Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Who am I? Really? Part five - the Tenerife adventure.

"Shall we move to Tenerife?"
"When?"
"Now."
"Just like that?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Oh...ok then!"

Alright, maybe the conversation didn't go quite like that, but it was close!  When we made the decision to throw all caution  - and two good jobs - to the wind and up sticks to move to a foreign country we already had an apartment on the island, it was a place we'd visited many times before so it wasn't exactly alien to us, and we had a few friends there, contacts we'd made when we'd been over there buying the apartment.  So it wasn't quite as daunting as it could have been.  Having said that, the second we got into our Tenerife apartment knowing it was now our home and not just a base for a week's holiday, I slumped down on the sofa and cried!  It was still a scary prospect; a new home, a new country, a new way of life.  So we went out for a walk along the sea front, parked ourselves in the beach bar and drank gin and tonics until it didn't feel quite so scary anymore. 
The beautiful island of Tenerife.

To be honest, it didn't take all that long to settle in, especially once we found Iceland because, believe me, I am a great advocator of getting into the culture of the country you're visiting/living in but sometimes you'd just kill for a decent sausage!  And for all Spanish sausages are... interesting, I mean, I love a good chorizo, but it's never going to cut it in a white breakfast bap with HP sauce!  Iceland was like a little bit of British heaven, always there with a taste of "back home" whenever you felt like it, and when you live in a country that isn't your own, sometimes a little bit of "back home" is most welcome on the days when you miss it quite badly.  Because you do.  Sometimes.  But a bowl of Shredded Wheat or a slice of Hovis (usually wrapped round an Irish recipe sausage) make you realise it's never far away! Which is why The Sun Inn, a great little English bar and restaurant just off the sea front in the resort of Torviscas, near where we lived, was a lifesaver on a Friday night.  It served the best British home-cooked food (think pies, curries, and Sunday roasts) and it was a mecca for ex-pats like us who just wanted that taste of home once in a while.  You'd see the same faces there time and time again because the food was amazing! And it was owned by Geordies so that was a bonus!

It's a great lifestyle over there by the way, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  You eat out more, you go out  more; it's nearly always sunny (but when it rains, it rains!) and most people are nearly always smiling, mainly because we lived very close to a main resort therefore everyone was usually on holiday!
But the language barrier can be a stumbling block.  When we got our 'phone connected it was like something out of a Carry On... film, so farcical did it become.  The two guys who turned up didn't speak English, my Spanish was practically non-existent (although I was almost an expert on anything food-related.  Still am!!) and every time they wanted to ask something it ended up like an episode of "Give Us A Clue"!  So I had no idea why they kept disappearing off in their van only to return 2 days later, fanny about in the box down the corner of the street and then come back to my apartment and ask (and this wasn't a quick process) for washing-up liquid!  I'm still non-the-wiser to this day.  All I knew at the time was that the 'phone was  connected, the internet had been switched on, and I needed to learn more Spanish!

The view from my Tenerife apartment.
They were a great couple of years though.  Tenerife is a beautiful island of so many contrasts and getting out and exploring beyond the holiday resorts was something I am so glad we did.  We discovered lovely little villages, fantastic local restaurants with the most incredible (and cheap!) food; we also discovered Ikea but that's a whole different story!  I wasn't working but hubby was, in a good job too although we weren't earning half as much as we had been in the UK.  But you didn't need to back then.  The exchange rate was better so everything was cheaper.  It was just way more relaxing, and to be able to stand in my kitchen and chop carrotts whilst looking out over the Atlantic Ocean was a privelege I'll never take for granted.

It's difficult to actually cover everything that happened in our time over there, suffice to say we enjoyed it all.  It was an experience, and it taught me a lot.  Like, Heinz beans actually aren't the best in the world, and it is possible to live without BBC1 for a while.  Although, we did end up with a dish the size of a small country on our apartment roof because I could only go so long without 'Holby City'!

Would I go back to live there again?  Like a shot!  It's made me not afraid to try new things, have new experiences.  And it gave me some great inspiration for my book, 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise', where I've drawn upon a lot of my own experiences of living in Tenerife and let the main character in the book experience them too!  Writing that book brought back a lot of happy memories and it'll always be special because it will always remind me of a wonderful place that I will always call my second home.



You can buy your own copy of Too Much Trouble in Paradise here from Amazon.co.uk for less than a couple of quid! ;-)



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