Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tenedor reefs

After my last blog post, I decided to hold off on further postings until my photos from the Canaries got developed. I would otherwise have to move on to post-Canarian adventure, then backtrack to more remedial photos. But, the photos may not be forthcoming, so I should wrap up those events and move on.

After the sandblown adventure in Famara, I took a bus to Arrecife. I arrived at the bus station at 7:30, and there was a plane leaving at 8:40. So I decided that a taxi would be faster, since no bus left for the airport until 8 AM. Nope! The taxi made great progress until rear ending another car at about 25 mph. This was an adventure in cognitive neuroscience, because consciousness breaks down in emergencies. The human experience seems quite coherent and coordinated at the scale of seconds, but not 1 tenth of that. I saw the car in front getting too close, too fast, and then suddenly was acutely aware of different parts and processes of my brain screaming different things. Brace yourself against the seat with your right arm! Flex lower back to avoid going forward! No, neither of those will be fast enough! IMPACT! Head is going forward really fast. It will suck to have a broken nose. I'm glad the islands are in the EU so my insurance is good. Turn head so you hit your cheek instead! Faster! 2 inches before my nose hit the back of the seat, I stopped. What happened? Ah, seat belt. Good move. After thousands of wasted seat belt uses, it paid off. Then the sudden rush of your brain catching up, restoring to normal operation. I was uninjured. Now what?

Things went from chaotic to silly. The car in front of us pulled off the boulevard via an off ramp, so the taxi followed. Then a couple turns to get out of traffic. Of course, this wasted valuable time that I needed ot get to the airport. Moreover, I watched the fee increase 70 cents as they drove around to find a parking place. (Not a bad potential scam.) They stopped, got out, and shared insurance cards. I got out and tried to hail another cab. My cabbie was pretty annoyed at this. I paid her, no tip, and she got more annoyed. Jesus! If there's ever a circumstance when a cabbie deserves no tip, I would say that rearending someone (it was clearly the cabbie's fault) counts. Would you tip a waiter that spilled hot coffee on you, or accidentally stabbed your date? I told her she got 70 cents out of me for the bonus ride, but she was unsympathetic.

"There's no pleasing some people."
"That's just what Jesus said, sir!"
-- Life of Brian

Adding to the irony was that I got another cab to the airport and arrived at 8:20. The airport was small and barren. I could clearly see the ticket counter, security checkpoint, and departure gate. I bought a ticket and successfully boarded a flight only 20 minutes later. Gotta be a record.

After arriving at Tenerife Norte, I took a bus to Puerto de la Cruz. I did so for 2 reasons. First, it had not only beaches, but surfable beaches with black sand. When you grow up around sand, black sand is intriguing. Second, it is close to Mount Teide, which is supposed to have good hiking. At least, I figured the terrain would be different.

This info was generally accurate. There were black sand beaches. By Euro standards, there was good surfing - meaning 1 meter waves, strong and erratic winds that prevent a clean break, dangerous reefs forking perpendicular to the coast and creating very thin surfing lines, many rocks underfoot, and strange tides. I did catch a few but it was quite tough, and I spent about 30 minutes in a rip current. The beaches themselves were pleasant and I got some sun. The beaches had the same hypothetically titillating attraction as other Canarian beaches: topless women. By now, I learned that, as soon as you identify a beach woman as topless, look away as quickly as possible before the 80 year old fried eggs sear your hippocampus. My encounter with the naked Germans on Corralejo scarred me for days. Look away! Think of something else! I had the same sense of emergency mode, one process screaming at another in the neural pandemonium that we normally ignore. Thus it was with great confusion that I realized that she actually had quite a nice rack. Ah.

I stayed one night in a putative 4 star, more expensive than the BlueBay Palace and much worse. One fun story bears repeating. I boarded an elevator down and there were three large old Spanish ladies there. Thus, I was between them and the door. When the elevator reached the ground floor, I moved back and motioned for them to go ahead. They did not. I said, in Spanish, ladies first. The woman yelled, "Vaya, joven!!" (Go, youth!!) Yes ma'am! The Spaniards are just so cute that way. They are an extreme machismo culture, yet respect for age trumps that. To the old ladies, I was nothing. This marks the second consecutive time I went to Spain and was heckled by an old lady. I am proud.

I then went to a meager 2 star that was fine. I took a bus to Mount Teide, which was a very pretty ride, and hiked near the top. This was sublime. Teide is a volcanis mountain, unlike the sedimentary ones I am used to in the states. There were naked rocks and jagged, stark formations everywhere. A lot of broad rock floors look like flowing lava, probably because that's exactly what it was before it cooled off. I returned to Bremen, and again wondered why. It was 55 degrees colder, with oppressive omnipresent clouds launching sleet bombs and a populace that was clearly less happy. I had 2 weeks of busy and highly political hell that shall not besmirch my blog. On 14 Jan, my brother arrived in Bremen and new adventure began.

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