Tenerife's El Tanque and its Canary Islands rural charm

The rural charm of the town of El Tanque

El Tanque is as good example as any of the really rural parts of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This is not tourist territory but represents a place where the past and present collide because the town has a bank, a garage, and shops selling modern stuff but that is about as far as it goes.

El Tanque is in the Teno area in the northwest of Tenerife and this part of the island is also known as "Isla Baja" which means low island. Much of it is covered in forests and farmland. You can easily see that El Tanque has an agricultural background and is surrounded by very green countryside.

El Tanque in Tenerife

Woods in El Tanque
Woods in El Tanque
Ferns
Ferns
Grapes
Grapes
Milipede in fig
Milipede in fig
El Tanque church
El Tanque church
Blackberries
Blackberries
Baby Canary pine tree
Baby Canary pine tree
Pine cone
Pine cone
Walnut
Walnut

The green woods of El Tanque

El Tanque has long fascinated me because it always seems shrouded in clouds when I have passed through it on the bus. This adds to its mystery and so on a sunny morning I set out to find what lies behind the streets and houses you can see from the road.

Pick Blackberries

As soon as I got off the bus I noticed wild blackberries ripening at the roadside, the golden flowers of gorse and feathery ferns growing in grey rock walls. From this humble beginning I could tell I was going to enjoy El Tanque.

I made a mental note to come back here soon with a carrier bag to collect some blackberries. I love to eat them stewed, in pies, with ice-cream and they make an excellent and potent homemade wine. I even have my own recipe for bread pudding with blackberries and they give it a lovely pinkish-purple colour and a yummy fruity flavour.

Gather Walnuts

I passed a walnut tree covered in the green fruit. Some were splitting open to reveal the brown nut encased inside the outer hull.

Tenerife is a great place for growing nuts it seems and I have found almonds do very well here too. You wouldn't realise this if you were judging by prices in the shops though!

The overwhelming impression I was getting of El Tanque was of greenery and growth. Up in the mountains I saw leafy forests so I took a side road, which soon became a track and led me away from the houses and passed through some farmland on the way.

Enjoy Figs

Grapes and figs grow well in El Tanque as well as blackberries and so do prickly pears. I didn't see that many lizards but the ones I did come upon looked very well fed, which didn't surprise me seeing all the fruit there.

On a plot of rough land I picked a fig to take a photo and found a millipede had beaten me to it and was actually inside where it could gorge on the pink flesh. Then, just ahead from there I saw a rabbit running away but it was far too fast for me to get a picture.

I went back on the track and soon was entering an area of woodland that if it hadn't been for the occasional fig bush, the tree heather and the glossy green leaves of sorrel and Canarian bay trees, I could have been somewhere in Britain. Even the air temperature was cooler than usual on Tenerife.

Tree Heather

Both the sorrel and the bay have medicinal properties, as does the tree heather or "brezo" as it is known in Spanish. I saw some Canarian willow trees too and they are another useful source of traditional herbal medicine.

I heard a buzzard's cry and realised that it was probably out hunting rabbits or a well-fed lizard or two. Turning a corner I looked back and there was an incredible view over El Tanque down to the sea and far in the distance I spotted the lighthouse on Punta del Casado.

Canary Pine trees

Carrying on I came into an area of pine forest. The needles were carpeting the ground and strange lichen was encrusting the branches and twigs, whilst on grey volcanic boulders and stones another form was growing.

If lichen can be found it is an indication of the purity of the air and most types will not grow if there is pollution from traffic or industry. So if you want to experience some real fresh air you know where it can be found - up in the pinewoods of El Tanque.

I spotted a baby pine growing amongst some grey rubble and just by it was another older sapling surrounded by little green ferns all around its base. To my mind it looked like a scene from some fairyland or fantasy world.

In places such as this I love to breathe deeply and to enjoy the incredible earthy and indescribable fragrance. I could smell the pine resin from the trees and cones and needles and also the moss and lichens added their delicate perfume to the air.

Then I felt a spot of rain and then another and another and knowing how fast the weather can change here and not wanting to get caught in a storm a long way from any shelter, I thought I had better head back to civilisation and a bus to take me home.

I had had a very enjoyable introduction to El Tanque, so much so that I felt I would like to get an apartment there one day. And that's my problem - every time I visit a new place here on Tenerife I think what a wonderful place it would be to live but you can't live everywhere unless you have a mobile home or a tent.

Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun

© 2008 Steve Andrews

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Comments 13 comments

pgrundy 8 years ago

I love fresh figs. I'd be totally freaked out if I found a millipede in one though. I have an irrational phobia of segmented wormish creatures like caterpillars, millipedes, and so forth--earthworms don't bother me. We have black raspberries growing wild alongside our driveway here, and this year there were so many Bill got two pies out of them We also have wild plums growing behind the blackraspberries, but they are prone to some kind of fungal disease. Next year I'm going to try spraying them with the fungicide I had to get for the apple trees and see if we can get some plums for jam. Sounds like paradise where you live. Thanks for another great hub about it--I feel like I took a mini-vacation to Tenerife.


ParadigmShift... profile image

ParadigmShift... 8 years ago from San Jose, CA

Seriously, they should send a camera crew with you next time, make a show out of it. You can read this hub as a narrative, word for word. I have no desire to actually live in a place like this, but to visit would be awesome. Sounds like a nice place to find yourself... or lose yourself.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Pam! I found the milipede pic after too!

ParadigmShift, I would love it if I did have a cameracrew! I actually did two series of a TV magazine programme in the UK in the late 90s where that was what we did - we went to a country location and I went to see what I could find!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

the wormy guy made me squirm.  I never even heard of where you live before now...I am learning about Tenerife and enjoying it =)  I would hold the cameras for you but if it's over 80 degrees I'm staying with my A/C.   Spoiled I am, I just can't take the heat.  Still, your land is beautiful. What a view from El Tanque! Breath taking!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

It's cooler in El Tanque, Marisue! It's up the mountains here. We have many microclimates. People who like it hot live down south in the resort towns on the coast. It can get very hot especially when we have calima dust clouds from the Sahara when it can go well over 100 degrees and stay that way for days! It is really weird then because its like being in a thick fog in baking conditions. I prefer to live up in the cooler north.


Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

This is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen, thank-you so much for the incredible pictures, Bard of Ely!


Violette DeSantis profile image

Violette DeSantis 8 years ago from Broomall, PA

Now you make me want some berries! I feel silly, but I've never seen where a walnut comes from. LOL.


Delmae Joy profile image

Delmae Joy 8 years ago from Victoria AUSTRALIA

I can see and touch and taste Tenerife. You've a great way with words. Thanks for sharing.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments Nicole, Violette and Delmae!

Nicole, if you want to see more pics of Tenerife and read my descriptions you will find I have plenty more hubs published on the subject. I agree it is amazing countryside here!


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 8 years ago from Southwest UK

Mmmmm. I'm hungry already! The blackberries in devon are going to ripen in the next few weeks, so please will you e mail me your fantastic recipe for bread pudding with blackberries. I will be jamming too, as soon as the masses of beautiful lush berries turn that wonderful purple-black colour.

It must be wonderful to wander over the island discovering the flora and fauna, especially when you find something so deliciously edible as grapes and figs growing in the wild. I think foraging is one of my favourite past times these days. Who says theres no such thing as a free lunch?

Keep up the good work Steve. Its a pleasure to read as always.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Lou, the trouble here is deciding what is wild and what belongs to a farmer. There are often no noticeable boundaries and to make it more confusing vast amounts of land end up as abandoned farmland, plus some crop plants and cultivated ones end up escaping and growing amongst wild plants and trees here. You alos see large amounts of fruit and nuts that go to waste because they rot on the branches or fall off and are left. However, at the same point if you take fruit on someone's land you can end up in trouble.

I can't actually remember how I used to make the bread pudding now because it was several years back. All I can tell you is it does come out a lovely pinky-purplish colour. Basically you just add blackberries to however you make bread pudding instead of dried fruit.


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 8 years ago from Southwest UK

Thanks Steve. I will give it a go. Lets hope you dont end up in trouble for scrumping! lol! I can see how cultivated flora can end up running wild, especially if like you say, the plants are not tended. With the high prices of fresh food now, I am surprised more people are not coming around to the idea of looking after "wasteland". I am always lost for words that people leave fruit and nuts on trees just to rot. There are many, many fruit trees in the gardens in the older houses where I live (often occupied by elderly people) and in the autumn there is an abundance of apples, pears, plum, and hazelnuts which just go to waste. I have knocked on doors to ask if I can pick up fruit, and always offer to bring some sort of produce back in the form of pies or jam, or pay good money for it. Sometimes people are only too willing for someone to make use of it, others are not so keen. Still, it gives the birds and animals some tasty and much needed nourishment I guess. I just see it as such a terrible waste, especially when you consider that fresh produce sold in supermarkets often has a high carbon load on it, as well as a high price.

take care xx


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Indeed it is the same here you can see fruit and nuts fallen on the ground and left there and you can go in a supermarket and pay a lot of money for these foods. In the same way you can see thousands of seeds of tree like Dragon Trees and palms that have fallen all over thr ground where they usually get swept up and thrown away or you can go into a shop and buy the same seeds in a packet for just a couple for over a euro. And people buy the stuff in the shops! It's totally crazy and wasteful and anti-life and nature!

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