Another myth dispelled

Talking with a friend about people’s perception of what to expect in the North v South of Tenerife, it made me think how many times have I read that other old favourite … “The north of Tenerife is lush and green while the south is a barren desert”. Having visited several deserts, the Sahara, Kuwait, Death Valley and Thar, most people have no idea what barren is.

For anyone who has not been to the island this type of statement while not untrue is misleading. However, it is backed up by those who make the common mistake of thinking that the strip of land they see either side of the TF1 as they take the bus from the airport is all there is until you get into the tourist resorts.

Admittedly, the north of the island does appeal to those seeking a “green and pleasant land” its beauty is reminiscent of many places in the UK, in some ways better as it is unsullied by modern industrial life. It is stuffed to the brim with gardens and parks, even the Hotel Tigaiga has spectacular sub-tropical gardens where a guide is happy to give you a FREE plant tour.  But don’t make the other mistake of thinking all this greenery must be due to the amount of rain the north receives. Many forget that a lot of the moisture comes from the Trade Winds that produce a build up of cloud on the north of the island. Where the clouds hit the slopes, the high level of humidity ‘waters’ the farms and sub-tropical vegetation.

Whilst the south is affected less, we still get our fair share of moisture. Our tiny island has so many different faces, packed into a small geographical area – as Shakespeare said, a “precious stone set in a silver sea”. This diversity of both landscape and weather is what makes Tenerife unique. The south may not have the chocolate box greenery of the north but during the winter months, it is anything but barren and desert-like. I’m not aware of any botanical gardens in the south; instead, our cultivated plants are in abundance throughout the resorts. Every roundabout and roadside edge is planted and kept immaculate.

To me, the word desert conjures images of arid wastelands and outside of the resorts, we have lots of wastelands, noticeable when summer temperatures rise and following no rain for weeks on end. However, at this time of the year as I walk along the terraces on the rough land (we call it a park as Chayofa is a bit posh!) a transformation takes place. The wasteland is breathtakingly beautiful in a rugged sort of way. Wild garlic and showy lantana suddenly emerge from beneath the cactus and the mixture of grass and weed give the impression of lush green meadows.

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Festival of San Sebastian – La Caleta, Costa Adeje

I find it very confusing knowing who is who in the world of saints.  It is a bit like who has the biggest ego amongst the Z list celebs in “I’m a Celebrity…” not that I ever know who they are either!

A short while ago I wrote about San Antonio Abad who is the patron saint of animals, yet here we go, just a few days later and another saint is making the same claim to fame.

The festival of San Sebastian in the Costa Adeje resort of La Caleta is a tradition that dates back to long before the arrival of tourists. Similar to a lot of Spanish countries, a traditional mass is followed with the blessing of the animals, however, those who live in Adeje have a more dramatic way of combining the two.

Whilst tinerfeños will party at the drop of a hat, every year on the 20th January, for this particular fiesta it is the farmers of Adeje who hold San Sebastián in particularly high esteem. Once the mass is over, the owners of goats, sheep, donkeys and horses will parade, pull, herd or ride their animals to La Enramada beach and cajole them into the sea for a symbolic cleansing before being blessed by the local priest.

Although chaos seems the order of the day, it is just an excuse for local people to make a big splash and have another party.  In recent years, this popular event has become an attraction to the Tenerife holidaymaker.  Thousands of pilgrims and visitors gather to watch the colourful procession of worshippers, farmers and livestock.  The afternoon fun doesn’t end when the statue of San Sebastian is carried to the water’s edge. People grab any vantage point they can to witness carts and buggies negotiating their way through the crowds, children losing their ice creams while trying to pet greedy goats in the makeshift farmyard and the most spectacular sight of dozens of horses frisking and playing among the waves.

This is a delightful combination of the old and the new: the old ways of the farming communities mixing with the new visitors who enjoy sampling some good traditional food and drink.  And when the sun starts to set, the old and new harmoniously join together as the music strikes up and the dancing begins.

For a bit of genuine local colour, this is an experience not to be missed.

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La Terraza de Chayofa

First, a disclaimer. As a group we pay for all our meals, we don’t get anything buckshee, except perhaps the odd chupito which is common at the end of a meal in many places. For us the food is an extra, we enjoy each others company so if the grub is good, the night is even better. This makes it easier when writing a review as the only thing I have to consider is the comments from each of those in our party, be they good, bad or indifferent. So what you see is what the four of us felt about a particular place on a particular evening. Things could be different another time but my reviews are based on a specific meal and whether we return usually depends on how we felt about our initial visit.

So here we go … It was a cold night and we didn’t want to stray too far from home. There had been a lot of talk about the newcomer on the scene. In a small village, it is quite a big deal getting another place to eat and we had heard that at times the new Terraza had been heaving with locals, although when we arrived mid-week it was pretty quiet. Another reason for our visit was that we had been told Pedro was the chef, he was excellent when he had the Treehouse (when it was Clarets then Cantabria) and the Tasca, many years ago and we were looking forward to sampling his tasty food again. Sadly he wasn’t around which may have made things different, as it was there were two people cooking in the kitchen which looked spotlessly clean.

Our first impression was it was pretty with its red wall and menu wall and there was plenty of room between tables so you could enjoy a meal without being crammed in by other diners. Despite so few people it was very noisy and that was down to the fact that there is nothing to absorb the noise, perhaps it is early days and this will come later, it should certainly be improved when a false ceiling is installed, but generally speaking the space is pleasant.

We were all impressed with the menus but did feel that because they were printed on heavy board they would be expensive to change. Nevertheless, there was plenty of choice.

We placed our orders for two albóndigas to share and because it was so cold Jim went for the onion soup. The waitress asked if we would like bread and sauce which we did. This was not the best start and its paucity is still something of an embarrassment as there were only 3 bread rolls for 4 people. The mojo de cilantro was very pale but two of us thought it tasted fine, I don’t like red mojo so didn’t taste it, but Andrew thought it was too salty. I would probably have liked it because I love salt!!

Our starters then arrived and did little to raise our spirits. The soup Jim said was OK, but our albóndigas didn’t have any flavour and the sauce added little to the pretty pallid bits of meat. There were 7 meatballs in each serving and I brought four home for my girls and Christine took three or four for her doggies.

For our mains Christine and I decided to share a pizza, we checked first that the Arrabiata was spicy and the men both went for chicken and chips, one was with mojo and the other was … with mojo! (although they looked and were priced differently). Sadly once again, the food was disappointing, it was a case of hunt the sausage on the pizza, almost but not quite one piece on each slice and although Jim ate all of his meal, Andrew asked for almost half of his to be boxed to take home for the dogs.

The guys checked out desserts but decided to give them a miss and we asked for the bill.

Overall there were distinct moments of “unevenness” when we felt almost ignored, not really acceptable when the restaurant was almost empty. Our dishes were variable, service was acceptable and not rushed. We did think that the doggy chicken had been forgotten which wasn’t the case as it was then brought to us but only when we asked.

We had already decided that prices were punishing but when the bill arrived we had been charged €10 per portion for the meatballs when they were listed as €4.90. Once pointed out there was no problem and we did get an apology  – however, even after the change, the price still wasn’t correct. Only by a few cents but it meant that because of the carelessness only Christine left a tip, the rest of us were just ready to go home.

This is a restaurant which could be great for the village and attract the locals but right now isn’t quite sure how to do so. On the positive side, despite prices, the outside seating area is lovely, the sort of place you could easily mislay an afternoon but whether it will be a sufficient saving grace who can tell, though somehow I doubt it based on our pretty disastrous visit.

Thank you, Andrew, for the photos as I forgot to pick up my camera 🙂

 

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Making a Claim

I have never had to make a claim against any business while I have lived on the island. In the past, I have returned a couple of electrical goods that have been within their 2-year guarantee and even when the specific model was no longer available a new version quickly replaced it with no arguments or even discussion, just ‘No Problema’. I have obviously been very fortunate, but that isn’t the case with some folk and the reason I am writing this blog is that a lady posted on the Facebook group I help to run Tenerife 4 All about what she should do with faulty goods.

So this article is about what any consumer should do if they have a complaint against a Spanish business be it a restaurant, bar, shop etc. It is about the official consumer complaint forms, known as Hojas de Reclamaciones, what they are and how to use them.

Most people have seen the notices close to the sales point that say “Existen hojas de reclamaciones a disposición del consumidor o usuario” roughly translated it says “Complaint forms available for consumers use”.

What is Hojas de Reclamaciones?

The form is the first step in the ‘official’ Spanish complaints procedure. The booklet is made up of forms in triplicate. The pages are numbered sequentially and consist of a top (white) original copy, a middle (green) copy for the consumer, a bottom (pink) copy which stays in the book. They are issued by the local authority and should be produced on demand.

Forms can look slightly different but basically, this is a good representation.

How do I get the forms?

If you believe you have a complaint then politely ask for the “Hojas de Reclamaciones”. Often this will work like magic because the proprietor, will try to resolve the issue without recourse to this measure. Completing the form is a blot on the company records. If they get a number of similar blots, then the Consumer Office start to nose around the business, which is bad news.

But if no agreement can be reached, there is a legal requirement for all establishments to have the complaints book available, and you have the right to use it. If they refuse to produce the booklet, this is an offence in its own right and you could call the local police who will demand the forms and you should include in the complaint the fact that the hojas de reclamaciones were not available or were refused.

How do I use the form?

  • You should complete the form in either English or Spanish (although obviously, it is better to do so in Spanish).
  • State clearly the cause of the complaint. Keep it SIMPLE or your complaint might not be clearly understood. You should also say what solution you would like to see, such as refund, exchange or repair of goods etc.
  • State the date and time relevant to the complaint.
  • Complete your personal details, name, ID or passport number and address, sufficient for the Consumers Office to reply to you by post.
  • You or possibly the establishment should state the details of the business itself. Every Spanish business has a set of official data which they are obliged to provide for the purposes of filling out the Hoja de Reclamaciones.
    The establishment might wish to add some comments below what you have written, but usually, their comments are made separately.
  • Sign the form.
  • Make sure you have all the relevant information in your possession. This means invoices, receipts, guarantees etc. You will need these later.

Once all the relevant fields in the form are completed, YOU take the TOP TWO pages, that is the WHITE original and the GREEN consumers copy. You leave the PINK copy in the book for the business.

What next?

From the moment you complete the form the establishment has 10 working days to answer your complaint, therefore, you must let this period expire. If you are not answered or if the answer they offer is unsatisfactory, then you can take the WHITE original copy plus photocopies of the receipts, guarantees and any other document you believe relevant, to the local Oficinas Municipales de Información al Consumidor (OMIC) (List of addresses) You could also go to the local Ayuntamiento who will help with anything you need to know. This should be done within one month of completing the form. It is good to go in person if possible, as you can get a stamped official receipt for your complaint.

An official mediation process will be set up (this is NOT a court case, it is a civil arbitration process) and you could get a result between 2 weeks and 4 months, depending on how quickly the business responds to the consumer authority. You will hear by post to the address you put on the form. Keep all the documents and the GREEN copy in a safe place, in case you are asked for them.

If the arbitration goes your way, you should be compensated according to your demands on the form. The Spanish business might also be fined.

If you are a tourist and no longer on the island there is a chance you may wish to download and complete a claim form.  You can do that using this pdf file for Adeje DOWNLOAD  However unlike the forms in the booklets, these can only be completed in Spanish and because the original is required should be posted to the address at the bottom of the file.

I hope this has been a useful article into the way the Spanish handle the complaints procedure between a business and the consumer. I have certainly learnt something. 🙂

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Pilgrimage to San Antonio Abad – Arona

More information and programme of the highlights can be found at the end of this blog for items marked with a 🌟

One of the oldest celebrations with more than four centuries of tradition behind it takes place in the southern municipality of Arona when it celebrates the pilgrimage of San Antonio Abad its patron saint. This is the first big romería of the year and the main feature as San Antonio is the protector of animals, are animals and rural life in the area.

It is a week of events that culminate with the spectacular Pilgrimage on Sunday 13th January.

Thousands of people come to Arona, a lovely unspoilt haven in the hills above the coastal resorts, not just residents but tourists too, as the ayuntamiento provides 🌟free transport from Los Cristianos and Las Americas with the aim of publicising the romería among visitors who wish to learn about the real Tenerife.

The festivals outward appearance has varied over the years, but its raison d’être is still to honour the patron saint mainly with overflowing joy, partying, merriment and hospitality.

The streets and balconies of the town are decorated for the occasion with simple but effective discs featuring the local produce and traditional emblems of the romería. The air is filled with the aroma of roast pork and the sound of parrandas and folklore groups is everywhere.

🌟The day begins around 10.30am for the more religious-minded with a church service and a sung mass. This is followed by the image of the saint being transported around town. For those like me who are not religious, there is lots of fun and games including an artisans fair featuring arts and crafts and stalls with food and drink.

As the town is not big it is easy to see everything as it goes by. The central area is traffic free, making wandering amongst the procession very easy. It starts around noon from the main plaza which is the focal point of the celebrations. Several carts pulled by oxen lead the way and are followed by every dog, cat, rabbit, horse, goat, sheep and even ferret joining in to be blessed, well that is the origin of this tradition. The carts and floats are interspersed with musicians and dancers in traditional dress.

Drink plays a key role in any fiesta and this ancestral pilgrimage in honour of San Antonio Abad is no different. 🌟 It ends in the Plaza del Santísimo Cristo de la Salud with a great evening of revelry, beer and wine flow freely. Ladies in Canarian dress dance and sing for your entertainment and aroneros encourage visitors to dance, sing, drink and enjoy the massive firework display.

It is well worth a few hours out of your day to get to know the real Tenerife

Highlights of the Fiesta

On Thursday candidates from different parts of the municipality will participate in the traditional election of the Romera Mayor de Arona which will be held from 20.00 in the Plaza del Cristo de la Salud.

On Friday, January 11, at 9:00 pm, the magicians’ dance (Baile de Magos) will take place, also in the square and entertainment will be provided by different folk groups both from the municipality as well as guest groups. Note:  it is essential to wear traditional clothes and bring food to share.

🌟 FRETRANSPORT FOR THE PILGRIMAGE on SUNDAY, 13th JANUARY

10:00, 11:00, 12:00 hours: Departures from Los Cristianos (Juan Carlos I Avenue, opposite the Infanta Leonor Auditorium) and Playa de las Américas (Avenida Noelia Alfonso Cabrera, in front of the Zentral Center hotel) towards Arona

4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm: Departures from Arona, with stops at (Juan Carlos I Avenue, opposite the Infanta Leonor Auditorium) in Los Cristianos, and (Noelia Alfonso Cabrera Avenue, in front of the Zentral Hotel Center), in Playa de las Américas.

🌟 SUNDAY, 13th JANUARY

10:00 Hours: Opening of the craft show – Plaza del Santísimo Cristo de la Salud, Arona.
11:00 am: Holy Mass sung by Parranda Chasnera. Parish San Antonio Abad
At the end: Traditional Pilgrimage, with the performances of the different municipal folk groups and guests. Route: El Calvario, Domínguez Alfonso, La Luna and Calle Duque de la Torre.
During the Pilgrimage: Traditional animal blessing.
4:00 pm: A Dance with the orchestras Wamampy and Tropin – Plaza del Santísimo Cristo de la Salud

On Thursday, January 17, the day of San Antonio Abad, a solemn mass will be celebrated. It will be attended by the mayor of Arona, José Julián Mena, who encourages both residents of the municipality and visiting tourists, to visit Arona during their patron saint festivities and discover the beauty, cultural and architectural value of the town as well as our beautiful resorts.

Images are from last years romería.
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