PUERTO DE LA CRUZ AND THE SAHARA DESERT

41 CommentsMemoir, Photography, Travel

Do you remember 1967, when the infamous “Summer of Love” in San Francisco
made headlines worldwide and everyone wore flowers in their hair?

That was the year my mother took me to Puerto de la Cruz on the island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands for the March school break. We were living in Germany then and travelled extensively. I was twelve, “going on 20”.

Canary Islands
The Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, belong to Spain.

These islands were formed from volcanic rock and have some fascinating vistas. Unfortunately, my personal photos didn’t capture much of that, but you can see more details here.

The first thing that struck me was the interesting mix of Spanish and African cultures. Strains of Flamenco music wafted through the open bar doors while people rode on camels through the streets. We fit right in among the mostly German and British tourists.

Hotel Guajara in Puerto de la Cruz
Our hotel. It was new at the time.

Most afternoons, there was a stop at the Cafe’ de Paris on the main promenade for traditional German “Kaffee und Kuchen”, (coffee and cake). I especially enjoyed this, because of the young, handsome waiter who always flashed me a dazzling smile. To this day, the dark Latin types appeal the most. I even married one!

Cafe' de Paris, Puerto de la Cruz
Cafe’ de Paris

While wandering about, we discovered a quaint little bar with Flamenco dancers. I can’t remember the name of it and wonder if it’s still there. The furniture was all hand carved and there was a small bull ring out back, complete with a live bull, available for “jousting” with the patrons. He was old and tame, so it was completely benign. (PLEASE NOTE: I am against this cruel practice in reality.)

Flamenco and Bull Fights in Puerto de la Cruz
Flamenco and (Friendly) Bull Fights

My favourite song there was Los Beta Quartet’s version of “Guantanamera”. I bought the 45 as a souvenir and used it to make this video. (Please excuse the poor sound quality and lack of stimulating images. This was my first-ever attempt at making a Youtube video):

My mother purchased a lovely oil painting of Flamenco dancers at one of the many colourful bazaars, but only after much haggling. (She was good at that!) The seller’s comment, accusing her of being a “rich American” who only wanted to cheat him, had me doubled over with laughter! It’s hanging on my bedroom wall today and makes me smile whenever I look at it.

Painting purchased in Puerto de la Cruz

Our most fascinating tour was a day trip (by plane) to the Spanish Sahara in Africa. (It’s now known as the Western Sahara.) We were taken by taxis to a Bedouin camp, just south of El-Aaiún.

Trip in 1967: Puerto de la Cruz and the Spanish Sahara
With my mother. That’s a lot of sand!

The Sheik himself served us tea. Lunch was roasted camel meat on a stick. It smelled awful and I buried mine in the sand; in hindsight, a regrettable move. Wish I had been a little more adventurous!

The Sheik serves tea. From Puerto de la Cruz and the Spanish Sahara, The Doglady's Den
Tea Time with the Sheik

After lunch, we were treated to a display of traditional Bedouin dancing and encouraged to join in. I was the youngest person there and got roped into it by the rest of the group, much to my discomfort. Again, that sense of adventure was lacking and I didn’t fully appreciate the experience.

Bedouin dancing. From Puerto de la Cruz and the Spanish Sahara, The Doglady's Den
You want me to dance?!

I’ll never forget March 1967. One of the most memorable trips of my life!
(That “Musical Memories” post about 1967 will be forthcoming – promise! I get sidetracked so easily 😉 )

SALUDOS AMIGOS!

From the Archives, The Doglady's Den

(Originally written for Boomeresque’s “Travels Down Memory Lane” blog carnival in 2013.)

Do you have a favourite vacation memory? I’d love to read about yours too, in comments below.

Happy trails!

Debbie


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Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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41 thoughts on “PUERTO DE LA CRUZ AND THE SAHARA DESERT

  1. When we are teenagers we think we are adventurous but we are not:) I wonder if you did go back, how much has changed. I have so many favourite vacation moments. I remember so much when my mom took my brother and me (is that right??) to Salzburg, Vienna and Graz. My eyes opened up and I fell in love with the culture, the art and the mountains. I was only 8 (1972) but so much stuck with me
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  2. I loved reading about your special trip to such a fascinating place, all from the view of a 12 year old. You were lucky to travel so much as a young person and learn so much about other countries. It certainly gave you an appetite for travel and we always enjoy reading about your experiences.

    One of my best trips was going to Europe in 1985 and visiting Germany, France, England, Austria and Italy. I went on some of those bus trips given for the military at Lahr. My girlfriend was working for the radio station and invited me to come visit her. We went to Italy and to Austria together. She was fun but annoying and weird at times. Oh well. Made it memorable remembering how she went after our waiter in Rome and had a fling with him. Also I met up with a boyfriend stationed in the Golan Heights (who quickly became just a friend) and we traveled through France and England camping. I got very sick of looking at fly fishing shops as he was completely obsessed. He even sold his camera equipment to buy and old fly fishing book. He was a bit nuts.
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    1. Hi, Cathy; Yes, I had some fantastic travel opportunities and that trip was the highlight of my life for many years. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it. Your trip also sounds amazing, despite the “weird” companions. Italian men are SO easy! LOL Looking at fly fishing gear while travelling through Europe must have put a damper on things for you.
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  3. Your love of this island makes me want to go back too. Great report, and what a cute 12 year old – going on 20- you were! When I was 12, I was going on 9. I never wanted to grow up. lol Another thing that I personally love about Teneriffa is the climate. It’s about an even 75-80 degrees all year round. Incredible!
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    1. Ah, so you know exactly what I’m talking about, Angelika! This was a definite travel highlight and I’d love to go back as well. 🙂 I was always mature for my age, as a child. (Now I’m regressing! 😉 ) People would say I sounded like a miniature adult. We were in Teneriffa in March and it was incredibly hot – 90s. I remember getting a bad sunburn, after spending a day at the ocean-side swimming pool complex. Glad to know it’s usually more temperate there.
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  4. Hi, Debbie the Doglady! For what it’s worth, I’ve been told that I’m a dead ringer for Latin heartthrob Lorenzo Lamas, host of the 80s TV music series Dancin’ to the Hits. 🙂 Eating camel meat on a stick? Sounds like an immunity challenge on Survivor. 🙂 I doubt that I would have been brave enough to try it at the tender age of twelve. I followed the link provided and watched the Canary Islands tourism video. It was well produced with spectacular footage and compelling text that beckons you to visit, soak up the natural energy and return home transformed. I felt energized and inspired just watching that promo. I can only imagine how exciting it was for you to experience a trip to that magic island group. Clearly you had many advantages in your youth – travel and educational opportunities that most kids your age did not have. Living overseas and visiting places like the Canary Islands, meeting the locals, learning customs, absorbing the culture – all of those things enriched your life and shaped you into the worldly woman you are today. I get a contact high just from knowing you, sharing music with you and reading about your travels. Thank you for sharing, dear friend Debbie!
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    1. Hi again, Shady; I remember Lorenzo Lamas from the TV show “Falcon Crest”, starring Jane Wyman (the ex Mrs. Ronald Reagan). He was pretty hot! Dead ringer, eh? I’ll have to go back and look at your old photos, but from what I recall, you looked pretty suave. 😀

      In hindsight, I do regret not trying the camel meat because when will I ever have that opportunity again? Unique experiences should be savoured! I’d love to go back now and see everything from an adult viewpoint. Yes, that trip was the highlight of my life for many years and I’ve definitely had many advantages. Some were by accident of birth, mind you, like my father being in the army (travel was a big perk), his meeting my mother in her homeland of Germany and my birth over there. Having a European husband with family in Italy doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

      Contact high? That is incredibly flattering and I thank you. Meeting you has been a pleasure as well and I enjoy our conversations immensely.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. There will be more travelogues in future. Thanks for your lovely comments and have a good weekend. Cheers!
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  6. Lovely memories of an amazing holiday, Debbie – thanks for sharing them with us – really enjoyed the pictures and videos. I haven’t travelled very widely and have no holiday memories to compare with this, I’m afraid! I went to Istanbul with my parents when I was a kid, but don’t remember much about it apart from the locals making a huge fuss of my blonde-haired younger sister! We holiday in the UK these days because of the dogs, which we can’t bear to put in kennels 🙂 Often have a great time in Scotland – saw dolphins and seals on our last trip, which was a treat.

    Thanks again for a great share 🙂

    Sue
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    1. One of the most memorable holidays I’ve had, for sure! Glad you enjoyed it, Sue. 🙂 Istanbul must be a fascinating place. We’ll be visiting Ephesus in Turkey as part of our Greek islands cruise next month. Can’t wait!
      From what I’ve seen in photos and movies, Scotland is beautiful; Ireland too. Such lush greenery.
      Kennels are terrible places for dogs – doggie jail! 🙁 Too bad you don’t have someone like me there. I take dogs into my home when their people are travelling and treat them like family. They have the run of the house, sleep on the beds, couches, etc., frolic in the yard with the other dogs and go for daily walks.
      It’s their “Happy Hound” vacation. 😀
      Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.
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  7. I came to this from the Trip Down Memory Lane post by Boomeresque. What a fantastic trip and I’ve always been infatuated with the Canary Islands since 1977. I love that part where you mentioned the music wafting in through the bar doors and people riding on camels in the street. Wow! How cool would that be back in the day? And part of your blog absolutely caught my attention as my Golden Retriever, Phoenix, is the one and only in my life and the soul I’ve written about for many, many years now. Thank you for sharing your trip 🙂
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  8. Hi Debbie,

    What fun 🙂

    I thoroughly enjoyed your videos, and it was nice seeing you with your Mom too, besides the other pictures here. Lovely indeed.

    Well, my vacation that we had recently is ever fresh as we went to the mountains for a short trip. We always love that because it’s a good change for us as we live in the plains with small hills around. So, we went and the best part was how the clouds just come right into the room where we were staying, and the hot cup of tea to go with such a weather was just out of the way! Ah…there are so many such memories. Another one was when we visited a desert location near our place, and even though the mornings were a little hot, the evening and nights were awesome.

    I think such getaways and vacations make up our memories that we can never forget – isn’t it?
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  9. What a great read, Debbie. And, what a great trip. As I get older, I really treasure some of the trips my parents took us on —to live in Mexico for a year when I was 9-10, to live in England for a year when I was 15-16, a drive across the US and a 7 week camping trip in Europe after the year in England. For some of those, I’m sorry to admit that I was a cranky teenager.Did you notice that the fashions you and your mother are sporting in the old photos have returned. Only now we call pedal pushers — capris— and short slacks are “cropped” 😉 It’s some corollary of “What goes around, comes around”. If any bloggers who enjoyed this essay would like to share one of their “Travels Down Memory Lane” with a link back to the post on their own site, please join the 18 others who have contributed their memories. Debbie has the link at the end of her essay. You can submit through July 31st. A lot of us are Baby Boomers, but you don’t have to be one.
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    1. Hi Suzanne; Sounds like you had some great travel adventures yourself! I enjoyed reading your post about Sports Day in England. 🙂
      Ah yes, I remember those pedal pushers only too well. “Capris” sounds so much better. Please note: I edited your comment, only because you called me “Mary”, but my name is Debbie. Links to your site are at both the top and the bottom of my article. Thanks so much for visiting. Cheers!
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  10. Hi Debbie

    Your trip sounded like a lot of fun and so many things most of us will never experience. I suppose we don’t really appreciate the good times until after they are over. I have had a few good vacations, but as an adult noting that some of it wasn’t as pleasurable as other parts of it. So I have a hard time figuring out what the best vacation I ever had was. Was Vegas for New Years Eve, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or trip to where I grew up and played as tourist. Probably the last was the most fun. But Disneyland without the kid was a blast.

    Mary
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      1. Hi Debbie

        There is a lot of stuff for us older folks in Disneyland. I hate roller coasters and fast rides, so you won’t get me on them. We took my parents when they were 63 and 67, they had a really good time. I won’t ride anything that says not suitable for pregnant women and people with heart conditions (not either) but figure if they shouldn’t neither should I. So we also did not take my parents on any of those. My parents were never as adventurous as me, so for them to enjoy themselves and go back home and talk about it was pretty cool.

        Mary
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        1. I’m not a big fan of rides in general, but used to love the roller coaster. 🙂 “Pirates of the Caribbean” might be fun. The movie was based on the ride. Sounds like Disneyland is a good place for people of all ages.
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  11. Wow Debbie you have certainly had quite an adventure growing up…I so admire that. And the way you tell the story, I can picture it in my head…the best part of all is you have those mementos to always remember them!

    The best vacation I had was when I was 12 years old. Although it was a sad occasion (my great grandmother was very ill) it was the first time I had been to Mexico to meet her.

    I’ll never forget her. She had the longest hair. You can tell it was dark because she still had some color mixed with her grey. Just hearing her talk and telling us stories and giving us advice…man, I’ll never forget that. I think that’s when I started to grow up, you know?

    Thanks for sharing your life with us Debbie!
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