Working on Tenerife – A clue to the ‘Mas o Menos’ culture?

Posted: January 18, 2009 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

To reach the main road into Puerto de la Cruz we have to drive through banana plantations. In theory it’s along a tarmac road, well it might have been once, but that was, as they say in best ‘Star Wars’ fashion, a long time ago.

These days, somewhat like myself, it’s looking a bit the worse for wear. Having banana trucks trundle along it on a regular basis has left the road strewn with pot holes and negotiating it requires a certain amount of weaving to avoid wrecking the suspension. God forbid that the Guardia Civil are ever behind me as they’d never believe I hadn’t been at the hard stuff if they were witness to my attempts at avoiding the mini craters which litter the surface.

However, every so often a road crew from the local council comes along and fills the holes in with big blobs of tar (clearly no attempt at a long term solution) making driving on it a wee bit easier, for a short time at least.

After the rain at the beginning of December, the holes had multiplied and deepened to the extent that driving along the road was akin to riding a bucking bronco, so last week a crew had obviously been despatched to fill in the holes.

They had completed half of the road by the time we drew level with their truck at about 10.00 am and had taken a break for second breakfast (they follow the hobbit philosophy on Tenerife).
Applying the sort of common sense that is only too prevalent here, the road gang were sitting on the wall directly opposite their truck. Now the banana road isn’t really wide enough for two cars, let alone a car and a truck, so I had to slow down to a crawl to avoid crushing any toes on my way past. This gave me time to have a nosey at what this particular crew’s second breakfast consisted of. It also gave me an insight into:

  1. Why jobs on Tenerife can take an eternity to finish and…
  2. Why the workmanship may be a tad on the casual side.

Because at least two of the workmen were ‘spliffing in’.

When I mentioned it to my neighbour, he was amused at my astonishment.

“It’s normal,” he laughed. “When I was working laying an athletics track in a sports stadium once, we spent most of the day drinking beer and smoking joints.”

After five years, the difference between the work ethic I was used to in Britain and the casual approach to the work ethic here still amazes me.

But it does explain a lot.

You have to laugh…or go insane. Some days it’s a close call.

  1. Pamela says:

    Yes, I smiled at your astonishment too, not just because I know how normal it is in Tenerife, but also because I know of people who did that before going, suited up, to office jobs in the UK.

  2. dragojac says:

    Fair Point. That’s my naivety showing because I’m still a country bumpkin from a small island at heart…wait a minute, so were they!!!

    Our friend told us about a couple of workmen in La Gomera who were tasked with erecting new telephone poles in the valley in which she lived. After two weeks they hadn’t managed to erect a single pole. Same thing; every day they sat in their van smoking dope and drinking beer.

    Some people’s dream job, I guess!

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