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Day 37: Puerto de Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The TSSOM finally made it to our first international port of call, and first port of call besides our unplanned one where we started in Castine and sailed for several days. Arriving to Tenerife was an interesting process as Delta Company was on watch. This proved to be a fantastic learning opportunity for the junior deck cadets as we boarded a pilot early in the morning who guided us in, and the freshman on bow watch got to witness the sunrise illuminate the sharp volcanic cliffs of the island in the distance.

Delta also stood the next day on watch, and with an in-port watch schedule that meant that instead of midnight handover of watch to another company that watch was handed over at 0800 instead. This led to two of the three watch groups pulling an additional shift, which meant most of us were tired or opted to take a nap before we finally got our first chance at liberty.

The first day of liberty that Delta had in port (Sunday), many of the cadets took off to go find a beach. However, two friends and I opted to rent a car and drive a remote road in the southwest part of the island to do a brief three-hour hike. The hike (The Carrizales Trail) was an incredible three-hour trek along sharp volcanic rock leading along a steep drop of a gorge and ending with a view of the ocean on one end, and the volcanic rocks leading all the way back to the volcanic peak of El Teide to the rear.

The road up to the trail proved to be quite the experience for my two friends, as it was steep, too narrow for two lane traffic in many spots, and with many windy turns. One year ago, I had rented a car and done a road trip through the Alps and northern Italy, and because of that I figured if I could handle those roads then I could handle this, so I volunteered to drive the whole way.

Chief Warrant Officer Kowalski went through the trouble of finding a tour operator willing to charter us a private bus excursion for students and staff who would like to go up and see the dramatic scenery surrounding Mt. Teide. She worked with the tour operator to get the bus on both Sunday and Monday to give those who were on watch a chance to do the excursion as well.

The excursion ended up being a highlight for everyone who signed up. The bus, expertly operated by our driver Gorge, and led by our half Spanish/half Australian tour guide Gary took us up through alpine forests somewhat reminiscent of back home in my native Montana. We were all hesitant as what sort of views we would get with it having been cloudy during our time of departure, but nearly 40 minutes into the drive we broke through the clouds and were greeted with an observation deck looking out over the clouds with the blue of the ocean at their edge and the volcanic peak towering above the clouds like an island in the distance.

Once we had all taken pictures there, Gary told us our next stop is a café known for its ‘special’ coffee called barraquito.  Gary explained that the ingredients were condensed milk, espresso, cinnamon, and a local liquor. Upon arrival, some students opted not to partake in that, but most ended up trying it.

Once we departed from there we went up to the base of where the cable car runs further up, but unfortunately didn’t have time to take that ride. We were able to wander around that area with some interesting vegetation and a view of a volcanic canyon. Gorge explained to us that because of the altitude, it snows around there during colder months and a common thing for the locals to do is to drive up there, make a snowman, then rush down to the beach to take a picture of it.

This morning was spent preparing to take off again at noon when the pilot boarded. Delta and Bravo Companies spent the morning getting the last remaining trash off the ship, and then loading stores to restock the galley. The process went quick with so many hands, and everything was loaded in just over thirty minutes. We departed no problem and are now enroute north to the Straits of Gibraltar and onward to our next port of Mallorca. Spirits seem to be high as we finally had a taste of freedom after a month on the ship, and the general consensus is now that we are making port calls that the rest of cruise ought to go by much quicker.

4/C Sauer, Delta Company

 

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