Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
Unfortunately Semester at Sea had to cancel our trip to Morocco because of the anti-U.S. protests that were taking place shortly before our arrival. Everyone was disappointed but we all understood that our presence raised significant security concerns. I had been looking forward to the drive through the Draa Valley, stopping in Ouarzazate, Marrackech, Mhamid, Zagora, and the Ait Benhaddou, with camel treks in the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border, sleeping in nomad tents, but it was not meant to be. The cancellation allowed us more time in Spain, and a trip to the Canary Islands, to the island of Tenerife. At first, I felt as if I ran the risk of letting this port get away from me. I was tired from a fast paced journey through Europe, with little time for rest in between countries, and I was slightly in a bad mood that we weren't in Morocco, as snobby as that may sound. My state of body and mind set me up for a pleasant surprise. On the first morning, a large group of us walked around an endless market, which was interesting more than it was useful. In other words, it was a lot of junk, but we had fun walking around. Kierra, Keith, Annalyn, Jacques, Emily, Kate, Brett, Lisa, and I spent the rest of the day in Puerto de la Cruz, a black sand beach town that looked more like the island I had in mind compared to our port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We took two taxis which drove next to each other until our driver, while listening to house music, decided to put his foot on the gas and book it into town. As a result, our taxis dropped us off in different locations and we couldn't find each other. After walking along the coast and sitting out in the sun, we eventually found each other a couple of hours later when we were putting our feet in the ocean as we watched the hang gliders fly above us. After a few laughs about losing each other our groups merged for a Chinese buffet while overlooking the ocean during sunset. We then walked the streets, where I found cool bracelets and delicious coffee and gelato, and Brett and Annalyn found a pedicure of fish nibbling on their feet. After listening to an impressive drum circle along the beach, we walked back along the main street to take a taxi home. The next day provided yet another pleasant surprise with a hired car tour through Teide National Park. The landscape was surreal, at times resembling a west coast desert, a northwest rain forest, other times Hawaii, and sometimes Mars. We drove through rain until ascending above the clouds to sunshine, which was a surreal experience. We drove through a vast and changing landscape formed and shaped by El Teide, the 12,198 ft. volcano, which we drew closer to as we drove through the park, stopping at the most scenic areas to walk around. The silence was strikingly powerful. The sound of my lens cap opening or my foot pressing down on the pebbles seemed to echo through the entire park. At such a high elevation, with nobody around, the air was powerfully fresh and clear. After traveling through Europe, being in Teide National Park was drastically different, and all my senses took in this welcome and satisfying escape from civilization. Before boarding the ship, I went into the city to spend the rest of my euros since Tenerife was the last European stop. I enjoyed frittatas, bocadillos, and red wine, boarded the ship somewhat last minute before ship time, and went to the 7th deck to join the barbecue we had before disembarking during a gorgeous sunset with all of my friends gathered together. As we left for Ghana I was pleasantly surprised by a fulfilling trip to the Canary Islands, despite our detour from Morocco.
Posted by Jonathan Paulo