Saturday, February 14, 2015

Canaries in the Kohl Mine

It occurred to me last night, as we prepared to call it a day, that being an entertainment director at a hotel of the sort in which we’re staying must not be many cuts above extracting the lobsters from Jayne Mansfield’s rectum (spot the reference and win valuable prizes!). At 9 a.m., the poor devil, whose 27th birthday it was, was leading an aqua aerobics session out by the pool. Nine hours later, he was welcoming us into the dining room, and checking off our name. And three hours after that he was conducting a bingo session. Sixteen-hour days of trying to keep (mostly) ancient, (mostly) patronizing (aren’t his attempts at English adorable?) foreign tourists amused sounds to me like something other than a world of fun. 

We had traipsed after an early lunch (following a late breakfast!) into the nearby town of El Medano, and there observed little of note. There are a great many surf-related shops there, and a great many little snack bars, but no houses of illl repute, at least none evident to the naked eye, and no notable shops. We resolved to ride a public bus west to Los Cristianos, where Brits intent on pretending that they haven’t left home, but that it’s somehow become much warmer, sit around their hotel swimming pools drinking and getting painfullly sunburned, and then repair to the area’s many, many British-owned bars to drink and to tell each other how painful their sunburns are. 

We didn’t neglect to note that, in the wrong hands, the public transportation system, Titsa, could figure in a great number of naughty puns, and noted with dismay that the posted schedule seemed to be entirely fanciful, an impression corroborated by a very red Mancuinian who believed that the schedules might just as well be filled with times pulled from a hat. Sure enough, the 470 arrived 72 minutes latte. 

The bus took us past where we stayed our previous two visits to Tenerife, in 2004 and 2006. The first time, I was working on my famous Kate Bush book, and we spent a lot of time in our little apartment in Golfo del Sur, the missus watching BBC World News and I making notes on The Katesster’s albums, in between gaping open-mouthed at the tasteful gay porn our television offered without explanation or apology. The second time, we became chummy with a karaoke DJ from the worst part of Liverpool, and the missus, who loves to read the listings in (real) estate office windows, struck up a zesty conversation in the capital city about local property values with an actual local. 

Horrid black clouds glared down at us all day yesterday from on high, and it made the southern half of Tenerife unimaginably ugly. Imagine a part of your town in which wheel-less cars balance on piles of cinderblocks in every front yard, and in which disreputable-looking body shops abound. Surround it with the ugliest vegetation possible. Add lots and lots of hideous graffiti, most of it denouncing the police, and some of the most appalling commercial signage I’ve seen outside of San Francisco’s Inner Richmond and Sunset districts. Voila! South Tenerife! Now imagine glimpsing it from a bus that seems to stop, interminably, every couple of hundred yards, and whose driver is listening to a Spanish talk radio channel at a volume that suggests he used to play, never with earplugs, in a Lee Michaels tribute band.


My favourite fellow guest, around 75, facially resembles the 1950s movie tough guy Broderick Crawford, except without his dazzling baby blues. Her coiffure evokes that of the television personality Arsenio Hall, circa 1995, and is dyed the color of the pineapple, uh, drink to which one can help himself from a machine in the dining room. She is an alarming shade of red from her long hours by the pool. She totters down to dinner in stripper heels that Katy Perry would find immoderate, with gigantic diamond rings on eight fingers. She is, as I have observed to the missus, who hadn’t heard the term before, but was able immediately to, uh, suss, a trip. 

1 comment:

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