09/09/2014

THE OTHER SIDE OF TENERIFE

You don't have to go very far to find the other side of Tenerife - the side tourists don't often see.

Only a few years ago these ruins were inhabited by banana plantation workers - their kitchens were shared between several houses and their laundry room was an outside concrete sink with built-in scrubbing board. You can still buy a version of those sinks today.


Now people live in these modern blocks, but they are constructed in much the same way. Beneath the plaster the building blocks are made of cement rather than cut from volcanic rock, but I wonder if they will still be recognizable as housing sixty years from now?


You might have seen street sweepers carrying a palm leaf on their trolleys - there is even a special slot for them! They are unbeatable for cleaning great swathes of paving in one sweep, and when they wear out there are plenty more where they came from!



This alleyway, with its unrailed stairway to an upper apartment, is across the road from where I live, and likely to remain for some time. The several families who live there refused to move when the Cabildo widened and straightened the road, which is why there's a huge bump in the middle of an otherwise even stretch of road.




You only have to go for a walk to find evidence of the old ways - such as this water-channel made from hollowed-out lengths of volcanic rock, or the collapsing walls of rough brown rocks that once held back the earth in small terraced fields. Alas, the south of Tenerife no longer has the rainfall to sustain such subsistence farming.
But some people still grow their own, and this elderly woman walks a kilometer several times a week to the next village to trade her garden produce for groceries. I think she shops for several neighbours, because I have seen her carrying a huge sack of potatoes on her head and a box under each arm with apparent ease!

Next time you're out and about in Tenerife, look past the hotels and bars for the simpler things that make this island different, and go home with another aspect of Tenerife etched on your memory.

6 comments:

  1. It's good to touch the roots of a place, Liz, even if now there are only vestiges of those roots. And good to remind ourselves that we are not that far removed from this level of living. Brittany is littered with cottages and coeur de ferme properties just crumbling away, when they could be viable homes. Nobody wants the hard work any more, and the small farms have been subsumed into much bigger ones. . Thought-provoking, Liz. Lorraine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen from your own posts, Lorraine, that you seek out and enjoy the same aspects of rural life that I do. There will always be people who eschew the fast lane, I trust.

      Delete
  2. Interesting post. It looks like a completely different country/era to the Tenerife people usually see. I'm amazed at the woman who can carry potatoes on her head!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am in awe of her, Annalisa. she can only weigh about 45 kilos and she's really old - she must have neck muscles of steel!

      Delete
  3. Fascinating post, Lizy. So interesting to see parts of countries beyond the bars and beaches that many tourists see. Incredible that the lady can carry all that stuff! As you say, muscles of steel!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We're used to seeing African women carry stuff on their heads, but it's a rare sight here.

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment, please - I will reply to everyone.