Rambling near San Juan de la Rambla leads me to the sea
San Juan de la Rambla has an intriguing ring to its name I think, and for me conjures up visions of swashbuckling pirate films. It is a village I so often pass through on the bus from Icod to Puerto de la Cruz and I thought I ought to one day stop and investigate this seaside hamlet in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
However, on the day I picked to do so the bus was diverted and so where I got off was quite a walk back to the place – my planned visit was turning into a ramble. How apt it seemed!
Now having seen the sign saying welcome to San Juan de la Rambla I had assumed that all that I saw from the bus looking down to the sea was this village but as I often find here on Tenerife - things are not what they seem. I set off down hill towards the seafront when I came upon another sign, which told me I was entering Las Aguas.
Fortunately, it was an easy walk, being downhill all the way, and I was thinking how pretty the road looked all lined with palms and the blue sea ahead. Over the fence of a finca I noticed several growing bunches of bananas, and it looked like the fruit had decided to go for a ramble too – they were making their escape over the wall.
Eventually I got to the sea front where there were several restaurants but I hadn’t come there to eat and drink. I had come to see what wildlife I could find.
I spotted a healthy looking Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera), a tough bush or tree that stands up to salty spray and wind and, as its name suggests, produces an edible berry that look a bit like grapes.
Over the wall on the black and rocky beach I spotted a lone seagull standing on a rock as the tide brought waves rolling onto the shore.
Perhaps he was on the lookout for small fish or anything else edible that washed up, I thought. He looked as if he had the patience of a fisherman the way he stayed put on his chosen spot.
Rock pools have been a source of fascination for me since I was a little boy and I found some steps that led down to the water and decided to have a look and see what I could discover. Fortunately I was wearing flip-flops so it didn’t matter if my feet got wet, which of course they did!
I found plenty of Macaronesian Periwinkles (Littorina striata) on the overhanging rocks and where there are winkles there are usually Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius aequabilis) and in the small tidal pools I soon spotted some of the artful little crustaceans that make their homes in empty shells.
Hermit Crabs carry their homes with them and when any danger appears they pull themselves inside leaving just the claws at the entrance to repel any would-be attackers. When the shell becomes too small for them they simply find a larger model.
Clinging to the underwater rocks I saw some Sea Anemones with their tentacles waving in the incoming water. These flowers of the sea are actually predatory animals that capture small fish and other creatures that stray too close to the sticky tentacles that fasten hold and pull their prey down into the anemone’s mouth.
Having had an enjoyable paddle and found some interesting sea life it was time to go and I made my way back up to the road. The sea gull was still there patiently waiting on his chosen rock as I bid him goodbye.
Then I began my walk uphill to the main road and the bus stop and I paused to look at a magnificent web hanging in some bushes. It had been made by some species of Garden Spider, very much like the ones known as European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) that you get in autumn in Britain, the ones that make delicate orb webs and have a white cross on their backs.
Finally I reached the subway steps that would take me over to where I could catch a bus for home. My own ramble was over, but I noticed a baby Tenerife Lizard (Gallotia galloti) was making his own by crawling headfirst down the flat surface of a big wall.
It’s amazing how they can cling on like they do – and with their climbing abilities that rival those of Spiderman it’s not surprising that they have colonised this entire island!
Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun
Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
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