I’m not even sure where to start… Lets begin at the airport.
I had sent out about eight emergency couch requests over couchsurfing. I thought I had someone to stay with in Tenerife but I wasn’t getting any calls back or email responses, so I had to assume it wasn’t going to work out. I also figured I would be able to find a hostel easy if no one responded. I was coming in during off season, right?
Nope. EVERYTHING was full. I’ve gotta remember to kick myself in the butt for that one. The weather here is perfect here all year round, so people like to come during the winter to get away from the cold. No one responded to my surfing requests, except it looked like stuff was going on on the south side of the island.
A girl named Katie had put up a request for someone to hang out with on Playa del ingles, which sounded like a great idea, so I sent her my number. Then I realized her profile had no references to speak of. That’s one red flag for couch surfers; no references, potentially a bad idea. The also had a LOT of makeup on in her profile picture and was a 23 year old blonde woman with only one picture of herself and a pretty generalized profile. So many red flags. I wasn’t about to meet up with someone offering me drinks if there was even one chance I was walking into some sort of trap. Well, she started messaging me.
She seemed friendly and normal enough until I realized she couldn’t speak Spanish, though she told me she grew up in Las Canarias. Additionally, her English wasn’t perfect. I was so confused. Then I got this message:
At this point I had no clue what to think. She sent a picture of her friend doing drag and invited me along but at this point… Too many flags to risk to sleep for the night. I apologized and slept at the airport.
That morning I went into the center of the city by bus and walked around from 6-9:30am, when everything started opening.
With the first bits of morning light, you can see the outline if the mountains on the horizon from the airport. Temperature: 68 degrees.
The island is amazing. The water is like the water in Greece except for the waves, which are much larger here. I found a place to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic.
The city has various points where you can work out for free on some public equipment. These things are located in parks and on bike trails and stuff.
This place takes parks seriously. They’re EVERYWHERE. And there’s people exercising all over the place. I haven’t seen a single homeless person yet, either. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but maybe there’s a lower incidence of homelessness here? I’ll have to look that up…
Talking on your phone while driving? 3 points from Gryffindor. Er, your license.
It was at about 10 I got a message from a couchsurfer from the island. He wasn’t able to host, but he said I could come meet him and he would show me around. And boy, we walked for HOURS.
Walked here to catch the bus to his neighborhood. Everything is so fancy here… Managed to pick up a snorkel and mask too!
H took me through a gorgeous park near his home, pointed out the swan pond, some fountains, and even a free rock-climbing wall where you can take free lessons and climb.
The graffiti here is really cool and not dirty or ugly. It’s also more or less sparse. Most of the buildings look pretty decent, especially considering how bad the mainland cities and Greece looked.
Next was the beach. The island is volcanic so the beach here is black, although there is a gold beach literally right next to it. It’s really strange. And there are bits of gold sand that make shiny patterns in the black sand. Very cool!
Oscar (that’s the couchsurfer’s name) showed me the best place to get ice cream (I got Nutella and Kinder gelato- MMMM), and explained some stuff about the island to me. Each beach is marked with flags telling you how dangerous it is to swim there. Red flags are dangerous due to currents and rocky seabeds. Orange is in the middle (and every couple years someone actually gets sucked out to sea and dies D: ), and green means no danger. A blue flag means the beach is top quality- clean water and sand, with free showers and lockers to put your stuff, good waves and safe to swim.
Every half hour, the intercom comes on announcing the conditions of certain beaches depending in the tide, which is high until the afternoon. During high tide, you can’t see any of the rocks that make a natural barrier a hundred meters out from the beach, but when the tide is low, you can see everything.
Yet another wedding. No one looks happy…
Then we went to the local supermarket located conveniently at the port where the giant cruise ships with rich passengers makes port and he showed me the luxury McDonald’s, the tennis court on top, the open-air bars outside with couches and a lazy river… This place is indescribable.
Then we split!
Evidently, this entire northern section of the city was once a beach with trees and stuff. In the 70s when the island became a very popular tourist area, they leveled the entire city area, built everything, and destroyed all bit of evidence of the place not being a tourist attraction. No one on the island does agriculture anymore because tourism brings in so much money. However, groceries are pretty cheap, the food is excellent, and there’s a lot of well-kept parks and beaches as a result. Also, over a million people live here, so it’s like a big city on the mainland that has everything you could ever need.
Since I couldn’t find any places to sleep, I was getting really flustered. I don’t want to be too negative, so I’ll skip some of the details… I talked to some police about where to find rooms, and I found one for €15 after the person who had reserved it didn’t show up. It’s not a hostel thought, it’s called a pensión and I’m not sure what the translation would be. But I have a room to myself (boring but okay), towels, and wifi. Life was suddenly good again. I planned on going out with a group of couchsurfers, but a nap turned into fourteen hours of delicious sleep.