Monday, 26 October 2009

Another Month Going Native in Tenerife – Bikers, Neo Hippies, Marauding Clowns and Surreal Killer Whales.

It doesn’t feel as though there was as much going on this month. The fiestas have slowed to a bit of standstill (on Tenerife that means there are only a handful of them as opposed to one every other day) and we’ve moved into the winter season – the temperature in town yesterday was around 33 degrees Celsius.

The Germans and British are returning to Puerto de la Cruz (I spotted a woman sunbathing in her bra on the harbour beach – a sure sign that the British winter visitors are back) and the vibrancy of the summer months is slowing down to a more sedate pace (until Carnaval kicks in of course).

However, that’s not to say that there’s been nothing happening.

Eco Warriors
We started the month at a lovely little Eco Fest in Los Silos, still one of Tenerife’s secret spots. The bohemians were out in force and unless you were sporting dreadlocks, wearing Arabian pants, or had an impossibly cute mongrel in tow the chances were that you’d be feeling a wee bit dull amongst the hordes of cool looking dudes. Unfortunately the music was crap, courtesy of some incompetent sound engineers.

Hell’s Angels in Garachico
The same night saw leather clad bikers converge on the sleepy picturesque town of Garachico. It was on the same stretch of road as the Eco Fest so we had a two-fest night out. Some of the people were as eye catching as the neo hippies but for different reasons – note: leather mini skirt, fishnets and thigh length boots is a difficult look to pull off when you’re in your 60s. Good music at this one though.

Colourful Killers and Clowns with Frowns
Santa Cruz has featured quite a lot in our travels this month and although we got nowhere with a fashion feature we had planned, we did get to see some surreal killer whales and finally manage a couple of half decent profile photos where we don’t sport expressions like Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. 

There’s always something interesting going on in the capital and although I wasn’t overly excited by the idea of a clown street festival (bloody scary things if you ask me) it turned out be quite good fun. Although some of the laughs were unintentional. An Australian clown, Oskar, whose Spanish was limited, ran into serious problems during his ‘sound check’. Every time he started playing a little guitar to check the sound levels a lot of the audience began clapping along. Telling them 'Sssshh, this is a sound check’ in English got him nowhere and every time he strummed, they clapped making his sound check virtually impossible. The expression on his face wasn’t particularly that of a friendly clown – it made me laugh, but I did feel for him.

Three Walks in One Day
A lot of people have been asking about walking on Tenerife, so we figured that we’d better crack on with writing some more ‘Island Walks’ and set ourselves the target of three walks in one day around the Adeje/Arona areas.  It was hard going, but we managed it. I’m sure that when we limped into the plaza in San Miguel, tired and dusty looking and then performed a series of leg stretches which really don’t help with any street cred, but do cut down on potential aches and pains (although from the noises Andy made every time she moved the following day, I thought she’d learned Mandarin during the night), the locals in their nice clothes turning up for mass must have thought we were just a pair of odd extranjeros.

Much more fun was a trip around Las Arenas Negras with our friends Nikki, Richard and Baz of Tenerife Dogs fame, especially when the route signposts deserted us and paths became virtually non existent. Still, a beer and an almond cake at the end of the walk in the sunshine just rounded off a very nice day and a great walk.

The end of the period was taking up by working on the final preparations for Tenerife Magazine, the island’s first online English language magazine, which was launched at the end of last week.

We’re working with some really excellent and talented people and are very excited about the project. The magazine also has a great competition to win a week at Sands Beach in Lanzarote which is open to anyone who becomes a fan on Facebook, so sign up and get your name in for the draw.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things out, like our running battle with the local supermarket over ‘creative pricing’ and the beautiful sunsets and monster waves which coincide with the change of seasons and some outrageous political shenanigans.

All in all, it was just your average month on Tenerife.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Why Would Anyone Have Wanted to Live in the South of Tenerife?

It’s a question which crossed my mind as we sat eating lunch on an abandoned terrace in a little valley tucked away in the hills above Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje. It was miles from any decent sized town, the earth was dry and hard and unwelcoming and yet there were empty agricultural terraces lining every slope.

There weren’t many people who made their home in the south of Tenerife before tourism brought the masses and the promise of sunshine and year round warmth made it a desirable place to live, but I wondered what sort of people they were and why they chose to settle in a place which must have been incredibly difficult to farm.

A girl in the Los Cristianos tourist office once told me that when she was young her parents used to bring her to Los Cristianos, but at that time there was hardly anything there. A lot of the inhabitants were fishermen living in caves. She said most of the people there were very poor. It makes sense when you think about it.

Until tourism changed the south coast all the well to do and educated people lived north of Güímar. The north coast is peppered with the most beautiful and grand haciendas, but south of Güímar you’re hard pressed to find anything which comes close to these historic buildings. The best lands (i.e. those in the north) were dished out to the noblemen, therefore the settlers who ended up with plots in the arid lands in the south must have been the poorest of the poor, unable to afford decent land in the more agriculturally friendly areas.

As for the fellow who occupied the remote abandoned valley, he really must have been at the bottom of the ladder, or maybe he was an outlaw, or even a pirate. It’s documented that slave traders operated out of the area and that pirates were in cahoots with some of the wealthier families hereabouts, so maybe he tended his farm some of the time and headed off with other miscreants to Africa to capture slaves the rest of the time. Maybe my imagination was running away with me.

I took a bite out of my bocadillo and gazed over the line of fancy new hotels in upmarket Costa Adeje which had replaced the cave dwelling fishermen, peasant farmers and outlaws and smiled.

How times change. It’s a funny old world.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Passing Time

I was just thinking about how long we’d lived on Tenerife when it suddenly struck me that it must be very close to our sixth anniversary of moving here. Sure enough, checking the calendar, it was six years ago today that Jack and I arrived on the island to start our new life.

It’s funny to think back to our hopes, fears and expectations when we first got here. Two years ago when this anniversary came around, I took stock of what we’d achieved versus our expectations and looking back on that blog, I think it might be time to do a quick progress report.

1.    Speaking Spanish. I remember saying to Jack as we came into land that we’d probably have to give ourselves 6 months to ‘get used to the language’ before deciding how we were going to make a living here. Six years later I still can’t get over the mind-numbing stupidity and arrogance of that remark. Okay, the current season of ‘Cuétame Cómo Pasó’ is easier to understand than it’s ever been before but it’s still a bit like having an online Spanish lesson and not at all the relaxing experience of watching, say Coronation Street.
2.    Earn a living. I like Jack’s descriptor of this one: “we now earn a livi’ which is almost a living.” Luckily, our taste in cava is still cheap so we can pop a bottle tonight to mark the occasion.
3.    Learn Salsa – I’m afraid a livi’ doesn’t run to salsa lessons.
4.    Earn a living from writing – see 2. above.
5.    Be happy. Yay! Still putting a big, fat tick in that box…most of the time anyway (see 2. above)

So here’s to another year of near perpetual sunshine, forgetting how to walk in high heels, never having to paint a radiator and Going Native in Tenerife…salut!