Oh the gift that God could give us…

Posted: August 23, 2007 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel

There’s a rather strange creature that inhabits some parts of Tenerife; the ex-pat who looks down their noses at tourists. Now, I don’t mean those tourists who just want to come to a version of their own country, except with sunshine; are ignorant, rude to locals, disrespectful of local customs etc, etc. We all look down our noses at them. I mean tourists in general. It’s an odd condition as every one of us who wasn’t born here probably first came as a tourist, so I don’t really understand it.

I saw an example of this type of snobbery the other day in a small resort on the west of the island. I was standing behind an English woman in a queue outside a council office, waiting to pay some bills for a friend. She was chatting on her mobile to a friend, telling her that the day before she’d had to “mingle with the tourists in Playa las Americas”. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but it was the way that she pronounced ‘tourists’ that riled me. She said it the way you’d say ‘I’ve got dog dirt on my shoe’.

The odd thing about this comment was that the office we were standing outside was smack bang in the centre of what is pure and simply a tourist resort, albeit a very pleasant one. Most of it didn’t even exist twenty years ago and the voices which could be predominantly heard on the streets around me were English. Not exactly your typical Canarian town then.

The icing on the cake happened when it was her turn to go to the counter. She made no attempt to talk to the clerk in Spanish, instead spoke to her a though she was in a council office in blighty!

So she lived in a resort and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, attempt to speak in Spanish. I’m still trying to figure out what she thought made her superior to people who were simply here enjoying their vacations.

  1. quintessentquirk says:

    I agree with that, 100%. I think it is absolutely VITAL to attempt to learn the local language. How can you not? You’ll *never* truly integrate & be accepted into the local culture unless you can communicate with the local people. In my opinion, we are immigrants, not merely expatriates. After 2 years I am now fluent in Spanish.

    You might want to come and take a look at my “life in Tenerife” blog.

    Thanks, Leslie.

  2. dragojac says:

    Unfortunately, fluency still seems to elude me. I can read Spanish pretty well and have a decent vocabulary – in theory (of course thinking how to conjugate my verbs always leads to responses via satellite), If only I could just figure out the actual words that people are saying.
    Mind you, I’m comforted by the fact that I’ve overheard conversations between Canarios where they have to confirm what the other is actually talking about – all that random dropping of s’ doesn’t make it easy for anyone!

    Agree about the whole expat thing. One of the reasons I moved here was to experience living in a different culture, not to move to the same country with better weather.

    Have already seen and enjoyed your blog; captures the wonderful, if sometimes frustrating as hell, quirkiness of the island.

  3. Nikki says:

    I totally agree with what your saying. Its just plain rude if you don’t at least make a attempt to learn the local language.

    Check out our site “Musings from El Medano”

    Cheers Nikki

  4. dragojac says:

    Will do.
    El Medano is one of my favourite places in the south, I like its character; quite different than anywhere else on the island.

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