I sat on the soft sofa in my living room, allowing myself to sink into the deep cushions. I felt so low. It was a feeling I was well acquainted with. Feeling like I didn’t want to do anything, not even things that would normally make me happy.
Coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19) had just reared its ugly head. It was spreading like wildfire in China and threatening to overspill to other counties. It wasn’t a major threat on the radar for the UK yet. Even so, I followed the news closely. It was being majorly reported on which made me feel nervous.
But the virus was not the reason behind my bout. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever know what spurs me to spiral into a state of utter hopelessness and desolation. Often it just feels random.
“Why don’t we go somewhere?” Lewis suggested.
Of course, I’d love to go somewhere more than anything else but in the peak of ‘one of my moments’ as I call it, nothing terrifies me more. I start thinking about the logistics of it and get totally overwhelmed. It’s better to lay on my sofa feeling numb than battling through the numerous ‘what ifs?’ which start stampeding through my brain.
So I said no.
As the days flew by, I only got worse. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything, including work. Yet, my work needed me. If I didn’t do my job, no one else would. I had a small team relying on me to get us sales which would, in turn, pay their wages.
Lewis brought up the idea of going on a break a few more times. “Let’s go somewhere for a week. We can fully relax. Let’s go somewhere not too far away and chill.”
Repeatedly, I battled with the concept, adamant that that would not help me in the slightest.
Lewis found some cheap flights to Tenerife and presented them to me. I told him I needed to think about it.
The next morning, before my demons had time to fully awaken, I felt a flutter of excitement in my stomach. The flights were for the following day. I imagined myself taking the flight to Tenerife and felt a smile creep onto my face. Suddenly, taking that flight felt like the perfect thing to do.
I turned to Lewis. “Let’s go to Tenerife.”
I felt a buzz of excitement as I saw the towering summit of Mount Teide peeping through the clouds out of my plane window. We were really going to Tenerife!
We began our descent.
I watched as the roughed coastline of Tenerife came into view. The dark purple waves lapped against the volcanic shores. On the horizon, the towering rocky interior of the island stood proudly.
The early evening lighting made the island look both enticing and mysterious. There was an ominous glow by frequent gaps in the dark cloud cover which made the island shine in various shades of gold and orange.
I couldn’t suppress a squeal of delight as we flew over a huge windfarm on the coast. I have this weird love of windfarms, OK. They make me feel so happy, for reasons which I cannot explain.
We touched-down on the tarmac and I allowed the last of my worries to slip away. I felt like a completely different person to the lethargic mess I was only 24 hours ago. I was now almost jittery with excitement, determined to absorb as much of this beautiful island as possible.
Lewis and I visited the volcanic island just over a year ago. It was actually here that we got engaged. So I have highly positive associations with the largest of the Canary Islands.
I’m not one for visiting places I’ve already been to. I normally crave a new challenge but this trip was different. We wanted to completely wind down and so wanted no nasty surprises.
We booked a luxurious 4×4 rental car with Cicar, the same company we used last time and who were ranked as one of the best car rental companies in the world. It is easy to see why it is so popular. The company are so easy to deal with, they require no deposit before you arrive and you don’t get charged if your car gets damaged at all.
We picked up our sparkling white Volvo XC60 and prepared our long journey north, to our Airbnb. I named the Volvo Victor.
We were staying in the north east of Tenerife, an area rarely visited by tourists.
Tenerife attracts millions of brits every year but 95% of those tourists congregate along the island’s south west coastline. Only 5% stay in the elusive north.
Tenerife has a funny shape which I think looks a bit like a dinosaur with its head on a reasonably long neck sticking out to the north east.
Well, this head and neck is what I call Tenerife’s far north. The main, round body of the dinosaur mainly houses Tenerife’s major national Pak known as Teide National Park. Then surrounding the park on the south and east sides are the key tourist sectors.
I glimpsed the island’s northern region on a day trip to Casa Del Vino (the House of Wine) which is situated along the eastern side of the island’s north coast (just below the neck). To return to our villa from here, we took the main highway which snaked off to the north.
Whilst cloaked in darkness, I had glimpsed the lush forests which clung to beautiful mountainsides and felt inspired.
I had felt sad that we would be leaving 24 hours later without ever getting to explore this mysterious side of the island.
In fact, that view had such an impression on me that when I returned home, I occasionally found it appearing in my dreams. That’s right, not 1 but several dreams. Dreams where I am there exploring this region.
I knew I just had to go back and see if for myself.
Our Airbnb was situated on the outskirts of a small village called La Esperanza, which literally translates to ‘the hope’, perched on a mountain ridge called Cumbre Dorsal at 1000 metres above sea level.
The village is surrounded by dense forest which makes up one of the largest areas of forest on the island. There’s a good chance this forest is what I was viewing out my car window, on our last visit.
We found ourselves driving along the island’s key highway, heading east along the island’s southern coast. We found ourselves surrounded by dusty orange boulders with the Atlantic ocean lapping at the coast on our right and the huge roughed flanks of Tenerife’s massive caldera on our left.
My eyes widened as we passed through the centre of the large windfarm I had seen on the plane. Huge white wind turbines dotted the landscape, some appearing abruptly from behind jagged rock formations which hugged the road. I nearly leapt back in astonishment to find one just a few hundred metres from the highway, a majestic silhouette against thick black clouds. It was huge. It was magical. It was perfect.
Our drive took just over an hour.
Just before reaching the island’s capital of Santa Cruz, we took a left turn and continued our expedition along narrow winding roads. Cacti and colourful houses enveloped the tarmac.
I nearly rejoiced when a beam of warm sunlight broke through the thick cloud cover which had been following us since arriving on the island. Perhaps our trip would yield good weather after all.
We located our villa at the end of a narrow road of gorgeous colourful houses. Our villa was a beautiful red bungalow, set back in a large corner plot surrounded by lush gardens.
The villa was protected by a grand electric gate.
The villa had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen and living area (equipped with a log-burning stove), a balcony and the fantastic natural gardens to admire.
At £76 per night, it certainly wasn’t the cheapest place we have stayed but we weren’t here for a budget trip. We wanted to relax and part of that is having a peaceful base with areas to chill outdoors as well.
You can find the Airbnb listing of where we stayed here.
We met our host inside the villa. I was impressed that our host left us ample guide books and documents about the island, including a several page document on his personal recommendations. I also loved the map he was leaving us which showed us some local restaurants, shops and other essential stores. It was very thoughtful and very helpful.
After settling in, Lewis and I decided to head out to the recommended local restaurant which was located in our nearby village, La Esperanza.
The drive into the village yielded some stunning views. We found ourselves driving upwards with lush green hills in the near distance and majestic colourful houses by the road. From our high elevation, I could even make out the blue ocean and beyond that, the island of Gran Canaria.
La Esperanza was a quaint Spanish village with terraced buildings lining thin one-way streets. The streets were quiet and housed a couple of small shops including a clothing store and a pharmacy.
La Sardinera restaurant was one of only a handful of restaurants in the centre.
We found on-street parking just outside the restaurant, on the corner of a quiet street in the centre and made our way up to the beautiful stone-fronted building.
Inside the Television was blaring with the commentary of some kind of sport or radio show on full volume. Three men sat at the bar, talking loudly in Spanish to try and be heard over the sound of the TV.
The restaurant was cold, much like the outside. Being at a high elevation meant the cold was more noticeable here. I was already regretting only packing one pair of long trousers (my hippie pants) and one hoodie. I wrapped up in them with Lewis’ only coat on top. I feel the cold badly.
We sat ourselves down at a small wooden table with a plastic tablecloth. There was one other group of people eating here. Everyone was Spanish which was a good sign.
The waitress was friendly but curt. She brought us some bread, as seems to be the custom in Spain, before we tried to place an order. I learnt very quickly that she didn’t speak any English so had to put my awful Spanish into practise.
We ordered a glass of vino tinto (red wine) each, some croquettes for starter and then a goat curry for main course. The prices were all extremely good.
I asked for some olive oil to accompany my bread (in English as I had no idea what it was in Spanish) and instead the waitress bought an orange spicy dip. I didn’t have a clue what it was but it tasted so good.
In fact, the whole meal was delicious.
We finished off our meal with a dessert called tres chocolates (three chocolates) and another vino tinto each.
It was all amazing and felt so incredibly authentic.
The restaurant didn’t quite have a buzzing atmosphere but it felt cute and authentic which is exactly what I crave when I travel.
Lewis and I enjoyed our meal so much that we started talking about coming back here for another night.
Darkness had fallen as we drove back to our villa. We descended from La Esperanza, our headlights illuminating the road ahead.
Our villa was cold. Fortunately we had central heating but that seemed to work in every room apart from our bedroom.
An electric heater was to accompany us for the night. I was impressed with just how equipped our villa was. I wouldn’t freeze after all!
As I lay in bed that night, the whiz of the heater taking over our room along with the creaking of the central heating, I felt a sense of relaxation that I hadn’t felt for months. I felt content, almost. It was strange that I had been so against the very thing that could make me feel better. Emotions are weird like that. It’s like we don’t know what’s best for ourselves.
I didn’t know it then but making the decision to go away in late-January of 2020 was a greater blessing than I could have ever imagined. We went on vacation at the last possible point before the virus started to take over the world. Just a few weeks later and travel wouldn’t have been possible. I cannot tell you how fortunate I feel that we took this trip and how grateful I am to Lewis for pushing me to do it.