Thursday, 24 September 2009

Did You Hear the One About the Canario, the Swallow and the First Time Visitors to Tenerife?

I’m nosey, I confess it. I listen in to other people’s conversations all the time. I don’t do it deliberately, but clearly I’ve got one of those built in triggers which kicks in when it hears certain key words.

Last night the words which set it off were ‘giant moth’.

The conversation was taking place between a Canarian barman, a newly arrived pair of British swallows (people who spend the winter in Tenerife and fly back to their home country for summer) and a sweet young couple who were visiting the island for the first time. They'd found themselves staying way off the tourist trail in Isla Baja and had been travelling into Puerto de la Cruz in the evening for a bit of nightlife.

I’d already warmed to the young couple earlier as they had a lovely fresh enthusiasm for learning about Tenerife and had spent a lot of time asking the barman how to say certain things in Spanish. He duly obliged, only coming unstuck when they asked him to translate ‘cider and black’ into Spanish.

Anyway, I’d stopped listening until I heard the words ‘giant moth’. The young couple had moved on from asking the barman how to ask for a ‘roll’ or ‘sea bass’ in Spanish and had started telling a couple of swallows next to them about their exploits.

Seemingly they’d been out and about quite a lot, using only public transport, and that day had visited Icod de los Vinos to see the famous ‘Millenium Drago Tree’. The lad was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t actually shaped like a dragon, but what had impressed them both was a visit to the ‘Mariposario’ butterfly park next to the Drago Tree – especially a little or rather, more accurately, frighteningly mutant sized, fellow called ‘Atticus Atlas’.

The Mariposario is a fascinating place to visit and the young couple were clearly blown away by the experience, if a little freaked by encountering a ‘butterfly’ the size of a blackbird.  However, it was the conversation which followed which really interested me. As they enthused about the butterfly park, they asked the swallows if they’d been – they hadn’t. They asked them if they’d been to see the Drago tree – again they hadn’t. Despite having visited the island yearly since before the young couple they were talking to were born, they had never made the 20 minute journey down the coast to see one of Tenerife’s icons. As the young couple rattled off more places, the answers came back, ‘no, not been there’, ‘no, haven’t actually seen that.’

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this type of conversation between ‘interested’ new visitors and people who have visited year after year for the last couple of decades.

I sometimes wonder if some seasoned visitors can become complacent and forget that they haven’t actually seen all there is to see on Tenerife.

The young couple engaged the barmen in the conversation and asked him if he’d seen the ‘super moth.’

“Why would I pay to see a butterfly?” He shrugged his shoulders dismissing the world’s largest butterfly just like that.

It seems it’s not just veteran visitors who can become complacent about getting out and about to discover the best of this island.


scotrock said...

I visited the Mariposario two years ago while on Christmas holiday on Tenerife. It was indeed an unexpected gem. I wasn't as happy with the girl who took my entrance fee though when she asked me if I was a senior citizen!

Nikki in Tropical Park said...

Have to say I haven't seen the butterflys but as I am not too keen on then I am not feeling guilty. To winbter in the North for 20 years and not to have seen the Dragon tree is shamful. That said I know folk who holiday in the south and in nearly that many years haven't been to Teide so it is certainly general.
Thanis for the photos.

Real Tenerife said...

What I want to know scotrock is - did you protest loudly at this outrage, or did you keep quiet and pay a discounted pensioner's rate as compensation? lol

Real Tenerife said...

I can't say that I'd go out of my way to see a butterfly park if I was being honest. We were writing an article about it, so it was work.

But I was completely won over by the place and the staff's dedication to what they were doing. I found it quite magical.

I know there a plenty of people who want to go on holiday and simply chill out which is fine... we're all different.

It's just that they're never going to experience those unforgettable 'WOW' moments that you get when you go 'exploring'.

scotrock said...

Neither, really. I denied that I qualified and paid full rate.

My vanity was hurt more than anything. I'm still closer to 50 than 60 and I firmly believe that I don't look a day over 30, well 35, ok 40!

BTW, Going Native in Tenerife is the best guidebook to Tenerife that I have read. It has given me all sorts of new things to do this Christmas. My only "complaint" or "wish for the next edition" is that you tell us poor visitors where we can park. Centro Martianez works in Puerto but I have no idea where to park in Santa Cruz though and La Laguna is a disaster.

I bought my copy from The Book Depository...a great site and with much better shipping costs for those of us on the wrong side of the Atlantic!

Real Tenerife said...

Thanks scotrock,

Your comments about the book are really appreciated.

And an extra thanks for giving me the subject of the next Going Native blog. Hopefully it might help you with future visits.