My holidays usually involve sleeping in uncomfortable places, being hungry, in danger and often far from people. I’m likely to be camping, kayaking, riding, walking and generally exerting myself. (To give you an idea, here’s a video I put together of a trip to Skye the year before last). I usually get back to work shattered but elated.
The start of this year has been particularly difficult at work, with redundancies, restructuring and ludicrous levels of stress. I’ve worked at the same place for 25 years and have seen it go through all sorts of ups and downs, but this year has been the worst. When my wife suggested a holiday before she returned to work from maternity leave, as usual, I accepted that this would mean her travelling somewhere warm and sunny, to be fed and pampered, while I would head north in search of adventure.
But, given everything that was going on, for once, the idea of warmth, sun, food and relaxation sounded good, and so a trip to Tenerife was booked.
I was never going to lay by a pool for 10 days, and so I booked a hire car and spent my time exploring the island. It is an incredible place. One of the Canary Islands, it sits off the coast of Africa – the nearest mainland country is Western Sahara. For someone from ‘green and pleasant’ England, it feels dry, rocky and barren. The island is formed, shaped and entirely dominated by Pico Del Teide, the highest place in Spain and the third tallest volcano island in the world behind a couple in Hawaii. It’s still considered ‘active’, last kicking off in 1909.
Some areas of Tenerife are completely shaped by tourism, with a couple of huge resort towns. But away from them, there are plenty of quiet villages and exciting scenery to see, if you can stand to travel on the vertiginous roads. Their switchbacks often cling to the side of sheer drops into gorges populated by only lizards and cacti.
I took a digital camera but also packed my Yashica and 5 rolls each of Neopan Acros and Ektar – I’ll group them together and show you the results over the next couple of posts. Looking back, because I was shooting both digital and film, some of the film pictures lack context, but here goes anyway…There is some excellent modern architecture on the island. This is the Holy Redeemer church in Santa Cruz, the island’s capital. Despite being in service, the church still appears to be under construction with fencing and building materials surrounding it. It is tucked away between housing blocks and a business district but is a fabulous design – check out the interior on the link…These three pictures were taken on our way into the El Teide national park (europe’s most visited), the first showing the peak itself in all its 12,200ft glory. The drive across the park is fascinating and full of views like these.Six snaps from Masca. The village itself sits in a gorge that is accessed by the most hair-raising road on the island. It is steep and narrow with completely blind switchbacks all along. I visited early in the morning to try to avoid the tourist hoards who travel in on mini-coaches that navigate the road at terrifying speeds. The village is a few houses that sit along a knife-edge ridge at the head of a trail that drops a couple of thousand feet down to a small beach, where boats collect the hikers and take them back to civilisation.
The chap had been cutting these sticks from the undergrowth and bundled them up as I approached. I broke out my best Spanish ‘Photo? OK? Por favor?’ but got over excited and screwed up the focussing.Four views of Puerto de Santiago. The beaches on the island, with the exception of two built with yellow sand imported from Africa, are black volcanic sand. It absorbs the heat of the sun and burns the feet of sunbathers as they hop and skip between their towel and the sea…When browsing Flickr to research what I should see during my visit, I discovered pictures of the abandoned hotel at Añaza. I’m not sure what the story is behind it, but guess that either the money ran out, or the builders realised that the cliff that the hotel was being built on was falling into the sea at quite a rapid rate.
Inside, the concrete ramps that would have formed the staircases are still intact. This means that visitors can walk straight up unto the roof, assuming they’re not concerned by the crumbling state of the concrete and lack of guardrails. I went up a few levels before losing my nerve and heading back down. Again, I realise now that I took plenty of pictures of the structure close-up, but only these distance shots on film.Another amazing architectural sight on the island is the Auditorio de Tenerife. The roof really is as crazy as it looks and is visible from all over the city and along the coastline, and I guess from out in the Atlantic too. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and it’s easy to see why it has become quite so iconic in Spain, appearing on stamps and their €5 coin.
Well, that’s the first 2 of the six rolls that I shot on the trip. Let me know when you’ve seen enough…
Yashica-Mat 124G with a busted meter so I guessed mostly (the sunny 16 rule is pretty reliable in Tenerife), Kodak Ektar 100, processed and scanned by FilmDev.
Previously on 52 Rolls: