Thursday, 12 February 2009

Walking on Tenerife – the benefits of having a ‘Leatherman’

I always carry a Leatherman with me when I’m out. I don’t mean just out walking on Tenerife, I mean at all times; you never know when they’re going to come in handy. They’re like the Swiss Army Knife’s meaner big brother. As Billy Conolly says, you never know when you’re going to have to get a stone out of a horse’s hoof.

Even though it’s winter here and the temperatures are in the low 20s, making it an ideal time for walking, when there’s not a cloud in the sky, it can feel a hell of a lot hotter and you get through water supplies at a disturbing rate.

We always work out where we can fill up with water when we’re out walking, so we knew that as we glugged down the last of the drops in the bottle, there was a communal fountain in the village we were approaching. Normally there’s a queue of locals filling up 8 litre bottles, but as luck would have it there was no-one, so we were able to go straight to the fountain and replenish our supplies with some very welcome sweet spring water…in theory.

In reality, the fountain’s tap didn’t have a handle. I tried to turn it with my fingers, but it wouldn’t budge; I clearly haven't been eating enough porridge or, as this is Tenerife, gofio. Now you’re probably thinking at this point that I thought of the Leatherman in my bag…wrong. We’d just hiked 20 kilometres plus under an unforgiving sun and my mind wasn’t functioning as it should have been; I completely forgot about the multi-tool in my bag which by this point was probably screaming ‘use me, you idiot’.

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. An elderly Canarian man eased himself off the wall where he’d been sitting in the sunshine watching my puny efforts and sauntered across to us just as a car pulled up. He said something to the driver, who handed him a pair of pliers. Problem solved.
“Muchas gracias,” I gasped as he opened the faucet and the life giving liquid poured into the bottle. “Tenemos mucho sed.”

Whether I would have remembered the Leatherman before we expired from thirst we’ll never know, but the important point is this; it’s always useful to have a Leatherman, or something similar to hand when out and about the countryside, there’s not always a benevolent local at hand to help out.

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