GR130 - Tijarafe to Los Llanos 14.6 km

This report didn't get published after we walked this section of the GR130 earlier this year (10th April,2010)  - so here we are!
We parked the car at the southern end of Tijarafe, opposite the bus stop where we had last finished walking from Puntagorda.  Having climbed into our walking uniform of boots and rucksacks, we grabbed our poles and set off along the pavement with a spring in our step and hopefully looking like real explorers.  Approximately thirty seconds later where the pavement ended, we were lost.  Did the trail follow the main road or did it go down the side road to our right?  The side road looked the most appealing and on walking down there we quickly found that it ended at a few large houses.  Maybe there was a secret path hidden behind the houses?  An elderly and jolly-looking lady had just come out of the front door of one of the houses and was coming down the path.  She was holding, high in the air, a large fish by its tail and I took the opportunity to ask her if this was the Camino Real, the GR130.  She grinned and nodded her head enthusiastically and said that she had no idea.  She would ask her daughter who was bound to know and so lady and fish returned to the house to find daughter.  When all three emerged again, the daughter kindly explained that we should return to the main road and follow it until we came to the 'grey' house (for which read 'breeze block') and we would see a sign indicating the route.
With such a interesting start, we set off again in great spirits.  And it was true, once we had walked fifty metres along the road, we spotted the sign along with our first cross of the day.
Passing behind the 'grey' house, we started to ascend along a little path which brought us to a narrow road where there were three bench seats named (presumably) after family members.  We crossed the lane with the sun shining above and glinting on the green grass underfoot.  Now we found ourselves above the road, walking along a little path and eventually on a gentle slope down into our first barranco.  Ah - unless things were about to change - this was lovely, easy going.  And surprise, surprise it didn't change.  This was the easiest barranco we have encountered so far and extremely pretty, lined with pine trees and the path covered in pine needles.  I would have liked to stay a little longer.
Climbing up the other side of the barranco, we had a lovely view back to Tijarafe and eventually we popped up at a little plaza.  I could imagine this would be a fun place but today, all was quiet and we disappeared down the far side of the plaza onto a small path.  On surfacing back at the road again a short time later, we were once again confused.  It looked as if there had been a rockfall on to the road and no signs were visible.  However, we took a chance (actually, there was no other option) and crossed the road into a small park to search for the signs.  Great  - we hadn't been here before!  Here we could picnic or bbq.  There were even toilets and - they were open.  Whatever next!
Now we were back on little paths and intriguingly passing right by people's front doors.  It was a wonderful insight in the lives of some Palmeros.  Sweet smelling washing hung out to dry, kids bikes, tree trunks for seats, and one little notice written in German which said (more or less), 'This tap is our tap on our patio.  Don't even think about it.'  Of course, I had walked on the patio to read what the notice said so had to beat a hasty retreat!   Down an even quieter lane, the residents had long gone.
Eventually, we arrived at something like civilization at La Punta.  Here there was a Spar and the sign told us we had walked 8.km from Tijarafe and still had 6.6km to go.  That seemed strange as we felt so near!  Never mind, onward. Over the road and then rising high above it on a steep little path which then flattened out and gave us a great view over the banana plantations and sea.
After 1 km of easy walking, the path came to a junction where it intersected the GR131.  The sign post here was almost comical with such an array of choices.  If we were at all unsure of directions and distances, then we only had to glance at the nearby new-style GR130 and GR131 signs which confirmed that it was 3.5km to Tazacorte and 14.4km to Roque de Muchachos and informed us that it was another 5.6 km to Los Llanos.  In fact, the old GR130 route used to take you into Tazacorte and we wondered for a moment if we should go down to Tazacorte but, no, we would continue to Los Llanos as planned.
Just the other side of this intersection we found the perfect place to eat.  In a delve in the rock there was a wooden bench and we sat down to eat our bocadillos and bananas, which the lizards shared, all with a wonderful view over Los Llanos. What a shame there was cloud cover which meant it was not the best photo (see website and scroll to section 7) - although it was still plenty hot enough, even with the clouds.
 Now began the descent down into the barranco de Las Angustias practically to sea level.  Oh - this was going to feel like a long way down on our little path!
barranco came ever more into sight and we could see that it was flowing with water.  This was extremely exciting as we haven't seen it flowing many times and it looked as if it could be quite deep.  We had to bide our time a little longer though as, just as we were considering if we dare take two bananas that were on the floor of the plantation just near the track, a man appeared.  'Take some bananas,' he called to us, in Spanish.  He must have read our minds.  We said that was very kind of him and how wonderful his plantation was and how much work it must be.  Oh yes, and for no money, or very little we were assured.  He then proceeded to lug half a trunk of bananas over to us.  We hurriedly explained that we didn't have the car with us, we were walking.  He looked at us as if we were mad.  He hadn't asked about a car, what was a car to do with him?  After several exchanges, we still hadn't managed to convince him that not being Palmeran weightlifters, we would need a car to transport around thirty kilos of bananas.  Whimps!  In the end, we managed to talk him down to about twenty bananas although of course he didn't want any money, whatever the case.
It was just after this that we completely lost the route and had to follow the road for about five minutes before we picked the sign up again.  The road is definitely not recommended for walkers as, despite being only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass and with many hairpin bends, it is a veritable mini Monte Carlo rally.  As a consequence, we walked very quickly!
Eventually, the path brought us to the lowest part of the road which ran alongside the barranco and we crossed the little footbridge over the flowing waters to the other side.
Now this was impressive stuff, although I am sure many people have seen the water much higher.  Anyway, we now only had 2.6km to go before Los Llanos.  But what was this - dangerous talk of swimming?  Mm, well there was somebody further up the ravine who was swimming in a natural pool of the flowing water and if I wasn't mistaken, he was starting to look a little alarmed at the thought of us joining him.  In the end we settled for a paddle where we were.
Maybe it was the fact that we stopped for quite a long time or maybe it was because our calf muscles were immersed in cold water or maybe ... well, whatever it was, that final ascent up to Los Llanos was hard going.  And of course the heat ... it felt like sitting right next to a 3 bar electric fire.  Yes, my head was undoubtedly alight and could probably have been seen from space.
Actually, I think it felt tougher than it should have been because the path doesn't zigzag.  This means that the sun zapped just one side of the body, without getting the chance to turn and get char grilled the other side. And there is no place to go for shade so the only alternative is to forge on.
Arriving in Los Llanos and passing along the curious side streets lined by little old low houses, all was forgiven.  Especially when we emerged into the leafy shade of the plaza as heroes.  

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