Episode 6

In January of 2018, I escaped the cold, dark winter in Stockholm and set off for some better weather in the Canary Islands.

My objective was to get some sunshine and enjoy the ocean breeze. I didn’t know much more about the island of Tenerife before I got on the plane, but I did know that it would be warmer and sunnier. The island is part of Spain, though it is located far west from the coasts of the African countries of Morocco and Western Sahara.

Upon arriving, I found that because the islands sit virtually alone in the middle of the ocean, they are often battered by powerful winds and violent waves. This makes swimming a no-go along most of Tenerife’s shoreline except a few areas where barriers have been constructed to block the force of the ocean.

And while I went to see the sun in the sky, something I totally did not expect was the spectacular night sky. As a result of the island’s remote location, clear skies and sparse population, the darkness isn’t polluted by city lights and Tenerife is one of the top places in the world to see the stars.

Near the tiny home I was staying in by the ocean, I rented a car and drove the insane winding roads that climb around the sides of the volcano that forms the island’s peak. Atop one of the highest peaks sits the Teide Observatory at 2,390 meters above sea level (1 1/2 miles up in the sky).

I parked there and marveled at the beauty of this place high above the clouds. I recorded this audio postcard after the sun went down and thousands of stars came out. There were more stars than I had ever seen before, and more than I thought were possible to see without a telescope.

The very dark cover image for this episode is a photograph I took of myself using a long exposure. I was standing over my camera which was laying flat on the ground, pointing up at the stars, though nothing can capture what it was like to be there. I was having a moment.

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