May Day

After getting the bad news on Monday the 26th, the rest of the week was ironically kind of normal, as there was no point in wallowing in misery, and it was so nice outside and so much to do in any event.  I kept correspondence with Carlos and Charlotte, Carlos to see if there was any quick fix coming, and Charlotte to help find a way out.  For almost two decades now, I’ve been pretty good at travel planning, finding flights, hotels, excursions that even experienced travel agents were unfamiliar with.  But trying to get the dogs out of Tenerife was proving to be more difficult than anything I’d experienced in the past.  There simply were no airlines that could take our two bulldogs.  Lufthansa still had a couple flights a week, but Charlotte told me that because of the limited flights, the cargo on the planes was being used almost exclusively for cargo (e.g., bananas and other fruits) rather than pets.  So I needed to find a different airline that might fly them, or get them on a boat to the mainland.  And even once on the mainland, I needed to find an airline that was flying to the US from mainland Spain. So on the 27th, I posted something on Instagram, hoping that someone might have an idea or know someone who could help in some way.  All the suggestions were items we'd already considered, however.

On the 28th, we got some potential good news, as Charlotte indicated that she could fly them to Zaragoza on the mainland, and from there it was “only” a 3.5 hour drive to Madrid, where hopefully we could fly them to the US.  I thought this would be all we'd need, as I thought I'd found something workable for flying from the mainland to the US. Iberia theoretically would take emotional support dogs in the cabin for flights to the United States, which is all we needed.  On the 30th, I called Iberia and confirmed this, so we started the process to register them as emotional support dogs.  While complicated, this routing at least looked possible, and possible was all I cared about.

I told Charlotte about this, but she poured cold water on the idea.  She said she was pretty sure that our routing would be a problem, as the Iberia flights to Los Angeles stopped in London on the way from Spain, and the UK did not allow any dogs to travel in the cabin to the UK except for guide dogs.  I did some digging, and sadly this seemed correct, so now not only did we need a flight from mainland Spain to the US, we needed a direct flight to the US from Madrid.  But because of COVID, most Iberia flights into the US were stopping in the UK on the way.  So I kept digging, hoping for a miracle.  Charlotte said she’d keep digging as well, and that she’d re-connect after the weekend, as she needed to travel to the mainland to renew her Australian passport and meet with some friends.

On the weekend, then, we decided to do some more exploring and check more stuff off of our unofficial to-do list for the island.  While we’d visited Anaga already, we’d sort of skirted it, seeing the western edge when we hiked from Punta del Hidalgo to Chinamada.  I wanted to see the eastern side, where several great hikes were, but they all seemed to be around Chamorga, which was logistically problematic during the week, but possible on the weekends.  During the week, the first bus from Santa Cruz to Chamorga left at 05:30, and then there was nothing else until much later in the day.  But on the weekends, the first bus was at 08:00.  My guess is that the 05:30 bus wasn’t to take people to Chamorga, but rather to pick up people in Chamorga (at 06:30 or whatever) and take them to work in Santa Cruz and La Laguna, and on the weekend this wasn’t necessary.

We took the 06:40 bus from Puerto into Santa Cruz, and then at the bus station went down to the spot where the 947 bus was slated to go to Chamorga.  I figured the 947 bus would be one of the small ones, like the 355 bus to Masca.  So when I saw there were 30-40 people waiting for the bus, I was a little concerned.  Fortunately the bus workers just got a second bus so that everyone could go.  We were lucky, as people at some of the other stops on the route couldn’t get on the bus, as it was already full.  The bus took us northeast out of Santa Cruz, a direction we’d never gone before.  We took the coast until around Playa de Las Teresitas (the most famous beach on the island), then we turned inland and started winding up the valleys into Anaga.  There were lots of great views at every turn along the way.  We eventually got up to the highest ridgeline, where there were views to the north coast from one side of the bus and the south coast from the other side.  We went east, where Chamorga was literally the end of the road.  Everyone got off the bus and went their separate ways for their various hikes. 

We had chosen the Roque Bermejo hike, which theoretically would show us a lot of highlights of Anaga.  From what I’d read, we’d see a nice beach at Roque Bermejo on the east coast, we’d see a lighthouse nearby, at roughly the northeast corner of the island, and we’d see some large rocks just off the north coast, Roque de Tierra and Roque de Fuera.  We’d also do a fair amount of up and down, but nothing too intense.  And, to top things off, there was supposedly a “bar” at Roque Bermejo, where we could get beers on the beach if we so desired.  We had plenty of time, as the bus back from Chamorga to Santa Cruz didn’t leave until the late afternoon, so we could take as many breaks as we wanted.

Not very many people were taking our hike, so we had the trail basically to ourselves, walking downhill towards the beach through a deep valley.  Chamorga was a tiny town, and it was only 2-3 minutes before there were no more buildings or signs of civilization.  The only sound was a weed wacker, which unfortunately killed the serenity.  As we approached the bottom of the trail, we could see the Faro (lighthouse) up to our left, and some abandoned buildings in front of us.  There was a large group of maybe 15 people that we came upon; they must’ve driven themselves as we didn’t recognize them from the bus. 

At the beach, we took off our backpacks and just chilled for a bit.  To the east we could see Gran Canaria and what at first looked like an island, but I surmised might be La Isleta, the peninsula at the northeast part of the island.  I wandered around and got some photos of the beach from various vantage points, then took a little break.  Crystal chilled the whole time.  I kept my eyes open for the “bar,” and saw a guy writing some stuff on a sandwich board, including prices.  When push came to shove, though, neither of us really wanted a beer so early in the morning, particularly since we knew we needed to walk back up to Chamorga.  We did a short walk around the tiny village by the beach, then headed up a path towards the lighthouse.

The path went uphill in a hurry.  From the beach, it was only 1.3km to the lighthouse, but we ascended to 230m of elevation in that distance.  Just past the lighthouse we crossed over the ridge that allowed us to see the north coast in addition to the east coast, and the view ranks up there with any view we’ve seen anywhere on the planet – lots of green, lots of blue, islands just offshore, big islands in the distance, plus a lighthouse.  There were wispy white clouds in the blue sky as well.  It would have been tough to ask for much more.  From this vantage point, we were high enough up to see that the island near Gran Canaria was in fact La Isleta.  When we’d been on the cruise in April 2019, we actually docked on the east side of La Isleta, but the rest of the day we were on other parts of Gran Canaria.

From the scenic vista spot, the path became even steeper, as we started southwest in the general vicinity of Montaña de Tafada and Chamorga.  There were a lot of wildflowers, including a couple plants that looked like they might be Tajinastes, although that would be highly unlikely given our low elevation.  I took a couple photos and sent them to Oliver (the owner of Elements), hoping he might know for sure since he does tours (including hikes) all over the island when he's not running his bar.  We used all the wildflowers and scenic views as excuses for constantly stopping, but candidly the incline had more to do with it.  Clouds started increasing, and we got a tiny drizzle as we went around Tafada and reached the peak of the hike, a little over 600m.  Around there we saw some people for the first time since we left the beach, a group of 4 that was walking the opposite direction.  From here, we lost most of our ocean views as we descended back down (gradually) to Chamorga.

When we got back into town we were pretty exhausted – I certainly was.  At the first spot with somewhere to put things down and sit, I took off my hiking boots and socks, and felt a lot more comfortable.  We got lunch at Bar Casa Álvaro, which appeared to be “the” spot in town to get lunch.  It was a little breezy, and between us not moving any more, the clouds, and the breeze, it was actually a tad chilly.  The restaurant didn’t have a menu, and instead they just told us what they had and we chose.  We both got a meat stew with potatoes.  It really hit the spot, and I scarfed it down quickly, before the weather cooled it off at all.  I had an epiphany that they might not take credit cards, and we had only 20 euros on us, but even with our drinks and two stews, plus tip, 20 euros was enough. [They do take credit cards, by the way, we saw other patrons use them.]

After lunch, we still had plenty of time before the bus was due to come back.  But neither of us felt much like walking, so we just found some benches near the bus stop, in front of Ermita de la Inmaculada Concepción, and passed the time.  I was able to sneak in a nap, and there was still a fair amount of waiting thereafter.  I listened to a podcast that had been on my phone for a while, a Zach Lowe podcast with Jerami Grant and Chris Webber.  As time went on, more people showed up and started milling around the bus station.  In the morning TITSA had provided a second bus to take people up, and I wondered whether they’d send a second bus in the afternoon, to get us all back to Santa Cruz.  If they didn’t send a second bus, I wondered how they’d decide who would get on the bus and who would have to wait.  We’d been “waiting” the longest, but we weren’t technically at the bus stop, but rather right next door.

It turned out to be a non-issue, as somehow we all fit on the bus.  The view on the drive back to Santa Cruz was really nice, with sweeping views interspersed with up-close trees.  I was able to get some photos during the instances where the view was unobstructed.  We got back to Santa Cruz a little before 18:00, and walked over to El Chapulín for some Mexican food and margaritas.  We tried to hit up Taquería El Wero also, but they were full so we just continued back to the bus station.  We got on the 103 bus back to Puerto around 19:30, and were home right around dusk.  A long day, but an enjoyable one.  Between this hike, Punta de Teno, and my (unexpected) weekend in Golf de Sur right after arriving, I’d now visited all 3 “corners” of the island, and a lot of things in between.

The next day, Sunday the 2nd, was a lot more relaxed.  A little before noon we left the house and walked down the Carretera into town.  While we had no set plans to leave, we were certainly trying, and cognizant of knowing the end could be any time now, so we wanted to hit some of our favorites before going.  So we walked over to La Tasquita de Berna, which not only had some of our favorite food, but also a really kind host and server.  Alas, they were unexpectedly closed, so we audibled to another of our favorite spots, just a couple blocks over, at El Patio

We were the first to sit down, and after some fits and starts with the server, we got stuff ordered.  We found out there was a good reason for this, however – it was her first day, and we were the first table, so she was figuring out everything on the fly.  So when we ordered the “vino tinto de la casa” she had to figure out exactly what that was, where anyone who’d worked there even a little bit would know that.  So we gave her a break.  The plaza where we were sitting, Plaza Benito Pérez Galdós, started to fill up with people, and the restaurant quickly filled up as well.  A large group of Hungarians sat down at a big table behind us.  Crystal’s Hungarian is much improved, and I’m sort of like the guy in Inside Man who recognizes Albanian even if he doesn’t know what any of the words mean.  At this point, Crystal’s Hungarian is pretty decent, and I hear enough of her speaking with her teachers, her Duolingo lessons, that I’m halfway decent at knowing when someone is speaking Hungarian, even if I know only a handful of words. 

Lunch ended up being very tasty, but we didn’t go overboard since we had dinner reservations at Brunelli’s for later tonight.  I’d made the reservations earlier in the week, again hoping to visit before whenever we left the island.  That sunset I’d seen a couple weeks prior made me want to get us a table for dinner on a day with good weather (which is pretty easy to find).  We spent the afternoon just chilling at the house for the most part.  I went over to the botanic garden in the middle of the afternoon, and it was frankly a bit of a letdown, which was surprising.  It was smaller than I remembered, and while it was nice, it didn’t match the memories I had in my head from 2019.  It was interesting being on the other side of the wall, after living next door for several months. I took the top left photo below over the wall from the Botanic Garden, and past some of the administration buildings you can see our complex - it's the white buildings with the reddish roofs. 

Dinner at Brunelli’s was pretty much as expected, for better and worse.  The service was nice, the food was good, everything cost way more than it should have, and the sunset and view made the high price seem like it was worth it.  It’s one of those places you should try to eat at if someone else is paying, and somewhere you go for special occasions every year or two.  For a nice steak and a glass of wine, there are plenty of places around Puerto that are comparable (or better) in quality with much lower prices.  But almost none of them have a comparable view, or make you feel as swanky.  We enjoyed our dinner, walked back to the bus station, realized we’d just missed a bus, didn’t want to wait, so paid a couple Euros to take a taxi back home so we could finish up one week and get started on the next.

Previous Entry
Next Entry