28/09/2013

IT'S A SKEWED WORLD


GOLF is definitely a rich man's game, at least here in Tenerife. People pay over E100 per round for the privilege of knocking a ball about some admittedly spectacular scenery, under perfect blue skies, on greens that use thousands of gallons of our precious water.
Abama Golf Resort in Guia de Isora has begun work on yet more accommodation - luxury apartments and villas of which 90% are already sold at a staggering 700,000 to 1,250,000 euros apiece.
No wonder it made front page news.

In smaller type is the sad news that a centre specialising in the treatment of Alzheimer's - the first in all of Spain and only opened two years ago - is to close due to lack of public funding.

It is indeed a skewed world.

24/09/2013

THE YORKIE UPSTAIRS

Cute, isn't he? That depends on your point of view.
The couple living in the apartment above ours have a Yorkshire terrier. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but they go out to work and leave it on their balcony for hours. It yaps at every single thing that moves, including us on our terrace below, our cat, and anyone who comes up the path to the complex, although he does seem to understand “Shut up!” or "Callate!" and I can always resort to the hose if it carries on. 
Another problem is the drain hole from their balcony which, owing to one of several design faults by the - obviously male - architect, decants any liquid onto our terrace right in front of our doors. This includes water dripping from their washing, on one occasion half a bucket of water when she swilled the whole thing down, but also dog pee when, as often happens, they go away and leave the poor animal to the tender mercies of her mother who only visits twice a day to feed it.
We have complained to the community more than once, and now stand accused of running a vendetta.
The tenants are a strange couple who regularly have protracted fights that involves one of them sobbing at length – they seem to take it in turns to do that. We have also been treated to their strange selection of music, and the occasional siesta-time tryst during which they both climax noisily. You can’t hide anything in a community where the doors and windows stay open to grab any breeze that’s going.
I thought I was hearing one of these trysts a few weeks ago as the girl was howling rhythmically, but when it went on for fifteen minutes I decided even a hot-blooded Spaniard couldn’t have that much stamina. 
This has become a regular occurrence and over the past few weeks I have finally worked out what it is - she is teaching her dog to howl.


15/09/2013

ROAD TO NOWHERE

The world recession has hit Spain badly, and although the politicians shouted triumph when 600 people found jobs last month, Tenerife is suffering even worse than the mainland.
The building industry was dragged along in the wake of the time-share boom and subsequent collapse, and thousands of jobs were lost - six hundred hardly makes a dent in those figures.


The village where we live is surrounded by unsold apartments and houses - they call them 'villas' but they look like terraced houses to me. I walked past these this morning and I think two might be occupied. I heard that the builders were selling them off at 'cost price' = 60,000 euros.

One of the more sensible laws introduced here in the past decade was that any 'urbanisacion' must begin with its infrastructure - roads, pipes, electricity -to avoid the nightmare of people buying property without these basic amenities. The unfortunate aftermath of this is that when the building firms went bust they left behind hundreds of roads that lead nowhere and serve nothing.


The piles of building materials have gone and the fences have decayed, so people walk the empty streets for exercise or to let their dogs crap on the rough ground, careful not to fall foul of the many traps where desperate, hungry people have taken the drain covers and stripped electricity cables to sell for scrap.




There are a couple of security men - one obviously sleeping in an old portable site office - but apart from that an eerie silence hangs over these roads to nowhere.

05/09/2013

STOP THIEF!


This is a rose bush. It sits in the community garden where everyone can walk past it and admire its beautiful deep red, velvety roses. Look - see the roses?
Ah - that's a shame - they've gone. Well, they were lovely while they lasted. Two days ago they were 24 hours from perfection - everyone who walked past said they were waiting with bated breath for their brief splendour .. but then .. someone stole them!
This has been the fate of every rose bud for the past two years, but only once has the culprit been spotted actually taking one. I was so mad this time that I put a poster on all the entrance doors. Complete with the above photo it said, in Spanish,
"Al Ladron/a - To the Thief. Yesterday there were four red roses for everyone to enjoy - today, nothing. Do not steal more. There are people at every window."

Then the post lady came, and while I was talking to her I saw, through the suspect's open door, a little vase containing two deep red roses. I got my camera and took a photo as proof, and it's just as well I did. An hour later, when we got home, her door was still open but the vase had gone. I hope she is trembling in her bed.


02/09/2013

THE SEX LIFE OF CACTI

We have a lot of cacti in Tenerife of all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of ferocity. I see this thirty-foot-tall one on my morning walk - this week it was in exuberant flower.

There is even a Cactus Park where you can learn how some cacti protect themselves with vicious spikes while others use toxins to deter predators – very wise in a climate where they are often the only succulent vegetable food around.
 
This one is called Silla de Suegra – Mother-in-law’s Chair, which proves that those so-called jokes are universal.
We can buy cactus fruit too, though
I don’t like the bland taste or the multiple seeds, and there’s cactus jam and even cactus liquor.
The fruits pictured above mainly come from the huge palmate cacti that were once cultivated for, believe it or not, the insects that still infest them – cochineal.
At one time this was a thriving industry here, and I understand that many of what appear to be wild cacti may still belong to a particular family. Now most of our red food colouring is artificially produced – not many people like the idea of putting crushed insects into their food – but the fruit is still harvested with leather gloves, shaved with a disposable razor and eaten or sold.

But I have rarely seen any sign of fruit or even seed pods on other cacti. They produce beautiful flowers, but why? Presumably to attract insects, but how do they reproduce?
Perhaps the answer is the same as to the question, “How do hedgehogs make love?”
                                           Carefully.