I was chatting to Guy on the phone a couple of nights ago, and we were both bemoaning that lack of funds cramps social life. There is no spare cash around at the moment for restaurant meals, movies, theater, concerts etc, in other words the sort of stuff you do with pals as a part of a normal UK social life. Guy doesn’t drink, so going to the pub is kind of boring for him, and anyway, not, necessarily that cheap. The rain was beating on his window as we spoke, so even going for a run with a friend was out of the question just then. If he’d been here he could have gone surfing, running, cycling, swimming, snorkeling, or just crashed on the sand to watch the parade of bikini-clad girls stroll by.
It made me realize how lucky I am to live here, where it is still possible to meet up with friends and do things together which don’t send your bank account spiraling into red, and I began to make a mental list, and then thought maybe it’s worth sharing. According to my research we have 300 days of sunshine per year, but my own common sense tells me it’s more than that. It’s a rare day on the South Coast of the island when there isn’t sunshine for at least a part of the day, and temperatures are such that you can go to the beach year round, though it might be cooler in the North in the Winter months. So you can ring a pal tonight and make plans for tomorrow without much fear of “weather not permitting.”
The one thing which possibly all these activities will require is transport, though, but not necessarily much for some of them, and if there is a group of friends, then that can be minimized of course.
No 1 – GO TO THE BEACH (Let’s get the obvious out of the way first!)
Living here, as opposed to coming on vacation, you may see things somewhat differently. Tenerife has a huge variety of beaches, so surely there must be something for everyone! There are the well-maintained, some of them European Blue Flag, tourist beaches. High season they may well not be everyone’s cup of tea, they certainly aren’t mine, but low season, like now, they are fine. There are no school-age kids screaming and throwing sand around, and especially on weekdays it can be just as relaxing as driving out to a more remote beach. You can hire a sunbed or not to keep down the cost of the day. Usually there are showers, bars nearby and life guards on duty.
On the opposite extreme you only need to drive for fifteen minutes or so if you live near the coast (and probably about 30 if you live well inland) and you can find a rocky beach which, on a low season weekday, you can have to yourselves. Apart from being prettier and more private there are less rules and regulations, which means that you can light up the barbie, leave your wine and beers in a rock pool to keep cool, and even play your music loud I suppose – if you must, and there really is no-one to disturb….or you can just enjoy the peace and silence! You might have to leave the car at the top and walk down, but it will be worth it, and you can pretend you’re on a desert island. Just make sure you have plenty of water and suncream, because you won’t want to leave to go in search of either, and take a first-aid kit, because the Red Cross won’t be there.
In between you have dozens and dozens of beaches which haven’t been tarted up to tourist standards, but are more accessible, and have been made user-friendly and safer. These are the ones used by local people at the weekends and on holidays, but to be honest even the small, rocky ones will be busy on an August holiday date. Almost every small, coast village has one, and on a Sunday it seems as if the entire village is camped out there, but, again, weekdays they can be much more appealing.
Speaking of camping out, there is a tradition amongst some families here of camping out at the beach once the Summer heat makes sleeping indoors difficult. Temperatures drop as the light fades, and even in Summer it can be chilly outside, but walls retain the day’s heat, and sleep can be elusive. It’s mainly the youngsters who do it. They take a tent down to a quiet beach and set up shop until the heat subsides in early Fall, returning home daily to shower or collect whatever they need. It’s kind of cheating camping, but sounds like fun, sitting around the fire until you really want to sleep, chewing the fat, enjoying the local wine, fishing for your supper and cooking it over the fire. What marvellous memories for your old age!
But you don’t have to stay overnight, just get a group together and go! If restaurant meals are a bit too steep right now, you take your own. If there are fishermen amongst your friends you might even be lucky enough to enjoy the freshest fish you’ve ever had – straight from rod to pan! Would you get anything that good in a restaurant?? Even if preparing a feast seems like too much trouble, don’t even sandwiches and fruit taste better eaten outdoors? A lovely memory I have from years ago was barbequing next to a local family on a quiet beach one weekend. Their menfolk had been snorkeling and had come back with spikey sea urchins, and they were cracking them open to cream out the roe inside, and shared with us. I doubt I’ll be doing that myself any time soon – I don’t think I could ever get the knack of opening them without doing myself some harm, but they were delicious, and it was an marvellous way of getting to know people and learn about a local delicacy that you don’t see on the menus of the local tapas bars!
This sharing is typical of life here. You hardly ever cook outdoors in a public place without someone offering you a taste of whatever they have cooking away. We learned to take some traditional English stuff with us too, so that we could exchange cultures a bit.
If you take a picnic then the only cost to a day in the sunshine is the cost of getting there, and for many of us, this doesn’t even include that, as we simply slip on our sandals and walk there. And now, if you don’t live here, and are thinking of coming you’re thinking “Why hasn’t she listed these beaches?”, aren’t you? Well, it occured to me that I might make it a project for this Summer to try as many as I can find and get to comfortably. I think I will exclude weekends, when it’s busy, but I am thinking of adding a new tab to the blog just for this…..or maybe I just need an excuse to get away from the computer and get down to the beach! So watch out for islandmomma’s beach guide, and more almost-free things to do in Tenerife!
Update: Links to subsequent posts on this theme:
Take a drive through the Teide National Park