Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Living in Another Culture – Living on Tenerife is Different… Honest #1

One of the funny things about Tenerife is that its modern image has been shaped more by tourism over the last 40 years than the reality of what life on most of Tenerife is really like and has been like for 500 years.

The British Guild of Travel Writers held their annual general meeting on Tenerife recently and Andy and I attended their gala dinner where we got chatting to a number of the members.

I found that when I was asked ‘why did you move to Tenerife?’ and I answered ‘to experience living in a different culture’ (that was the pretentious answer – the lure of warm weather also figured highly) that I also felt obliged to explain that living anywhere outside of the main, purpose built resorts can be like living a million miles from the Tenerife that many had an image of in their minds.

I sat next to a charming lady at the BGTW dinner who spent 4 months of the year on the island of Zante in Greece. We swapped stories about the quirks of life in another culture – good and bad. She told me of the mayor who used the police as his personal heavies; arresting people who he didn’t like and arranging when holes in roads were repaired that the ones in front of the house of people who didn’t vote for him were left unfilled. I countered with the Tenerife mayor who posted a policeman outside of the butterfly gardens to deter visitors because of a personal dispute and another mayor who recently had three young journalists physically removed by the police from a public session of the council because they were posting news straight onto the web – clearly he’s not quite up to scratch with this new-fangled internet thingy.

Mostly though, our stories were about the positive quirks – and thank god these outweigh the ones that have you turning all Herbert Lom in The Pink Panther movies. It’s been what we call a frustrating TIT of a week (This Is Tenerife). But it was nice to share tales with someone from outside of the island who confirmed my suspicions that getting to grips with a different culture wherever you are usually involves a willingness to accept that things may not be quite as organised, or work as smoothly as you've been used to. But then that's part of the charm...most of the time.

1 comment:

James Tweedie said...

I certainly didn't move here just to eat steak and kidney pies washed down with Watney's Pale Ale!