Two days is way too short of time to experience a country. Since we had to skip Morocco they gave us two days in the Canary Islands. I had never heard of the Canary Islands until this trip so it was interesting to learn about them quickly and make a plan. The Canary Islands are a part of Spain but is located right off of Morocco to the west. We docked on the biggest island Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
This port my roommate Jessie and I decided to have a “roomie bonding” trip. We booked the hostel Refugio de Altavista, which is located ¾ up the volcano Mount Teide. Two months ago if you asked me if I would consider hiking a mountain I would have laughed in your face. Semester at Sea is full of once in a lifetime experiences! Getting to the volcano was a little tricky. There is only one bus that goes straight there and it left at 9am right when we were getting off the ship. We ended up following two other SAS students on a bus and then took a taxi to the volcano but it took an extra two hours. Jessie and I started our hike where the cable car goes up and walked 3 km to the start of the trail. We started hiking and looking back at it I don’t know how we made it. To the hostel it took 5 hours and we stopped a few times to eat and drink. It was exhausting. We realized partway up that there was no food at the top so we had to save some of our granola bars for dinner. About three hours into it Jessie got sick from the altitude so we went a lot slower on the last two hours. The hike was full of amazing views and we saw a lot of other SAS students on the way. I don’t think I have ever heard silence like I did hiking up. It was very peaceful. It was a perfect trip to get away from all the stresses on the ship and in classes. When we got to the hostel we put our stuff down in our assigned room. All of the rooms were on the main level except ours, which we had to take a steep ladder to get up to. It was a little sketchy. Jessie went straight to bed because she was sick and I hung out with other SAS people. There were 4 girls and 6 guys from SAS along with the ship’s doctor which turned out to be helpful for Jessie. We didn’t get to the hostel until 8 and around 9:30 we all went out to look at the stars, which were amazing. I’ve never seen stars so bright. A few girls are taking astronomy on the ship and were able to point out a lot of cool stars and galaxies. We were above the clouds by this point too, which looked really neat at night. I had my first experience purifying water by boiling it too! The hostel was booked for the night and some troopers even slept outside because they didn’t want to hike back down in the dark. Pretty amazing considering how cold it got!
We woke up at 4:30 to start hiking again. We had about 2 more hours straight uphill to the cable car level. We went a lot slower because it was a lot steeper and the altitude kept getting higher so it was harder to breathe. We also of course forgot our flashlights so we only had the moon as our light, which was an adventure in itself. By the time we got to the top Jessie and I decided not to take the extra hour hike to the summit. We both were getting pretty light headed and she still felt sick from the night before so we decided to stick by the cable cars until 9 when they started. We watched the sunrise from there, which was beautiful. We underestimated how cold it really would be at the top. It was both of ours first time climbing a mountain so we didn’t come as prepared as we should have. At the top we found anything that would help keep us warm because it was only 20 degrees. We had a sweatshirt and sweatpants and then ended up putting socks on our hands to keep warm. It was quite the adventure! At 9 all of the SAS people took the cable car down and warmed up in the café.
Jessie and I took another taxi to the bus in Puerto de Cruz like we did to get there. We hopped in with two random hikers but it was an interesting ride! We walked around Santa Cruz for a while and got to see the city. We walked by the theatre, which looks a lot like the one in Sydney, Australia. We met up with another SAS guy and looked around for flags for a bit because a lot of people on the ship collect flags from each country and are going to make a quilt out of them. We looked at about 10 stores and none of them sold the Tenerife flag. They all had Spain’s flag but not their own. The Tenerife flag is the exact same as Scotland’s flag so most people are planning on ordering it online. When we were hiking up the volcano we were cold because the altitude and didn’t think about putting sunscreen on. I of course ended up with a pretty sweet sunburn. We saw our RD (sort of like an RA in the dorm) hanging out by a statue with a fountain in front. The rest of the day we spent hanging out with her. It was in the upper 80’s and we were hot from walking around all day so Renee told us to go in the water. We ended up having a water fight and lying by the fountain for a few hours. It was the perfect end to a peaceful weekend.
Back on the ship tonight they had a BBQ for all of us. We are officially leaving Europe today! We have five days at sea and we are finally docking in Africa! I’m excited for all of the adventures to come in Ghana and can’t wait to experience a drastic change in cultures! I’m going to miss Europe but I’m ready for a change!
Perfect weekend with my wonderful roomie!