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

How to Play the Waiting Game in Tenerife


You might have noticed that this blog has been light on places visited and events attended of late.  It’s because I’ve been a bit preoccupied one way or another, but more of that another time. For now, just let me say, that there has been a lot of waiting around in recent weeks, for one reason or another, a lot.  It’s not unusual here.

People from the north of planet earth generally curse or moan about the delays and queues which are, simply,  part of every day life here.  You have to adopt the right attitude, the way of life, the refusual to get stressed, and a belief in tomorrow, usually associated with warm climates to take them in your stride.  It isn’t exactly the same thing as procrastination, but it’s a close relative.  It is the almost-identical twin to the mañana syndrome.  Really you have to know, not so much how to kill time, as how to use it.

Living here has taught me that how you deal with the delays and waiting is key to one’s mental health.  There is no point whatsoever in fighting the syndrome, although I did have a minor skirmish, as you will see in a minute.  There are ways you can handle it, for instance earlier this week, I had to go to the dentist:

A couple of weeks ago I had an extraction, and Wednesday’s appointment was only to check that all was healing as it should, before reconstruction begins in another couple of weeks – a five minute session then.  I was prepared for an hour’s wait because the dentist always runs an hour behind, and I can understand the reasons, my extraction having taken twice as long as expected the other week.  For this, and any other unexpected delays I ALWAYS carry a book, sometimes two, or sometimes a favorite magazine as well.  I have a book in my car too, just in case I forget to put one in my bag.  Reading is one of my passions, so any time to do a bit extra is one of life’s bonuses.  Sure, there are often piles of magazines in waiting rooms, but better to be reading something in which I am interested.  I read half of Hemingway’s “Dangerous Summer” the last time I went to the dentist.  This was when I had the skirmish, though. The first hour passed, and I wasn’t surprised or even midly irritated; an hour quarter and I was beginning to get fidgety; an hour and a half and my posterior was getting numb.  In the end it was an hour and forty minutes.  Wouldn’t it have been better had the receptionist told me that was over an hour and half to wait?  I could have been in the café downstairs enjoying coffee with my book, and have taken a walk when my circulation began to slow up.  The dentist seemed to agree with me when I mentioned it, but hey, imagine here **exaggerated shrugging of shoulders**, next time I’ll take a thicker book, just in case.

The other thing I’ve always carried with me is a camera (yes, I do have BIG bags!), even before I had the canon, my point-and-shoot was always in pocket or bag.  Now it’s even better.  So when I arrived at the real estate office to pay my rent Tuesday, a sign on the door saying “Back in 15 minutes” made me smile…..time to wander over to the harbor and see if the high seas were producing waves worth snapping. You see, 15 minutes here doesn’t mean, exactly, well,  15 minutes, it just means “I won’t be long”, meaning probably something under an hour or so.  Time here is nothing if not elastic and almost fluid.  In this case, ample time to get an ice cream (my latest flavor discovery – papaya, tasting just like creamy, frozen papaya – yum – but no pix, it melts too fast!), stroll over to the harbor and take some snaps.

I’ve passed an enjoyable half hour savoring a new taste and being a bit creative, whilst the sour-faced, elderly couple sitting on the bench outside the real estate office, are still there, letting life pass them by.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they were meditating.  The thing is to make the most of unscheduled snatches of free time.

Another day, returning to the same office, same sign, I rang to get an estimate on the time (thank the lord for cellphones), another “15 minutes”, so I repaired to the ice cream parlor next door (yes, AGAIN! – lord, what did I do to deserve this ?!) for hot chocolate……and a revelation – this was the creamiest, richest, most delicious hot chocolate evUH.  Flavored with cinnamon and orange, steaming hot, like silk on the throat and nectar on the tongue.   I wanted to go on drinking forever.  You see, sometimes when we are not rushing from place to place, appointment to appointment, office to supermarket to post office to gas station to home, we have time to experiment a little and discover new stuff  – which is one of life’s greatest pleasures :=)

Taking the guagua (pronounced wow-wa and meaning bus – I just put that in because I like to say it) to Santa Cruz can be a frustrating experience ……  if you allow it to be.  You’re almost certain to just miss a bus, however carefully you time your arrival at the estación de guaguas.  Plus, doing a repeat journey frequently means you know the scenery like the back of your hand, so another good time to bring out the books.  In addition to books, however, I now have a brand new iPod and all the music I could ever want to listen too at the touch of a finger…….. cannot imagine how I survived my teens without one!  I’m learning about playlists, and as soon as I’ve finished “music to walk/run to”, “music to read to” will be next.  Some pleasant, light tunes which don’t distract from the plots I think. I’m not totally technically-challenged, but not far off, and this new addition (Christmas present from my sons) to my collection of gadgets is another new discovery to savour!

I can see that the iPod will have other advantages too, it will be easier to block out the endless, inane chatter of folks whose way of dealing with a queue is either to take a family member to gossip with at the tops of their voices (the prefered method here), or pester the nearest person (me) with their boring smalltalk…..which usually begins with a moan about the queue……whoa – easy there with your negative energy, go dump it on someone else….and leave me to enjoy Bruce or Eric!

So those are my three ways of dealing with delays.  I really don’t mind them, and it’s because a) I expect them and b) I’m prepared.  I’ve been known to do gentle yoga and exercise techniques too.  In fact, I look on these delays, whether it’s the post office, the bank, the dole queue or a traffic jam as slivers of leisure time, to be enjoyed rather than letting them wind me up.  So whilst everyone else is fretting and whinging tomorrow, when I have to spend a minimum of two and half hours up at the hospital waiting around for X-rays, I will be in my own, private pleasure zone :=)

It goes without saying that a long journey often requires all of these distractions too.  Anyone got any other tips for dealing with waiting or boredom?


Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

15 thoughts on “How to Play the Waiting Game in Tenerife

  1. Most of the time I don’t have a problem with waiting. I might get a little bored, a little antsy, but not impatient…at least, not overly impatient. Not so impatient that it spoils the day. I almost always carry a book — or my yarn — with me wherever I go because I never know when I might have to wait…for my turn to vote, or to pay a bill, or a pizza, or the car to be ready…

    Waiting to be seen for an appointment is something else entirely. If I’ve made an appointment, I expect to be seen at the time of my appointment, or shortly thereafter. And shortly thereafter means within 15 or 20 minutes of the appointment time. Alternately, I expect the receptionist to tell me when I check in that the doctor, or the attorney, or the accountant, or whatever, is running behind and the wait may be up to insert-x-amount-of-time-here. If I’m told ahead of time of the delay, I’m easy; out comes the book or the yarn, and I settle in for the duration. If I’m kept in the dark or given a run-around, I tend to get snippy.

    • Of course knitting! I used to do that moons ago. Though I fear at the age I now am I might bear too much resemblence to Madame Defarge!

      I had to learn to get over stressing about appointments being late. I certainly used to, and I have friends who still do, many of them Canarian, but, still, it’s a fact of life here. It’s just a different way of doing things, so I learned to deal, but as you say, and I suggested to my dentist (who is not Canarian) so long as you keep people in the picture then there is no disrespect.

  2. For your next Christmas / birthday, why not ask the boys to get you a Kindle from Amazon: less weight than various books and magazines.

  3. Jejeje. Yet again great minds think alike – the order is already in! Actually, they were going to get me one this year, but since I have a mountain of unread books still, and won’t be going very far this year I opted to delay it till next year, assuming they will have upgraded them by then. In the meantime you will be able to find me at the Sunday rastro in Guaza selling off books :=)

    • LOL This is getting eerie. I have a Kindle on my wishlist and there are enough titles I want already available for it, but I’m putting it off until (hopefully) the price drops, but, more importantly, until I have read the books I have currently (which, when done, will probably go on Ebay.)

      • It is, isn’t it! What a shame we never met when you lived here!

        I never thought of selling books on Ebay. I usually take a few to the Guaza rastro, but the majority are in English and I don’t usually sell very many. I do Bookcross, but things being tight I really should try to make something if I can. I asked in the bookshop in Los Cristianos, and they will swap but not buy.

  4. I can truly say I feel I can wait patiently for things like medical appointments – thinking that one day it will be my turn to be unfortuntate to take up the extra time with something more complicated. If you are told on arrival of the delay (which happens at the NHS hospital for e.g. ) you can go and get a coffee and read the paper and so on. the only time I got upset about that was having been told clinic was running an hour late I got back to find they had been calling for me several times. the nurse seemed to take a positive pleasure in the fact that I had been misinformed and I could have been seen sooner – I managed a nice smile and said – well here I am now.
    my favourite thing is to listen to stories on cd’s (from the library) which make driving much more pleasurable, and also when doing boring chores in the house. I can recommend them especially if well read. no cost involved either

  5. Hmm….I think I’d go for the book as well as the headphones though, to keep irritating people at bay :=) !

    Of course I did also overlook the obvious – working, if you can. Given the waiting times here an average laptop battery probably wouldn’t hack it, but a notebook would – heck, that’s on my list anyway, right after the Kindle!

  6. Oh how I remember the ‘manana’ days! Hong Kong is probably at the opposite end of that spectrum and we rush and jostle and push – you’re right about missing those slow moments!

    I smiled when I read about the guagua, as when Steve travels home on the bus, and I take Lupo to meet him off it, I always tell him that papa will be arriving on the guagua and he looks eagerly for it 🙂 He also refuses to acknowledge ‘la playa’ by any other reference!

  7. But of course he does! He’s a nomad, but Carnarian at heart :=)

    It isn’t easy to get the balance right, is it! Although I’ve learned to accept the way it is here I guess I don’t approve of it, and no-one is more disapproving than my Canarian friends, in the same way I disapprove of the yobs who come here and embarrass normal English people! The odd thing is that foreigners who come to work here mostly seem to be worse than if they’d been brought up this way! Not that generalizing is a good thing, it goes without saying!

  8. and another thing!! people watching, which I bet you are doing already. watching others and their interactions. sometime I weave a little story of my own around them (if my waiting is going on and on). if you write fiction these times can be very useful and I used to keep a little notebook to jot down little musings!
    your hot chocolate sounds like one I had last year in Edinburgh at Valvona and Crolla (the most amazing foodie shop with eatery) and they serve it with slices of brioche which are intended to be dunked – yummy and gloopy and not quite long enough!!

  9. They have these really tasty-looking homemade biscuits in the ice cream parlor, but I’ve resisted so far. They also look as if they have a million calories each!!

  10. Hi.

    Love your blogs and particularly like the last couple about living in a new culture and playing the waiting game.

    It’s about expecting the unexpected.

    Many a time I’ve seen the same “back in 15” signs and simply walked off for a coffee, sometimes returning after half an hour only to be met with the same sign…!

    You have to laugh…

    • Thank you very much. High praise!

      I suppose that’s one reason we do it, isn’t it, the unexpected – better than the utterly predictible and boring 9 to 5 stuff! (I know not all 9 to 5 is boring, and I know some folk need the comfort of routine, but that was my experience).

      Oh most definitely we have to laugh, because crying just isn’t an option, is it! After that very first time in the supermarket I never did it again, and truth to tell, that was probably more the stress of organizing the move than anything else! If you don’t go with the flow, the flow will just overcome you!

  11. I love your blog, keep it up!!!


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