Celebrating, walking and waiting

It’s been quite a busy time…

On the first Thursday of Lent we had a late Shrove Tuesday party on Heymede (if anyone can guess why a boat might be called that Dave would be interested to know). Dave claimed to never have made pancakes before but is evidently a quick learner as well as keen – he’s now cooked about 30! – and the ones I had were extremely nice.

On Friday I went to the hospital for an examination – nothing calamitous, but I found I had to come back again the following week to see the plastic surgeon. This got me pretty worried as it sounded like it might delay everything by a week, since my next appointment was after their regular specialists’ meeting. Fortunately I was able to get confirmation that it they’d still talk about it last Tuesday rather than next, and the operation will normally be scheduled within a fortnight of then.

Saturday morning was quite productive – I washed a couple of sails and some more ropes. This makes them a lot easier to handle by getting the salt out of them – some of the mooring ropes had developed very strong ideas about how they wanted to coil.

Drying the sails

With that done I started work on the boat electrics switch panel, though I got quite distracted from my original intentions by the fact that a lot of the labels were coming unstuck from different wires – definitely best rectified before it’s too late, in the switch panel and behind the cabin sides and ceiling. It definitely helps to have refitted the boat ourselves – otherwise I think this kind of sight behind the panelling would definitely inspire panic!

That evening we went to the carnival – or one evening of it – it’s a huge event here, with festivities spread out over 3-4 weeks. This one was the final of the band competition, with groups from different villages and organisations putting on 30 minute shows. None of us were that keen on the first one, though they certainly had the crowd going, but the second band were excellent – several short songs, all fast and catchy, and what looked like a pretty good stage show from what we could see standing at the back.

The staff were giving out free bubble blowers – chaos ensues. Dave looks concerned..

Los Chacho Tu – possibly to be the first band in the main parade?

It’s a huge event – the main stage in the pictures is in Santa Catalina park which is something like 20 minutes walk from the marina, but there are going to be a couple of parades through the city, and there are lots of associated events at clubs, bars, the yacht club.

I got up again at 3am to see the end of a spectacular fireworks display – the golden finale was probably even better than the New Year’s Eve ones. Later in the morning I headed to the bus station to go up to Artenara, where I’d finished my previous walk. It’s a seemingly strange quirk of the bus timetables that there’s only an evening bus back to Las Palmas from there on a Sunday, and this time I wanted to do a longish circular walk visiting a flat plain I’d seen the previous time – the Vega de Acusa.

The village of Artenara is on the right, and the elevated plain Vega de Acusa in the far left

The journey there was quite entertaining – the bus drivers are usually a bit crazy, but that’s probably just a matter of meeting their timetable on the windy mountain roads. It had clearly ceased to be a challenge for this one, so he parked up for a few minutes at the Pinos de Galdar viewpoint and the church in Juncalillo to let everyone have a look around.

The view to Las Palmas from the Mirador de Los Pinos de Galdar again – this time a slightly clearer day

I seem to post a lot of long-distance views, so here are some closer-up shots to prove that I do look at things nearer to hand (and foot) as well, though my continued survival in such a hilly place should probably count for something there.

Down and further down, but at least it’ll be cooler when coming back up later on

Still descending, but at least it’s not quite as steep

As you can see it’s looking very much like spring has come here. It might be remote but a lot of areas were surprisingly noisy – almost reminiscent of the background hum of the M25 on Reigate Hill. The cause was rather different though.

On the subject of wildife, this fella seemed very confident that he was inconspicuous like this, but was extremely shy about unfurling his beautiful red butterfly wings long enough to get a picture.

Actually, looking up can seem almost as important to safety round here as looking down at the ground. Having passed one big rock the other day that had clearly hit the road and bounced a couple of times before denting the crash barrier I didn’t like the look of this one.

It actually looked worse from the bend below it, but you’ll have to take my word for it as I didn’t hang around there

The Vega de Acusa itself is a rather strange place – it looks almost like a small English farming landscape plonked down in a land of huge ridges and lush valleys.

From a distance

and close up

There are several cave villages built into the sides of the plateau. It sounds like it was it’s own little world at one time, separate on most sides by the topography, with a rich farming community on top and lots of grain storage chambers and dwellings in the sides. Some caves apparently have old paintings in them, ranging from fertility symbols to starry skies, and quite a lot are actually still inhabited.

They must have been hard work to build, but they’re very practical here – apparently the rock keeps them at a steady 18-20 degrees throughout the year. Some kind of verandah is quite common – obviously much easier to construct, and lets you enjoy the warmth of the day.

View from inside an abandoned cave – a nice cool spot on a hot day.

Since the last bus was due quite late on I had plenty of time to relax on the way back up to Artenara, and even fiddle around with the self-timer on the camera, with mixed results.

Normally I just delete terrible photos, but this one really made me laugh. Not only does my posture look very weird (I think I must be leaning backwards slightly), but Roque Nublo is growing right out of the top of my head. How many tries would it take to deliberately achieve that? Oh, and the top right corner is obscured….

Oh dear – can anyone spot anything else wrong with it?

A bit better

Another benefit of the late return was still being on the western side of the island as the sun went down over Tenerife

Sunset from the bus – Mt. Teide in the far distance on the right

Among other things on Monday, I rowed round to visit another boat. Carolyn invited me to go to a walk with her and a group of Swedish friends on Tuesday, from Cruz de Tejeda to Artenara (yep, been there a lot lately). People with excellent memories will note that I had already walked that path once, but why not do it again? Especially in good company, and on another nice day.

Carolyn at Artenara

We passed some mountain bikers on the way. Any Reigate and Leith Hill regulars reading will be disappointed to note that they’d been driven to the top of the hill – but then again I don’t think any of us would want to go up it, especially not in all the protective clothing and padding they were wearing to try and make it down again safely!

Walking the path was much more relaxing though – it’s fairly hard work, but certainly not so much you can’t chat and enjoy the view. I discovered some new things this time as well, like the short-cut to the cave chapel at Artenara I’d had to go the long way round to visit before.

The group winding down towards the chapel

It was built (hewn?) in the 18th century, though the altar, pulpit and other furnishings (all also carved from the rock) are much more recent. The figure of the Virgin of the Little Cave was an anonymous donation (the sign outside speculates that she might have American origins), but the locals seem to have taken her very much to their hearts, and hold a big fiesta in her honour every year – especially the cyclists (she’s their patron saint).

Inside La Cuevita

Since I’ve been to Artenara so much lately I thought I should probably post a picture of the town centre before changing the subject. Actually, I just couldn’t resist the caption.

Sayonara Artenara (for at least a few days)

On Thursday it was time to go back to the hospital again – handily my appointment was later than the previous one, and this time I knew roughly how long the journey would take, so I could leave at a much more sensible time in the morning, and not sit around in the hospital for as long. I got to speak to the plastic surgeon who’ll do the operation, and ask lots of questions about recovery time etc, but still don’t have the one answer I really want, which is when the operation will actually take place.

The probable date at the moment is the 9th of March, which is right at the end of the time period I was hoping for (a fortnight from last Tuesday). But that’s not definite yet, and I may not get confirmation until the day before, though they’ll try and tell me as soon as they can, and I’ve seen on the form that the ‘high priority’ box is ticked. From the sound of it getting the anaesthetist is probably the trickiest bit – presumably they work with various surgeons throughout the day.

So, I suspect the next few days, or week or so, or whatever, are likely to be a little frustrating. At least I’ll have plenty of time to translate the explanation and consent form for the operation…

I’ll probably call the insurance company again tomorrow and try and figure out if there are any options we haven’t thought of yet, but that’s probably going to be an uphill battle unless the date is definitely put back, rather than just remaining uncertain. I’ve considered going back to the UK, but that would very likely be slower – the system sounds similar in terms of timing but I’d be taking two steps backwards (GP then referral to specialist) by going from the Spanish system to the UK one.

I suspect I will be continuing to keep myself busy…
speaking of which, there are fireworks outside.

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