I found one of them on the wall, it looked nice enough, so that was that.  Additionally, we bought a kickboard and pull buoy to use in the pool at our complex, as we were both thinking of starting to swim.  So we carried all of this, plus the pillows, back to the bus station, trying to not get too wet.  At the bus stop, there was a button for us to push so that the bus would know to get off the highway and actually stop at our stop.  On the ride back, we had a ton of stuff on our laps, but compared to walking around in the rain and the wind, it was just a mild inconvenience.  Having the bus drop us right by the botanic garden meant it was just 2-3 minutes to walk everything home.

The next day, 9 March, was take two for picking up our padrons with Carlos.  This time it was successful, and the next stop was to go to some other office (we never quite got the official name) where we gave them our padrons, got fingerprinted, and filled out a form, and that – to our understanding – meant that Carlos could file stuff electronically for us related to our visa renewal.  We were hopeful that things would be smooth, or at least smoother, sailing from this point.

On 10 March I played tennis for the first time in forever, walking down to the tennis club just 2-3 blocks west of our home.  I signed up for an individuallesson, such that they could slot me in the appropriate group for some of their group lessons.  To my big surprise, I wasn’t actually that bad, particularly my backhand and serve.  I got winded on several occasions, but for the most part, things went as well as I could have hoped.  They suggested I sign up for the group lessons for the intermediate players, and so I did, with the next group class being on the following evening.  At the group class, there were about 8 players, a mix of men and women, old and young.  I held my own, being about middle of the pack.  The most difficult part of the lesson was figuring out what the coach was saying, so I made sure to always be near the back of the line so I could watch what the other players were doing, and just mimic that.

On 11 March, I contacted Carlos and let him know that why it was so important that we get something official soon, even if it was something official stating that things were simply in progress. "Here is our main issue: until we are actually approved, we will be unable to see any friends or family. People from the US cannot travel here. If we leave, customs and immigration officers are not likely going to let us come back, as our visa says only 19 March. So if, for example, one of our parents get sick, we’ll either not be able to leave, or have to leave permanently. So please, if you can, do everything to expedite the process so that we have a residency card and/or long term visa in our passport as soon as possible. Does this make sense?...I know you said they have to act within 90 days, but that is late June. That is a long time to be unable to go anywhere. We would constantly feel uncomfortable, and scared every time we see police. Our Spanish is not good enough to explain something so complicated." I'm not sure our English was good enough, either.

On 12 March, a little sore from two straight days of tennis, I went with Crystal on a hike in the northeast part of the island, Anaga.  This was the only part of the island we hadn’t explored at all, and there were a ton of great hikes in Anaga, so we just chose one that seemed a little easier logistically.  We chose a hike more on the west edge of Anaga, with more numerous buses going to and from the start/endpoint of the hike.  Our plan was to get off the bus in Punta del Hidalgo, hike up to Chinamada, eat lunch in Chinamada, and then walk back to Punta del Hidalgo.  While the bus wouldn’t get us to Punta del Hidalgo until around 10:00, since the hike was supposed to be about 2 hours each way, that would mean lunch around noon, so we figured that was fine.

We took the bus to La Laguna, then changed buses there to go to Punta del Hidalgo.  From La Laguna, we headed north towards Tegueste, and then towards Bajamar and finally Punta del Hidalgo.  The area around Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo had a lot of surfers out in the ocean, and the bay on the west side of Punta del Hidalgo had these incredibly long waves with a really long break.  Even as a non-surfer, I got the impression this was a prime surf spot on the island.  The last stop on the bus line was at the east end of Punta del Hidalgo, where we hopped out and changed into our hiking boots. 

The hike actually started with a slight decline, as we walked past a house and down into a ravine and then back up the ravine on the other side, where we started a steady incline up the side of a river valley.  We could see a couple of peaks in front of us (Los Roques dos Hermanos), but weren’t sure whether these were peaks we’d go near, peaks we’d go by, or peaks we’d go over.  We ended up ascending the peaks from the south side, and after the ascent, we could see a good distance down the coast to the east.  From this area, we kept ascending, going through several areas where erosion had created partial tunnels, with large overhangs above us. 

Right before getting to Chinamada we were able to see Teide faintly in the distance back over our right shoulder - perhaps on a clearer day it would have been visible earlier.  Everyone eats lunch at the same restaurant in Chinamada, Restaurante La Cueva, perhaps because it’s one of the only or the only.  In our opinion, it was well worth it.  When we arrived, the restaurant was pretty empty, with a table of three wrapping up coffee or something.  By the time we left, almost every table was taken.  They had a goat dish that looked very tasty, but they told us it wouldn’t be ready until 14:00, and we weren’t going to hang out for that long.  The food we had instead was very tasty in its own right. 

The walk back for us was harder than the walk up, as the trail was uneven and rocky.  It wasn’t dangerous or slippery, at least today since it was dry, just hard to get good footing.  Our hips were definitely bearing the brunt of everything.  Once back in Punta del Hidalgo, we walked around a bit and checked out the futuristic lighthouse and the natural pools, and explored the town a bit.  We contemplated getting a couple drinks at one of the beachfront bars, but nothing really jumped out at us.  Eventually we decided to just hop on the bus and go home.  It did cross my mind, though, that on a clear morning, the view from Punta del Hidalgo, looking west with the coastline in the foreground and Teide in the background, would be one of the best on the island.  I filed this away for later, in case we wanted to take a weekend trip or something. 

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