It being a Friday I need two things; a run and some beer. A look in my wallet reveals yet another need- money.
The farm which has been my home for the last few weeks sits 600 metres above the wild Atlantic coastline- where volcano meets deep blue sea. The nearest bank-machine is in Tijarafe; an attractive-looking little place about 7km north of where I stand. I have not been there as yet but the multi-coloured buildings in the distance give it a welcoming glow. I hear also that as well as a place to withdraw some cash, there is a supermarket that sells beer and a bar where they serve it up in ice-cold glasses, welcoming indeed. To top it off I’m told that a trail begins somewhere close that winds its way through the hills to the town.
Linn and I head off. The Friday-feeling has us laughing and joking as we dip down into the small canyon beside the farm and then glide down the paved road to find the trail proper. We pass the little scruffy dog that acts brave- barking while we pass and running down the drive as if on a mission to show us who is boss only to comically reverse back sheepishly when we stop and try and call it over. We reach the crossroads and look for the trail markings; the white and red stripes that let us know we are on the right track. We are stumped for a few minutes. We look around again and finally spot a sun-bleached mark on the side of a pink house and we are in our way. The trail passes little rows of abandoned houses. Their pastel coloured doors, paint cracked and faded, seem long-since opened to welcome visitors. Our steady foot-steps are the only noise as we run through.
The trail soon narrows and becomes the now familiar mix of volcanic rock and red dust. We drop down to the level of the main road and then immediately begin to climb. We rise steeply and our little path, not much wider than my shoulders, mimics every curve of the road now 10 metres below. It feels exhilarating to travel these paths by foot and I as I look at the cars whizzing by underneath I think about how much the drivers are missing. Sure, we move slower out here on the trail but we take in so much more on our journey. We are the lucky ones.
We continue for a couple of kilometres of flowing single-track where we swap places at the front frequently. We are in rhythm now and mostly silent. It’s at times like these that words are replaced by the fluid movements of the two runners- an uphill push by one is answered by a re-taking of the lead and quickening of pace by the other. We are like kids at playtime. We come to a picnic spot where a group are cooking dinner on the outdoor grills and drinking wine in the last rays of the day’s sun. We exchange ‘Hola’s’, cross the road and rejoin the trail. We see Tijarafe now, very near. We soon find out that the island has one last gift for us before we reach our bounty.
As the crow flies, the town is close but we stand separated, us from it, by the most wonderful canyon I have ever seen. It cuts a dramatic, deep gash in the land and from our path we see birds flying far below, tiny white specks on the lush green canopy. We stare in awe a moment, then look at each other and start to laugh- hysterical with the sheer joy of being here. We follow the trail into the canyon. We descend steadily feeling the air become cooler as we near the canyons base and enter a world inhabited by massive pines trees whose needles blanket the floor giving the impressions of running on thick-pile carpet. The rock walls are pock-marked with dark caves and the path is lined with giant aloe-vera-like plants. I feel like I have shrunk. I feel like I have gone back in time. I feel happy.
We climb from the canyon, the trail switch-backing beautifully and our legs revitalised by the cool evening air. The trail ends at the main-road and we jog the rest of the way to the bank-machine in town. Thankfully it works. We stroll along chatting about the run and come across a circular open-air bar on the edge of town, El Diablo. We order beers and they arrive fresh and cold just as the sun dips into the sea. ‘Not bad for a trip to the local ATM’ says Linn. Not bad at all.
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