The third incident of the day was one of those infuriating and bewildering TIT (this is Tenerife) experiences.
At the end of a long day in the south we just wanted to get back home as quickly as possible. At that time of night, when the motorway is quiet, around fifty minutes normally does the trick.
We were going great guns until we passed the airport. If you’ve driven on the TF1 motorway at night you’ll know that a lot of it isn’t lit. Good for light pollution, but not for spotting a row of cones which suddenly appeared out of the blackness forcing me into one lane and then off the motorway altogether. I spotted them almost as I hit them and followed the slip road onto a road running parallel with the TF1 and an unmoving line of traffic stretching into the distance.
“WTF” I exclaimed. It was 10.30pm and we were gridlocked in the darkness.
Eventually we moved forward at a snail’s pace. Up ahead I could see JCB’s and a load of workmen, but there was no work actually taking place on the motorway itself. It seemed to take us forever to crawl forward, which seemed odd as there couldn’t have been much other traffic from anywhere else interfering with our progress.
As we reached the workmen’s lights the two causes of the traffic queue were revealed.
Workmen were working on a bridge over the TF1 and there was a large rig on the motorway itself under the bridge. Fair enough if you have to carry out work, night-time, when traffic is light, is the sensible time to do it.
However, the actual cause of the queue had me wishing I had a machine gun to hand. I’m surprised that unemployment is so high in Spain because, despite the fact that there was no traffic coming in any other direction, they had not one, not two, but three idiots directing our queue of traffic…or more accurately making a right old balls up of trying to keep the traffic moving.
One of them had one of those ‘stop’ and ‘go’ signs with which he was waving traffic forward. His two colleagues were stood in the middle of the road waving their arms about willy nilly.
This was causing all sorts of consternation as the road back on to the motorway lay straight ahead and the road the guys seemed to be gesticulating towards headed bizarrely to El Médano.
I say bizarrely, cause if you know this road you’ll know that you can’t get back to the TF1 from it. Well, actually you can if you head south – in the direction we’d just come. But then you’d end up hitting the roadworks again, being directed to El Médano again…and so on forever and ever.
We made a snap decision, ignored the goons on the road and took what seemed to be the logical route – straight across and back on to the motorway. Ominously nobody followed us; the whole line of traffic turned right towards El Médano as directed.
As we drove into the darkness I kept one eye on my rear view mirror hoping that some lights would enter it, and that if they did they weren’t blue flashing ones, but none came. It was completely unnerving and we expected at any moment to turn a corner and plough into a load of workmen even though we knew that the workmen’s apparent detour didn’t make any sense. There was simply no way to get back on to the motorway other than the route we had taken. After about five minutes I saw red up ahead and we caught up with one car, then another and another and relief swept over us. We’d made the right decision.
God knows what happened with everyone else in that queue – they’d have reached El Médano and then what? I imagine that there would have been some pretty pissed-off drivers when they realised that the idiots at the bridge had sent them to what amounted to a dead end. Hundreds of cars had followed their bizarre detour.
Sometimes, some might say a little bit too often, we encounter behaviour on Tenerife that is difficult to rationalise. It can be amusing, bewildering or annoying as hell. But as long as you know to expect the unexpected and to follow your instincts rather than cerebrally challenged morons in yellow jackets, then it might just be possible for an intelligent and logically minded person to survive living here with their sanity intact.