I sit on a long table in a communal kitchen with a dirt floor. Underneath the table are two dogs asleep on dusty old lounge pillows. At the end is a cat with piercing, cross-eyed azure blue eyes with a creamy beige and brown coat asleep in a fruit box with tomatoes. Two Slovakians revel in their mother tongue, laughing behind me in fast-paced conversation. The teraformer (gardener really doesn’t do him justice) of the Finca chats to a younger guy in German. He is a biologist come desert-planting genius. A jolly Scottish woman is cooking beside me with a spread full of coloured vegetables. These are all vegetables that would’ve been thrown away, but are donated by a local supermarket for us to re-purpose. There are giant cinnamon sticks bubbling away in rice, and the spices from big pots of curry are swept up into my nostrils and out the open air kitchen, away with the Saharan winds.
I slice and hand juice a tray of oranges. My hands and the table are covered in pulp, with punchy zest spurting out from the orange rinds as I twist them back and forth. I pour a generous serving into a beer mug and take a seat on the hill overlooking the horses, and the ocean. I take a moment to sober, and breathe it all in. I bought a one way ticket to an animal sanctuary on Tenerife, where the community is eclectic, but united in kindness.
My new home is an old and immobile van that somehow withstands the gusty winds, and is occasionally also home to a cat that somehow always finds a way in. My small porch is made of pallets and I overlook the ocean, a wind-farm and the mountains. The days are sun-drenched and top 26 pleasant degrees, with the nights dropping to a comfy 19. The sky is generously sprinkled with stars. I sleep deeply, despite the flies, the cat, the shaking in the wind and the competing roosters in the morning.s
There are 45 loving volunteers here living in vans, caves, caravans or other shacks amongst the hills. Horses, goats, sheep, pigs, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, donkeys, tortoises and lizards make up the other 200 or so occupants. They are all rescue animals.
No job, no plans, no ticket back.
I feel as if I am exactly where I am supposed to be.