By Rhiannon Jordan
The Day Before:
As my flight was on final approach to Tenerife, I found myself mesmerised by the beauty of this volcanic island. In between black basalt rocks were white sandy beaches, and amongst the urban sprawl of Los Cristianos were rural pastures and fields. The most awe-inspiring feature was rising above the layer of clouds as the volcanic peak, Mt Teide.
It was even more beautiful and impressive once I was on ground level. As my taxi was driving up the mountainous road to Arona, I could see falcons soaring above on the thermals, with jagged rock formations surrounding the roads and, in the distance, a neighbouring island about a mile off the coast of Tenerife.
My hotel for the night was in a quiet street not too far from the bustling town centre of Arona. The hotel owners were very helpful, which for me as a first-time single traveller made the start of my week-long holiday easier, more relaxing and stress-free. The local dish I tried at the hotel bar was huevos estrallados (eggs with chorizo, serrano ham and fries). It was very tasty, and I enjoyed every mouthful of the food.
The town of Arona is a peaceful and safe neighbourhood, much unlike the busy tourist area of Los Cristianos. Even though on the first day of my holiday I stayed close to the hotel, I could tell that the local culture of Arona was that of a relaxed and friendly place.
As I laid down for the night, I was feeling excited, nervous and eager to start my week as a volunteer at the Atlantic Whale and Dolphin Foundation (AWDF).
My day started off with one of the Co-ordinators, Katrina, picking me up from the hotel I was staying at. It was only a five-minute walk to where I would be volunteering for the next week, which was a beautiful Spanish townhouse with a statue of a dolphin on the roof.
After dropping off my luggage at the adjacent apartment, I was given a tour of the facilities. As I wandered around, I noticed other volunteers cleaning up the bathrooms and kitchen. It was lovely to see how much they cared about the AWDF headquarters, and that the volunteers were keen to get their hands dirty whilst cleaning up.
I had my induction to the AWDF at 10am, where I, as well as other new volunteers, were introduced the organisation and what our roles would be during our time here, which depended on how long you would be staying for. Luke, another co-ordinator, was presenting the induction. I expressed a lot of enthusiasm for my week here, as I was excited to be given the opportunity to make a difference for the better of the world.
After the meeting, Katrina took us on a tour of Arona, so we could familiarise ourselves with the walk into the town centre and the facilities available in Arona. She told us where we could find the small supermarket, nearby ATM machines and the local pharmacy, and she pointed out the bus stop and bus number that goes to Los Cristianos.
From 3pm until 7pm, we were given free time to ourselves. I decided to spend some time exploring a bit of Arona, saying hello in Spanish to the locals. The supermarket had everything I needed to keep me by, including a 1.5 litre bottle of water for 60 cents. It was a quaint and lovely place for me to sit down and enjoy the views.
At 7pm, we were given our evening meal. We had a local resident, Teresa, cook dinner for us. She prepared two dishes; a traditional Spanish soup and a homemade spaghetti bolognese. It was tasty and filling, and I finished my dinner feeling satisfied and happy.
We had a final meeting at 8pm to find out the plans for the next day, which involved finding out who would be going whale-watching on the boats, and who would be staying at the house and be working on individual projects. Afterwards, we were free to go to our rooms or grab a coffee before bed.
So far, my time as an AWDF volunteer has been amazing; not only have I had supportive staff, whom were approachable and helpful, but also met other volunteers who share a similar interest in protecting the environment and saving endangered species.
I would highly recommend volunteering with the AWDF, and I very much look forward to continuing the rest of my week here in Arona and in Tenerife.