sebastienne: (Ruby & Sapphire)
[personal profile] sebastienne
I'm on holiday! I think this is pretty much the first time in my life that I've just gone away for a week and stayed in one place, without a play to put on or an itinerary for travel. I'm in the Canary Islands with a couple of friends, trying to get some winter sun in my face in the darkest week of the year. It's pretty great.

Day 1: drove up the coast to Playa El Duque, a ridiculously luxe fake beach (they shipped it in from the Sahara to make it yellow enough for tourists who don't like the black volcanic sand??). Spent about six hours topless on a sun lounger, reading Terry Pratchett, eating ice cream, getting a massage (!), went in the sea a bit. (Fake coast is creepy as it has no ecosystem - so no danger from sea life either). Laura went foraging for lunch so I didn't even have to get up for food. This day completely lacked peril: 1/10.

Day 2: got up early to watch the sun rise over the red mountain. Found my way to a bit of coast, hidden round the corner by a closed beach bar, which had volcanic rocks with little rock pools in all the way down to the sea. Despite it being the early morning and having nobody in line of sight or shout, I decided to climb down to the sea on the steep, slippery rocks in plastic shoes. Spent the rest of the morning on a lovely volcanic beach and went in the sea some more; the clouds rolled in for the afternoon so I watched a lot of a Brazilian Hunger Games ish TV show called "The 3%". Promising start undercut by an uneventful afternoon: 4/10.

Day 3: coach trip up the volcano, Teide. After an incredibly early start (our isolated little village was the first stop on a never-ending stream of hotel pickups around the built-up coastal tourist sprawl) we started to climb, and climb. By the village of Vilaflor (at 4,600 feet) where we stopped for second breakfast at 10am I was definitely feeling the effects of the sudden altitude shift; dizziness and weakness. The feeling was something like a cross between the early stages of a panic attack, and being pleasantly drunk. By the time I got out of the coach in the caldera (7,700 feet) any exertion was making my heart pound painfully, and I felt frankly euphoric. So of course I decided to ditch my travelling companion and climb up a rocky outcrop (stopping every few steps to calm my sympathetic nervous system), well above the safety rails, to get a phenomenal view that I was almost too dizzy to appreciate. (The caldera is something like 45km across, and so wonderfully alien that it's been used by NASA to train peopole for moon landings.) Probably the single most foolish thing I did all holiday: 8/10.

Day 4: got up early to go climb the red mountain at sunrise. Was a bit surprised by the lack of redness; everything seemed the same generic grey-brown dust as the surrounding country. It was absolutely lovely; a smaller, older volcano jutting out from the south of the island, with views to the north all the way up to Teide, and views to the south of the uninterrupted Atlantic ocean. I went out past the handrail to the very south edge, and found a small shrine overlooking the sea. A memorial to a man, who looked so young in his photograph.

I watched a ridge of darker cloud slowly move in from the East, enjoying the shadow it cast over the land and sea, looking forward to some light summer rain; instead I was caught in a hailstorm just as I began my descent. As the rain fell the mountain became red; the brown dust dissolved or washed away, and the open scree-covered slope with a steep drop at either side became.. a challenge for my plastic shoes. But I made it down without falling over even once. And now I'm off to a watersports beach to maybe try body-boarding, if the sun comes back at all... so far, 6/10.
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sebastienne

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