Tenerife hill-walker David Parkes interviewed - in memory of David Parkes
Introduction to David Parkes
Please introduce yourself to my readers.
Hi Steve thanks for inviting me to your hub. My names David, I'm a hillwalking guide and I have my own business Tenerife Outdoors, which organises day-hikes and walking holidays for people visiting Tenerife. Primarily I take people out walking in the mountains of Tenerife and I try to show them a side of the island that they wouldn't normally experience on your typical "bucket and spade" holiday.
How long have you been working as a guide?
I've been working as a hillwalking guide since 2009. It started part-time, I was working as a web developer and I developed tendinitis in my shoulders from working at a computer, so I decided to cut my hours to reduce the time I spent in front of the PC. The hiking business started as something I did at weekends, but the interest in the walking tours grew and grew and I eventually I had to go full-time to keep up with demand.
Did you have to retrain and gain new qualifications?
Yes absolutely! The first thing I had to do was get my first aid badge, so I knew what do to if anyone had an accident or fell ill in the mountains. I attended an MLTE approved Mountain Leader Training Course in the Lake District and more recently I also gained accreditation as a tour guide of the Teide National Park in Autumn 2012.
David Parkes and the Tenerife mountains
Hill-walking and mountains
Why do you enjoy hill-walking and climbing mountains so much?
I don't know really, I suppose it takes me back to happy childhood memories, from the age of about 5 onwards my Nan would take me out for walks on the Pennines and in the Peak District around the Yorkshire village I grew up in. We'd walk across the fields to Helme or around Digley Reservoir, we even got lost on Saddleworth moor once.
My Nan is still alive, she's 98 years old and very frail these days, but I still remember her as the strong willed fit lady in her late '60s, who'd march me around moors with a flask of orange squash and a ham sandwich in her hand-bag.
I just know I relax when I see the landscape stretching out in front of my eyes, Tenerife is quite a contrast to the Pennines and Peak District, but it has the same rugged beauty and I just love sharing it with people.
What do you like about Tenerife?
I like the variation more than anything, I guess. I know if you read the guidebooks they all say Tenerife is the "island of eternal spring", it's a cliché and it's nonsense. Tenerife has really contrasting seasons, you just don't get them on the coast where most visitors stay. But head to the mountains and you'll have snow and freezing conditions in winter and baking hot dry summers, would you call that eternal spring?
And its not just the changing seasons, there's the changing landscapes and micro-climates too. Once you leave the coastal towns and head inland you pass through the rural farming communities, with smallholdings planted with seasonal crops like potatoes, lettuces, onions, marrows, sweet-corn and tomatoes. Or vineyards producing wine for one of the island's four D.O.'s (Denominacion de Origen - wine producing regions). Head further into the mountains and you'll enter the pine forests before emerging in the volcanic landscape of the National Park and Mount Teide. And if that wasn't enough, we have the wet and rainy Anaga Peninsula and the pockets of Laurel Forests in the Teno Massif.
I don't think there's another place on earth that has such a varied natural environment than Tenerife, not over such a small surface area. That's what I like most about the island.
What do you dislike about Tenerife?
You'll have to excuse me if I go on a little rant here. But what I dislike more than anything else is the "Little Britain" attitude of some of the ex-pats, people who refuse to integrate, learn the language or adopt the culture. These people annoy me because they just want their own little piece of Britain in the Sun. You know, the people who want their English Breakfast, UK brand products, imported lager and to have as little to do with anything foreign as possible.
To give you an example, I read a letter published in the Tenerife News last month where someone was complaining that the local cinema wasn't showing enough films in English. I can't help but think that this would be the same person who would scream blue murder if a cinema in Bradford starting showing films in Urdu. I want to shake these people and scream at them "YOU'RE IN SPAIN - LEARN SPANISH AND YOU CAN WATCH 3 FILMS PER NIGHT!"
I moved out of the tourist towns to get away from these kind of people, they infest the place and drag it down to their level. I lived in Los Cristianos for 20 years, I used to love it. But the last year I lived there I couldn't even get through a supermarket checkout without been told the amount to pay in English. You couldn't walk down the street without some PR accosting you and trying to drag you into their "Brit Bar" complete with tone-deaf compère.
I came to Tenerife to live in Spain, not to live in a sunny version of Britain. It really annoyed me that the place had become so Anglicised. So I moved to a village in the mountains near Vilaflor and honestly, I feel much happier, even if I do feel a bit like a hermit.
Plans for the future?
Hmm, well persuade my neighbour to sell me the field behind my house, nurture my orange tree to maturity and find myself someone to share my country lifestyle with. And speaking professionally, I hope Tenerife Outdoors continues to grow so I can spend more time sharing this beautiful island with people who want to discover the real Tenerife.
Long term, I'd like to get some money behind me and buy and restore old Canarian cottages and try to encourage more people to ditch the tourist towns and live in the real Tenerife.
Anything you would like to add or promote.
Well, if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife then I've got to put a shout out for Paloma Beach (http://www.palomabeach.com) which is managed by little brother John.
That's it really, thanks for inviting me to your hub, Steve.
UPDATE - Since this interview was first published David Parkes sadly died. This hub is being left in his memory.
© 2011 Steve Andrews