No, I know it doesn’t scan like ‘San José’ but this is fun not examination time. I toyed with the title ‘Do You Know The Way To Use Ten+Mas’ but that didn’t scan any better and seemed infinitely more obscure.
Over the years we have visited the small communities and fishing ports of the South by car and on arranged tours. This time, however, we decided to trust the local bus service to carry us around the nicer parts of this wonderful island. We have been impressed by the Titsa service and found their ‘Bono’ discounted ticket service excellent, easy to use and to understand.
Recently they changed all that with the abandonment of Bono and the introduction of the Ten+ Mas card. This new card is not the only way to pay for a bus journey but it arguably provides better flexibility. That about sums up all its positives, now for the negatives…
First of all it’s difficult to get hold of. Tourist Offices don’t seem to sell them, most official outlets seem ignorant of their existence and ordinarily shopKeepers look at you ‘gone out’ in that annoyingly condescending Spanish way. We were finally advised that the Spanish Style shop was the only place where these could be bought and loaded with cash. The problem is that the Spanish Style near us suffered a devastating fire not long ago and is now a smoke-ravaged shell.
We found another Spanish Style shop and to be fair the process of buying and loading the card wasn’t that difficult. We handed over €2 for the card and €20 to pay in advance for our journey. Now all we had to do was dash over to the bus stand at Los Cristianos and climb aboard the 470 bus which terminates at El Medano. The first bit was easy. We do dash very well. The second bit…. the bus was pulling away from the stop as we arrived. The next one was… later.
At least this gave us time to read the instructions which consist of… nothing. Online there is some guidance and we learned that the process is to tell your driver where you are going and how many of you there are and then hold the smart card against the reader for it to deduct the correct fare. We were also told we would have to wave the card once for each person but when I tried a second time the driver brusquely pushed his hand in front of the reader and motioned me to move on.
When you get off the bus you should pass the card over the reader again so it knows you have paid the correct fare. If you don’t do this then there is a danger of you being charged for the whole journey so a two stop hop on hop off on the bus from Fañabe to Santa Cruz could end up costing you a small fortune.
…And here’s the last problem. You do not get a ticket so you do not know how much have paid. Nor have you any idea how much is left on the card. There is a way around this. You can register your card online and top it up there also but unless you have a couple of hours to spare and a degree in technical Spanish then you may want to rethink that. I tried to register our new card online. I entered my personal details, I entered my address and date of birth – because I’m a foreigner this brings up further complications because it wants to know my passport number and driving licence details as well as a whole host of other personal stuff. At this point I gave up. I’m only in Tenerife for three weeks and it will take that long to complete the online form.
Perhaps when I get home… but at the moment I’ve got another card in my wallet worth I don’t know how much and valid for I don’t know how long. That’s Life!
The journey to El Medano takes around an hour and ten minutes which must be a time warp as we pass down so many narrow roads through an infinite number of banana plantations, up then down then up again some impressive hills and around some pretty sharp corners on streets where the average distance between the bus and the parked cars (on both sides) is about 4.5 inches.
Going there, our driver took the timetable as a personal challenge and fought aggressively to maintain his speed in the face of learner drivers, panel vans, cyclists and terrified English people coaxing a hire car through the same narrow streets.
The journey takes us through twenty or more villages. An early stop is San Francisco. Yes, an hour and ten minutes including a side trip to San Francisco. Do I see life? Yep! Following that the next station is Guaza. A one road town which immediately attracts the pseudonym ‘Guaza Strip’ as it consists of little more than a long line of local shops with apartments above. In and out again in only a few minutes. Shortly after that we are in the beautiful oasis (?) of Estrella. Those of you who have drunk alcohol extensively in Tenerife will know the name as the cheapest local beer second only to Dorada. Oh, the happy hours!
Soon we are pushing ahead along the edge of the sea to Las Galettas. Worth a visit if you have nothing to do for five minutes. Next a new development called Ten Bel though I would suggest that fewer than four would appeal – a peal, geddit? At this point the bus driver encounters a cyclist who is practicing for the slowest cycle competition which is held simultaneously all over the island and which uses the Geranium Walk as an impromptu obstacle course. The driver is surprisingly patient as there is little room for him to overtake but I notice a tick appearing in his right eye and he slows to a speed unregistered on any speedometer.
Our journey diverts temporarily for us to visit Cuba and the Atlantic before we find ourselves passing the rolling greens of Golf del Sur. This is a beautifully created and maintained golf course coupled with a substantial resort where middle aged men can leave their wives while they spend four or eight hours hitting a small ball with a big club with the aim of bouncing off as many palm trees as possible. The golf course ends abruptly at the edge of a lava filled ravine. I suspect many a sportsman has lost his balls at this point.
The next real stopping point on this journey is Los Abrigos. It is worth the visit. We went there by car a few years ago and enjoyed the small town with its natural harbour. The restaurants there each have their own fishing boat which goes out daily to catch the fish for the evening meals. Often you only have the option of whatever the fish is that they have caught. Not something I would like to rely on but the village is pretty in its own way. Next year we have a plan. We will dismount at Los Abrigos, stay a couple of hours and then remount a later bus to continue on to El Medano. That’s if we can work out how much is left on our Ten+Mas bus card.
El Medano is a beautiful coastal village very popular with wind and kite surfers and water activities of all kinds. It doesn’t have the golden sands of Playa de las Americas but it has kudos, it’s cool! Walk a couple of hundred metres straight on from the bus terminus and you will find a tiny bar on the right hand side tucked into the corner of a block of apartments. Manfed’s Soul Café is the essence of surfer chic. Everyone who is young and trendy will find themselves there, eventually. Took me a few more years, that’s all.
From there, straight on to the point where the sea lashes against the black pebbles. Through an arch and the wind hits you like a steam hammer. This is what the coast is famous for, the wind. Surfers beg for it, sell their souls for a day of good wind and high waves. On this occasion the sea seemed impossibly cluttered with surfers chasing waves, wind surfers leaning their sails into the wind and kite surfers battling the kites seeming to whip them off the surface until they were flying, laughing above the spume and spray.
Time for lunch. We traverse the bay and cross the market square where a farmers’ market is slowly winding up. A handful of craft stalls remain, offering fine handmade jewellery for a few euros. Beyond this lie a scattering of bars and restaurants with a fine view of the beach. We pick one called Café Fifo, one which we haven’t used before. We won’t be using it again. The food was okay, the chips were delicious but none of this offset the manner of the waiter who, with little assistance, could have frozen a volcano with a single sneering glance.
All too soon it was time to get the bus back to Los Cristianos. We bade a farewell to El Medano and sat back for a long but interesting ride home.