I’ve come to the conclusion that we are stark raving bonkers. The choice was a hike to Tejeda (1 hour-ish each way) or to spend the morning chilling out in the exquisite spa of the Parador Cruz de Tejeda on Gran Canaria. Guess which one we opted for?
In fairness, time was our enemy. Our afternoon plans included a hike from Cruz de Tejeda to our next destination at Las Calas so the only way we were going to be able to visit the little town of Tejeda (which we’d decided was something we really wanted to do) was to spend our Sunday morning walking to it.
The Parador Cruz de Tejeda is ideally located for a number of walking routes. The one to Tejeda involved stepping out the front door, crossing the road and heading upwards between the Asador Grill de Yolanda restaurant and a shop that’s useful for stocking up on water supplies without paying Parador prices.
When we told our guide Armando later that it had taken us an hour and twenty minutes to walk between Cruz de Tejeda and Tejeda, he raised a quizzical eyebrow that clearly said ‘you must have been walking backwards’. The scenery was to blame, delaying us for quite some time immediately after we ascended from Cruz de Tejeda (walking on the Canary Islands you often find that there are ascents involved even when you’re descending). The canyon-esque Caldera de Tejeda that had filled the frame in front of us, lyrically described by Miguel de Unamuno as ‘the petrified storm’, was epic in scale with monolithic peaks, wide plateaus and deep ravines.
The Tejeda walk is bookended by two basaltic towers; Roque Nublo (without the clouds that inspired its name) at the start and Roque Bentayga, in the past the natural fortress home to some of the island’s ‘ancients’, pointing skywards high above Tejeda at the route’s end. In between is a compelling landscape with occasional curios such as a bus stop in a cave and an unnerving figure on a bench staring into space that may either be a work of art or someone’s dead abuela.
Sunday is a good day to visit Tejeda as locals come back to second homes in the town, filling it with a spirit that can be lacking during the week. It’s an immaculately pretty town with pristine white houses topped by orange roofs. It also boasts impressively dramatic credentials; the savage landscape morphing into neat agricultural terraces below mountainous peaks with movie location good looks that wouldn’t look out of place if they had a couple of boys named Sioux riding mustangs in the foreground.
Apart from being an ‘isn’t this nice’ place for a Sunday stroll, there are a few diverting distractions in Tejeda including a Folk Museum that had quirky hours we couldn’t figure out.
“It doesn’t open till 10am on a Sunday,” shouted a resident who noticed us peering at the opening tines whilst scratching heads Stan Laurel fashion.
“But it’s 10.30 now…” came our reply to be rewarded with a shrug.
We had a bit better luck at the Abraham Cárdenes Museum, opposite the church, which was open but whose exhibits of paintings and sculptures I didn’t really register because I was too busy fearing for our health. The only other visitor apart from us insisted on spraying what might have been SARS everywhere, courtesy of incessant cartoon sneezes. There were a couple of more places of interest to see in Tejeda (Museo de las Tres Cruces & the Medicinal Floral Centre) but time was short and we had another walk waiting in the wings.
No visit to Tejeda would be complete without a visit to Dulcería Nublo, a shrine to pastry making; somewhat of a sweet tradition in Tejeda. Before catching a taxi back to the Parador (predictably overpriced – because it was a taxi, not because it was Tejeda), we stocked up on cakes and some local specials of almond and marzipan biscuits – there’s got to be some sort of sinful reward for missing out on a morning being pampered and floating in a cool pool that extends into the pines.
Work hard, pig out – that’s our philosophy.