At the end of last week I had one of those days which reminded me how much I love living on Tenerife. Nothing spectacular happened; it was more of a general feeling of well being brought on simply by walking through the centre of Puerto de la Cruz.
It was a very hot day for November, hell it would be hot for summer, due to a calima (hot Saharan wind) descending upon us. On the north side of the island the mountain range shields us from the worst aspects of calima, most of the sand and wind, and lets the best bit, the heat, through.
Temperatures had jumped a few degrees making wearing long trousers to go into town a bit like staying fully dressed to enter a sauna.
A new bank card had been sent to me and my old card had expired, but the first time I tried to use the new one it didn’t work. Although an unplanned trip to my bank in town should have been annoying, a stroll along the harbour on a hot sunny day dissolves the frustrations – the place positively buzzes with life; the sort of life that for me sets Puerto apart from any other resort on Tenerife.
The huge tents that housed the Tri-Continent Artisan fair were being dismantled in the car park. We’d only managed to catch the last day of the fair, but it was enough to see beautifully crafted products from South America, Africa…and Tenerife some sold by vendors who looked as exotic as their goods.
Small chestnut kiosks were being erected beside the harbour to replace them. This is Puerto; as one event finishes something else takes its place. In the run up to the fiesta of San Andrés, kiosks selling roasted chestnuts and wine with attitude line the harbour. Whilst the men folk hammered and shouted instructions to each other, the women dragged mountains of chairs into place. Despite the whole harbour area being turned into an open air chestnut munching arena filled with plastic seats, there are never ever enough chairs for everyone.
Mornings are a hive of activity in Puerto. As well as the addition of the chestnut kiosks, there was the usual hustle and bustle of food deliveries being made to restaurants in Plaza del Charco combined with the town’s fishermen noisily signalling the end of their working day at one of the tiny bars beside the harbour.
The small wall at the rear of the harbour is the domain of Puerto’s older men. They sit in a line along it, lazily watching and commenting as the day unfolds.
I always get a warm fuzzy glow walking here on a sunny morn and not just because of the golden globe’s rays. It exudes a vibrant atmosphere that is so strong it almost feels it could take on physical form.
Sometimes one of the men will break into impromptu song, at others you can hardly hear yourself think as the old guys get loud and animated over a game of dominoes or cards. This particular day one stood up and at the top of his voice spontaneously shouted ‘Viva Puerto’.
I totally get why he did it, the atmosphere is so infectious that it does make you want to shout about it. If it wasn’t for being doused in British reserve I would have joined him. Instead I just smiled and said a little non religious prayer to the god of fate that we had chosen such a rich place to lay our hats.
For me that morning stroll through Puerto de la Cruz old town simply represented the best of what Tenerife is really all about. It’s something you just can’t manufacture. Like the man said ‘Viva Puerto’.