A trip to El Teide… but what if it went off?

For most people, a trip to the heighest point in Spain, which conveniently happens to be a feckin’ volcano, is a fantastic experience. But when you are someone who once got his tie stuck in a paper cutting machine and was nearly shredded to death, or who managed to get hospitalised by a Jack Russell called Titch, you do not simply go on these trips without injury.

To top it off, when you are there at night, you know there is definitely a possibility of certain death. So I planned my will, had my last meal and drank a bottle of red wine the night before, to ensure I was prepared for my last trip.

We set off on the afternoon and a Belgian bloke was our tour guide. Without a doubt he had banter and during the trip he told us about the 411 registered volcanos on the island of Tenerife, including 40 within the National Park. So yes now at this point I realised that I didn’t have to worry about one volcano… but 411. Great.

The first part of our journey took us through the National Park, where we stopped at a small cafe to enjoy my favourite, a Barracido. Additionally, I had a lovely cheese and ham sarnie alongside some fresh orange juice. We were told at this point that the National Park is at risk of catching fire due to the dry woodland in the hot weather. Those who smoked, including myself, obviously had to be very careful. If you were to dump a lit or even a fully burned out cigarette bud, you would be heavily fined. Alternatively, if you caused a fire then you would be facing prison. If you ever go to the National Park, make sure to dispose of your cigarette buds appropriately.

The National Park is pretty amazing and I learned some interesting facts about the island. First of all, I have heard people say the water isn’t fresh here. It is actually salt water that is turned into fresh but it contains a lot of minerals and sometimes chlorine. It isn’t dangerous but it just tastes like shit so you are better off getting bottled water as it tastes better. You are able to wash fruit, salads and even shower in it too. Disclaimer: I will not be liable for any deformity to your genitals. Wash them at your own risk. I also learned that the pine trees within have adapted to the land and although there is a risk, due to the violent volcanic environment they live in, the trees have somewhat adapted to fight against any fire or lava.

What really captured me the most is that the National Park is cherished here and you are not even allowed to remove a tiny pebble. Everything within the park must be maintained and kept in the park. In Tenerife itself, it is forbidden to mine, cut trees or do anything else to the natural resources of the land. Everything is imported from the mainland Spain. However, Tenerife does make use of things like the dead pines, which they use as hay as they do not grow any there. They have even used some of the lava rocks to help build and maintain road works.

I mean all the above seems expensive and probably does cost quite a bit. Nevertheless, you have to admire the Spanish for respecting the island and maintaining it in glory. Were as we Brits are still chucking empty McDonald bags out of the car window.

We eventually came into what I would call the Canary Canyon. Why? It is pretty much like the Grand Canyon. Desert, rocks, view points and all that jazz. It becomes a bit more breezy but still just as hot. There is also an opportunity to see the native bees, which are black with white stripes! The bees welcomed me and seemed alright.

Wasn’t too long until a wasp attacked me in a picture taking moment. At this second I feared for my life and did what felt natural.. run around like a pussy screaming.

As we continued our journey, we passed a group of guys driving a giant robot into a van. Apparently, this was a prototype robot being tested in preparation to go to Mars. Due to the harsh, desert like terrain it is suitable to test them apparently. Eventually, we reached a point just beneath the observatory. Inside of the observatory, I heard there is a lot of interesting space-related investigations going down. It was also protected by the military and if you drove past a certain point, you would be shot at. Yep. I had discovered Area 52.

At this point, we had Carva poured into a champagne glass. I noticed couples coming together to huddle under a blanket. As a single guy, I huddled under my own blanket and latched on to a lovely couple to take refuge. Whilst no thought of a threesome crossed my mind, I looked down to my right and saw a blanket of clouds just like you would see outside of a plane. Just to be clear, we weren’t sat on top of El Teide but a view point to witness the sun slowly creep down. If you want to be on top of El Teide then you need a government permit.

Watching the sun go down below El Teide is truly a wonderful thing. You cannot help but take a breath of fresh air for a moment and sit back and think, the world is so much bigger than we know. I stopped taking photographs because I knew I had to embrace the moment.

At the end of the event, it became pitch black and the stars appeared, clear as day. We witnessed shooting stars and we also saw the consulations as well as planets like Jupiter. The tour guide described this moment as something special. In fact he went on to say that the greatest gift you can give to your child is to tell them about the consulations. Sadly, if I ever have a child, I won’t have this pleasure as I was too busy looking out for the little green men.

During this trip, we were told if El Teide were to erupt – it would be like a 90 year old man on viagra. Uncontrollably, it would go everywhere and it would send the island below sea water and a tsunami would be caused, devouring the East Coast of the United States of America.

Luckily, there is nothing to suggest it will go off any time soon and if it did, I assuming we would be sent into the dark ages. Nevertheless, until it does, this is not an experience to be missed.


Masca and the secret to wine.

So apparently, there is a skill to drinking wine. Yes, its a skill. So its not as easy as it looks. One does not simply pick up the glass and sip it (or down it). One must master the art of drinking wine.

Yeah, you see this is why its easier to stick to the beer and whiskey. The only credential I need for that is the date of birth on my passport.

Nevertheless, to now have a qualification in drinking wine is possibly the best achievement since my E grade (E for Effort) in Maths! 😉

Visiting Masca and wine tasting was an excellent experience. It is a great opportunity to gain insight into Tenerife and how the island has became what it is today. Masca itself is known as the Hidden Village and well, the fact we found it means its not very well hidden, clearly.

In all seriousness, the village is beautiful and its located in the Macizo de Teno mountains which is a Northwestern point of the island.

It is known as the Hidden Village due to how far down it is within the valley. It is very difficult to see it until you get close.

Masca was once a paradise for pirates who would wander in from the coast. It is now home to a population of 90 people.

The tour guide at the time couldn’t really tell me just how old the village was as no one really knew. It was extremely small and the people appeared very quiet and reserved. However, they depend a lot on tourism so they do appreciate your presence, even if they may not appear to.

Its not that I couldn’t take any photos during my visit. But sometimes pictures capture what everyone else sees and not what you see. I could not help but embrace the peace, quiet and calming atmosphere that the village offered. The above was a quick snap before I entered.

I walked into a cafe with the tour guide and he suggested a local favourite, Barracido, which is a coffee with a touch of liquor. Sneaky buggers.

Its a lovely little drink which just comes in a small glass, literally a shot glass, with condensed sweet milk. Stir it a bit and wollah! But don’t put sugar in it because it really is sweet enough. If you’re too much of a bore and don’t drink, you can try a Cortado, which is almost the same thing. The best thing is the fact these little delights are a sheer €2.00. I sat outside looking over a steep view, trying to find out if there were any nearby wasps. By the time that was concluded, it was time to move on.

Following Masca, we ventured off to a town called Garachico. This is a beautiful town off the West coast but tragically, in 1706 a volcanic eruption caused a landslide which covered and destroyed a lot of it. Upon entering the area you will notice rocks that have formed from where the lava poured down and covered. We pulled up and got a bite to eat in the restaurant.

Decided to eat fish and muscles. I like fish but sometimes the smell reminds me a bit too much of the Bongo dance floor. Great times. I also tried octopuss and trust me, its really not that bad. Just think of turkey twizzlers and you’re good.

Following this, we walked through the town of Garachico, where I took some lovely snaps;

The last picture is the remains of the lava, now formed into rock. Pretty amazing. Well, probably not at the time.. but now, yeah.

Moving on, we finally headed to meet a bloke called Fernando, who was an award winning wine producer. I mean this guy literally competed in a world competition and won Bronze. A feckin’ wine world championship?! Amazing.

Well as we stepped off the bus to meet Fernando, who lived in a nice little Spanish house, I looked over to see the famous El Teide in the distance. Such an outstanding view, I had to take a picture;

Imagine seeing that every morning? Not only does this man have a beautiful house but he will definitely know if Teide erupts. Anyway, his humble home wasn’t some commercialised factory – it was just a house and a lovely one too. Covered with banana trees, grapes and other natural delights, Fernando was living out a family legacy.

Is this like heaven for middle aged divorcees? Well anyhow, we entered with Fernando and he sat us down on a table. He was very welcoming, funny and interesting. He didn’t look at wine like we often do – a stress relief, our Friday night favourite or simply.. a drink. No, he looked at it like a gift of the natural fruits of the Earth. Something that couldn’t be abused or misused but a treat to appreciate and enjoy.

I won’t totally reveal what Fernando taught us in the time we had with him. However, what we tasted was fresh and well produced wine. Probably the best wine that I ever tasted and the best you will ever taste. We had white, red… OH IT IS IN FACT CALLED “VINO TINTO”! 😉

We also had rose and honey. Yes honey. Trust me, I looked around for any bees before I took a sip.

At the end of the afternoon, I purchased a bottle for self abuse. I also bought a bottle for some relatives. The thing is, these kind of gifts are authentic. It is freshly produced local wine and the finest at that. However, you don’t simply drink wine. One must learn to properly embrace the taste of vino, to fully enjoy the fulfilling flavours it carries. Can you do that with Tesco’s own? Probably not. However, I will leave what I learned as a mystery. What I will say, is that now I enjoy wine more often and drink it more often. (Actually, is that good?)

If you ever find yourself in Tenerife and want to truly master the skill of wine tasting, explore the island and visit Masca – then check with your travel agents or rep and get yourself booked on. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Stefan, Fernando and myself above.

What did I learn? That there is so much more to be appreciated about wine…

…and that its probably acceptable to be an alcoholic in Spain.