Leg 10: Tenerife

Kwinten celebrated his fourth anniversary in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The little chap is getting used to exotic locations for this occasion. Being born in Mexico, he celebrated his first birthday in Belgium, his second and third in Panama and now his fourth in the Canary Islands. Dure, dure d’être bébé… To add to this, once again it was carnival on this special day.  Loyal to our family tradition Kwinten was the uncontested boss and king of the 3rd of February. He chose pancakes for breakfast, a long visit to the Carnival Fair, mounting about every second attraction, and had a change to take revenge for his Lanzarote humiliation. In Lanzarote, while Wouter was buying the surf board, Kwinten had wanted to mount a “Yamping” installed around the corner, only to be told by the operator he was too small to do so. He was that affected by the man’s inconsiderate reaction in Lanzarote that he had left his mother and sisters standing to run back to the surf shop and complain with his daddy. On the Santa Cruz carnival fair he was allowed to jump, glowing with pride for the remainder of the day. Lunch was a chocolate mousse while the choice of dinner was predictable, spaghetti. Upon return of our Dutch friends Luuk and Anneloes another chocolate mousse was consumed as Kwinten’s official birthday cake.

Tenerife being the second largest agglomeration of the Canary Islands, we went for another shopping spree, trying to gather the loose ends we still had. As Spanish indications tend to go, they were only 70% correct. The local outlets of “Decathlon” and “Leroy Merlin” were supposed to be spotted from the highway, something for which one either needs a very high car or curvature sight, so our party ended up 35 km to the north, in Tenerife’s second outlet of “Leroy Merlin”. Upon our return to Santa Cruz we did come across signs indicating the correct exits, where we found the outlets located on a secondary road about 3 km away from the highway… The good news was we were able to locate about 80% of our shopping list.  Leen later took the car to go for another intermediate food shopping. It might be useful to explain that, living on a boat, we only know three kind of shopping. Daily shopping for bread and filling; big time provisioning for longer periods (6 to 8 weeks – about 120 kg of food) and intermediate shopping for provisions shorter periods (2 to 3 weeks – about 60 kg of food).

After these initial distractions we decided to get into the Tenerife Carnival, something we had only been able to do from our bunks, listening, most days until 6:45 am. According to the locals, Tenerife Carnival is second only to Rio, though if our memory serves well the locals in Veracruz made that very same claim. At least everybody agrees Rio is the biggest. Before going to the parade, we took the tramway up to La Laguna, the city next to Santa Cruz with a beautiful old Spanish city centre and houses. We could only stroll around in the streets, as all shops, museums etc. were closed for carnival.

After returning to Santa Cruz we stopped at the MacDo for a promised ice cream interlude. Unfortunately it took about 35 minutes to get one, as the place was filled with Englishmen and Germans needing at least 15 minutes per person to get their order sorted in Spanglish. Because of this we reached the main avenue about 2 minutes after the Parade had started, and stranded about 150 m from our home. We started watching from the back of a parked truck, but when the kids grew really tired, we put on our Mexican boots (ignoring remarks and police indications) and crossed the road where we could. It was kind of a display with our troupe, but we made it in between two floats. With these same boots still on, and as our kids had a renewed interest in the Parade once we had reached the other side, we mounted a VIP podium to get an even better view.  The parade was very different from the ones we witnessed in Veracruz. First of all the Veracruz 5 day Carnival had about two Parades a day, where each wagon was blearing away its music using about ten 500 Watts speakers a piece, towing their generators to provide for all the power needed, while their decks were filled with scarcely dressed mainly female dancers. The Tenerife Carnival however only has two Parades in total, and almost no wagon uses any amplifiers or speakers to voice its music. Furthermore the amount of scarcely clothed dancers is about 2% of its Mexican counterpart, and most wagons and groups incorporate members of both sexes and various age categories. In short, where Veracruz is a more daring party mainly aimed at the young, Santa Cruz’s Carnival is more a family fest.

During our traditional car exploration we went climbing the Teide, though climbing might be a big word. We took the car up to the cable car station, where we changed for a funicular vehicle bringing us to the top in about 8 minutes. Bad luck for us, as about 100 other people had decided to climb the volcano at about exactly the same time we did. At the time we finally got into the cabin, the queue at the cash register had miraculously vanished. Despite the high temperatures at sea level (mid twenties), the roof of Tenerife was freezing. Despite the two polar jerseys per kid, they still felt cold, though part of it was certainly due to the throwing of snow balls at moeke. After El Teide we visited Puerto de la Cruz, a touristy though be it very enjoyable town. A sleeping seat bench prevented us from visiting the place more in depth.

On the second day of our exploration we intended to visit the southern part of Tenerife.  We all got bored quite soon, as the scenery is quite desolate and comparable to the other islands, so we decided to go drive back direction Santa Cruz where, after a nice picnic in Puerto Radazul, we visited the science and cosmos museum in La Laguna. Getting there was a tad difficult, as the idea to follow the tramway proved somewhat difficult because of two tunnels. Nevertheless we arrived in time, and although the entrance fee was not worth mentioning, it was a great interactive museum.  Maybe the kids are still too little to understand everything, but they adore all the interactive display. Getting back to the boat, our Dutch friends were about to go to the Carnival Fair. As the kids were still full of energy, due to their customary naps in the backseat, we gave in and spent the rest of the evening from one attraction to the next. Kids bed time was extended for once to around 12 o’clock…

Despite that late evening, we got up early the next day to visit Loro Parque, a zoo in Puerto de la Cruz.  The place was once again organizing various fabulous shows for the kids: first we did the sea lion show, then part of the dolphin show, and after that, the reason why we visited the zoo, we went to see the Orcas.  They were well worth the high entrance fee. Beautiful animals and the video shown on the big screen about the transfer of the animals from the States to Tenerife gave our children plenty of new ideas to play around on Aspro. Despite the rain, the kids enjoyed the day, and Kwinten was crying all the way home. He was actually quite angry he had to leave the Orca’s, Dolphins and Sea Lions behind.    

Before leaving for Gomera again, we did some more small maintenance works on Aspro, and got her ready for sea again. We might possibly have repaired the heather, though we will only dare to say so if it has worked trouble free for another hour. Upon leaving the harbour the next day, a heavy shower with about 16 knots of wind cleaned Aspro and gave us hope we could sail the whole distance. However, once the shower had passed, the wind dropped to 3 knots again, so Mr. Iron Genoa was permitted to stretch her legs. At the southern most cape of Tenerife we were met by another headwind of 22 knots. We were actually able to distinguish the spot where the wind would hit us, as the line from 5 to 22 knots was very marked and the sea accordingly different in each zone. We waited to trade our engine for full sail power, as the former time we did the trip the wind had completely died about 2 nM in the crossing from Tenerife to Gomera. Once clear of the cape, the breeze dropped to 13 knots, and turned to 120 degrees. A tad light for Aspro, so we decided to keep going under main and engine. A few miles later we spotted a group of 8 Short Finned Pilot Whales. We dropped our speed to about 1 knot and circled around them for about 20 minutes. The animals did not seem disturbed in any way by our behaviour, and we all very much enjoyed this unforgettable experience. We were able to take close ups from less then 4 meters distance, the best example of which can be seen above these lines. Once under way again Kwinten and Lotte made each a very nice drawing with chalk on the cockpit benches, complete with the fin on the back and the water fountain…. Some 10 Nautical Miles further we nearly bumped into two large Bottle Nose Dolphins, and actually put the engine in full reverse to make sure not to hit them. Maybe they realised, or maybe they had intentionally come straight at us, but in any case they performed a splendid, though be it very short, show for us. Wouter was the only one to see; as Kwinten and Lotte were that spoiled by their whale encounter they were unwilling to leave their DVD to watch yet another show….

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