JAIL – if you break the law here, particularly if you deal in drugs, the JUDGE will send you to jail before you can blink. The British Consulate can advise you and your family of your rights, but they can’t get you out of jail if you deserve to be in there. There are some expats who dedicate themselves to visiting the inmates, many of whom will have no other visitors, but you might have to wait a couple of years before your actual trial. At least you’ll be fluent in Spanish when you come out.
There are some strange JUXTAPOSITIONS on this island. You might see an old one-storey house crouched between two multi-storey blocks of apartments, or a battered wooden rowing boat pulled ashore beside a streamlined power boat. On the beach could be a black-clad grandmother sitting on a folding chair next to a near-naked girl on a gaudy towel, and mothers in saris or headscarves stand next to women in strappy tops outside the schools.
But the strangest juxtaposition must be that of the airport and the Hermitage, former home of Tenerife’s first and only saint. Hermano Pedro (Brother Peter) was born in 1626 in Villaflor, the highest town in Tenerife. For a while he lived in a cave near the south coast and then he went to join relatives in Guatemala, where he founded a Brotherhood that cared for the poor.
He was made a saint in 2002 and is credited with several miracles.
Although he is buried in Guatemala, his former hermitage in Tenerife is a revered shrine where Mass is said regularly. His small cave is full of flowers, small photos of people in need of his prayers are stuck in the frames of religious pictures, and there is a box of L-plates left there by those who believe Hermano Pedro helped them to pass their driving tests. It is a peaceful place, most of the time.
But the runway lights of Reina Sofia airport straddle the site, and on the busiest days an aeroplane flies overhead every few minutes. Usually they’re taking off, but I was there one day when the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, and a huge JET came into land, JUST skimming the hermitage. I was standing right underneath it. I could see the passengers’ faces, the wheels seemed close enough to touch, and it felt as if the noise was pushing me into the ground. It was, as the youngsters say, awesome!
There is a small house near the seafront in Las Galletas with a visual JOKE on its wall that always makes me smile.
You can JUST see it in this photograph.
Maybe this chap met the Hanging JUDGE?