There’s an episode of The West Wing where Josh Lyman, against the advice of his assistant Donna, logs in to an online chat forum to correct an inaccuracy. Of course it all goes wrong and Josh finds himself batting off abusive replies. People, generally speaking, don’t like to be told they’re mistaken.

Every so often I come across something on the web that’s been written about Tenerife that has me furiously typing a comment to correct some outrageous assumption, perception or downright fiction. However, the smart part of me tells Andy what I’m doing prompting the warning‘remember what happened with Josh,’.

Usually at that point the sarcastic/outraged/acidic comment is deleted. But over the past few weeks my finger has disobeyed my brain and screeched towards the send button before I could stop it. The  authors of the pieces haven’t exactly welcomed my ‘constructive’ assistance. These included a holidaymaker, a copywriter and a travel blogger.

The Holidaymaker
Some guy left this comment on my twitter account – ‘(Tenerife) is a barren land in desperate need of some good old Spanish culture, as well as a few sandy beaches, but the parks were fun!’

His comment suggested a few things. He stayed somewhere where there was very little Spanish culture, it was barren and there were no beaches (I’m guessing somewhere like Costa del Silencio or Golf del Sur). It also was clear that he hadn’t ventured out of his resort except to somewhere like Siam Park. I replied by linking to a photo of the Anaga Mountains and Playa las Teresitas with the comment ‘I take it you haven’t been here or here then?’ thinking that it had more impact to show him his knowledge was…err…limited rather than tell him. But no, instead I entered the Josh scenario. This was the reply.

‘No I didn’t, but face it, there aren’t many beaches and the vast majority of the land could use a lot more rain..’

Forget facts, reality or anything like that. This guy just knew better. Verdict – Ignorance. No more time wasted there.

The Copywriter
There was one of those copy-written blogs sponsored by a travel company a couple of weeks ago that was so riddled with howlers about Tenerife that I felt I had to comment. One of these was that gofio was a type of meal that you ordered in a restaurant. When I pointed out that gofio was grain that was toasted and milled etc. they came back with a defiant ‘no it isn’t, it’s a meal’. Although the author had never been to Tenerife  they felt confident enough to argue the point because they had a source – another blog where there had been a few incorrect assumptions made. There was a lesson to be learned by this copywriter. Never write copy about a place you don’t know by using only the one source.
Verdict – ignorance again.

The Travel Blogger
One of the world’s best known travel bloggers was in Tenerife on a flying visit recently – 48 hours in and out again. It’s difficult to establish a rounded picture of a location in 48 hours but sometimes when you’re travel-writing you don’t have much choice and if you talk to the right people you can at least get a flavour of a place. But there is clearly a danger that some of your perceptions won’t be always right on the mark and it was clear from the subsequent short blogs that some assumptions had been made. When an indigenous resident added a political comment to a blog about The Canary Islands, the blogger felt that they knew enough to argue the toss with them. After only a few days in a place it’s pretty impressive to stray into political discussions…or arrogant. I had also added a comment but when an equally bullish reply was posted, decided, like the first of my examples, that there would be no concessions here.

The One I Didn’t Reply To
I didn’t leave a comment on the one that had left me most speechless with its seriously skewed perception. Actually it left me aghast…and there aren’t many situations where that word pops into my head. Somebody on holiday in Puerto de la Cruz had started a thread on an English language forum asking if anyone knew of any decent restaurants as they had only been able to find the usual tourist haunts with pics of food outside them.
What had me ‘aghast’ was this reply from a resident living in the south of Tenerife – ‘it’s not the greatest place for food, we didn’t find much.’

To describe Puerto as ‘not the greatest place for food’ shows that whatever they did experience , it wasn’t the Puerto I know. The town boasts approx 300 restaurants  from rustic traditional to chic modern Canarian/ Mediterranean fusion; wonderful harbour-side fish restaurants; restaurants in old Canarian mansions and houses, stylish tapas bars, Spanish and so on. But it doesn’t really have any decent British restaurants, so maybe it depends what personal preferences are. But the point was that someone felt they knew it enough to make that judgement to the online world even though their perception was way off  the mark.

It was probably the one that most deserved a comment but by this time I was ‘Joshed’ out and anyway what the hell, savvy visitors will always be able to tell the difference between knowledge and nonsense. As it happened a few other forum members diplomatically ignored the comment and posted some more usefully accurate advice.

With all of the above it’s not about getting it wrong, we all make mistakes or have perceptions based on our own experience that may not be 100% accurate. It’s about how you react when someone with a different view – or information – engages with you.

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Comments
  1. Nikki says:

    To comment you can’t eat well in any town on the island is laughable. But in the nirth even more so.
    My other half often asks me why I bother when I comment on inaccuracies about the island but sometimes you can’t not comment.
    Would you share the link from the travel writer?

    • dragojac says:

      Totally agree Nikki about the restaurants and commenting. Sometimes you just have to do it – especially when you feel strongly about Tenerife. I didn’t include the link to the blogger because it didn’t feel right to do so as it was more about their attitude than what they said. I was just taken aback that they felt informed enough to ‘correct’ someone who clearly felt strongly about politics here (their username ‘el Guanche’ was a bit of a clue to their political stance). I’m an opinionated git but I wouldn’t in a million years dream of lecturing a local about the politics of a place I’d only been in a couple of days.

  2. Les Bedell says:

    Even the ‘barrenness’ of Costa Del Silencio and Golf del Sur is a wondrous feature of Tenerife. The beauty and the tranquil splendour is best experienced by walking along a route starting from the base of Amarilla mountain (a large hill really) at the end of Calle Chasna, Costa Del Silencio before 15mins sunrise. When you reach the top watch how the vibrant colours of the scenery come alive as the sun wakes slowly rising, the shadows dance, the discovery of hidden coves, secret places revealed. Birds awakening and protesting at your presence, diving towards you and directing you away from their nests or their young. The rabbits scuttling through the cacti and the impossible fauna thrusting out from rocks that just a few decades ago were devoid of life. Continue the walk towards Golf Del Sur in the distance either across country or hugging the coast line stopping to explore the many inlets and coves. Once at Golf Del Sur either walk on to Los Abrigos or walk back through the protected park area towards the outskirts of Costa Del Silencio and on to Las Galletas arriving in time to see the local fishermen display their early morning catch. Observe the village awake from its slumber and the restrained bustle as workers jostle for breakfast in the many bars and cafes before they reluctantly head for their workplace. Take the coast walk back to Chasna. Las Galletas and Costa Del Silencio are a unique pairing. They contain all that is and was bad about the development of Tenerife influenced by tourism and all that is good. The ugly concrete structures will remain for years just as they will all over the world a testament to greed, corruption and commercialism. But the good, the beauty and sincerity of those who love the land remains, sometimes hidden and you often have to search for it. It is there.

    • dragojac says:

      Nicely put, Les. There are some incredible rock formations along that coast and I’m totally with you regarding Las Galletas. I like it a lot. Costa del Silencio though…chalk and cheese.

  3. Tell me about it! I recently came across a comment from someone who is a British resident of the island which made me see red, and it was far from the first time. What I don’t get is why people bother to travel if they don’t see further than their noses. This is more to do with the type of “traveler” than the island as such, I think. I remember going to Florida years ago, and eating wonderful seafood and other such, coming back ran into someone who’d been there around the same time who moaned about the fast food – clearly they hadn’t looked beyond the perceptions they took with them. I really can’t see the point, although, like you, sometimes I can’t resist, in trying to correct that kind of person. It’s futile, as Aaron Sorkin realized!

    PS Is that blogger who I think it is?

    • dragojac says:

      Sometimes residents can be the biggest culprits in dishing out wrong information – things picked up from a friend of a friend etc. I’ve heard (as I’m sure you have) some absolute crackers but if it’s in an enclosed forum I tend to leave them to it. I agree it’s more to do with the traveller than the place that is being visited. You can’t beat getting out and about exploring…combined with a bit of research. Those hidden gems (travel cliche I know) just aren’t going to come knocking on your door but some people hardly stray from the street outside their hotel. There’s a woman on TripAdvisor who regularly insists that Puerto doesn’t have a beach – has me pulling my hair out every time…and at my age I can’t afford to do that.

      PS Yes 🙂

  4. trixfred30 says:

    Now I’m worried – we stayed in Adeje for a week and I wrote this http://happinessstanlives.wordpress.com/category/holidays/going-abroad/
    Would you mind putting me straight – eg I noticed a new road being built along the West Coast – how long till its finished?
    Any feedback would be gratefully received!

    • dragojac says:

      LOL- no worries, good posts. I enjoyed them.
      Good question about the road and on Tenerife, where projects can stretch to infinity and beyond, one that isn’t easy to answer. A map we picked up when we arrived in Puerto de la Cruz 8 years ago identifies the local car park as ‘the Future Maritime Park. It’s now around 40 years and counting since that plan was first suggested.
      You road is part of a controversial ring road linking the south west and north west coasts. Nobody really wanted it (except the politicians and probably tour operators) as the current road is a lovely drive through some cracking countryside.
      Ironically since they started to build the new road it takes longer to drive on the old one as it’s full of lorries with materials for the new road – an annoying double whammy. I think they’ve still got another tunnel to excavate and then everything has to be linked up – I’m guestimating the middle of the decade before it’s done…if they don’t encounter a magma stream in the process:)

  5. trixfred30 says:

    well thanks for that ill keep following and might try driving there again in a few years when we go back

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