The sad truth is that I fell out of love with Tenerife in June 2011. But I didn’t realise I’d fallen out of love with the place…until it charmed me back again.
Saying I’d fallen out of love with Tenerife is a bit misleading. Whatever happens in the future, Tenerife will always hold a special place. It wasn’t the island I was tired with, it was some of the people who inhabit it.
I can trace the problem back to our trip to Costa Brava in early May. There we met professional, forward looking and ethical people who put themselves second to what was best for the location they were promoting.
It highlighted for me that this isn’t always the case on Tenerife. On returning to the island this growing dissatisfaction with how things and businesses are run here was added to by an unfortunate sequence of experiences. The sad thing about Tenerife is that I now expect a lack of knowledge and professionalism…and I’m rarely disappointed. There are examples of business practices here that would be laughed out of any serious business in the more savvy parts of Europe. People who don’t turn up for appointments or worse, bugger off somewhere when they’ve made an appointment don’t appear big or important to me. They come across as unprofessional and incompetent. Busking doesn’t make me think they’re knowledgeable and flashing bling doesn’t impress it merely makes me think that the person hasn’t a clue about what they’re talking about and that they’re crass.
When you’re used to dealing with highly professional people, as we were before we moved to Tenerife, dealing with people who employ the business tactics above is just depressing as hell. So, after an unusual run of experiences related to the above, by the middle of June I was well and truly hacked off with the place.
There’s a story super video blogger Diego Pons told me recently about sheep standing in the way of the Transcantábrico luxury train in Asturias. The train driver blared his horn but the sheep didn’t move. He hit the horn again and again, but still they stood on the track, their blank eyes staring at the oncoming train until it ploughed straight into them. They were too dumb to move out of the way of what was inevitable. Sometimes business dealings on Tenerife remind me of those sheep.
But then came the week beginning with the 23rd June. And what happened that week swept all the buskers and bling brigade under the carpet.
A sultry night in Santa Cruz listening to wild man Andy J. Forest growl his way through spicy Louisiana blues whilst swigging from can after can of beer, playing a harmonica and what looked like my mother’s washing board as well as entertaining us with tales of nonsense brought me back. Santa Blues reminded me what I’d been dealing with over the previous few weeks wasn’t the real Tenerife.
The next morning I dragged myself out of bed to watch goatherds and caballeros from the Orotava Valley drag their livestock kicking and screaming into the harbour waters of Puerto de la Cruz.
The following evening at a music festival I stood beside an old fort at Playa Jardín as the sun illuminated Mount Teide. It was a sight that caused one of the performers at the European Music Day concert to gasp and proclaim it was the most beautiful setting for a concert she’d seen.
A day later I was at my neighbour’s Moroccan barbecue with people who were the antithesis of those who’d caused me to fall out of love with Tenerife; a Canarian teacher from La Camella with her two talented sons; one of whom was a musician/painter the other a marine biologist with his charming wife. They were smart, witty, interesting and interested and despite their obvious talents possessed absolutely no airs and graces.
A few days after that I was strolling the streets of La Laguna admiring the Corpus Christi flower carpets when a girl engaged me in conversation because I was photographing her friend’s alfombra. We debated (me poorly as it was in Spanish) whether La Orotava’s or La Laguna’s flower carpets were the best whilst people around us ooh’d and aah’d at the displays. I’m never completely comfortable talking in Spanish, but I felt more comfortable on that old street than I had during the first part of the month when most of the dealings had been in my own language.
By the end of the week these experiences reminded me why I feel so passionate about Tenerife. The antidote to falling out of love with Tenerife had been to dive deep into the real Tenerife once again and completely cleanse my body and soul of that other place.