Today is a very special day. It marks the five year anniversary of my arrival in Tenerife, the “island of eternal spring”.
I have been reflecting and reliving some of the memories that have made up the past five years, and have drawn the conclusion that there are far too many to write about here. Too many to even summarize! I can hardly believe it’s been five whole years – sometimes it seems like only last month that I walked out of Tenerife South airport dragging my two matching suitcases, a little apprehensive but ready to meet my new adventure head on. I remember standing in the long taxi queue with the heat of the sun beating down on me, looking over to the blue sea, thinking, my god, I’m really here!
The family next to me in the taxi queue commented that I had a lot of luggage for one person and made a joke about it. When I told them it was because I had come to live here, they were impressed. That was a reaction I was to enjoy provoking for some months to come, but those first few weeks I milked it! Staying in an aparthotel in Playa de Las Americas for the first two weeks meant that I was eating out every day, exploring the area as much as I could, and was constantly surrounded by holidaymakers, who would always ask if I had come on holiday on my own. “No,” I’d reply, “I’ve just moved over here on my own.” Heehee, I received some wonderful responses, disbelief, awe, and usually envy. I really don’t know how to describe the reactions I’d get from people when I included a mention that I had never been to Tenerife before. I think a few of them thought I was mad, or just a silly kid chasing a dream who wouldn’t last six months here.
Even before I came out here, those from whom I asked advice on Tenerife internet communities thought I was a dizzy dream-chaser with little sense of reality, and understandably so. Here was a girl claiming she already had a job with a permanent contract lined up and waiting for her, flight booked, without ever having set foot on the island! I wanted to know about the intricacies of tax and other deductions from the salary I was going to be earning, and the only responses I seemed to be receiving were warnings to be cautious and suspicious, and to keep my feet firmly on the ground. I would be interested to know how many of those people are still in Tenerife today. Their advice was perfectly sound, but I really was the exception
I had seen the job advertised on the internet in January 2007. It said “Irlanda del Norte” at the top of the page, so I assumed the job was in Belfast or somewhere, but it sounded interesting and fit my profile, so I emailed my CV. Within a week I received a phone call inviting me to an interview in London, and the woman asked me why I wanted to work in Spain! Of course, I had been expecting Northern Ireland, but I disguised my surprise, recovered quickly and blagged an answer that must have been acceptable. At the end of the conversation, she advised me to practise my Spanish for the interview – eek!
With only a week to prepare for the interview, I dedicated my time to preparing all possible interview questions I could think of and writing them in Spanish, to help me recognise them on the day. Then I drafted my answers in Spanish, using a dictionary to check all the keywords and words I wasn’t sure of, to make sure I’d be able to reply confidently. When I wasn’t doing that I was listening to Spanish pop songs or watching my collection of Almodóvar movies again, just to train my ear. I had never done an interview in Spanish before and I was sooo nervous.
On the day I couldn’t judge how well or badly I had done at all. The bit that sticks most in my mind of the interview was when they asked me the question: if I were offered the job, did I have any preference whereabouts in Spain I was sent to. I replied no, and they clarified: What about the islands? Would you be happy to go to the islands? Secretly thinking just give me the job and I’ll go absolutely anywhere you send me, I replied that yes I’d be happy to go to the islands, and that was that. Then I relaxed by going for a ride on the London Eye, before making my way to Gatwick for my flight back to Manchester.
Three days later I had a phone call on my mobile to offer me a job in the Canary Islands! I was sitting in my parked car at the time and remember grabbing at my steering wheel, shrieking at it over and over again that I was going to live in Spain. I was deliriously excited but both my parents, each independently of the other, reacted with “Oooh, that’s a big decision, you’re going to have to give it some serious consideration”. I just replied “What decision?? I’m going to Tenerife!!!”
So on Friday 30th March 2007, I took the British Airways flight from Manchester to Tenerife South. My aim in the beginning was simply to stick it out for twelve months. Five years later, I’m still here, working for the same company, although I’ve changed office a couple of times, and I’m happy. I love my apartment with its sea views, I love my pinny gigs and I love the friends that I’ve made here. It’s been one hell of an experience, and the adventure continues….