How about a slice of toast and a glass of aloe vera to start the day? It wouldn’t have sprung instantly to my mind but after a tour of Aloe Park in Buzanada I had a widened appreciation of the qualities of this versatile plant. And while we are on the subject of education I also learnt a great deal about bananas and other, lesser known, fruits of Tenerife.
At 70,000 square metres and filled with of 200,000 plants, Aloe Park is a living encyclopedia of nature. My tour guide (in a choice of languages) led me through the well trimmed path to the first big covered fields of aloe vera. Some were young and hardly developed but a vast spread of them were almost at the four year peak for trimming and squeezing through a machine to extract the gel that is so in demand.
Like most people I would expect the extract to be used to treat burnt or damaged skin but it goes much deeper than that. The morning tipple of the juice is a great set up for the day as it eases digestion, helps to fight inflammation, muscle and tendon problems and generally keeps the body in tip top condition. Originally from North Africa, the Canaries’ climate suits this member of the lily family but it takes a lot of nurturing for a good return, 8 to 10 of the serrated leaves produce just one litre of juice.
The park was very serene, despite the main road up to Arona and Granadilla running by a few hundred metres away, it was relaxing with just the soundtrack of animals chipping in. A donkey, chickens, goats, rabbits and even peacocks were enjoying the areas of shade. A loud splash confused me before I realized it was just a large turtle plopping into a small lake.
Cactus plants of all shapes and sizes lined the paths, many of them had been imported over the years since the park opened in 1985 with points of origin in Uruquay, Mexico and Africa. Fruit was ripening on every tree. Some, like the larger more yellow local orange and the craggy-ended pomegranates were familiar to me but I needed guidance with the figs, mangoes and especially mulberries. Daddy of them all has to be the banana, another test of patience as it takes 18 months from the first flower until the fruit is ready but as they have no limited season there is a constant flow with each plant producing at least one new offshoot ready to replace the harvested hands of bananas.
In the open areas it can get very hot but there were a couple of rest spots, one showing the natural irrigation process of Tenerife and the other offering a selection of fruit based drinks including cocktails of guayabo or papayo – a favourite with diabetics. Another mesh-covered storage field contained old farm machinery including a threshing machine made in Aberdeen, and a loom.
All my senses got a good workout as I got up close and personal with nature. The Park likes to encourage families, and the paths and ramps make it easy progress for all ages. A large, covered clearing provides a feasting area for bigger parties who want to try some good, healthy, home produce and the shop sells aloe vera in all forms from soap bars to creams and sprays. A stroll around Aloe Park might not change your lifestyle but it can certainly plenty of encouragement to try a few more healthy options.
Aloe Park, Carretera Guaza, Buzanada (10 minutes drive from Los Cristianos; accessible via the 416 or 418 Titsa bus; 9 euro taxi from Los Cristianos); open 10am to 4.30pm Mon to Fri, closed Saturday & Sunday; tel (0034) 922 720 360; adults 10 euros, children (6 to 11 years) 5 euros, under 5’s free (price includes guided tours at 10, 11.30, 1, and 3.30pm).
Category : days out
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