Tenerife is the other main island in the Canary chain. The capital alternates every four years between here and Grand Canary, which we visited yesterday. Until fairly recently the islands were a tax free, duty free zone. We still do not understand all the reasoning involved, but when Spain joined the EU in 1985, the Canaries, which are part of Spain, did not. But when they finally did in 1999, they gave up most of their tax free, duty free perks. Some things are still cheaper here than on the mainland - gas, cigarettes, liquor and electronic items. But the enormous container part of the port area has turned into a ghost town. People looking for a tax dodge no longer trade here and this huge business has dwindled and died. Tenerife has decided that tourism is its major source of wealth and has begun to tear down the cranes and shipping facilities and turn the port area into a major place to eat, drink, shop and party. By the time we come here again, we won’t recognize the place.
We keep hearing stories about our fellow passengers from Brazil and how much stuff they have brought onboard for cheap transport home. We left Lisbon an hour late because it took so long to get all these goods on board. We fear it might be a nightmare when we arrive in Sao Paulo and all this stuff needs to be unloaded again and people need to match themselves up with their belongings. Supposedly some folks have two cabins - one for themselves and one for all their purchases. Today as we stood in line to get back onboard we followed some newly purchased big screen TV’s through the ID check.
But shopping was not on our agenda. We headed up the mountain side on hair raising twisty windy roads to a little town on the opposite coast. Hundreds of years ago sugar cane was grown in the area and at that time it was worth its weight in gold. But when Spain created colonies in the New World and imported slaves to grow cane there, the bottom fell out of the market and this isolated town fell on hard times. People had to hike over the mountainside for hours to market their goods. But as roads have been improved and paved, more and more of the steep mountain areas have become accessible and practical to live in once more. We passed many nice view points but Teide, the 18,000 foot volcano on Tenerife had generated lots of clouds and the mist only gave tantalizing glimpses of what we would have liked to see. This mountain is snow covered for much of the year, a novelty in this southern clime. Some locals are still trying to make a living here with agriculture, but the mountainsides are so steep, the land needs to be terraced before anything can be planted. And then there often is often not enough water. We stopped at a market to see what the locals eat. Potatoes of all shapes and sizes were readily available, but the major protein source appeared to be yucky looking dried cod imported from Norway. We’re glad we’re eating onboard ship!
When we returned to town getting caught up with internet chores was on the agenda. We found a cafe, which let us stay for two hours for the price of a cup of coffee and tried to get ready for the next five days when we will be off the grid crossing the Atlantic. Next stop Recife, Brazil.