A Black Girl For 7 Thousand, a Black Man For Six
"Good price, very good price!", yelled an unbelieveably black black girl at us as we walked through a strange and varied market place in the center of the city of Santa Cruz. We ran into a group of very friendly and kindhearted Africans from Senegal, who were offering beautiful hand-carved statuettes made of baobob wood, over half a meter high. We knew well that this type of African handicraft sells in our shops for five-digit figures, and the advertised "good price" was equivalent. An even 50,000 Pesetas, that's 10,000 Czech Crowns brother. Like good Czech merchants we engaged them in non-commital conversation, observed them, knowledgeably handled the statuettes and began to put things into context. The Africans did not have their own stall in the marketplace, two of them were always intently watching the surroundings, while the others sold the goods spread out on the ground, evidently illegally. We also remembered yesterday's police raid on similar "black" market vendors at the port, the progress of which we saw on the evening Spanish television news. And because the statuettes were really great and we liked them very much, we got the feeling of a potentially good bargain. Following a long and funny haggle over the price we finally left satisfied with a beautiful black girl made of polished baobob under our arm for a mere 7 thousand Pesetas, about 1500 Crowns, and we had to refuse a black boy of similar qualities for a laughable 6 thousand.
Valle de San Lorenzo
The valley of the city of San Lorenzo in the sourthern part of the island belongs with its character to thermic terrains, similar to those of the southwest Taucho and Ifonche, even if the runway is situated to the South, it already allows the predominating eastern streaming to often wage battle for wind direction on the runway. On windless days of course the southern slopes function absolutely reliably, but to wait for complete lack of wind on the Canary Islands means to grow a relatively long beard.
Valle de San Lorenzo is pleasant for flying for one other reason. In the area of the landing strip, which lies at a distance of exactly 2km in a straight line from the runway, there grow lots of delicious oranges. And a freshly picked orange, whose aroma even unpeeled, fills the cab of the car, is very tasty after a whole day of flying.
The Northwest Cliffs - Teno Alto
Although the terrain near the high mountain village of Teno Alto on the northwestern tip of the island is somewhat out of the way, it is that much more worthwhile seeing, and that even if it didn't happen to be possible to take off. The beautiful grassy meadow at an altitude of 720 meters above sea level, just asking to be camped on, including the perfect stone fire pit, terminates in a sharp cliff edge. The view from the edge down to the ocean is enthralling and the crash of the breaking waves is heard all the way at the top.
But so much worse is the arrival at the landing strip beneath the cliff, southward from the city of Buenavista on the narrow rocky beach, where a decent asphalt road terminates, but getting to this place you have to go through a maze of intersections and turn offs through banana plantaions and doing it without a GPS or knowledge of exact co-ordinates is a tough problem.
Dead beat from wandering lost during our first attempt at finding the beach we decided to stop for a break in the middle of a banana plantation and refresh ourselves with a freshly picked unripe banana. Ripe bananas are not to found, as the bananas are harvested and packed while still green for shipping. An initially good idea, however turned to not to be so good after all. The pulp of the peeled green banana had an unusually repugnant flavor, and while peeling it, a sticky green fluid oozed from the peel which smelled and tasted much like the favorite Czech glue, Kanagom, and as we found out later while trying intensely to wash off in the sea, it was even similarly water resistant.
Mesa del Mar
A trip to another interesting runway on the northern cliffs of the island of Tenerife by the town of Mesa del Mar ended, unfortunately, in dissappointment. The beach below the vertical cliff, which was to serve as a landing strip, was heavily bulldozed and access perfectly shut off. Everywhere in the neighbor of the hotel, heavy machinery moved and it all brought to mind a coal mining operation on a strip mine. We watched for a while in silence as the ocean waves broke over the boulders on the shore and a little further on , sitting fishermen, for about 20 minutes and then left Mesa del Mar far behind us.
Climb the Barriers Before Take Off
It is of course possible on the island of Tenerife to find many other runways, for example Fasnia, Tamaimo, Garachico, Gigantes, Icod,La Corona, Mesa Mota, Los Patos, Los Cristianos, Bollullo or Tierra del Trigo. Of course, like all good mass consumers we're only interested in those runways that are accessible by car. For example, the runway above the port of Los Cristianos, reachable following a 1.5 hour power climb, leaves us cold. One exception was the volcano Guimar, which with its peak at only 160 meters and with its excellent situation in light of the predominant wind direction seemed an interesting hike to undertake. Also, no one told us that lava rubble is just as difficult to climb in as is deep snow.
In the upper parts of the crest road in the vicinity of the observatory Iza˛a it is even possible to take off into northerly wind directions at almost every other turn, however following the successful climbing over of the barriers. At these altitudes around 2000 meters above the surface of the ocean it is however necessary to catch a very weak wind or better yet, no wind at all, which is not common in these parts.
More information about other runways on the island of Tenerife can also be had from the paragliding club Parapente Norte, which offers, among other things, tandem flights for the non-flying public.