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Visiting Tenerife's Agua Garcia - where brown cows live
Photos in the Agua Garcia area
My return visit to Agua Garcia
I have a book on Agua Garcia I bought in Tenerife which details all the wildlife to be found in its forests and countryside, and I had visited the area before and fell in love with the place. So having received an invitation to the launch of the Mazar Ribah cultural centre there, naturally I made a return visit to this rural setting in the Canary Islands..
I got off the bus at the Tacoronte motorway turn-off for Agua Garcia and walked up the steep hilly road to get there, delighting in seeing so many wild flowers growing at the roadside along the way. I saw loads of Red Valerian in full flower. This plant reminds me of back in Britain where it often grows in walls and ruins and is a wild flower that butterflies like to feed from.
I didn't see any butterflies but I did spot a bumblebee, which is an insect I must admit I haven't seen many of here on Tenerife and in the UK many species of bumblebees are now endangered. I stopped to get a photo and was glad of the rest because the hill is very steep.
When I got to Agua Garcia village I knew I then had to go along the road until I found the side turning that would lead me to Casa Verde, the house where my new friends Emily and Fernando live and where they have their Mazar Ribah cultural association headquarters. I had a map scribbled on a bit of paper to help me find it and I didn't think I'd would have any problems seeing as I had no difficulty in locating the landmarks that showed me the right way to go.
Casa Verde the "Green House"
The map said to fork left at a turning in Los Lajas, which is next to Agua Garcia and I had found that turning. The map's details said it was 1 km up the road and to look out for Casa Verde, the "green house." This I thought would be easy to find, but I was wrong.
I had walked for what seemed far more than 1 km and couldn't see any green house, although I had seen a blue one and a yellow one. I stopped to ask some boys I saw coming down the road towards me.
Unfortunately, they said it wasn't on that road and must be on the other one where the two roads had forked. Disappointedly I started to retrace my steps but after a short distance they called me back because they had asked a woman in a car and she knew where it was. Apparently, it was right at the end of the road up the hill, so I thanked them all and set off again.
I was enjoying seeing all the lush greenery around - there were large fields of rows of potatoes, fields of barley and another of pale bluish-flowered lupins, which is the plant that produces the yellow seeds you often see as "tapas" and on sale in grocery shops as a popular Spanish snack.
Now I had had a recent conversation with Roger the editor of this newspaper about farm animals on Tenerife, and he had asked me if I had ever seen any cows. I had to admit that whilst I had seen sheep, goats and horses, I hadn't as yet spotted any cows. And then I saw my first one!
Standing down a little track that led into a farm, grazing on the green grass that grew there was a beautiful brown cow on a long rope so she couldn't stray. At last I have found one, I thought and must get a photo to prove it.
I went down the track to get closer and was just focusing my camera when I heard a man's voice shouting at me. It was the farmer and he asked what I was doing. I just want some photos of your cow, I said.
He asked if I had asked permission and I had to admit I hadn't, and he said gruffly, in that case I shouldn't be taking pictures and to get off his land. Sadly I started to leave when he called me back and said it was OK. This was the second time since I had been there in Agua Garcia that I had been called back for something good to happen.
I thanked the farmer and admired his old-fashioned farm with manure and hay and a cowshed and free-range hens pecking about in the dirt. This is how farms should be, I thought.
At last I saw the green house at the top of the road and I had found my destination. I knocked on the door and met my friends and was happy to have a cold beer at their bar after my long and uphill travels.
Mazar Ribah hosts musical performances, displays art and sculpture and also gets involved in permaculture and organic farming. Green issues and a green house!
I was lucky to have arrived when I did because it started to bucket down outside. The water from the heavens in the aptly named Agua Garcia, I thought.
Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun
Where is Agua Garcia?
© 2008 Steve Andrews