We walked four kilometres and 5417 steps, but only because we went by bus to Punta de Teno. It is not possible to go there by car, as the roads are blocked during the day. A good thing because shoo! that road going through the mountain/s is snakey curvy…ssss…very high…don’t look down, too late…faint…and quite narrow. The views though. Fantastic! One can walk up, oh hell no, or use a bicycle, say what?, take a taxi or go by bus. A big green bus. BIG. BUS. They run often and drop you at the nearest point to the lighthouse. Here’s a shout out to those amazing bus drivers. Nerves of steel and always smiling.
We walked up to see the lighthouse first. Up. It was not accessible, that is, we could only see it through a gap in the locked gate, or from other points, one of which was climbing up the rock to the left, quite precarious, and probably not allowed, but you know, curiosity and all that…If we were able to get a bit nearer, without shivering knees from the top, or walk through the gate at the bottom, we would have liked to see the older lighthouse, anno 1890’s, in the front. It was not very high, only about seven or so metres and built with stones from the nearby island of La Gomera, that can be clearly or not so clearly seen, depending on the weather, from here. The new one is about twenty metres high and was built in the 1970’s.
This little corner of Tenerife was, for us, one of the hottest parts of the island. Don’t move and you’re fried. There are no trees here. No shade. Nada. Unless you’re a lizard. There’s not much to see or do if you’re looking for action, but the view of the mountains, the sea, the almost arid nature around it…estupendo! It somehow exudes this very calm, serene, beautiful and peaceful aura. One feels like ohming…but with all that heat it’s better to glugg-glugg, or take a dip…
If we had known how hot it would be, we would have brought our swimming stuff with us. The water looked so inviting! Imagine floating in the water and having all those views in front of you! Instead we took the bus back after only two hours spent on the peninsula.
The whole Easter celebration in Garachico started on a Sunday, fifth of March and ended on a Sunday, the sixteenth of April. Six whole weeks of events, church services and processions. We really had no idea that we would end up participating in and/or celebrating many days and nights of processions and social gatherings with the locals. It was the most unexpected and an absolute highlight of our stay here. The first inkling of what was to come was while relaxing on the balcony under a beautiful starry night sky, were the church bells tolling in a monotone bing-bing. Not long afterwards we heard what sounded like a choir singing in our street. Oh-oh! Was there a slurpy too many of local white wine, you know, Cherubim Seraphim chants and harps, or what was going on? We took a look and saw a lovely black adorned statue of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by beautiful lights and flowers (reflex sign of the cross, forgot glass in hand) accompanied by a priest (see you in the box tomorrow), altar boys and the local community. The priest read a few petitions, all praised and prayed, and the singing continued. Also on the balcony. False-shitto. The next day we found the full programme of the Semana Santa displayed at the town square. Whoa! This was going to be good!
Here are some photos and impressions of the most important celebrations of the Easter Week. Processions were mainly between the Parish of Santa Ana, and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, passing through the Plaza de la Libertad (the main square) and sometimes going to the Plaza de Santo Domingo.
Palm Sunday (celebrar la Entrada de Jesús en Jerusalén)
The Last Supper/Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo en la Cena del Señor)
It was quite a serious moment when the procession left the Santa Ana church. So serious that a barking dog on someone’s balcony was shushed by all and sundry. Woof-woof-SHHHH! It was also a full moon night. Notice that Judas is the only one without a halo…
Good Friday (Viernes Santo en la Pasión del Señor)
Processions on this day were long. Day and night. The one during the day was four hours long, with the Stations of the Cross walk and the Crucification. The first part leaving the Santa Ana Church was the Carrying of the Cross. This was a very sombre and quiet procession. No music. No drums. No church bells. Just quiet reflection and prayers. Fourteen barefooted congregants each held a cross that they placed at each of the fourteen stations along the way, the last cross at Plaza de Santo Domingo, the symbolic hill on “Calvary”. We all gathered to listen to a very emotional sermon and to pray. Then the Hanging on the Cross statue was carried out of the church and brought to the front of the procession for the long walk back to Santa Ana.
In the evening the procession started from Santa Ana after a church service commemorating the seven last words from the cross…
Burial processions. A group of uniformed men, probably a guard of honour, carried the cross through the main square and then took it away. Later the body, covered in beautiful shimmering cloths with candles around it, was carried back to Santa Ana.
Easter Saturday (Sábado Santo Vigilia Pascual en la Noche Santa)
It was going to be a very late in the evening procession, including an all night vigil, so we chose to skip it. We. Were. Tired. The bed was calling. Around ten-ish we answered the call. One of us has a pillow problem. After tossing and turning, a perfect position was found and then both fell into a deep deep slumber. Zzzz. Miracles do happen hee-hee. Then it happened. One of us was thrown out of bed. Thrown. Out. Of. Bed. Launched. So this is it. The volcano is erupting! Staggering to the balcony and wondering why the hairy one is not panicking, or screaming or showing any kind of reaction for that matter (checked out or what?), it took a lot of courage not to scream. Boom! Boom! Another deafening boom! Smoke. O. Mg. Oxygen. Magnesium. This is the end! Then the realisation. Glitter in the sky. Fireworks. Oh. But seriously, when someone is paranoid about the volcano erupting, then maybe ringing the church bells and setting off fireworks at 00h54 is not a good idea. Oh, okay, so we should have known, but still…Yep, living across from the church has its advantages heh-heh…And the hairy one??? He thought it was funny…yep…
Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua de la Resurrección del Señor)
The day of the resurrection and solemn procession of the Sacrament.
Second Sunday of Easter (II Domingo de Pascua o de la Divina Misericordia)
Procession from Santa Ana of the Resurrected to meet the Virgin of Glory. At the same time a procession from the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin of Glory to meet the Resurrected. The two processions then met, facing each other, and all of us gathered around for prayers and singing. Then both proceeded to the town square and back to Santa Ana. A wonderful and amazing end of Easter 2023.
Here are some of the main players of Garachico, plus a very elegant lady and her beautiful sandals. She was at all the processions too. These photos were taken with their permission and they happily agreed for us to post it on our blog. The band was amazing. Young, old, and in-between, all marching and playing music to suit the mood of every single procession. The last day they did an honour march to a resounding applause from all of us. Thank you. Gracias! The beautiful ladies in traditional Spanish attire are locals (not widows as some thought) and are specially selected to accompany all the processions. They exuded such elegance and walked with pride alongside the statues each and every day. There were some men in the group too. All were magnificent, awesome and tremendous. And friendly. Very friendly. Muchas Gracias!
As a child we’d all gather evenings in the lounge to listen to stories on the radio. One particular story, about cops and robbers, really had us biting our nails in anticipation. Every new episode would always start with these words, and in a deep serious sounding male voice: they prowl the empty streets at night, waiting…So there we were, almost five decades later, waiting. Waiting until all the tourists left town for the day. Waiting for everyone to sleep. Waiting to take a walk. Waiting for midnight. We had this crazy idea to prowl the empty streets of Garachico, just-because-wink-wink. At the stroke of twelve there were a few people still around, like the owner of a small coffee shop closing for the night, or was that morning, and three others from a corner restaurant chatting and laughing as they locked the doors. Also a dog somewhere made a gonna-sleep-now-woof-woof noise, but some minutes later, silencio. Tranquil. Soft. Shhhh!
The view from our rooftop terrace of the lovely moon, left, and the other view from the old harbour towards the whereabouts of where we are staying, showing the dark black mountains on our backs. Yep, we have lava rocks outside the bedrooms…Eeep, but loveleeeeeeee…
The Plaza de la Libertad, with the Santa Ana Church nearby, was so hear-the-pin-drop quiet. This is usually the busiest area of Garachico. People. Birds. Children. Church bells. Coffee drinkers. Ice cream slurpers. Tour guides. Camera clicks. Talking about church bells. They ring every hour, and one little tinkle every half hour right up until midnight. The tolling of the new day starts again at seven, methinks…
The streets and alleys of Garachico. Just us and cobblestones. Standing in the middle of this normally busy road would be impossible during the day (last photo), as this is one of the main coastal routes in Tenerife. A very beautiful and interesting route, so very popular.
The sights and sounds of the ocean, the sea, the water, the crashing waves, the whatever, and a lone fisherman sitting in the “door without door” waiting for some thingies to nibble. Is life not beautiful? Especially at midnight!
Tenerife is the largest, most populated and most visited island of the Canaries, a group of islands conquered by Spain around the middle to late fourteen hundreds, the fifteenth century. Spain had a tough time conquering Tenerife, an almost three decade long tough time, until the Guanches, the indigenous inhabitants at the time, finally surrendered. It’s quite admirable how they fought so long for their island and could only be defeated because Spain had fifteenth century high-tech weapons. Yay to the Guanches! Nay because they no longer exist. Colonial genocide. History.
We landed at Tenerife South airport sometime in the afternoon, got our rental car and off we went. We took the wrong exit. Three kilometres later and driving in the wrong direction, the car screamed. Ding-ding-ding-non-stop-ding. Seatbelt? Nope, we were buckled up. It was the rucksack. On the back seat. Car is small. Car wanted the rucksack to be seat-belted. Car waited three kilometres before it shouted. Make that understandable. So there we were, on a busy highway with impatient motorists, ding-ding-ding. The problem was solved in mid-drive. Passenger with large hindquarters touching windscreen managed to shut the dang ding-ding up. Rucksack ended on the floor. Phew! We found our way back on track so could finally enjoy the ride. The first-time-she-is-here person was not so impressed. Traffic. More traffic. Big city vibes. Holiday resort concrete jungle. Where’s the glamour? Thankfully the scenery changed. Ooh. Aah. Ohhh. Less traffic, with the ocean to the left and the imposing mountains to the right. Fifteen minutes later…yelp! OMG! Everything went uphill from there. Curvy mountain roads, Very curvy. Up, up, UP! Into the clouds we went. Visibility was zilch, zero, niente, nada. Spooky. We crawled up the mountain. On one occasion there was a gap in the clouds, and there it was, the magnificent volcano, Teide. A quick ooh-aah and back into the clouds we went. So what, we were nearer to heaven or not? Not. The GPS guided us along, away from the main road, all the way through the narrowest of narrow streets, just to get us back to the same main road. Clever little so and so, eh? Just when we thought it could not get any scarier, and the passenger holding a gag bag, the clouds cleared and there it was, right there at the bottom of the mountain, Garachico.
Our holiday rental is a four-bedroom penthouse apartment in the centre of this beautiful town, with no elevator and a total of sixty one steps, plus one, to climb. Despite the central location, it is not noisy at all. All we hear are birds. Lots and lots of birds. There is a large church right in front of us, with amazing sea views to the left and right. Everything is within walking distance, uphills and downhills, but so what, them knees they be cracking anyways.
View from our apartment by day and night
During the day there are many tourists in Garachico. Bus loads. In the evening it’s almost like a ghost town, except for the church bells tolling. Why is this town so popular? First of all, the history. Believe it or not, Garachico was founded by an Italian. This was also once a very bustling and wealthy town with a strategically famous sea port, the first in Tenerife. Then the Montana Negra volcano erupted in 1706. A whole week lava flowed, covering the port and destroying most of the town. Garachico rose from the ashes, but was never used as a port again. What they have done though was preserve its historical charm. This can be seen in every street or plaza. The buildings. The balconies. The locals. The whole seafront is so pretty, where the sea sometimes is turquoise, sometimes just blue, or silver grey, or just grey and other times in-between. There are also many tidal pools created from the lava, popular in the summer season.
Views of Garachico
Almost all the balconies are made of wood, adding a lot of charm to this attractive town.
Walk the streets, look through some large open doors and you will be amazed at all the treasures you will find, like this 17th-century former Augustinian convent of San Julian.
A little away from the crowded centre you will find this lovely I.E.S. Garachico Alcalde Lorenzo Dorta building. A high school. Wow!
The former 17th Century Dominican Convent and the Plaza de Santo Domingo. This was one of the few buildings not destroyed by the 1706 volcanic eruption.
Centre of Garachico
Some views of the coast and coastline, also showing a stainless steel sculpture called El Pez (the fish). A symbol of gratitude to the men of the sea and also as an indication of the gastronomy of Garachico. The other statue, al Motin del Vino (the wine riot), is made with white Carrara marble and lava from Garachico. The statue shows the how the Canarian wine growers battled against the English monopolising their whole wine producing industry.
View of the little port of Garachico from a strange area with many paved paths lined with palm trees and lamp posts. It seems abandoned and mostly fenced in.
Iglesia de Santa Ana (Church of Saint Anne) founded in the early 1500’s and fortunately not completely destroyed by the Montana Negra volcanic eruption. Santa Ana is the patron saint of Garachico.
Castillo de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Castle), built in the 16th century to protect the then vitally important harbour. It was not destroyed by the eruption, but lost status when Garachico lost its economic importance.
La Puerta de Tierra (The Land Gate) the entrance to Garachico before 1706, where all people, products, commodities etc. had to pass through. The entrance still stands, but now the area is a quiet and serene park filled with trees and flowers.
More of the coastal areas with lovely sculptures as follows: The Tensei Tenmoku (Doorless Door or Door without door) is a white Carrara marble sculpture by a Japanese artist. Then there’s the Las Pescaderas (the Fishwife) dedicated to the fisher women of Garachico. Last but not least is a large modern stainless steel structure with no obvious name or details.
Playa de Garachico (Garachico beach), a lava stone beach and Piscinas Naturales de El Caletón (the Caleton natural tidal pools)