Sleeping with ghosts

Trip Start Dec 22, 2007
Trip End Jan 16, 2008

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Monday, January 7, 2008

I had a wicked nightmare last night.  I couldn't move - I wasn't paralyzed; but being held in place.  It was almost like a force field was erected over my body - I struggled as hard as I could, but all I could do was ... absolutely nothing ...
I couldn't move my arms, nor my legs.  I couldn't lift my head to sit up.  I desperately tried to thrash about, but could do nothing.  The only thing I was able to do was use my hands.  I had a death grip on both sides of the bed, struggling to pull myself up. 
Whatever I tried, nothing happened.  I couldn't open my eyes.  I couldn't open my mouth to scream.  This strange paralysis seemingly lasted forever, though in reality it was probably only for a few minutes.  
It's difficult to describe the feeling of helplessness I experienced - the best analogy I can make is one of drowning in the ocean, struggling to surface and catch a breath.  Think Evanescence's "Going Under" video. 
I finally managed to scream - I probably scared all of the other guests in the pension.  As I opened my eyes, I could see the shadows or silhouettes of birds or bats circling overhead, disappearing into the rafters as they circled upwards.  Then, the most creepy part - a deep, guttural, evil cackle - HA HA HA echoed through the rafters ... like something out of a horror movie. 
I lay in bed thinking "WTF????"  Was it real?  Just a dream?  I've had many dreams in the past that blurred the lines between dreams and reality.  I've also had many lucid, self-aware dreams where I realized that I was dreaming, and could take control of how the events in my dreams unfolded.  I've even been able to wake myself up from unpleasant dreams.  But not this time ... something was different ... I struggle to describe what transpired last night - it felt almost as if an outside presence had invaded my mind and subjected me to this hellish experience. 
I remember getting a creepy vibe in my room last night.  I didn't feel comfortable in the room, and noticed that the pension had an institutional-like feel to it - perhaps it previously was an orphanage, or school of some sort?  It was a fairly traditional Canarian building, complete with courtyard - I'm guessing it was a few hundred years old.   
Was this a case of my mind playing tricks on me?  Or was some sinister force at work?  I thought about turning on the light - but what if I actually saw something up in the rafters?  Maybe use the bathroom down the hall?  But it's even darker and creepier out there.  I managed to convince myself it was all a dream, pulled the covers tighter over my head, and somehow fell asleep. 
I thought nothing more about this incident until much later in the day.  I've replayed this event over and over in my head several times - like I said before, I know what is and what isn't a dream.  The sequence of events ... I can't definitively say that I saw the shadows after opening my eyes, meaning that it could have been a dream.  But I'm almost 100% positive that the cackle happened after my eyes were open, meaning that it couldn't have been a dream.  Everything was too real ... but I don't think I want to know exactly what last night was.  All I know is, I'm never staying at the Pension Colon ever again!!!
I grabbed a quick shower before checking out - the stupid bathroom light has a timer on it, and it's only set for 3 minutes!  So if you're showering, you'd have to get out and go all the way across the bathroom to turn the light back on, or you could just fumble around in the dark.  Show me a man who can shower in less than three minutes, and I'll show you a man that walks around town smelling like @ss all day!  Come on people, set the d@mn timer for at least 6 or 7 minutes!  And while you're at it, call the friggin' Ghostbusters and get those d@mn ghosts out of your place!
For breakfast, I wanted to check out one of the ubiquitous juice bars in town - but none of them appeared to be open.  I settled for "Planet Fun", a games place (i.e. - slot machines and the like) that also has a café.  It had a nice location on Plaza de Las Americas - it was nice sitting outside that morning, instead of being cooped up inside a haunted pension.
I took a short walk down to the beach and harbour area - I had time to kill until "Dulceria Isabel" opened at 10.  But no - it was a holiday and was closed today!  I was denied once more!!!  I couldn't get the girl before, but why can't they even allow me to have a snack at the Isabel pastry shop???  So close, yet so far ...
Dejected, I walked back to the pension to collect my things.  On the way, I noticed a hot backpacker sitting on a bench outside of the church, playing with her belly button.  This temporarily made me forget about the pain of missing out on the Isabel pastries.
I needed to return the rental car at 10:30, but my ferry wasn't scheduled to depart until 11:30.  To kill time, I sat at the docks on a concrete block planning the day's activities.  I boarded the ferry back to Santa Cruz in Tenerife - some guy with terrible body odour sat next to me.  Why couldn't it have been the two cute sisters I saw earlier on the ferry, instead? 
I munched on a Canarian banana - I've got a lot of ground to cover today and won't have time for lunch, so I'm armed with snacks.  Getting off the boat, an older Canarian guy started chatting with me - it took me a second to realize it, but it was "El Papaton", the potato cart guy from yesterday!  Apparently, he's got a few carts scattered about the islands 
He remembered me from last night and commented that I write a lot in my journal.  I explained to him that my journal is my single best memento of all my travels, and that my blogs were a way of sharing my experiences with friends.  He asked for a free plug, so here it is!  El Papaton rocks!!!
He asked me about where I was traveling to next, and where I have been.  He asked me why Spain was my favourite - he wasn't surprised in the least when I told him that it's because Spanish women are the most beautiful in the world.  He merely nodded and said "Of course ... I understand completely" Ha ha!
Wannabe Spanish Casanova Tip #6:  Naviera Armas, one of the ferry companies in the Canaries, has pretty hot ticket agents.  Buy your ferry tickets with this company! 
First stop - Masca - a very cool location nestled in the mountains, but bursting with tourists.  It was very tricky driving down to it - the roads were especially windy and narrow, with lots of traffic in both directions.  Buses needed to make 3-pt turns to negotiate the hairpins.
Next was Garachico - I somehow slammed the car door on my chest as I was getting out - ouch!  Garachico has some really cool volcanic pools along the coastline that you can swim in.  Garchico deserved more time, but I didn't have enough of that today. 
The next town was Icod - the only real item of interest is the drago trees in the park.  But parking was too much of a pain, so I just kept on driving when I couldn't find a decent spot.  I also thought that I could see it in another of the upcoming towns, but I was wrong! 
Puerto Cruz - its main plaza is very lively, with numerous shops and outdoor cafes.  There was a free bathroom below it, with an attendant soliciting tips, but there was no soap!  I don't mind paying to use a bathroom or tipping an attendant if they were doing their jobs, but not in this case! 
I grabbed a quick watermelon gelato - it tasted a little artificial, but that didn't stop me from gobbling it down.  It was a huge portion - it lasted me for quite awhile as I wandered along the castle area.  The rugged coastline was getting pounded by the waves - it kind of reminded of Siracusa in Sicily (see Euro 2006 blog entitled "Mandorla - more addictive than heroin")  Mmm ... I still have fond memories of the squid ink pasta and various flavours of gelato I had that night in Siracusa ...
Puerto Cruz was another place that deserved more time.  Especially because of the wealth of hotties walking around!  Off to La Oratava - I sound like a broken record because this place also deserved more time.
Quite simply, La Oratava is a beautiful town.  Plaza Constitucion, Iglesia St. Agustin, the gardens - it was all pretty stunning.  Casa Lecaro is considered a heritage site, and is now a restaurant.  In the back, there was a terrace with beautiful views and also a tented area for parties. 
There are a number of beautiful houses on Colegio Street - I briefly checked out Casa de los Balcones (house of the balconies).  Pretty neat on the inside, but it appeared to be not much more than a beautiful souvenir shop. 
It's a pretty amazing town - city hall and its adjacent square was also quite nice.  It's a perfect town for strolling.  It was time to return to Santa Cruz - but how the hell do you enter the port area?  I'm actually returning the car at the airport tomorrow, but I figured it would be easiest to park at the car rental office, leave my things in the car, and walk to the pension from there.  Then I wouldn't have to drive around looking for a parking spot.  Wrong! 
It took me over 90 minutes to actually get into the port!  I probably drove up and down along the port 3 or 4 times.  I tried one entrance on the northern end with no luck.  The one near the middle - no luck.  I finally tried the parkade entrance - no luck again, but the attendant told me that I needed to enter near the auditorium. 
The signage is terrible - the actual entrance to the port is probably 2-3 kilometres away from where the car rental office is.  And then I still got lost inside of the port!  Again, the signage was very poor in directing you to the actual port office.  And once I got there, I found that Cicar had no actual parking available.  What the heck? 
A couple of police officers noticed me driving around some restricted areas and asked me what I was doing.  I made an excuse that I was just trying to return the car, but didn't know where (I didn't want to explain that I just wanted to park my car here for the night).  They told me that the rental place was closed for the day, and let me park in a secured lot.  I didn't know how the heck I was going to get out of here tomorrow but didn't care - I just wanted to quickly check in after this frustrating experience.  I almost went crazy looking for the entrance to the port - and as I did, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley came on the radio.  The timing was pretty funny.    
On the way to the pension, I noticed a couple of Spanish hotties on a bench just steps from the entrance.  They probably thought I was stalking them because I walked by 4 times in total, in a span of 30 minutes. 
I dropped off my bags, and left to find dinner - I walked by the bench hotties again.  I went back to the kebab shop I stopped at a few days ago.  This time, I decided to grab the kebab durum (wrap), instead of the kebab inside a bun grilled in the panini press.  The chef was making the durums like crazy last time, and they looked good. 
The chicken kicked @ss again.  It was very filling, stuffed with lots of veggies and feta cheese.  I downed a bottle of water as I waited, and another as I ate and walked.  I was very dehydrated after the whole parking debacle. 
Back to the hotel to change out of my sweaty clothes, and another walk past the hotties on the bench.  After changing, I walked past a fourth and final time.  Each time, they looked at me like "Why are you stalking us?"
Santa Cruz was pretty dead tonight, since it was a holiday.  It's funny - on the peninsula, it'd probably be even livelier on a holiday, but the opposite is true here.  I went back to Romana for some excellent gelato - being my last night in Spain, I splurged and got a crepe with 3 scoops
That crepe was a beautiful sight - just like a beautiful Spanish woman, it took my breath away and left me speechless!  Banana, coconut, and hazelnut - surprisingly, the hazelnut wasn't the best of the three, but perhaps that speaks more about the top-quality of the banana and coconut gelato.  I was so happy eating that crepe - it almost made me forget about the parking incident!
I liked that they let the crepe cool first, so that it didn't completely melt the gelato - smart girl!  But sadly, the crepe was a little bit burnt, though it still tasted great.  I asked the worker if the town was so dead tonight because it was a holiday - she replied "It's always dead here."  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for this town!  But I must say that I have enjoyed my time in Santa Cruz. 
I wanted to find a good spot and sit outside, writing in my journal - but I couldn't find a decent spot, and I also forgot my notepad back at the pension.  I didn't want to walk back and get it, and risk walking past the bench hotties a fifth and a sixth time. 
Instead, I wandered around town - I was still thirsty, so I grabbed an OJ from Burger King.  It had a cool little opening tab that spiraled outward concentrically until it opened, and you were left with a spring-shaped piece of plastic.  Sad - only engineers notice and are impressed by things like that!
It was an interesting experience walking around town tonight - on certain streets, I was the only person around for blocks.  It felt so liberating.  Back to the pension - my body temperature was elevated since getting frustrated with the parking, and hadn't come down since.  I opened the windows and just sat on the bed, writing and listening to music.  Hopefully I won't be sleeping with ghosts tonight.   
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