Austin, elder son, is off on his travels again. Having qualifications which are travel-friendly helps. He’s a boat skipper, an assistant dive instructor and has a ton of certificates and experience with the Spanish Red Cross for water rescue and as a medical technician, so his travels have been on or connected to water, and I’m proud to say he’s just begun his own blog to keep track of his adventures, The Wet Stuff. Austin and Guy have both been to places I’ve only dreamed of – so far! I wonder if wanderlust is inherited?
Austin has stayed with me for a couple of months whilst putting out his cv, and working as a lifeguard here on the local beaches, so right now everything’s looking a lot tidier than it has for weeks, as his almost-ready bag is packed to go, and a mini-change happens in my life again.
Time to firm up my plans, methinks…….not to mention firm up other stuff too!
After a year of being an “expat,” back in 1988, I did a mental check. Did the life suit me? Was I where I wanted to be? Was I (at that time) in the best place for my kids to grow up? Was there a better alternative? It became a habit at the beginning of each, promising new year. Rarely was every box on my list ticked, but there was always a majority for maintaining my base here in Tenerife, even in the years when I wasn’t, literally, living here.
This year I don’t need the assessment because I know I’m going to explore other islands in a few months, – however, my proposed January departure is delayed to late June (for financial reasons and because of commitments made), out of habit I made a mental list of whether it’s better to spend the next 6 months here or, perhaps, elsewhere on the island, because change is good – but it is also expensive – at least it is in terms of house moving for no really good reason.
It wasn’t hard. I opted to stay in El Médano for the next six months, but I questioned myself harder than usual, because my feet are more-than-usually itchy.
Assessing my alternatives:
The tourist coast is out. It’s expensive living. It’s not unpleasant these days, the food is great, beaches nice, but the vibe is a bit lethargic, lacking energy – the only places I feel energy are on the surf beaches of Playa de las Americas and the ferry terminal in Los Cristianos. I’m not knocking it. If I were in need of a vacation, and had the money I’ve no doubt I might choose somewhere similar in some other country, to be pampered and chill out for a while, but, well, just not somewhere that feel comfortable living.
Tenerife’s villages are peaceful, often pretty, and never too far from coast or city, and yet the thought of living in an agricultural community feels claustrophobic, as nice and as tranquil as it might be. The vibe there is about tradition and routine. A month or even two perhaps but six? Hmm, no, I can’t see it.
Fellow blogger Talon Windwalker of 1Dad1Kid.com observed recently, coming to the end of a 3-month sojourn in Morocco, that he was looking forward to getting some variety back in his life. His stay in Guelmim had sounded idyllic on many levels, but the sameness of a daily routine, and the same choices in the market each visit had eventually taken their toll.
Island capital Santa Cruz appeals to me. Cultural life is a plus – no more driving for an hour home after a concert or exhibition. Is it a mini Barcelona or London? Well, no, because, unlike those cities, or New York or Rome or Paris, or anywhere else I can think of, there is no international vibe. Whilst I fancy living in all of those cities because they could only be Spanish/English/American/Italian or French, they are, at the same time, melting pots. In an odd way, despite the cruise ships lining the piers, and the beautiful boats in the Santa Cruz marinas, it remains utterly Canarian, and so it should be – that’s what tourists come to see, and I think it’s to the place’s credit. It just lacks the energy again.
It’s possibly a lust for variety as much as a thirst for knowledge and understanding which fuels wanderlust, and Tenerife’s cities are not eclectic enough to entrap me. Don’t get me wrong. I love them both. I love the villages too. I love learning about different ways of life here.
Mostly I love the landscapes and the feeling of being closer to the earth, but I would miss the variety of life if I lived in either.
The place I can find variety in Tenerife is in El Médano. Social groups are formed here not by nationality but by common interest. Windsurfers and kite surfers come from around the world to catch the breezes. The Saturday morning market is populated by artisans and artistic entrepreneurs from all over Europe, and the buskers who ply the streets or the “hippies” who languidly display their wares on the wall between the ocean and the town square are a pretty international crowd too, and at the base of this international pyramid are Canarian families, some of whom have lived here for generations, and must remember when it was a small fishing hamlet. Heck, it wasn’t that big when I first saw it 20-odd years ago.
I’ve written about El Médano before, here and here. The words most commonly used to describe it are quirky or bohemian, but the one I came up with in writing yesterday was “a contradiction” – and that it is. Perhaps that’s where its very unique vibe comes from.
It has a laid back vibe which comes from the “hippie” community, from true nomads who live in caves to talented artisans who have found peace in doing what they love, dreadlocks and gypsy skirts abound. On the other hand, the energy which comes from folk attracted here by sports is palpable, wetsuits and pareos are as normal wear around town as are the shorts and leggings of the local teens.
The town attracts photographers and artists, but the good old boys can be found sitting on the harbor wall of an evening, and the small fishing boats can still be seen up and down the coast early mornings inspecting their shrimp and octopus cages.
It’s when you put all these factors together that you get – El Médano…..and it’s where you can find me for the next five months.
I signed a lease for another 6 months here despite how much I loathe this, specific apartment – waste of energy & time moving apartments – I just have to learn to live with the screaming, door-slamming kids who moved in next door!