The camels on Tenerife, largest of the Canaries, are mostly for the tourists. And the tourists thunder in from the north or slip in by sea and go off to nest in Puerto de la Cruz, a seaside resort where artists paint, the sea is rough, and pools are built oceanside among the outcroppings of black lava rocks. Three new hotels are a building along the Playa de Martianez. The cabanas of the huge St. Telmo pool, ready this winter, will face west to the setting sun and South America. Swimmers and sun-tanners who come for lunch can consult the tank for a lobster only lately flown from the African coast. The painters can sketch the pink St. Telmo chapel in the orange sun of the late afternoon and dawdlers can slip down to Dinamico, the outdoor pub in the Plaza de Charco.
Up on the hill the Germans in shorts and shaved heads come to nest in the creaky confines of the 140-room Hotel Taoro, first built in 1900. They pay the likes of $200 for 21 days, including air fare from Wuppertal, and there are similar excursions for Swedes. In the winter there is dancing every night, but any day, winter or summer, a sipper lounging in the new yellow and blue basket chairs on the cocktail terrace can contemplate the pool and the sea, and between the two, the Tenerife slopes carpeted with green banana fronds and sprinkled with the sugar cubes of white villas. Six dollars would carry the day here, but a second-class hotel in Puerto de la Cruz will feed you, shelter you and serve you for inside $2.50 per diem.
Half an hour from the seaside swimmers, skiers skid down the slopes of Teide, 12,152 feet high. The road runs by way of Villa Orotava, an ancient town where grass grows in the hilly streets, bougainvillaea falls over the white-washed walls like a purple rug hung out to air, and the bright yellow candles that grow on acacia trees light the village bandstand. Pots filled with ferns hang in the courtyards of villas and sway lightly in the breezes that waft up over the red tiled roofs from the sea, and the afternoon sun shoots brilliant shafts that ignite the crystal chandeliers that might otherwise have had to wait for night to gain attention. The drive from sea level, where it is sunny, sometimes ascends through the cloud layers that hang low over Tenerife. After corkscrew minutes through the haze the highway breaks out above the cloud line and into the sun. Then the view is of the cone of Teide protruding through the blanketing white mass of overcast, looking like nothing so much as a tan bosom in a vast sea of bedclothes.
The devil is inside
In the winter the snow comes and the skiers move up to the parador of Las Ca�adas whose 50 rooms and rustic fireplaces open this season. Rooms, meals and taxes come to $4 a day, but the modern skier ought to be notified that there are no lifts nor tows. In spring when the snows melt, the terraces look out to the tufts of beige grass and the odd rock formations that long ago spilled from the top of Teide. For Teide means hell, and the early natives who named it that believed that the devil lived inside, but when the old mountain was docile it was because the good spirit was sitting on top, not letting the devil out.
There is little intimation of such violence down by the sea in the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Its prime hotel, the Mencey, sits quite sedately in the residential quarter. If its deep leather chairs and enormous murals are somewhat awesome, the formal garden is a manicured delight, and there is a tennis court, a swimming pool equipped with its own bar, and over the whole cantonment, a French manager. Single rooms with meals start at $7, but at the second-class Hotel Pino de Oro, English-run, the day rate is $3.12 all in.
In the twilight the ships lie quiet behind the breakwater. But steep out of the water rise the razor-backed mountains turning a soft rose beige with the dusk. It is time to stop for tapas, which are little dishes of squid-in-its-ink or octopus or casuelita de abadeze (fish and vegetables). It's 10� for the tapas and another dime for a glass of sherry. A good investment. Dinner won't be served until 10. Someone has flipped on the blue neon crosses on the Civil War memorial—Spanish, that is—in the Plaza de Espa�a. Alongside the stone shaft loungers loll and, in plots around it, roses nod in the soft wind out of Africa and, warmed and nourished, grow the whole year round.