Saturday, September 15, 2012

Some thoughts on my last trip to Tenerife

It's been almost three weeks since I came back from Tenerife and I realized that I never wrote much about my trip except for a post about my evening in Candelaria. While it is true that I didn't do many interesting things during my holidays, the real reason for not writing more about it was the bittersweet feeling that accompanied me during my week in Tenerife. I had a wonderful time in my home island, I enjoyed every moment with my family and friends and my boyfriend and I indulged in some relaxing days doing nothing, as we both needed a break from the hectic year behind us. But at the same time, I couldn't help but noticing how dramatic the economic situation was and that was slightly depressing. Actually, this story started 4 years ago when I went back to Tenerife after spending a year in Belgium as exchange student. Back then the finance world had started to tremble as a consequence of the bursting of the American housing bubble and all the mess caused by the subprime mortgages (phew, that's a fine mess that's still troubling us today. Probably almost everyone has heard that story and i don't want to bore you with too many economic details. If you're intesrested you might want to check Wikipedia, to take a look at Paul Krugman's blog where he has written extensively about it or if you speak Spanish to watch Simiocracia, by Aleix Saló). However, while the rest of the world was a fearing a drastic recession, Spain was just excited about the football eurocup they were about to win and the prospects of becoming a member of the G8 thinking that those American problems wouldn't affect them in a big way. And were they wrong! 

I arrived back to Tenerife the same day that Spain kicked Russia out of the Eurocup, making it into the final (I'll never forget that flight with the pilot cheerfully informing about the goals scored by the Spanish national team). Nothing had changed that much in Tenerife while I was away. Just two  details could presage the terrible years to come: petrol prices had risen to 1€ per liter and the pace at which building and roadworks were down had slowed down, gone were the days of 24/7 working in the construction sector! People ignored the problem and kept on spending as if there was no tomorrow. And tomorrow came, darker than ever and it tore apart every hope that people might have had for the future. The unemployment rate reached a maximum never seen before (the Canary Islands have one of the highest unemployment rates in Spain, up to 30%), investors took their money away and the governements have been carrying out dramatic spending cuts programmes which haven't improved the situation so far. 

It's been for years now and the end doesn't seem to be drawning near. People started to lose all their hopes after hearing day after day that there's no future and they just had an dazed look in their eyes. The last time I spent a long time in Tenerife was from January 2011 until June 2012. I tried to find a job but it was impossible. I would meet my friends any morning and the streets were always crowded, as there were so many unemployed people. Back then people had some hope to hold onto. They still tried to find a job, still tried to lead a normal life going for a drink with friends, buying some clothes to cheer themselves up. This summer wasn't like this anymore. Bars and stores were mostly empty and many small shops were shut down, more people than ever were asking for money, food or simply a job, the streets were dirty as there's no money to pay people to clean them up, spending cuts had minimized fire-fighting resources so a string of fires were burning for weeks this summer, and the list goes on. Ironically, while I was living in Tenerife I somehow managed forget about the drama thinking there might be better days to come but now that I don't live there anymore and this problem doesn't affect me that much is when reality really hit me. And it did hit hard! 

Maybe I am more sensitive to the situation now that I am living in a country where things still run smoothly (it may be true that the financial crisis has also taken its toll on The Netherlands, but nothing to do with Spain!) Maybe it's the fact that I once lived there and I once knew better shiny times and now seeing so much misery  where there used to be prosperity deeply saddens me. I am aware that many other countries find themselves in far worse situations than Spain and Tenerife, after all, there are heartbreaking stories everyday on the news. But this is my story, this is the story of my holidays. And I guess that this is another side of travelling, which many tourists choose to ignore by booking themselves in all-inclusive resorts.

Have you ever experienced something similar, no matter where in the world? Have you felt overwhelmed by the consequences of the credit crunch while travelling? Let me know your thoughts about it.

p.s. This is one of my favourite songs lately and it's part of my inspiration for writing this post. I guess I also  felt that I had to tell the world where I've been ... Enjoy!


  1. Lovely post! Your blog is interesting!


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