Today I’m sharing a story that involves hubris, mis-direction, and the Village People. It starts with my overconfidence and ends with redemption where I least expected it!
One of the features of Tenerife is the crazy variation in climates and vegetation. Since I’ve definitely seen the beaches, I thought it would be fun to hike up in the mountains. To do so I needed to drive about an hour into the Anaga National Park. No problem, I thought…my first mistake.
I should mention that my Fiat Panda is a stick shift (because I’m just too cool for an automatic in Europe!) and Tenerife makes San Francisco look flat…I’ve just mastered leaving my apartment garage without using the parking brake and flooring it.
My second clue of impending doom should have come when I couldn’t find a highway name or number on my map. No worries, I told myself, I’ll just head north and up and I’ll find it!
So off I went to amazing vistas, a Pitbull clone on the radio, and increasingly narrowing roads. Everytime I hit a fork in the road, I just took the one headed up, figuring I was going up the mountain, so I would get there.
After over an hour (the time it SHOULD have taken me to get there), I literally had no idea what town I was in as every sign I saw pointed somewhere that didn’t exist on my map. I pulled into a bar, ordered a coffee (70 cents well spent!) and asked for the bartender to point to where I was on the map. He couldn’t find his town, and he lives here! Uh-Oh.
Another customer came in and I explained in my quickly-becoming-concerned Spanish that I was looking for the forest to go hiking. A look of recognition came over his face and he pointed me to the next right to “Agua Garcia”. I found it quickly and it was beautiful…an easy one kilometre path leading into the forest. I was filled with pride at my sense of direction.
After my hike, I glanced at the map at the entrance…and realized I was over 50KM from where I intended to be! Ah, well. It was a nice hike…time to head back.
Not so fast. What had been pleasantly mis-directed on the way there was downright harrowing on the way back. The hills got steeper, the towns got smaller, and the roads lost their pavement. Then, for me, the kiss of death: I lost radio reception.
Finally I ended up in an elderly woman’s driveway. She did not understand my accent AT ALL, but with pantomime and the map finally understood that I wanted to get back to the highway.
“Ah…le falta La Esperanza!” You need hope. Yea, I know I’m hopeless. No, the town of La Esperanza. Ok, how do I get there? “A la derecha cuando mira a la iglesia.” Make a right when you see the church. Of course.
So dutifully I made the right at the church, saying a quick prayer at the turn, and discovered a road even worse than those where I had come from. The guys from Top Gear would have refused to drive this road. After about 15 minutes of clutching the steering wheel my radio returned with the following:
“We Want You! We Want You! We want you as a new recruit!”
Then I looked up and saw the sign:
I would have expected nothing less.