Monday, 30 March 2009

Reviews of 'Going Native in Tenerife'

"Going Native in Tenerife" is the only guide book you will ever need for a real insight into everything there is to know about the island...
The Restaurant recommendations are spot on and we enjoyed many a wonderful meal of real Tinerfeno food.
If you love Tenerife, as we do, but are tired of the usual places, buy this book, you won't be disappointed."

Customer Review on Amazon UK

Tenerife might be a Spanish province, but are the islanders Spanish?

At the end of last week a lightning strike scored a direct hit on an electrical substation and the electricity supply for the whole island was kaput, or as one news report put it “Tenerife was plunged into darkness” to which one wit replied:

“…JODER, EL SOL SE HA APAGADO TAMBIÉN?” (Loosely translated and toning down the joder - ‘What the heck...the sun’s been turned off as well?’

The ‘luz’ (electricity) came back on after about 5 hours and I was able to find out on the web what exactly had happened.

Comments accompanying Canarian news websites were in some cases more interesting than the reports themselves and were classic examples of the fact that the inhabitants of Tenerife generally refer to themselves as Canarios or Tinerfeños rather than Spanish.

On one news site some comments veered away from the problems with the ‘luz’ and became more of a slanging match between islanders and mainlanders with the words ‘godos’ (a derogatory term used for mainlanders – an implication that they’re barbarians) and ‘paleto’ (the comeback – meaning bumpkins) being bandied about. It’s not uncommon to find this sort of dialogue on web debates.

The reason I mention all this is that in 'Going Native in Tenerife' we have a section about the Tinerfeño people and their quirks which touches on the Spanish/Canario relationship.

I suppose that there’s no surprise that islanders see themselves as quite different from the Spanish, given the distance of the Canary Islands from the mother land combined with their history.

A Canarian friend was telling me recently about his experiences during national service. He regularly got into trouble for mischief making and occasionally found himself thrown in the slammer for a couple of days as punishment. One of his crimes was his stubborn refusal to salute the Spanish flag. When pulled up about this by his sergeant, he explained:

“I’m not saluting that; it’s not my flag,”

Bad enough, but the accompanying spit on the ground to emphasise his assertion sealed his fate and resulted in another stay at the hotel with the bars on the doors. It didn’t stop him from doing it again though.

The Canary Islands might be Spanish but as for their inhabitants, that’s another matter…except when the national Spanish football team are playing.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Going Native in Tenerife – Tenerife Beaches

When we first visited Tenerife to check out if it was a place we could live, an ex-pat resident commented on the fact that I was wearing shorts. It identified me as a tourist, 'because locals didn’t wear shorts,' she explained.

It turned out this wasn’t in the slightest bit true. The Canarians do wear shorts in the summer and what’s more they do almost exactly the same things that visitors do; when it’s hot they go to the beach. The town and city section of ‘Going Native in Tenerife’ therefore includes information about the best beaches around the island. Whist Tenerife doesn’t have Seychelles type beaches, it does have a great selection of crescent shape beaches and small coves dotted around its coastline. Around the resorts, beaches tend to be man-made with imported sand and rows of sunbeds underneath thatched umbrellas and that suits many people.

Alternatively, there are also many wild coves, volcanic black sand playas, secluded nudist beaches and long sweeping bays of naturally pale gold sand. Some of these are only a hop, skip and a jump away from the main southern tourist resorts and ideally placed for those who like to go native and seek out beaches that are a bit more as nature intended. The quiet beach in the picture is barely 20 minutes from Playa de las Américas.

Reviews of Going Native in Tenerife

“Even after living here myself for many years, I have only scratched the surface of the many facets of Tenerife explored by this writer duo. Each time I dip into the book I find a new historical fact, funny comment or hidden gem about Tenerife that I had not known. I especially like the book's gently humorous tone which seems to me to demonstrate the writers' deep affection for the island.”

Customer Review - Amazon UK

Monday, 16 March 2009

Going Native in Tenerife – Is Tenerife just Britain with sunshine?

There was an article in The Daily Mirror at the end of last year where the writer mentioned that she had avoided visiting Tenerife because she had believed:

“…the food is British, the beer is British, and the people are all, largely, British.”

She was, of course, converted into thinking differently otherwise she wouldn’t have written the article. It’s a common stereotype of Tenerife and one which we were guilty of holding as well.

We made a decision to move to Puerto de la Cruz after staying in the town for just three days. Actually we made the decision after about an hour, but initially beer, sunshine and green parrots had completely charmed us. However after three days we’d seen enough to convince us that our initial judgement was sound and every Sunday when I walk through the old town, I still get the same buzz that I felt on that first visit 6 years ago.

It starts when I pass the little greengrocers whose wooden crates piled high with fennel bulbs, tiny papas negras potatoes and plump aubergines are strewn across the pavement. At the café next door, the patrons sitting in wicker chairs sipping café cortados or glasses of vino tinto are as stylish as the art deco architecture of the building they’re decorating with their presence; the women in bug-eyed sunglasses and flowing jet black hair wearing Stradivarius’ latest fashions; the men wearing simple jeans and polo shirts, looking equally cool.

Opposite even more stylish Canarios, dressed as though they’ve stepped off a catwalk, spill out of the little 17th century church followed by a bride and groom. It’s the perfect spot for a wedding. The scent of orange blossom fills the air and the trickle of water from the jade coloured swan fountain compliments the sound of someone strumming a Spanish guitar on the terrace of a hotel which has been welcoming travellers since the eighteen hundreds.

I continue along the pedestrian walkway. On one side are tulip trees with scarlet flowers, on the other living statues of a geisha girl and a golden fairy, performing little scenes with graceful movements every time someone drops a few cents into the bowl in front of them.

The narrow street is teeming with domingueros, people from the surrounding valley who descend on Puerto to enjoy the Spanish tradition of ‘dar un paseo’ on Sundays, and the main plaza is alive with the sound of laughter and chatter from the pavement cafes around its perimeter. In the centre of the plaza kids chase each other around the yam filled pool whilst their abuelas watch them from the shade of the Indian laurels. I wander past a striped kiosk selling beehive shaped rolls of candy floss on a stick down to the harbour and sit on the wall beside the charming sculpture of the fishwife who looks as though she’s just bought some pulpo from one of the small fishing boats with Greek blue hulls. The setting sun has turned the ochre walls of the old customs house overlooking the harbour golden and the aroma of grilled cherne and sardines, wafting from a ramshackle harbour side hut whose selection of seafood is like a who’s who of the fish world, is almost too much to resist.

Is Tenerife Britain with sunshine? Do I really need to answer that?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Going Native in Tenerife – The Two Tenerife’s

An important piece of information which everyone should know when thinking about visiting Tenerife is that there are actually two Tenerifes.

It’s a subject which I bring up time and time again mainly because:
a) I feel strongly about it and
b) a lot of potential visitors aren’t aware of this fact – actually some residents aren’t aware of it.

Tenerife No1 is the Tenerife that most English speaking people know about and is the one that was built specifically to meet the needs of the growing tourist industry back in the 70s and which has evolved into a popular relocation destination for ex-pats. Tenerife No2 is basically everywhere else outside of that and is the Tenerife where most Canarios live.

Tenerife No1 attracts millions of visitors a year because it supplies exactly what many people are looking for when they book a holiday, but its image is such other potential visitors wouldn’t go near it with a barge pole. This is partly down to outdated TV programmes, but also partly down to the fact that resorts like Playa de las Américas don’t tick the boxes of people who want to experience a different culture as much as warm rays on their sun deprived skin. These are the people we are aiming to convince, through our website, blogs and guidebooks such as ‘Going Native in Tenerife’ and ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ that there's much more to Tenerife than they might think.

To illustrate what I’m talking about let me tell you about a couple of recent examples:

The first involved a woman who was planning to visit Tenerife. Instead of opting for the resorts she had chosen to spend a few days in a hill town in the south followed by a few days in the north of the island. She was hoping that she and her son would be able to practice their Spanish whilst they were on the island. However, a work colleague whose parents actually lived in Tenerife No1 told her that they wouldn’t get much practice speaking Spanish on Tenerife as everyone spoke English.
It was nonsense advice and we reassured the woman that the opposite was true. Outside of the tourist resorts English is hardly spoken at all. Sure enough within a couple of days she was back asking for help with a translation of an email she’d received from the rural hotel she was trying to book. Not only was the email in Spanish, it was almost incomprehensible Spanish as it wasn’t even grammatically correct. It was written exactly the way some locals speak here – with some key consonants being left out.
This was her introduction to Tenerife No2 and the parents of the person who had given the initial advice clearly didn’t even know it existed even though they lived in Tenerife.

The second example involves Carnaval. Throughout February it is the biggest thing happening on Tenerife No2. Carnaval in Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz takes place at the same time and businesses more or less grind to a halt during this time as workers succumb to the exhilarating, but exhausting beast. It’s a survival test, albeit a fun one and, if you live in the north of Tenerife, almost impossible to ignore.

I mention it because I’m a member of the community website, ‘Tenerife Forum’. Forums like this and the similarly named ‘The Tenerife Forum’ are incredibly useful resources for people visiting, or moving to Tenerife, especially in relation to the south and are a good place for people to make friends. However during carnaval week, although there were hundreds of postings on the forum, I could have counted the ones which made any reference to carnaval on the fingers of one hand. In fact I could have counted them on the fingers of the hand of my old physics teacher who had lost a couple of digits due to some of his experiments going seriously wrong.

So my point is that millions of people already know and love (or loathe) Tenerife No1 one, but much of Tenerife No2, precisely because it remains firmly Canarian in culture, is still relatively ignored.

And that’s Tenerife. You can have your modern resorts, but equally well you can have quaint villages and historic towns. You can stay in places where the food and the language is familiar, or you can immerse yourself in a culture which has hardly changed in centuries and you have to ask waiters in restaurants what exactly they’ve placed in front of you (in Spanish).

Ultimately, between them the two Tenerifes can provide something to suit the needs of just about anyone…providing they’ve got the right guidebook of course.

Reviews of 'Going Native in Tenerife'

"Some 200 pages will lead you, inform you, and warn you, but always entertain you, as you discover there is so much more to Tenerife than the glossy postcard and brochure versions. All the basic facts you need are here, from the history, geography and culture of the island but they are complimented by practical tips and humorous anecdotes from other long term residents. Going Native is as relevant to a party seeking holiday maker as it is to a dedicated explorer looking to settle in a quiet back water."

Colin Kirby - Writer

Monday, 2 March 2009

Going Native at Tenerife Carnaval 'Photo of the Day' #7

It's a day late thanks to the demands of an excellent and very, very late last night of Carnaval. We've had beauty queens, men dressed as women, giant sardines and girls with not a lot of clothes on, so let's round off these photos of Carnaval 2009 with a cute entry. The Coso Apoteosis (closing parade) was a photographer's dream and the weather was perfect for bringing out the flamboyant colours of the costumes. There were some absolutely wonderful sights to see, but I particularly liked this shot of this beautiful little girl.

Find out more about how to 'Go Native' at Carnaval and other fiestas on Tenerife in 'Going Native in Tenerife'.