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HEALTH-SEEKING

IN TENERIFE AND MADEIRA.

The Canary Islands have long been famous in travellers' tales for the balminess of their air and the beauty of their scenery, but until a very few years ago the majority of Englishmen looked upon them much as the Romans of Virgil's day regarded the penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos. Only a few adventurous spirits had carried their search for sunshine so far out of the beaten track; to the average invalid Tenerife was as Duch outside the sphere of practical healthseeking as Timbuctoo. Nor can this be wondered at, when the difficulties of access and the total absence of suitable accommodation are borne in mind ; moreover the virtues of the climate were practically little known even to physicians, and few people care to make themselves the subject of experiment in such a matter. Now that the Canaries are being extensively advertised as a land flowing with the elixir of life, where disease drops from the sufferer almost as soon as his feet touch its sacred soil, the pendulum, as usually happens, seems likely to swing too far the other way. Exaggerated expectation will too surely breed disappointment, and the rising tide of popularity may, in its inevitable ebb, leave the new health resort in lower water than it was before. This would be a pity, for the natural advantages of the islands are certainly very great, and, indeed, in some cases of disease altogether unrivalled. My object in this paper is to give the results of my personal observations of Tenerife during a short visit made in the spring of the present year. I may claim to be an impartial witness, for I went there with no other object in view than to seek for rest and change of scene, and my ideas of the climate and hygienic possibilities of the island were so vague that my mind was free from bias of any kind on the subject. As very few European physicians have visited the Canaries, the impressions which I formed there may have some interest for invalids and lovers of sunlight generally, who are on the outlook for some new haven of refuge for the winter.

Tenerife is the largest of the group of seven sisters' which form the Canary Islards; it measures about sixty miles in length by thirty in breadth at the widest part. To most people it is probably known

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chiefly, if not solely, for the famous Peak' which rises more than twelve thousand feet from the sea level, and is visible from fifty to a hundred miles around. The island was not so very long ago

of some commercial importance, and did a large trade in Canary wine and in cochineal. The oidïum ruined the one and the introduction of aniline dyes the other, and the Tenerifeans are now fain to fall back on their climate as a staple product, embodying 'the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice.' In former days Tenerife supplied European apothecaries with Guanche mummies and“ Dragon's blood'(the juice of the dragon tree, Dracæna Draco), which served as ingredients of mystic potency in their horrible concoctions; people are now awaking to the fact that in its air the island possesses a natural medicine which has more than all the supposed virtues of these charms.

Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, is easily reached from Plymouth in five days. The town is beautifully situated, with a background of conical mountains and flanked by steep red cliffs which reminded me of some of the Norwegian fjords. As most visitors use Santa Cruz simply as a landing-place, anr: at once hurry on to Orotava, its value as a health resort is scarcely so much appreciated as it deserves to be. It is warmer and therefore more relaxing than Orotava, where the trade wind from the north-east makes itself more or less felt every day, but for that very reason it suits some patients better. Dr. Douglas, a former patient of mine, has established a sanatorium at Salamanca, about a mile from Santa Cruz. He has a fine house and a charming flower garden, in which his patients looked very comfortable as they sat in the shade. One gentleman who had tried Orotava without much success had found the air of Santa Cruz very beneficial. I was informed that Mr. Camachio, the proprietor of the principal hotel at Santa Cruz, intends to build another at Salamanca which will be expressly fitted up for the reception of invalids, for whom there is at present no proper accommodation in the capital itself. From Santa Cruz I proceeded to Orotava, on the north side of the island. The distance is only twenty-five miles, but it takes six hours to cover it, as the ascent for the first five miles is very steep. On the crest of this slope at a height of 2,000 feet above the sea is Laguna, the ancient capital of Tenerife. It is situated on a plateau surrounded by hills, and has the advantage—almost unique in the island of Tenerife-of having comparatively level ground around it for some distance. Within easy reach of it are the charming forests of Agua Garcia and Mercedes and the Anaga hills. The town itself, though interesting to a stranger for its historical associations and the quaint architecture of its buildings, is one of the dreariest places in the world. It has such a deserted appearance that one might almost take it for a city of the dead; it reminds one of Defoe's description of London after the

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Great Plague. Its climate, however, in the summer and autumn is deliciously cool, and hence it is the favourite residence during the hot weather not only of the well-to-do inhabitants of Santa Cruz, but of many people from Orotava. In winter, however, it is often cold and wet, so that, as Mrs. Stone says in her excellent work, “If any one should be tired of the perpetual sunshine of Orotava, and long for rains and murky skies such as England possesses, he can obtain a semblance of them by going to Laguna in the winter months. The severity of this remark, however, may have been partly due to the particularly bad weather which the lady experienced on the occasion of her winter visit.

From Laguna to Orotava the road winds down a gentle declivity for twenty miles. The valley of Orotava, though it has been greatly praised, did not strike me as particularly beautiful. Humboldt described it as the loveliest valley in the world. Perhaps, as Mr. Edwardes ? has suggested, the very extravagance of the praise that has been lavished on it prepares the mind for something so transcendently beautiful that no mere earthly landscape could come up to the expectations that have been excited. It must be remembered also that Humboldt was a young man and was just starting on his travels when he saw Orotava, and he described his impressions long afterwards, when probably distance of time and indistinctness of memory lent enchantment to the view. Even the most ardent champion of the Fortunate Islands must allow that the country lacks the greenness of Madeira, and the « finish' of the Riviera, and has a general appearance of not being well kept. As in most volcanic districts in the South, the fig, the cactus, and the vine flourish, but the latter is not now extensively cultivated in the valley of Orotava. The aloe is largely used for making hedges, but it does not seem to blossom nearly so freely as in the south of France and in Italy. The cliffs and lower hills are covered with a small shrubby euphorbia, whilst higher up the magnificent Euphorbia canariensis with its candelabra-like branches, often attaining a height of twenty feet, is very abundant. The valley itself has something of the form of an amphitheatre sloping down to the sea. There are two towns of Orotava, the Puerto or port, and La Villa or old town. The former is only fifty feet above the sea-level, while La Villa is nearly a thousand feet higher, though only two miles and a half from Puerto. Dotted about the valley of Orotava there are some twenty or thirty villas at various elevations between Puerto and La Villa; these are let to foreigners, mostly Englishmen. Both Puerto and La Villa are depressing places at first; the streets are grass-grown and deserted like those of Laguna, and one would be glad to have even one small wave of that 'full tide of human existence' which delighted Johnson in Fleet Street. This desolate appearance

| Tenerife and its six Satellites. · Rides and Studies in the Canary Islands, p. 25.

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of Tenerifean streets is chiefly due to the almost total absence of vehicular traffic; one soon becomes accustomed to the quiet of the towns, however, and even ceases after a time to notice it. For many invalids, too, the very stillness has a sootbing effect, which no doubt plays some part in the general beneficial effect of the change.

Orotava is almost the only place in Tenerife where there is any hotel accommodation for invalids, and even there it is still far from adequate. The place has suffered indirectly from the exuberant enthusiasm of Mr. Ernest Hart, to whose opinion, after his visit in the spring of 1887, great weight was rightly attached. He described the climate, the scenery, the products vegetable and human, and the arrangements for the reception of invalids, with such tropical luxuriance of epithet, that the island was invaded the following winter by crowds of sufferers, real and imaginary, with their friends and attendants. The result was that the botel accommodation proved utterly insufficient, the arrangements were unsatisfactory, and considerable discomfort was caused. Last winter, accordingly, there was a marked falling off in the number of invalids who visited Tenerife. Very few of those who had experienced the miseries of life in an overcrowded hotel went back the following winter. On the other hand, those who had been fortunate enough to get villas for themselves almost without exception returned, or remained through the summer on the island. It was the want of proper accommodation, therefore, and not dissatisfaction with the climate, which caused the diminution in the number of visitors. That there was disappointment with the climate in some cases, however, is undeniable, and this is only what was to be expected. The exaggerated reports of the health-giving properties of Tenerife led people to expect miracles; when the inevitable disenchantment followed, the blame of the failure was, of course, laid on the climate. On this subject I shall have something to say further on. A third cause for the diminished influx of visitors to Orotova last winter was a false report that was circulated as to the presence of yellow fever at Santa Cruz. This was naturally taken by most people to mean the capital of Tenerife; there bad not, however, been any cases of yellow fever there, but one or two had been imported into Santa Cruz in the Island of Palma.

The Tenerifeans have not failed to profit by the lesson of last winter. The science of hotel management has been carefully studied, and nothing could be more satisfactory than the arrangements now made at Orotava for the comfort of guests. On this point the testimony of the English people whom I met was practically unanimous, and from my own experience I can conscientiously add my voice to the rest.

The Grand Hotel and Sanatorium' of Orotava is situated at Puerto, some fifty feet above the level of the sea. It was originally

a private house built in the Cuban style by a gentleman who made his fortune in Cuba some years ago. It was opened as a hotel on the 1st of September 1886, but before that date Mrs. Stone had pointed out the advantages of its situation, which gives ample opportunity for gentle exercise in its vicinity. Part of the house is retained by the widow of the former owner, Doña Antonia Dehesa, for her own use, leaving only about twenty bedrooms for visitors. In addition to the main building there is a kind of annexe in the garden of the hotel; this is called the Pavilion, and contains three bedrooms and a sitting room. From the back of the house project two long wings, open on one side, and connected together at the farther end by a broad verandah on both sides. This verandah separates the patio from the garden. The former is gay with rose-trees, New Zealand flax, and subtropical plants; there is also a magnificent Bougainvillea whose purple flowers cover the billiard room and spread over one side of the house, whilst on the open verandah there is a splendid creeping Bignonia covered with rich yellowish-brown clusters of flowers. In the garden on the north side of the verandah, the hybiscus, together with the orange, citron, pomegranate, and a number of splendid date palms flourish with the richest luxuriance. The verandah is shaded at one end by some glorious specimens of the Laurus Indica or royal bay, which here attains the size of a well-grown forest tree. The other side of the verandah opens on to a large basin of artificial water, in which some fine swans with numbers of gold fish live very happily together. It was with a certain sense of disillusion,' however, that I learned that the swans had been supplied to order by the Universal Provider.' There is of course a crumpled leaf in this bed of roses. Señora Dehesa has a passion for domestic pets, and Mrs. Stone describes the house and verandah, when she saw the place, as full of birds of all kinds, while the patio was a miniature 'wilderness of monkeys.' These have disappeared, or at any rate I did not see them; but there is still a multitude of bantam cocks and hens together with a large variety of pigeons about the place, which their humane mis. tress tends with the most loving care before the visitors are about. It is graceful and idyllic, no doubt, but as a matter of prosaic detail the crowing of the cocks is a serious nuisance to invalids and light sleepers. I heard several complaints of broken rest due to this preventible cause. Moreover, the presence of large numbers of poultry so close to the hotel no doubt increases the plague of feas which swarm everywhere in the Canaries, and seem to have a special predilection for visitors in whom, I suppose, they find pastures new, more to their taste than their native pabulum.

Another slight drawback, so far as invalids are concerned, is that the verandah is open to the north-east trade wind which, as already said, blows constantly in this region. This wind is not really cold like those sometimes felt in the Riviera, and to people in robust health

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