30/04/2015

ZUMO, ZOTE & ZANAHORIA - the end of the A-Z Challenge.



ZUMO in Spanish means juice.  I begin every day with a walk, a shower, and then breakfast, which always has to start with fruit juice. Oranges are around a euro a kilo and make the perfect base for whatever other fruits are in season.
Bananas - we bought some of these this morning at the local market -
mangoes,
strawberries,
or papayas.
This papaya tree is just up the road from where we live - I didn't know before I saw it on one of my morning walks that the fruit grows directly from the trunk.


Continuing my Spanish words theme - here's another one.
ZOTE is a Spanish word meaning dimwit, though whether that is a strong enough word to describe the people who deliberately set fires. Every summer our bomberos – most of whom are volunteers - have to fight to save homes, livestock and crops from total destruction. The fact that they eventually succeed, despite the difficult terrain of steep barrancos and inaccessible cliffs, is a tribute to their courage and training.
                
I love the way words can still surprise me, and here’sanother Z word I found.
ZURCIR = to darn. I presume this means mending socks but, like the expletive “Darn it!” in English, another version is used colloquially – “¡las zurcan!” means “to blazes with them!” which ties in nicely with the previous paragraph.

ZANAHORIAS  are carrots - this was one of the words it took me a long time to learn when we first arrived. 
This road sign in Las Galletas amuses me. The road is about ten metres long, one step from the beach, and the rest of the alphabet is nowhere to be seen - every other road in this small village is named for some dignitary with three names. Calles A to Z would have made life much easier!
AND FINALLY
Until a few years ago all cars registered in Tenerife had the prefix TF followed by four numbers and then letters indicating the year. 
This one is about 20 years old, but bang on target for my final A-Z post.
If you've stayed with me throughout the A-Z Challenge, thank you - your encouragement has kept me going - and if this is your first visit, welcome and feel free to browse.
 My experience of this year's blog-fest has been like the curate's egg, but thank you to the A-Z Team for their sterling work. I shall continue to visit as many blogs as I can, but I am flying to England on Friday for a fortnight with family and friends, so forgive me if I fail to respond immediately to any comments left on my blog. 

29/04/2015

YARDS & YAYO - a story for the A-Z Challenge


YARDS  Americans call a garden a yard and it always used to throw me. To me the word conjured up an image of an unloved space with a dustbin or two and marauding cats – not a lawn and flowerbeds and trees. 
But here in Tenerife a lawn is a luxury – it takes too much maintenance and has to be watered constantly. Also the majority of us live in apartments without a patch of dirt to tend, so we build little walls or plant flowers in pots and call them gardens.
This is our ground floor terrace garden complete with baby lime tree – (did I mention our apartment is for sale? Click on the Apartment for Sale page so see more photos) - 

-  some back yards and alley gardens in our neighbourhood -



- this one could do with more water -
and if you only have a terrace you can still create YOUR YARD IN THE SKY. Our neighbour likes the sun but he is very tall!

Here's a piece of flash fiction I wrote last year - a finca is a small-holding rather like a large garden, and the story is set in Tenerife. Yayo is another name for grandfather - its English equivalent might be Gramps..

YAYO

My cousin was getting married but I didn’t want my grandfather to go – the truth is I was afraid of what he might do. “Yayo – it is twenty years since you left the south and it will be a long day," I said, but he rolled a cigarillo with fingers stained by seventy years on the land and said, “I will go.”

Outside the church Yayo stood obediently for one photograph and then sat under a tree so peacefully that I relaxed, but on the way to the restaurant he said, “Now, take me to the finca.”
“But Yayo, it was sold years ago.”
“I am old, not stupid, Tomas – I know it will be different.”

As I feared, where his fields had been were only houses.
“There’s nothing left,” I said, but before I could stop him he’d unzipped and pissed against a figtree. “Yayo! People will see," I cried, mortified, but he was unrepentent.
“Let them – I planted this tree.” He plucked a fig, split it open with a horny fingernail and sucked the flesh. “The taste has not changed! In a good year this tree could yield a thousand kilos – Consuela made wonderful liquor from these figs.” He spat out the seeds and settled his hat jauntily. “Let’s go, Tomas – the party can’t start without me.”

28/04/2015

XENOPHOBIA - A-Z Challenge

XENOPHOBIA
has been in the news lately, and Tenerife is no exceptoin to this prejudice. It is a difficult subject to broach and discussions can become heated. 
I am British, and a large number of Tenerife residents are also foreigners here, but every nationality seems to have sent more than its share of  perceived stereotypes to the Canary Islands.
For example, Rumanians are often in the papers for committing robberies, and drugs come in from South American countries on a regular basis. This makes everyone view both nationalities warily.
More personal is our own experience that if someone shoves to the front in the market waving a €50 note for a bunch of bananas it is always a German. The experiences of far too many gullible tourists prove that you have to be very careful when buying a camera or a phone in a shop owned by an Indian, and when a drunken idiot falls from a hotel balcony it is usually a Brit.
We have friends from many countries, and we are all embarrassed on occasions by the way some of our own countrymen behave, but the instances above are indisputable facts. Small wonder that, although most Canarians are lovely, welcoming people, a few are xenophobes – you’re just unlucky if you are served by one in a shop or cafė.

A few years ago there was a flood of Cayucos – those unstable wooden boats that crossed 300 kilometres of ocean from Africa. I was actually in Los Abrigos when one was escorted in out of the night by a lifeboat, and I saw the exhausted people being given bread and water by the local restaurateurs before the Cruz Roja took them away in ambulances.

But it's not easy being black here.
One black friend told me he used to drive a fancy car but the policia stopped him every time he went out in it. The assumption was that if he was black he must have stolen it. Now he drives a nondescript car just for a quiet life. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to make these minorities bitter – perhaps the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Our Centro Cultural hosts a Nigerian party each year, and when I was drawn by the music I stopped a toddler from escaping into the night. I picked him up and a moment later his mother claimed him – I thought she was never going to stop thanking me, and I was invited in and given a plate of food and a beer. A memorable evening.
We always remember that we're strangers here too - XENOPHOBIA flows both ways.


27/04/2015

WATERSPORTS - the A-Z Challenge



WINDSURFING – All I know about this sport is that it’s fun to WATCH from the beach or promenade, preferably with a glass of wine and a plate of tapas to hand. El Medano, at the foot of Montaña Roja right by the airport is the place to be. The WIND there is constant and the WAVES roll onto one of Tenerife’s rare sandy beaches.

We often see people arriving at the airport carrying huge black bags containing their boards, some of them of WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP standard..
Naturally there are also enthusiastic amateurs, and falling into the sea from a height is like hitting concrete – or so I’ve heard, I’m not brave enough to try – but the sensation of flying must be amazing when you get it right.






Other WATERSPORTS include this newbie that stopped us in our tracks last year. From where we were standing on Las Galletas seafront he appeared to be suspended on a column of WATER!

25/04/2015

VOLCANOES on TENERIFE - A-Z challenge


THERE ARE 
411 VOLCANOES ON TENERIFE !!

NOT THAT WE NEED TO WORRY, apparently. When the tiny island of El Hierro had months of undersea eruptions and earthquakes a couple of years ago, the Tenerife Government issued this statement:

The Cabildo would like to stress that Tenerife remains a safe destination, not only because there is currently no evidence of any risk of volcanic activity, but also because the island is equipped to deal with any volcanic risk situation (evacuation, volcanic surveillance and monitoring programme, etc).

The caldera of Mount Teide is one of the largest in the world, so when the top of the original mountain blew off it must have been a spectacular sight - albeit one best viewed from afar.

The landscape of our adopted island inspired me to write my first book some years ago. Originally I called it ROCK CHILD but in its present draft it is called VOLCANIC RACE. This prologue has never seen the light of day before, so please be kind - and if you're an agent, I'm looking for one!

Picture the scene – a world dotted with volcanoes and cut by rivers of fire that glow bright gold under a dark sky. Dinosaurs graze and hunt, tiny creatures scuttle, insects zip and pester.
Then a meteor the size of a small moon screams a fiery path through the fume-filled atmosphere and bombs a mile-deep hole into the earth’s surface. A billion tons of pulverized rock fountain skywards and the explosion flings an ellipse of mountains around the crater.
The impact creates a hair-line fissure that zigzags down the continent, and the land immediately spews lava in a frantic effort to weld itself back together. Burning vegetation pours smoke into the thickening atmosphere, the stars vanish, and morning never comes. All grazing creatures starve and the predators follow them to a premature grave, insects eat their flesh until that, too, is gone, and there is no life left on the face of the earth.
For decades - maybe centuries – the world is in darkness. The fissure scabs over in time, and the crater, two hundred miles long and girded by mountains high enough to be ice-clad even in summer, is gradually filled by rain, snow-melt and glaciers until it becomes a vast inland sea, from which three rivers spill south. The dust-cloud settles, and in this deep layer of fertile soil long-dormant seeds crack open, and the earth shines with new green.
Eventually a few fish crawl out of the sea on muscular fins and the slow process of evolution re-starts, but when water seeps into the underground lava-flows, the impatient earth mixes it with minerals to create instant life. Before apes learn to walk upright, a race of rockmen has spread out to inhabit the lands divided by the three main rivers.

Near a tributary of the most easterly of those rivers stands a small mountain which, when viewed from the plain, resembles a recumbent giant. Half-way up its steep side, just where the giant’s mouth appears to be, is a cave.

24/04/2015

UNDERSEA LIFE - a 100 word story

Having reached U there are not many more letters to go in the A-Z challenge, and as this is Friday I am starting with a 100 word story inspired by a photograph on Rochelle's blog -  https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/ 
This is the photo
and this is my story
UNDERSEA LIFE

Whew! that was close!
I surfaced carefully enough, invisible against the snow in my polar bear furs. It was bone-numbingly cold but we need the fresh meat, and I moved so stealthily that the seal never suspected I was there.

I swear I didn’t make a sound, but suddenly their lights appeared over the ridge. 
I hid in a snowdrift until they’d gone, then I dived head-first through the hatch and here I am. I’m sure they didn’t see me, but I think the seal’s blood has left a trail.

You'd better start the engines – we'll have to move on.
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Continuing the UNDERSEA theme, having gone UP Mount Teide in yesterday’s post, we mustn’t forget that its steep rocky slope also goes down 
One of the chief tourist attractions of Tenerife is the clear water that surrounds the island and which is home to many creatures from tiny fish to huge whales, On any given day there will be scores of divers exploring the UNDERSEA WORLD. 





If you don’t fancy being that UP CLOSE and personal with fish, moray eels and octopus, there are glass-bottomed boats and even a yellow submarine, which starts its tourist trips from Marina San Miguel by Amarillo Golf.
And to end today's post - UNUSUAL sights are always fascinating but it’s the small oddities that catch my attention - how's this for a spot of UP-PARKING?


23/04/2015

TEIDE - and a TIGER - the A-Z Challenge

Teide is the name of the highest mountain in Spanish TERRITORY and it is the central point on the Canarian Island of TENERIFE.
The black and white photo was taken many years ago and the coloured one only last winter - mountains take a long time to change!
When there isn't this much snow - the Cabildo closes the roads when there is - you can drive to within a few hundred metres of the summit and take a cable car the rest of the way. We like to stop off at a barbecue area a mile above sea level to cook sausages and drink wine. 

The air is so clear that the Tenerife Observatory is world renowned.
Sometimes you can find yourselves driving through the clouds and out above them, which is like being in an aeroplane but with your feet on the ground -
- and I plan to spend a night up on the mountain watching the stars, possibly sipping champagne, before I am much older.

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TOYS - Most children have cuddly toys - in fact I introduced you to my own doll in the E post of the A-Z challenge - and I have written poems about some of the toys my children and grandchildren have loved. With apologies if you've seen this one before, TODAY T is for TIGER

 TIGER

Tiger’s enormous
and covered in stripes,
if I’m tired I can ride on his back,
and I know that I’m safe
because Tiger is fierce,
so we’re never afraid of attack.

We go to the jungle
some nights when we’re dreaming,
pacing the green forest floor,
if an animal thinks
he can eat us for dinner
Tiger frightens it off with his ROAR!


22/04/2015

SUN, SEA AND SANDCASTLES - A-Z Challenge


SUN, SEA & SANDThe usual image of TENERIFE - which is true in part, although I hope my posts for the A-Z Challenge have SHOWN you there is more to the island.
A-Z CHALLENGE 2015

SUN – we see the sun almost every day, so the logo for this year's A-Z Challenge seems appropriate today.
SEA – we are SURROUNDED by the Atlantic ocean and when the wind is in the right direction we get some SPECTACULAR waves..

If you head west from here the next STOP is SOUTH AMERICA, from whence a friend of mine SAILED SOLO in his yacht. It took Davie 42 days and a few close calls, but he made it, though he was a lot thinner than this when he arrived in Tenerife!

SAND is for SUNBATHING on but also for making SANDCASTLES. Some are so intricate they take days to make, but it's an ephemeral art at the mercy of the wind and the crowds.



Here is a SHORT STORY adapted from one I wrote for Friday Fictoneers - I hope you like it.

SANDCASTLES

Juan built sandcastles for a living.
Every day he took his tools to the beach, collected damp sand from the tide-mark, and constructed dreams. Tourists would watch and take photographs – some even threw money into Juan’s bucket,  although never enough - and each night drunks destroyed his work.
“When will you get a proper job?” Lucia wailed, “The rent is due.”
“I am an artist,” Juan replied grandly.

But two days later he came home to find Lucia in the street, surrounded by their possessions and weeping bitterly. Juan kissed her and promised, ."We will have our own house soon."
"How can we? We have no money."
"I am a builder,” Juan said proudly, and on an unclaimed stretch of beach he mixed cement with the sand and built a house.