Monday, 23 August 2010

Good Bye to Tenerife

Hi all

Just a last quick look at the spectacular scenery before I return back to England tomorrow.

These are the stunning cliffs of Los Gigantes. They look very different from up here rather than in a small boat with the cliffs towering above me. I have learned so much here about this beautiful island, the indigenous wildlife and also how fragile these ecosystems can be. I even learned some yoga which I hope to continue.

Bye for now, Ed

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Watching Garden Wildlife

Hi all

While there are many great places on the island to visit, my holiday was coming to an end so I decided to have a nice relaxing weekend.
 I sat on the balcony and kept an eye out for birds as they visited the garden
 First to arrive was a blue tit. It looks a bit like the blue tit I see back home but the colours seem brighter and this one has a black line on its chest (like a great tit). These blue tits are endemic which means they are only found on Tenerife and neighbouring islands.  
Then I spotted a kestrel on the telephone wire. It was having a good look around in search of prey which could be a small mouse or a lizard.  Like the blue tit, this is also an endemic species of kestrel.
After a while the kestrel took flight and landed on the telephone wire further down the road.
When animals like these are only found on a few small islands, they can easily become endangered, like the wonderful Nee Nee (Hawaiian Goose) which I saw while on the Hawaiian Islands with Fred the Happy Face Monkey and Ron Hirshi. Either natural, or more often human activities, can reduce the numbers of a particular endemic species and their numbers can become so low they cannot recover and may become extinct.
After all that bird watching I decide to have a snack and then a peaceful doze in the garden.
In the afternoon I have a look for other animals too. I spot a movement on one of the rocks. When I looked closer I could see it was a lizard sunbathing.
 There are lots of spiders in the garden, this one plant is full of spider webs
 I also came across this spider. It had made its web across the path, so I decided to go the other way, just in case!
 This grasshopper locked like a dead leaf until I got up close
I decided to end the day with a bit of tree climbing
 There is nothing like a spot of tree climbing
Bye for now, Ed

Friday, 20 August 2010

The impressive Mount Teide and the fascinating National Park

Hi all

A nice sunny morning
 We spent the morning relaxing on the beach because later today we would be taking a trip to see mount Teide. I have been looking forward to taking a closer look at mount Teide and today’s the day. The Canary Islands were formed in a similar was as the Hawaiian Islands, by volcanoes, So I was really excited. Teide is the highest point in Spanish territory and is the third biggest volcano in the world. It looks peaceful but Teide is still an active volcano which last erupted in 1909 and is expected to erupt again one day.
The journey to Teide was amazing too. We passed thorough a huge pine forest. I discovered that these clever tress collect the moisture on to their pine shaped leaves which then drips to the ground and waters the tree. As we travel higher the road twists and turns and soon we are driving through a volcanic landscape and soon we see Teide.

We stop and get out and have a walk around and there is Teide in all its splendor. We are walking in the Caldara formed 170,000 years ago following a huge volcanic eruption. Not only is Teide and the area surrounding it a National Park, but it is also a World Heritage site because its so important.

We look down at a vast area below (which we had previously driven past).
It was breathtaking and not just because we were so high up. It was a strange eerie landscape which could have been on another planet.
I noticed a large green rock. It must have been from a rock like this that the green pebble I found on San Yuan Beach must but have come from.

I noticed a strange plant, like a giant feather. An information board said it was called Tajinaste rojo.
Soon the sun is setting. Althought we are in full sun at this height, down on the coast it will be getting dark soon, so we head off back down the mountain. As we drive down, the neighbouring islands can been seen above the clouds.
Its was a beautiful sight
As we continue down the mountain we drive through the cloud layer and as we get down toward the coast it is already dark. As we arrive back at Xena's I spot a gecko on the wall. Geckos are great animals to have living around the house because the eat mosquitoes
It was a very exciting day, but very tiring. Time for bed.
Bye for now, Ed zzz

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Ed on Yoga

Hi all

Yesterday evening, Xena invited me to another of her Yoga classes. I listened to Xena talking to her students about yoga and this is what I understood from what she was saying. There seem to be many reasons for practicing yoga and different people do it for different reasons. Practicing the postures, the breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit.

 Xena, Sharon and me

I think it’s a bit like the oceans. For the oceans to be healthy everything needs to be in good conditions and working properly. All the habitats in the ocean need to be healthy for the oceans to be functioning properly. The oceans create our climate, provide us with freshwater through the water cycle and many other things which take place to give us a healthy planet.
Xena's class

Yoga seems to be similar. Our bodies, human and bears, need lots of things to keep them healthy and all our body organs (such as our heart, kidney, liver) and other processes in our bodies must be working properly for us to be in perfect health.. Breathing properly and having a good body posture helps the rest of our body work more effectively. It is easy to get into bad habits, both what we eat and how we sit, that can make our bodies unhealthier.

Meditation is a good way to relax and reduce stress. It’s also a good way to reflect on who we are (as individuals, whether human or bear) and what we do and how we get on and affect the world around us. It also appears that although people do yoga together, the meaning of yoga is quite individual to each person.
This time I found it a little bit easier and could have a go at the postures on my own. It was very physical, even though we were not moving very much, but at the same time it was also very calming. I will certainly try to carry on some of these postures when I get back home.

Thanks Xena

I was amazed this morning to find an island which seemed to appear from nowhere.  This was La Gomera.
When the conditions are right the island dominates the view from the balcony. On others days, the island is not visible. 
This is why I had not seen it before.

Today I had a nice relaxing day at the Oasis Swimming Pool.
 That evening, I volunteered to water the garden, while everyone else was out.
 Afterwards I sat on the balcony and enjoyed the beautiful sunset 
Bye for now, Ed

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

An unexpected discovery on the beach at San Juan

We went down to the small beach inside the harbour at San Juan for a paddle and a relaxing lay down on the sand.
While I was there I saw something moving as if it was being blown along by the breeze. I watched as it moved jerkily along the sand. I got down on all four paws for a closer look and I was surprised to see that the little white objects was being carried by an ant.
An ant on the beach, I was surprised. I watched the ant as it carried what appeared to be a small piece of seaweed along the sand and up the wall of the jetty.
Here I noticed other ants travelling to and from the sandy beach. The ant carrying the seaweed disappeared into a hole in the wall, above the high tide level. 
Wow these ants must forage for food on the beach at low tide and return to their home above the water level before high tide.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Power from the Sun

Hi all

Today I met one of Xena and Steve's friends who is hoping to work on a new solar power project. This new technology is called photovoltaics. This is where the suns energy is turned into power electricity and it is nearly always sunny in Tenerife. The project sounded fascinating. This kind of energy is called renewable energy.

It is generated by the suns rays and so does not contribute to climate change. This can then be used to power all the normal things electricity is used for. We don't have enough sun back in the UK but we do have lots of wind and a new offshore wind farm is planned near where I live. In the same way, wind will be used to generate electricty. I wishes him luck with the solar project on Tenerife

Bye for now, Ed

Monday, 16 August 2010

Drinking water, tree climbing and Yoga

Hi all

Today I realised just how valuable freshwater is. I guess we are all so used to just turning on the tap and we have as much water as we need. This water is purified for people to be able to drink. In Tenerife there are no permanent running water like the River Adur back home.

Most of the fresh water comes from the heart of the volcano - Teide where melting snow has filtered through the rock. I didn’t even know that it ever snowed on Tenerife - it seems so hot. Steve said that Teide is so high that it snows on the peak of Teide in the winter. There are pipes that supply water that is suitable for drinking but not all water is pure enough for people to drink. I thought volcanoes were full of hot molten larva but Steve told me that the water can build up in special porous rocks called an aquifer. Pipes can be seen taking water around the island.
About 400 years ago there were many springs, streams and waterfalls on Tenerife. In recent years a big increase in tourism has meant more water has been extracted from the aquifer to provide for tourists and now there are virtually no streams or waterfalls on Tenerife that do not run dry during Summer.

There are a few places on the island where local people can fill their plastic bottles with drinking water for free. That’s exactly what we did today. I headed off up the mountains with Xena and Sharon to collect drinking water that would last for a couple of weeks.
It really made me think about how valuable water is – with out water there would be no like on earth. How luck I am to live in a country where water is plentiful, even during very hot weather when water is less plentiful, we still have plenty to drink. But I can’t help wondering if global warming might change all that. Back in the UK water is often wasted. Some people even leave the tap running while they clean their teeth.

After breakfast - brunch we went for a walk along the coast behind Alcala village.
Xena once lived in Alcala. When Steve and Sharon stayed with Xena the village was much smaller and quieter. We had a leisurely walk, lunar came to. We found some unusual shaped seats which although made from concrete, they were very comfortable. We carried on walking, but it was soon very hot so we sheltered beneath some palm trees. I soon got fidgety and started climbing the palm trees. TheIr bark makes it very easy to get a handhold.

 I looked out to sea and watched a pirate ship pass by. Luckily it was a replica, full of tourists, not the real thing. We walked a little further and then went back to Xena’s house for ice cream and siesta.

Xena teaches Yoga several times a week and she was teaching a lesson today. I asked if I could go with her to watch as I had never done any yoga before. When we got there I was feeling a bit shy, so although Xena invited me to take part, I said I would watch. Xena has a small group of regular students who seemed a nice cheery bunch. The ladies who had come along seemed to have a lot of fun, but it also looked hard work, especially in this hot weather.

When the class had finished, Xena said she would show me some of the Yoga positions. My tummy kept getting in the way (a bit like my buddy Steve - don't tell him I said that) so Xena helped me get into some of the positions.
This position is called "Sun Salutation"

In the end I managed to do a few on my own.
This position is called "Downward Dog"

That evening it was card night, Xena and a small group of friends get together every Thursday. They take it in turns to host the evening. One of the players, Neville, helps run the Los Gigantes Dive Centre. Steve also knows Neville from previous trips to Tenerife. Neville said it was a shame that I had not brought my dive bubble he would have taken me out to sea the stingrays which they hand feed. That would have been very exciting!

Soon they were ready to play cards. I didn't want to get in the way so I made my excuses and went off to bed.
Bye for now, Ed