Does anybody actually know anything about Tenerife?

Posted: February 1, 2009 in Life, Photos, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

To keep up to date with what’s happening on Tenerife you have to be out and about pretty much constantly. A couple of times a month we head ‘down south’ and this week we travelled to Playa de las Américas (PDLA) and Costa Adeje.

The trip to Playa de las Américas was mainly to research an article we’re writing and to take some photographs; the trip to Costa Adeje was to meet up with some friends, Irene and Dennis, who were on holiday in Tenerife.

The perfect beach...not a grain of sand out of place

The perfect beach...not a grain of sand out of place

I find PDLA one of the most difficult places to photograph on Tenerife. As much of it was built in the 70s, the architecture (apart from a couple of the newer hotels) isn’t particularly inspiring. There are no grand old mansions, quaint cobbled streets or charming harbours; the beaches are immaculate, but that’s part of the problem. Sun beds and palm covered umbrellas lie in neat rows…it’s too regimented.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with it. PDLA is looking clean and pristine and for many visitors it supplies exactly what they want from a holiday; it’s just that for me, apart from the coastline where the surfers hang out, it lacks character.

The coastal promenade, known as the geranium walk, is a pleasant way to see the resort, but at certain points there are packs of lurking timeshare touts waiting to prey on unsuspecting tourists like starving hyenas.

I don’t have a problem with timeshare touts, they’re friendly enough and everybody’s got to make a living, but it becomes tiring hearing ‘Hi mate, avin’ a good holiday?’ ‘Are you English?’ and the likes over and over again.

We were ignored by most; being dressed in long sleeved tops and trousers when everyone else was in shorts and T-shirts, the sun was shining and it was 22 degrees must have been a bit of a clue that we weren’t on holiday. Some didn’t pick up on that and we were stopped a couple of times with a ‘Hi, enjoying your holiday? Where are you guys staying?’

“We’re not on holiday, we live here,” I replied on both occasions.

Of course, they never believe that one, so their counter to this was a suspicious.

“Yeah, whereabouts do you live?” Clearly expecting that my face would turn red, I’d start stammering and then I’d admit I was lying.

“In Puerto,” I answered and in both instances the reaction to this was exactly the same.


One of them even asked if it was on the mainland. Both touts had been on the island a few years, but their knowledge of it outside of the place they worked and lived was virtually non-existent.

The second discourse happened as we were on our way to meet our friends and all the way to their hotel I chuntered on to Andy about how it never ceased to amaze me how many expats living in Tenerife didn’t seem to have much of a clue about the island at all.

We had a lovely time catching up with our friends and time sped by so quickly that we were caught by surprise when a young Canarian friend of theirs, who hails from Santa Cruz and who lived with our friends for a while in the UK, turned up to have dinner with them.

The woman with the big boobies

The woman with the big boobies

Irene introduced us and told us that earlier in the week he’d shown them around Santa Cruz and had taken them to see his favourite female, ‘the woman with the big boobies’ in a lovely park in the capital.

“Ah, Fecundidad,” Andy commented.

he replied.

Andy repeated and then switched to English when he shrugged his shoulders. “…Fertility…in Parque García Sanabria.”

He shrugged again.

Our conversation about the island went from bad to worse as Dennis and Irene’s friend became more embarrassed when he couldn’t identify a picture of a flower on a postcard which Dennis asked him about (it was a strelitzia – the bird of paradise). As I watched him laugh nervously as Andy jokingly chided him for not knowing the island’s most famous flower, previous conversations with two Canarian friends popped into my head.

When we first started to research info about Tenerife, we used to ask them about phrases, or words which we were unable to translate. Their replies were invariably the same.

“I think I was ill the day they taught that at school,” one would reply.

“It was probably a sunny day when they taught that, I’d have gone swimming,” the other would offer as an excuse.

I realised then that it was unfair to level a lack of knowledge of the island at anyone irrespective of whether they were born here or moved here.

It’s our job to know as much as we can about Tenerife for Real Tenerife, Going Native in Tenerife and Living Tenerife. However, when I lived in Stockport  if you’d asked me a question about the town, the chances are I’d have given the same response as the lad from Santa Cruz; shrugged my shoulders.

On the other hand, living on Tenerife and not having heard of Puerto is an offence which is difficult to defend.

  1. This is a very nice article to playa de las America’s such a nice occassion to travelling and take some photographs. The playa de la America’s beach is very clean and many peoples are want to going for a holiday……

  2. Stephen says:

    We have been living here for over 6 years now and there are such a lot of places that we have to explore.

    We always try to take our visitors from the UK away from the ‘holiday areas’ and we are never surprised at their reactions to the ‘rest of Tenerife’ – they love it but didn’t know that it existed!

  3. dragojac says:

    Hi Stephen, sounds as though you’ve been here about the same time as us.

    Yup, we get exactly the same reaction, especially from those who’ve pigeon holed the island as being nothing more than one big holiday resort.

    Despite feeling as though we’ve driven up every road to nowhere and trudged through every town, we still discover little surprises all the time.

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