Islandmomma

Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age


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Los Abrigos: a Fishing Village Keeping up with the Times

Last week I wrote this short piece for sunshine.co.uk’s Tenerife insiders’ blog. It got me thinking about the village of Los Abrigos, and how it has changed over the years I’ve lived in Tenerife, and musing about whether the changes were a good thing or not.  When we arrived in 1987 the village had already made itself a mecca for fresh fish dining, but in addition to excellent food, it was the lack of pretension with appealed to visitors. Has it kept that atmosphere?

Looking over the harbor at sunrise

When we were making the decision to immigrate  I only had one week here to form opinions.   Having checked out the school (my only worry),  the rest of my week was all bonus, it was exploring and discovering what was to be our new home, and I think my favorite “discovery” was Los Abrigos.

We set off down a narrow, bumpy road with more twists than a slinky. At one point it was cobbled, but mostly it was broken-up tarmac, as if it had been  abandoned and forgotten. I could see that it was leading seawards, because even this close to the ocean we were elevated (there is hardly any flat ground on Tenerife).  It took us over an arid, mostly sandstone scrubland with the words coto de caza scrawled ominously all over the place.  This was a warning to keep out of the area on Thursdays and Sundays in the hunting season, from August to December.  It was hard to imagine just what there was there for rabbits, or anything else, to feed on. This type of landscape was so totally alien to me back then.  I could only relate to scenarios from my favorite westerns.  It looked like bleak wasteland,  but the power of nature was palpable.  It celebrated the ability to survive.

Finally, and not without a touch of car sickness, although it was only about ten minutes of a journey, we arrived at a little junction, where the road flattened.  In another reference to westerns, the term “one horse town” came to mind! It was a dry and hot, early afternoon, and nothing stirred.  If tumbleweed had blown along the road I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised.  This was Los Abrigos, or The Shelters, so-called because the bay on which the village grew up is protected from the almost constant breezes which are a feature of this coastline.  On the corner was the village shop, and next to it a fish restaurant, Tito’s, famed for being a cheaper version of what we were about to enjoy.  Cheaper because it didn’t have the view, and it goes without saying you have to pay a bit extra for a view.

The road forked right to the seafront, and we drove haltingly along the street, taking in the vista, the sea and harbor falling away to our right, and our left bordered by slightly scruffy buildings, most of which were fish restaurants and bars.  Then, as now, one of the first things which struck you on arrival was the mouth-watering aroma of frying fish, which permeates everything in the midday heat. If you aren’t hungry when you arrive, you surely will be within a couple of minutes.  Most places had plastic tables and chairs which wobbled  on the roadside – there was no sidewalk.  We drove to the end, squeezed through the narrow opening between two buildings, and parked behind Perlas del Mar, the restaurant which occupies the most prominent position, at the end of the harbor, with marvellous views out to the Atlantic, and over the small harbor.

We were greeted with friendly smiles.  The estate agent who had taken us was well-known there, and was it any wonder?!  I can’t imagine anyone not being bowled over by the experience – great selling tool!  We  chose our own fish from the ‘fridge – that was a novelty. Then we settled in a corner table with those amazing views, for our first taste of mojo (an island sauce), boquerones (marinated anchovies) and calamari (lightly battered and fried), and salad, whilst we waited for our fish to be cooked.  If I’m totally honest, the salad was very unimaginative – lettuce, tomatoes and onions, with the oil and vinegar to be added to taste.  The salads haven’t changed much over the years, if you want a decent salad stick to the resort areas.  That afternoon the estate agent knew she had us hooked. We sat and washed down all that marvellous fresh food with cold beers, and the kids pottered safely around the seawall as we watched.  They’d spotted the seawater pool in the corner of the harbor – so that meant we would be coming back for sure, and we did, more times than I can count.

Over the years I’ve had some memorable meals there;  sunny Sunday lunches with big tables full of friends and family; a Sunday evening with friends when everything around us closed; we’d long since finished eating and were sipping our umpteenth coffee and brandy (ah, those were the days!), when the owner came out with the brandy bottle, still half full, and plonked it on our table.  He told us we were welcome to stay on his terrace as long as the bottle lasted, but he was going home to bed!

Another time, during that first year, we were sitting roadside when a small procession wound its way past, carrying a plaster saint.  It was a balmy September evening and the feast of San Blas, but we hadn’t known.  Back then it was very low-key, unless you lived in the village, but the fireworks which ensued after the blessing of the seas were the equal of The Magic Kingdom’s, and we had, unintentionally booked a front row seat.  These days the fiesta is renown throughout the south, and you have to fight for positions to view the spectacle, which is a change for the worse, I guess, except that the fireworks are ever more spectacular each year…..swings and roundabouts.

I’ve even been known, arriving back from time spent elsewhere, to go straight to Los Abrigos to eat before going home!

Nowdays when you arrive it’s by a smooth, new road which glides down from the motorway junction in Las Chafiras. As you enter the village on the left there is a smart plaza, and to your right you will spot a posh hotel, seemingly plonked in the middle of what is, essentially, still desert.  On the corner, where the village shop stood, is now a trendy boutique. Last year the church square was smartened up, and pedestrianized area was extended.  You haven’t been able to drive along the seafront, as we used to, for some years now.

These days there are a couple of upmarket restaurants amongst the traditional ones, and a couple of Italian restaurants, which seem to be surviving.  In the old days, nothing other than a fish restaurant lasted there for very long.  It’s what people go to Los Abrigos for.

I have a sentimental attachment to the place, because I lived there very happily for a while.  I was living there when I first began this blog, and perhaps one reason I didn’t do much with the blog in the early days is that I had the view below – and spent more time gazing at it than at whatever I was doing at the computer.  My desk with right next to the window!

When I lived there, sometimes I would be woken by noises and shouting echoing in the darkness, and unaccumstomed light illuminating my room,  and if I parted the curtains I could watch the boats coming in and being unloaded.  It was fascinating to hang about and observe them, doing what their families had done for years and years.  You could forget about the swish restaurants and the fancy tourists and imagine that life still went on as it always had.

This boat steamed in  excitedly, followed by a retinue of hungry gulls one early morning.

The sea must have been bountiful this day, because the harbor began to fill up with boats, and the harbor wall with vans collecting the catch.

The reason I left this apparent bit of paradise in 2008 was an influx of what promised to be the neighbors from hell. It didn’t help my unease that they were British, and seemed to assume that I needed to be friends simply because I was too.  One night of listening to their drunken, shrieking  and swearing was enough for me.  I set out to find a new home the next day. As you guys know, I like to move around anyway, so it wasn’t a problem. Thinking back, it wasn’t the friendliest place to live anyway.  I was there for two and half years, and scarcely got to know anyone, even the owner of the restaurant below my apartment, where I used to eat quite a lot,  never admitted to knowing me.  The only people I ever made friends with were waiters and PRs, who constantly changed anyway.  I guessed that the older families must have resented the place filling up with foreigners.  I really can’t be sure, because no-one would ever talk about it very much, and given the behaviour of my new neighbours, who can blame them?

More of these types seemed to be moving into the area around that time, but I went back there to eat last week, and it was all quiet on the waterfront, so perhaps the excesses have been curbed by law and neighbours.  In any event the very best time to go is Sunday lunchtime.  In typical Spanish fashion lunch begins late by northern European standards, 2 or 3 o’clock, when whole families potter down, and sit and eat companionably, as meals should be taken, with lunch drifting into dinner time.  By ten-ish most restaurants are closing up, and people heading slowly home refreshed and ready for the new week.

My favorite for quality and choice for a traditional meal is Vista Mar in the center of the parade of restaurants, but Restaurante Los Abrigos and Perlas del Mar are very good too.  If you want upmarket fine dining with a menu worthy of any capital city, then Los Roques.  It’s expensive, but worth every cent.  I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed that the two I considered worst during my time there have closed down, which is the thing about recessions – survival of the fittest.  One of my old favorites has made an attempt to go upmarket and failed miserably.  I know because I ate there last week, and the food was very mediocre, though the setting was great, shame they didn’t stick to what they used to do so well.  If you’re going to keep up with the times, you have to know how to do it properly.


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Of Fiestas and Fireworks

In 23 years I’ve been to quite a few fiestas I guess.  I remember the first one distinctly.  It was in Los Abrigos, back when, to get there, you still had to bump and twist along a  road so narrow it reduced to one lane in places , and when the pathway by the harbor was potholed, and you could pull up and park right outside the restaurant at which you’d chosen to eat.  The locals had been savvy enough to create restaurants from the buildings along that harbor front by then.  I don’t know when the transition from quiet fishing village to “the” place for tourists to eat  fish began, but it was when the now-nearby golf monstrosities were only twinkles in the eyes of greedy developers.  In 1988 no lesser person than Kevin Keegan told me that  his first thought when he arrived in Tenerife was a platter of fresh fish and papas arrugadas in Los Abrigos.

We had arrived in July, and the fiesta there is in September, so we must have very much still been feeling our way around everywhere, when, as we dined right on the roadside, a little procession wound its way past, the men shouldering a religious statue.  It was a scene I’d seen in the South of France and in movies, so I understood what it was, though we were absolutely knocked out by the firework display which followed the mass and the blessing of the seas.  That was something quite remarkable to our northern European eyes.

Looking back, I’m surprised how low key the celebrations must have been for us to be taken by surprise by the procession.  Today’s Los Abrigos fiestas are much grander affairs, with a firework display which packs the Promenade, sardine-fashion,  with hundred of locals, residents and tourists, who have easy access from the smooth road constructed some years back, and which, effectively, put Los Abrigos “on the map” I guess.    The Sunday procession is still a fairly quiet affair,  but visitors to the nightly verbenas, or open-air dances, in the church square party till the wee small hours throughout the week to the latest pop music or salsa……as I found out when I lived there!  The village is far too small for anyone not to be affected by the noise!

Procession in Los Abrigos four years ago

For a while that was my impression of local fiestas – a few, die-hard religious people shouldering the statues and shouting “Viva whoever” as they paraded along the street, great firework displays (arriving in Disney World for the first time the only disappointment was the firework displays – not that they were inferior to Tenerife, just about the same), and lots of boozing and dancing.  Romerias, as distinct from fiestas, seemed much more traditional, interesting and photogenic.  Over the years I learned about different fiestas and romerías (and am not 100% sure what the difference is),  some of which I’ve now seen, some of which I’ve seen on tv and some of which I’ve only heard stories.  I know that each different celebration of each town or village has its own style, its own personality, and I know that, as the years pass, they evolve, they have changed in my time here.  I guess Los Abrigos, having been such a tiny place, well, didn’t really have much in the way of tradition.

Traditional Romería Arona 3 years ago

Fiestas in other places have become commercialized, most notably, of course, in Los Cristianos, where it was years before I understood the real traditions behind the wonderful firework display there. Ex-pats and tourists think is put on just for them, and  like to mumble and grumble about things “not starting on time” here.  Maybe that’s inevitable, Los Cristianos sold its soul years ago.

You have to pity El Médano in a way.  In some villages now decorations for fiesta are much more extravagant than here, but the almost constant wind can make “short work” of almost anything they put up!

At any rate, I was undecided about going to the El Médano fiesta this weekend, but a trot down to the market on Saturday morning, seeing the preparations in the town square, the portabars, festoons and lively atmosphere, which was already in the air,  prompted me, and later that evening I arrived just in time to see the statue of Our Lady (don’t ask me which one) being shouldered along the street by the square, being taken to her ringside seat for the fireworks.  The truth is that, although there were hundreds of folk there, most of them were there for the firework display. Whilst the procession was winding its way along the streets, most of them were at the fair, buying cotton candy and hotdogs, or throwing back a quick beer, although the rides on the street side did dim their lights and tone down their music as the parade passed.

What really prompted me to go was to take some snaps of the fireworks. For the hours I put into the course at the beginning of the year, and for the time I’ve had, I’ve really just totally neglected photography as a hobby.  It’s just been a way to record where I’ve been, and I could have done that just as well with my beloved, little Nikon Coolpix.  This was my first opportunity to photograph fireworks, and I was surprised to find a decent place on the beach, despite the crowds…..most people don’t want to get sand in their nightime shoes it seems.  I perched by a shower, and had a good position to be able to steady the camera, although I had to bum-shuffle across the wet sand a bit when some people came and stood right in front of us (hence they appear in at least one of the following photos!).

A buzz of expectation in the air

Looking at the moon, as the lights dimmed, you really have to wonder if we “need” fireworks

The procession passed behind me, with its morbid drumbeat and a few scattered “Vivas” (absolutely no wonder that William Booth decided that the devil shouldn’t be the only one to have some jolly music!).  The streetlights went out.  A kind of little gasp went through the crowd.  Then silence, followed seconds later by the first glorious, colorful, exuberant burst lighting up the sky.  The show was on.

No-one reading this needs to have a firework display described.  Most of us in the “Western” world are suckers for them, no matter how many we see, and the ones in Tenerife are superb, rivalling Disney, the Olympics and most any others you can think of.  Making the fireworks is one of the few non-tourist and non-agricultural industries here.

Remember these were a first attempt when you look at the pictures, please!

If you squint  you can see is two surfer dudes who’d paddled out for a real ringside seat.  You can see them in some other shots too, but best in this one.

What I hadn’t realized was how the colors of the starbursts and sparkles would bathe the ocean, turning it from red to purple to green according to the color of the display, and how they would reflect off the wet sand as the tide trickled back from the beach.  There is a constant internal struggle if you like to snap away.  It’s making the decision between immortalizing what you see, and simply turning off the camera and enjoying the spectacle.  I tried to do a bit of both.


As the last sparkle faded and the air hung heavy with smoke, which made the nostrils twitch, and which even lay  on the tongue, the streetlights flickered back on, and Mary was reshouldered to be locked away for another year.   It would be logical to think that little will be left when the current generation of old women has died off, but the traditions of the island are so tied to religion that I wonder about that.  The young seem more eager than ever to keep traditions alive, which seems like a good thing.

You certainly can’t beat the sense of fellowship and shared enjoyment which these events bestow on their respective communities, whether that could happen without the religious element I don’t know, but I really would like to think so.  What I do know is you can get the best hotdogs eveh (sorry NY!), the tastiest pinchos and the coldest beers to round off your night.

The band hadn’t even struck up when I left, but I was supposed to be up early the next morning…..not so early that I didn’t make time to swing by my favorite ice cream parlor for a quick fix to make the night really complete though!


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Tidbits from an Ordinary Week

It’s Saturday night, well, it’s actually Sunday morning, a long afternoon siesta has left me wide-awake this madrugada, even though my apartment is just sufficiently far enough away from the hum of fiesta, which is in full swing in the town square, and all is tranquil.   So I was wondering on what about my very pleasant week I want to muse.

Should I write about the lovely morning I whiled away in interesting conversation, overlooking little harbour, whilst the tenders to the fishing boats, which were out working, waited and bobbed on the swell that was rushing in from the Atlantic and breaking dramatically on the rocks further down the coast?

Should I write about the casual stroll around Los Cristianos I enjoyed with a good friend one balmy evening, sampling some great chocolate cake, and joking with a couple of the Senegalese street sellers, and that one of them gave me a pretty bracelet?

Should I write about the way the brilliant white waves creamed in from the gunmetal grey seas, while the sun shot pale, imitation rays into the murky sky from its hiding place behind the blackest cloud of all one morning walk?

Should I write about the afternoon I spent with a good friend chatting, teaching her a bit of English whilst she taught me Spanish, over mellow lattes in the pretty and tranquil courtyard of a small rural hotel, about ten minutes up into the hills?

Should I write about how one, chained-to-desk day emails, and Facebook notes, and Tweets and other peoples’ blogs kept me laughing away?  How great is this thing called internet, that even in my solitude it brings me jokes and smiles and funnies from friends and strangers alike?

Should I write about how good Trix was when I took her to the vet for her annual check up and vaccinations?  How she’s put on 5 kilos since her last weigh-in — ouch, and needs some expensive dentistry, but otherwise seems to be still the puppy in body that she is in spirit!   What a nice, new vet we have too.  I generally find that vets are nice people, actually, come to think of it, but that’s not always true of doctors – hmmm.  Food for thought there!

Should I write about Friday evening, about following la Ruta de Tapas in Los Cristianos?   Another balmy evening mixing good food and wine, mellow weather and great company. Yes, maybe I’ll write about that.

Should I write about the fiesta in my home town?  The fireworks?  The street performers?  The food? Yeah, maybe that’s worth a word or two as well, but you know what?   This has been a perfectly ordinary week……..and the sad thing is, I’ve been feeling a bit jaded, so I needed to remind myself just how good it’s been in its own quiet way……..and  **yawn** I think this glass of smooth, rich El Lomo might be just what the sandman ordered.


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To Silence or Not to Silence?

http://bit.ly/bDcDzC

The above item on CNN today set me thinking.  This barrier island town in South Carolina has actually banned singing in public.  “Outrageous and absurd!” were my first reactions.  “What killjoys and control freaks” were my third and forth.  After that, I read the article, and although it really doesn’t elaborate much on the headline, other than what you might have predicted, I found myself nodding in agreement.  The reason is this.

Not so long ago I lived on this quite pretty waterfront, which is the harbor in a small village here called Los Abrigos, this photo was taken from my little balcony.

Even when we first arrived on the island 20+ years ago this fishing village was transforming its economy in the face of dwindling fish stocks, and almost all of the harbor side properties had been turned into restaurants – very basic, fish restaurants, supplied by the local boats, some family businesses supplied by brothers and cousins who still took out the boats each day.  Over these years it has been smartened up by the local authority, so that the rough, cobbled street alongside the harbor became pedestrianized and sanitized, but in a very pleasant way.  One of the restaurants was sold, and reopened its doors as a very chic and upmarket establishment.  The Promenade was just a sufficiently short stroll before or after dining.  Although behind the waterfront what they call “cement” here went up, these waterfront buildings remained more-or-less the same.  I was delighted when I was able to rent a spacious apartment over one of the restaurants, with this view snapped sitting in the comfort of my sofa.

For some months it was idyllic, every bit as peaceful as I’d imagined.  Then it seemed that a bar next door to the restaurant over which I lived changed hands.  At least, it changed its image, and became a late-night drinking spot.  Several nights a week my dream bedroom, where white gauze curtains fluttered in the gentle evening breeze, and the swish of waves filtering back into the ocean through the tiny, pebbled beach lulled me to sleep became a nightmare room, where I tossed and turned seeking elusive sleep as laughter, loud voices, singing and sometimes fights roused me every time I dropped off.  I can be fairly tolerant, and I tried very hard, for a long time to acknowledge that people have every right to laugh, sing, argue and even fight if they want to, and, yes, I do still believe that…..I just don’t want them doing it under my bedroom window!  So, I moved.  One of the brilliant things about renting, over owning property, is that you can do that.

What I think now is that, yes, we all like to make noise in some form or another, whether it’s cheering on our team (certainly wasn’t quiet around here last night when Argentina were playing!), playing rock ‘n’ roll or letting our kids run around shouting as they splash in the swimming pool (when that gets too much for me I shall move on from here too!), but that there should be places where we can be quiet.

For years in my youth, I debated whether I was a city girl or a country girl (it seemed important back then that I stuck some sort of label on myself), and my final answer, as I grew up, was that I am a bit of each.  I love the buzz and  energy of cities, but I also love the tranquility and peace of the countryside, and I think that we should preserve the latter.  A couple of weeks ago I came across this blog post, which was featured here on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed front page

http://newurbanhabitat.com/2010/06/14/in-search-of-silence/ Do click on the link to that Gordon Hempton article which is fascinating.  Basically, apparently, there isn’t a square inch of Europe which is free from noise pollution, which means, I think, that even on top of Mont Blanc you will hear planes passing overhead.

I suppose that post started off the train of thought which has brought me here today, still musing.  What I really would like is to be able to choose, to be able to turn noise on or off, but that isn’t really practical.  Even if this apartment block was declared a noise-free zone, there would still be noise from down the street, we are so many now in the “civilized” world, and we live cheek by jowl, even on these islands, where perhaps one day we may run out of space!  So the more I think about it, the more the thought of living on Sullivan’s Island appeals to me!  Of course, if I were wealthy enough to live there, then I could always nip up to New York from time to time for my share of hustle and bustle.


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Mooch the Markets: 10 Things to do in Tenerife which won’t cost a fortune No. 4

Ok – I didn’t say that these things were totally free, just that they are easy on the pocket, and if you go to the street markets there is no onus whatsoever on you to buy for goodness sake!  Mind you, if you do, it’s going to dent the budget far less than the posh shops in Costa Adeje or Santa Cruz :=)  I am addicted to markets, even though, in general I don’t like crowds strangely enough, and pushing my way through heavily perspiring people who seem to have no concept of “personal space” gives me the creeps.  Somehow or other, maybe because it is so big and sprawling, the Sunday Rastro in Santa Cruz always seems to stop well short of feeding my phobias.

It meanders around the streets leading to the permanent agricultural market of Nuestra Señora de Africa, and it really is the sort of day out where you can wander around the stalls, looking at things and not buy, and still not get bored.  This comes from me – who hates window shopping!  You are also far more likely to find local crafts, original items from different countries and antiques than in any of the other markets.

The long car park which runs alongside the docks, is virtually empty if you get there early enough on a Sunday morning, and I’m not talking crack of dawn here, just 9 or 10 am.  Make sure there’s nothing else taking place that Sunday, though, like Carnaval or the Santa Cruz Half Marathon, because then you will have a problem parking .  There are excellent bus services, run by the local bus company, TITSA, from the south of  the island and from Puerto de la Cruz, which will deposit you at the bus station five or ten  minutes walk from the outer limits of the market. The buses are comfortable and air-conditioned, and rarely full and they run Sunday services – so check the times before you set off.

The only problem in taking the bus is having to carry around your purchases, of course……remember there is the produce market too, and whilst I am happy to cart around the couple of books, a picture, a couple of pareos, and a pair of earrings, which might represent a typical morning’s haul for me, I can’t count the number of times I’ve cursed at not having the car handy when I’ve spotted lush papaya, juicy mangos or scarlet tomatoes with that just-plucked smell, and then had second thoughts about carrying them around with me for the rest of the morning.

The agricultural market in its present form was opened in 1943,  and as well as fruit and vegetables you can buy fresh meat and fish, flowers, bread, spices and herbs as well as one or two other speciality things.  Surrounding the building itself you will find permanent stalls on some of the streets, selling pots and pans, cheap clothes and leather goods, but it is on Sunday that the atmosphere really comes to life, when stalls sprawl along street after street, down to the limits where people have simply spread out their merchandise on a blanket.  Bargains to be found include second hand books in several languages (a real find if Spanish is not your first language), sweet-smelling candles and incense, seriously cheap cotton goods and other clothing, jewellery you won’t find anywhere else, as it is handmade by the stallholders, often in silver, and, increasingly, bric a brac of the type you find in antique markets.

When you need to rest the plates of meat, or the sun gets a bit too much you can sit in the pleasant courtyard of the permanent market, or one of the little bars close by.  What you won’t find is somewhere to grab a quick drink when you are on the outer reaches of the market.  Santa Cruz is notorious for trying to attract business from cruise lines, but not providing the masses streaming off those ships with much to do on a Sunday.  Away from Plaza de España many shops and bars have their doors closed. I have gone with elderly people for whom it’s just too much to take in the entire market.

Serrano hams hanging in one of the bars by the market at Christmas

Presuming you don’t give up, the perfect place to lunch afterwards and gloat over your purchases is one of the lovely restaurant/bars in Calle Noria, but be warned – if you arrive before 1pm you won’t find anything there either.  Viable alternatives are scooting up to San Andres for fish, or down to Radazul to eat harborside.

Outside of Santa Cruz the south of the island has a market chain which offers the al fresco shopping experience Alcalá on Mondays, Playa San Juan on Wednesdays, Los Abrigos on Tuesdays, Los Cristianos on Sundays and Torviscas (really a part of Playa de las Americas) on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Those, three last venues are the busiest and bring out my aforementioned horror of crowds.  Nevertheless, I usually manage a visit to the one in Los Cristianos once or twice a year, usually once at Christmas to find bargains and stocking-fillers not available in the shops, and another time when visitors are here.  The first, two are located in small villages, so it’s very pleasant to spend the morning shopping, and then afterwards stroll through the village and sample eateries less geared to mass tourism. Of the two, Alcalá is the more local experience, but Playa San Juan is very pleasant, having been tarted up very nicely in recent years.  The Los Abrigos market in an evening affair, which means that afterwards you can sample one of the decent fish restaurants for which the village is still famous.

Obviously, in the smaller venues there are less stalls, and perhaps obviously they all offer more-or-less the same stuff – cheap Ts, sunglasses, watches, tablecloths, pareos, jewellery, and leather goods, all imported, many from China, and to be found the world over, but with “Torremolinos”, “Tarpon Springs” or “Florida” printed or engraved on them instead of “Tenerife”, which isn’t to say that they aren’t decent value if that’s what you need at the time. Immigration in the last few years has brought us lots of color in the form of African crafts and clothes – remember we are only 200 miles from the coast of West Africa.   Look for the obvious, though – I treated myself to a handbag a few weeks ago.  I examined it fairly carefully, and it seemed good value, and what I needed, which was a small bag with lots of compartments.  It cost me 15€.  Only, after a couple of weeks the pulley thing on one of the zips to one of the compartments broke, and a couple of weeks later another.  It was then I realized that it was almost inevitable, because they were made of very thin plastic, and I hadn’t noticed when I bought.  So far the zips themselves are holding out, and I’ve improvised on the pulley thing, so no big deal – basically, I got what I paid for!

Mixed in with the tourist tat, however, there is some interesting stuff; handmade jewellery, and greeting cards, wonderful and cheap cottons from Thailand and Indonesia, second-hand books and local craftwork, as well as colorful clothes and hats from Peru, so don’t dismiss it as not worth the bother.  They are great places for Christmas shopping on a budget, for instance.

Where I live, in El Médano, there is a Saturday morning market, which for me, has a more bohemian kind of atmosphere.  That’s probably largely because the town in general is more like that.  There seems to be less on the tat and more on the individual traders.  One lady who offers clothes I’ve never seen anywhere else also displays her husband’s paintings, and another guy sits actually making the jewellery whilst waiting for customers.  Around about you often find mime artists and other buskers, giving the whole thing a much more relaxed and happy mood.  Normally not too crushed either, and there are great places to eat cheaply afterwards.

In other venues:  In the past I’ve visited a weekend market just outside of Puerto de la Cruz, and a craft market in Garachico.  So far as I can see, the former is still going, but I fear the one in Garachico has fallen by the wayside.  However, I will go check one day soon!  I’ve come across information online for one in Icod de los Vinos, but not a working link with any information.  I’m not sure why anyone would want to go to a car boot sale when they are on vacation, but people do, and there is an increasing number.  The one in Guaza, just off the motorway, on the way to Las Galletas, is long-established and constantly evolving, and there are now regular ones in Adeje and in Los Gigantes, as I learned just this week.  I’m sure there must be more, and that once you are in a place, local information will abound.

You may have sensed my enthusiasm for the Agricultural Market in Santa Cruz (“No, not really,”  did you say?), and Tenerife is no exception to the boom in Farmers’ Markets which seems to be happening all over the western world.  Again I’m not sure just if anyone might want to spend vacation time doing this, except that if you are in a vacation rental, what better way to experience local culture than to shop in one of these instead of in the cookie cutter supermarkets.  One of the differences here is that they are year-round, where in northern temperatures they are seasonal.  You can find one in La Laguna overflowing with an abundance of local produce, and also in Tacaronte, which I haven’t visited so I can’t elaborate on.  I am sure that by now there are more, in fact, the two I use in the south don’t show up in a quick internet search.   Remember the other industry which sustains this island, other than tourism, is agriculture. My local one is in San Isidro and I adore it, and ten minutes away in Las Chafiras, if I want a change there is another equally as good.

If you seriously like markets, then it would be possible to spend a week’s holiday, or more, checking them all out…..but it would only be cheap if you stuck with the window shopping!

This post was part of a series, here are the others:

Be a beach bum!

Take a drive through the Teide National Park

Barbeque in the “Great Outdoors”

Mooch the Markets

Party like a local!

Follow local sports

Free Summer concerts

Try Shanks’s Pony!


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The Foolhardy Fisherman

Happily fishing one minute

Quickly gathering his stuff together!

Making a run for it!

Almost there!

This guy has often been caught in my snaps of these rocks, which I see from my window, sometimes in conditions which kept most people well away, but the other day even he scared himself! As you can see, after braving the waves for a while he suddenly decided that dinner wasn’t worth the risk, and made a quick dash for it!

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