OUR CONTINUING history series uses a modern-day daredevil adventurer and a 1903 walking guide to tell the story of one of the most ambitious 19th century civil engineering projects undertaken on the island.
A VIDEO Rubén Alonzo Bizarro posted on Instagram of himself walking along the ruins of the old pumping station of La Gordejuela in Los Realejos went viral and was seen all around the world. It was, indeed, the ultimate in daredevil adventure, bordering on lunacy.
The video was not for the faint hearted but it was impossible to switch off. We were rabbits caught in the headlights muttering about the stupid fool – and worse in the Fisher household.
KEN FISHER examines THE TEIDE ADVENTURERS, those larger-than-life figures for whom the magnetic draw of climbing to the top of Teide proved irresistible. This time he turns his attentions to CHARLES PIAZZI SMYTH (1819-1900), the Astronomer Royal for Scotland and an Egyptologist
CHARLES PIAZZI SMYTH was born in Naples. His father was then a Captain and later an Admiral in the British Navy and also a keen amateur Astronomer. Charles’s godfather was Giuseppe Piazzi, a famous Italian astronomer, and therefore Charles’s future was most decidedly written in the stars.
Due to hard work and good connections Smyth had a meteoric rise and, at the age of 27 was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland.
In 1704, Isaac Newton had written in his book Opticks that telescopes cannot be so formed as to take away that confusion of the Rays which arises from the Tremors of the Atmosphere. The only Remedy is a most serene and quiet Air, such as may perhaps be found on the tops of the highest Mountains above the grosser Clouds.
KEN FISHER examines THE TEIDE ADVENTURERS, those larger-than-life figures for whom the magnetic draw of climbing to the top of Teide proved irresistible. Under the spotlight this time is SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON (1821-1890)
BY THE TIME he was 40 years old, Richard Francis Burton had become famous for his travels in Africa and Asia. His best known exploit was undertaking, in disguise, the long journey with Muslim pilgrims to the sacred city of Mecca knowing that, if detected, he would have been torn to pieces by the mob, irrespective of the teachings of the Koran.
To fully adhere to his Muslim disguise, in case of capture, Burton became circumcised – just a little snippet of information showing his attention to detail.
Burton’s command of various languages enabled him to translate the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights into English. On his travels he was seriously wounded, dangerously ill, sometimes failing in his quest but always active. His life story is fascinating but it is my mission to get him to the top of the peak of Mount Teide.
KEN FISHER examines THE TEIDE ADVENTURERS, those larger-than-life figures for whom the magnetic draw of climbing to the top of Teide proved irresistible. First up is ERNST HAECKEL (1834-1919)
ERNST HAECKEL was a man of many parts – physician, botanist, zoologist, and artist who discovered and named thousands of new species. He also introduced words to the language which have come into prominence today such as ecology and stem cells.
He was born in Potsdam (then part of Prussia) and first studied medicine before moving into zoology and had become well known in Europe by the time that Charles Darwin introduced his book On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection in 1859. He fully supported this theory and promoted it throughout Europe, adding a few ideas of his own with which Darwin was not in agreement.
BEFORE WE CONTINUE on the trail of the development of the Orotava Library it will be necessary to pause for a moment to consider the structure of these early days. The membership consisted of between 23 and 25 people, as, to qualify for membership, the applicant had to reside in the Orotava Valley.
In addition to the members, subscribers (temporary members) were welcome. Initially, this was to accommodate visitors and guests staying at the Hotel Taoro but was extended to anyone residing for a short period in the valley. Subscribers were subject to a different tariff. Their number could range from 30 to 40 visitors per annum.