I is back! Well, technically I've been back two days now. Whichever.
Tenerife was fantastic. Some things didn't exactly go to plan, but I really enjoyed myself regardless.Day 1:
We went to Icod de los Vinos, which is a botanical garden consisting only of native plant species. This includes a big, fuck-off Dragon Tree; the biggest in the World. We spent the morning chasing butterflies with nets (that was GREAT fun) and putting out home-made lizard traps to catch Gallotia galloti
, the lizard species native to the Western Canary Islands. Then, in the afternoon we went to Garachico, a coastal town on the Northern coast of Tenerife. Basically, we were just there to have a bite to eat and see the sights after doing work in the morning. Me? I went straight into the sea; spending my time climbing on lava fields and jumping into flooded lava tubes. Because I could.
The most interesting part about this day was that the wind and the waves really started picking up at around 1400-1500ish. We were going to go to some other botanical gardens in Puerto de la Cruz in the late afternoon, but it was closed due to wind. By evening, the wind was blowing at 30mph with 80-100mph gusts. There was driving rain, thunder and lightning and flying debris smashed a few windows in the hotel. I thought it was great, but that heavy storm basically caused problems for the rest of the trip.Day 2:
We went to a museum (apparently) in Valle de Guerra to catch more lizards. The idea of this is that the galloti
in different areas of the island have different markings, and we were going to measure their markings and statistically analyse the reasoning for it. Didn't work so well here. The skies were overcast, it was relatively cold and the wind was still quite brisk. In short, we never caught a single lizard and instead the only interesting thing we found were cochineal beetles, which were once collected because when you squash them, a vivid red dye comes out and it DOES NOT come off. At least for a while. Serves me right for being so gleeful about squishing them.
The next part of the day was spent on a walk along a path through the laurel forests of the Anaga massif. Basically it was about two hours of listening to one of the lecturers gush about plants... and I'm not that enamoured with them to begin with.
Also, I saw a rare Laurel Pigeon. I swore at it, because it made me jump when I was trying to take a picture of some Blue Tits. Apparently, the lecturers found this funny and nicknamed me "Lady Emma" for the rest of the trip.Day 3:
We were meant to go up to the summit of Teide today. No dice though, as snow that fell on high ground during the storm had blocked the roads. So we swapped plans for days 3 and 4 around and went to the Southern parts of the island to catch lizards again. First we went to a place called Pumice Beach, which is in the Güímar valley. It was a lot greener than the lecturers had ever seen it (and they had been going there annually for 10 years or more), but we caught plenty of lizards. I also saw a lizard drop its tail for the first time... it's gross, and holding the tail as it spasms is awfully weird.
We moved to a different area of the South to catch more lizards in a different place, before we went to El Médano. It has a reputation for strong winds, but there was barely a whisper by the time we got there and after the mandatory plant waffling, we did a bit of swimming and generally just goofed off in the decent-sized waves that still lingered from the storm.Day 4:
This next day went in a weird order. We travelled up the North side of the island, drove straight through the caldera and then went partially down the south side to look at the pine forest, before coming back up and into the caldera proper and to the foot of Teide.
When we finally got up to the Las Cañadas caldera (which is the remains of the HUGE volcano that once existed on Tenerife, before it destroyed itself in a series of massive eruptions and landslips), it became really apparent that we weren't gonna get to go up Teide at all. The main reason being? We could see the ice which coated the pylons that support the cable car's cables. Anyone who knows about the albedo effect knows that white snow reflects heat; it could be shorts and t-shirts warm and yet snow will still be on the ground. Doesn't help that temperatures in the caldera plummet at night due to a combination of the topography and the high altitude. Needless to say, I was really disappointed.
There were some positives though. I got some lovely pictures of the bird species in the pine forests and we also went down a lava tube. We had dinner in the caldera after that (I had chicken, and it was gorgeous
) and took some pictures of a fantastic sunset behind the volcano, before waiting for nightfall to go star-watching. I never realised how much light pollution affects our view of the stars, you know. Up in the clear air, we could see the disc of the Milky Way and shooting stars were quite common. The constellations that I can remember one of the lecturers pointing out (oddly enough, the same one who waffled about plants, I never knew his interests stretched so far) were Orion (we could even see the nebula that is present in the 'sword' of Orion), the Plough and Cassiopeia. He also pointed out to us Sirius (the Dog Star, aka the brightest star in the sky), Polaris (the North Star) and Jupiter.Day 5:
We were screwed over early on when we realised that the coach company had cheerfully sent us a big coach, which are not
allowed around the road which leads onto the isolated part of the island which is called Teno. There are sheer cliffs rising above the narrow road and I'm guessing that they must lean over slightly for taller vehicles to be prohibited, and the instability of it all due to the storm didn't help. Needless to say, our herpetology lecturer (and our translator) wasn't happy. We monkey-ed around chasing geckos and oil beetles in the areas we could
go to, before then going up Santiago del Teide to a tourist town called Masca. It was great fun there; the galloti
there are fat, because they're bold enough to take food from people's fingers. Someone has a cracking photo of a lizard licking the melted chips from a chocolate chip cookie whilst he holds it. LOL!
The next bit was the scary-as-fuck roads which lead up out of Masca Bay... They are set into sheer cliffs, with evenly-spaced stone bollards being the only thing along the road's edges... they are not
fun in a coach, especially when most of the corners are too tight to get around in one go and require reversing. There was also much stalling and accidental rolls backwards. I won't lie: I enjoyed myself.
We finally looked at the lava field from the latest eruption of Chinyero in 1909, at a place called Arguayo. Not all that interesting, other than the fact that we found a little baby pine tree, just starting to grow. I'm a sad, strange person... I wished a tree luck in growing up big and strong... -_-'Day 6:
The last two days were 'free days', where we either organised activities ourselves, or the lecturers would offer to drive us to certain places. Me? I went whale watching. We saw Short-finned Pilot whales and Bottlenose dolphins, before we moved on to the seaward side of Masca Bay to have a swim. I may or may not put up some of the pictures I took for this day; I can't decide, as they're not exactly all that good.
We also went looking for bats in the evening, which was more interesting than you may think. We also got the great idea of chucking a tiny stone into the air as our detectors started to pick up a bat flying past, which it would swoop on as it fell and allow us to see it silhouetted against the starry sky if we looked hard enough.Day 7:
I had never gotten a late afternoon flight before this (always stupid o'clock in the morning or in the evening), so we found ourselves having a free morning before making our way to the airport for 1600. I went with our herpetology lecturer and 7 other students to see if we could find the Gallotia intermedia
, a lizard species that was thought extinct until it was found isolated on some sheer cliffs at Montana de Guaza in the year 2000, literally a stone's throw away from Los Christianos.
When I say sheer cliffs, I'm not exaggerating. We spent a good hour hiking up a steep path (and this is in the South, where it is really sunny and exposed), before finding ourselves sat looking into a sheer-cliffed ravine at the sea below us. We then had a great time lobbing tomatoes, apples and kiwis across the gap to splat them on the side and lure the lizards out. We saw some, so it was all well worth it to see such an extremely rare animal.
So, there you have it. My only grumble is that 45 students was a bit too many to be going on this trip. Even if 7 lecturers was more than enough to sort us out, it still meant that when we were gathered around some of the more softly-spoken lecturers, if you were at the back you couldn't hear a damn word they were saying.-~-PF-~-
In other news. I came back to a new trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness
. Check it out: [link]