One month in Garachico

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)

View of San Pedro de Daute from Garachico