The Ups and Downs of Living on Tenerife

Posted: December 20, 2008 in Life, Spain, Tenerife
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
The first fire of the year

The first fire of the year

As is so often the case, it’s been a mixed week in terms of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’. Our new book, Going Native in Tenerife just came out in print, so clearly that’s a big ‘up’, the depressing weather, or as Julie from Tenerife Tattle put it, the dreich and dreary weather changed on Wednesday and the blue skies and warm weather returned (to the north of the island anyway), although having acclimatised over the last five years, we’re still wearing our jumpers when we go out.

We managed to get our Christmas decorations up relatively early for us, without too much pain and stress as I balance acrobatically at the end of a ladder trying to create Andy’s vision of a ‘simple, rustic theme’. I have to hand it to her, I’m always a bit sceptical at the start, but am a complete convert when I see the completed ‘creation’. Another up.

With the weather being a bit on the cool side at night, we lit the fire for the first time this year and cracked a bottle of cava to celebrate the publication of the book. That was lovely and cosy and with the decorations in pace, the house felt very Christmassy.

A minimalist and rustic approach to Xmas deccies in our house

A minimalist and rustic approach to Xmas deccies in our house

Then Thursday dawned and we sat down to crack on with work – no internet signal. The electricity flow had clearly decided to take an early Christmas break, leaving a version of a skeleton signal in its place. Strong enough for lights, TV etc, but not strong enough for the router. For the rest of the day the signal was on and off like a tart’s drawers. Cue a rant about the how backward Tenerife can be when in the 21st century you can’t be guaranteed a constant flow of electricity.

But this being Tenerife, we decided to do nothing and hope that it was back to normal the next day. It wasn’t.

I phoned the electricity company and told them that the electricity was ‘bajo tension’. They didn’t seem at all surprised and said that they would send round a technician. Ninety minutes later I met the technician (a little man with a white van and one of those machines for testing electricity current) in the car park an we trudged up to the contador (leccie meter) which is on the road about a hundred metres away from the house.

Despite the problems with the electricity and being unable to work properly, I felt in pretty good spirits. The sun was shining and I was having a good Spanish day. I’d understood everything the girl had told me on the telephone and she had understood me and it was the same with the technician (normally I’m a seventy percenter – I understand about 70% of what people are saying to me).

“You’ve not got any electricity?”
he asked.
“No, that’s not the problem,” I explained. “The current seems to be too low to get an internet signal.”
“Ah, the computer,” he nodded. “It’s always the computer.”
I didn’t quite understand that, so I ignored it.

He opened the contador and checked the current.
“It’s normal,” he announced. “You don’t have a problem.”
He showed me the reading; it was 210.
“Shouldn’t that be 220?”
“Sometimes it’s 230, sometimes it’s 210, or lower,” he shrugged his shoulders and smiled. ”There’s a lot of usage at the moment, so it’s down, but it’s within normal limits.”

And that was that. Nothing I could do about it and no point in getting annoyed – this is Tenerife (TIT). The amount of work I can get done is determined by the fickle nature of what is quite obviously an electricity system on Tenerife which mirrors the ‘mas o menos’ culture. Sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down.

I know exactly how it feels.

  1. joan beadle says:

    Hi- I’ve just booked a few days of sunshine in the new year staying in Puerto de la cruz and was delighted to find your website-(just ordered the ‘going native’ book from amazon)
    I remembered you both from the spanish class at Cervantes in Manchester -I don’t know if you remember me- anyway just thought I’d say Hi and glad to see you living the dream.
    Joan x

    • dragojac says:

      Jeez Joan, of course we remember you (I’m getting on a bit, but my memory ain’t that bad… yet).
      I’ve only just seen your comment; I don’t know how I missed it – blame the festive season.

      When are you coming to Puerto? I hope we haven’t missed you. It would be nice to meet up again.

      Funny thing about learning Spanish at Cervantes, when we arrived here the Spanish we learned there seemed like a different language compared to Canarian Spanish (there are a lot of dropped consonents here).

      Jack x

      P.S. Bless you for buying the book

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