Sitting here on a balcony looking over a bustling city, I feel like I have come home. Sometimes you have to go away from somewhere and come back to really appreciate it. Well, it worked. After five days in the Canary Islands, the sunniest place in the world, I’m starting to realize how much I love Spain .
This week is Semana Santa (in other words spring break). What do people in Spain do during Semana Santa? Well, I’ll find out this Sunday when I go to one of the annual processions in Madrid. For now, all I know is that everything is closed this week. I couldn’t even buy milk for my coffee this morning.
If you want to read about a typical Semana Santa celebration check out my blog this Sunday. In the meantime, look below to see how I celebrated Semana Santa in the most beautiful place in the world.
Airport: too early for a huelga
We had been reading about la huelga (the strike) all week long. People were concerned. All of Spain was supposed to shut down. And we had a flight leaving that very morning. Thankfully, we had a chauffer to drive us to the airport (Sara’s boyfriend, Alberto). Even if we didn’t, there was a “servicio mínimo” that required a certain percentage of public transportation to continue. Once we got to the airport, we found out what a huelga was like. Definition of a huelga: people blowing whistles, wearing huelga t-shirts, waving huelga signs and shouting, “Huelga, huelga.” Like I said, it was far too early for a huelga. On the plane, I read a special edition of El País to find out what all the fuss was about. “La huelga pretende meter presión al Gobierno central para que cambie una reforma laboral.” Basically, people aren’t happy with reforms that President Mariano Rajoy has made, such as making it easier for employers to fire their employees. According to the PP (popular party) the huelga didn’t change anything. But you can decide for yourself by clicking here to read more.
Day 1: Guaguas
We arrived in Tenerife at a very early eight in the morning. We had no idea where to find a bus to take us to our hotel, then realized that in Tenerife the word for bus is ”guagua.” So that’s why we couldn’t find it. By that point we were starving so we devoured some digestive biscuits and peanut butter while waiting for the guagua. As soon as we saw the guagua we all jumped up like crazy people to make sure it wouldn’t leave without us. Don’t worry, it didn’t. The very first thing we did when we got to the hotel: explore. We got coffee right next to the sea and watched all these people walk by in their shorts and bikinis like it was summer or something. We found out later that it’s only chilly in the morning, by afternoon it does feel like summer. I decided then and there that I loved it here.
And guess what we saw on our way back to the hotel? Another huelga. Lovely. The only words I could think of to describe it? Clown parade. Seriously. Everyone was blowing whistles at different times, shouting ”huelga” without any coordination and walking right in front of our path. We needed to cross the street, but how were we going to get by this clown parade? Try to walk through the huelga, brilliant idea. As soon as there was a break in the action, we raced in front of five guys carrying a banner. That’s when the weirdness started. “Huelga, huelga, huelga!” was all I could hear. I felt like I was in a random dance rave with a bunch of disgruntled workers from a labor union. They started to surround us, and it seemed like we would never escape. “Sara! Andrea! Help me!” I yelled to my friends. We finally made it to the other side, and stood there in shock for five mintues. Ok, so maybe I’m exagerating a bit, but once in your life, you’ve got to experience a huelga. Five hours by the pool in the sun and shopping at Mango Outlet, or “omelette” whichever you prefer, pretty much sums up the rest of our day. What a day. And a great start to Semana Santa.
Day 2: German tour of Mount Teide, the volcano
Eight in the morning on Friday seemed like the perfect time to take a tour of the largest mountain in Spain. The pamplet we found promised a tour, complete with a typical Canarian lunch and an informational show. Hmm. Informational show? It was only ten euro, so we decided to risk it. We drove for about two hours, and the tour guide started to speak in German and translate to English. Where was the Spanish? Apparently, there were more tourists from Germany and England than anywhere else. And all retired…there were no youngsters on that bus. We drove into a city close to Mount Teide and found out why the tour was only ten euro. The informational show was all about blankets. Fluffy, bear blankets. Don’t get me wrong..I love blankets, but two hours about blankets? The best moment of the day: when our tour guide came over and asked us where we were from. When she found out we were from the states she said, “Oh, well we can’t actually ship to the states. You guys are young, so how about you go explore and come back in two hours?” Yes, please! We walked all over the city, tried papas arrugadas (potatoes with red and green sauce) cactus jelly and found a beautiful garden. In all, way more enjoyable than a blanket show. And we still got our free meal, a German sausage and potato salad. Definitely typical Canarian food.
We talked to the bus drivers, Juso and Mundo, who were from Tenerife, for a while before we started our journey. (Actually, they argued over who was the better driver, better looking etc.) “No tenéis más ropa?” Mundo asked us. (You don’t have more clothes?) What a silly question, we thought. Then it got cold. Just so you know, there are two distinct areas in Tenerife, the north and south. The south is where all the beaches are… and all the warmth. The north is completely covered with pine trees. As soon as we passed the clouds, it started to get cold. Cold and windy. It seemed like we were in a different world as climbed higher and higher through the forests. And then we saw the volcano. It was huge. It seemed like a desert on the moon, with all the rocks, sand and craters. The tour guide kept saying, “Look at all the different colors!” We kept thinking, “What colors? Gray and black?” On the way back down the mountain, we drove by the place where “Clash of the Titans” was filmed and a few observatories (can you imagine seeing the stars that close?). And, finally, we got back to the hotel. We had no idea the tour would be so long, but everything we got to see was worth the ten euro.
To find out how the last three days in Tenerife turned out, check out my next blog post. There was just too much to write about to fit it all in one post! Until then, cheers. (British phrase that means thanks, bye and a number of other things).