You may remember a post not all that long ago when I revealed that after our travels around South America we would be relocating to Tenerife, with the aim of trying out a new life in the sun. Although we had originally decided on staying for a trial period of three months, I had high hopes that we would be staying for much longer. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be, and after a very enjoyable three month stint, we are leaving once again for Sweden.
What went wrong?
Actually, nothing went wrong. We found an apartment, got our paperwork, and secured jobs fairly quickly. We were lucky when my aunt, who lives on the island, offered us unlimited use of her car, giving me the opportunity to tackle driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. We enjoyed much-needed downtime after some busy months on the road. I visited some of Tenerife’s spectacular scenery, enjoyed all the British food on offer, attended the second largest carnival in the world, and got myself the best tan I’ve ever had. The last few months have been valuable and enjoyable.
But island life is not for us. At least it’s not right now.
When it became clear that teaching would not be an option for me on the island, I had to try my hand at something else. That something was sales and it turns out that I am not a good sales person. Unfortunately for me, many jobs on the island are commission based so I didn’t make much money. In fact, most days I spent more on petrol and bottles of water than I earned. Salaries on the island are low, and many people have two or even three jobs just to make ends meet. Unwilling to give up my days off for extra work, and with the savings account running dangerously low, it was time to cut our losses and leave.
It is hard for a traveller to admit defeat.
When I arrived in Tenerife I honestly hoped I could carve a life there, and maybe I have thrown in the towel too easily. But on an island such as Tenerife there is no such thing as a weekend: many jobs only offer one day off a week. If you are lucky enough to get two they are unlikely to be consecutive. This doesn’t sit well with somebody who likes to travel. Before coming here I had envisaged weekend breaks in Madrid, Barcelona, the other Canary Islands, even Morocco. It was not long before I realised that even if I had the time, I wouldn’t have the money to realise these dreams.
It saddens me that our plans haven’t worked out.
Outside of the resorts and away from the holidaymakers I love the island, but I miss the city. I miss the hustle and bustle that I have grown used to by living in big cities such as Tokyo and Saigon.
I miss travel. Even if it’s just for a weekend, I love the feel of exploring and photographing a new place.
I even miss teaching. I went into the profession because I love the job, sometimes I forget that, but it’s true. I’m not a good sales person because it’s not my passion. For that reason alone, Tenerife can’t be for me, not yet.
Refusing to live a life of “What-ifs”
One of the reasons I moved to Tenerife is because if I didn’t, I knew I would always wonder ‘what-if’? I may not have found the life that I was looking for there, but I saw beyond the cheap English breakfasts and bars and found an amazing island with a fascinating culture and history. A trip to the basilica at Candelaria will bring you face-to-face with the bronze statues of the Guanches: the indigenous peoples of Tenerife who, like the Incas and Aztecs, fell to the Spanish Conquistadors. Simon Bolivar, who fought the Spanish in order to liberate many countries in South America, had a Grandmother from Tenerife, and Horatio Nelson lost his arm in battle in Tenerife. Yes, Tenerife has a fascinating culture and history: but people rarely look beyond the invasion of holiday-makers with their reddened skin and insatiable lust for alcohol, football and chips.
So my plans have not worked out this time. But I’m not going to worry about it; I’m simply going to change my course again because that’s what you do when something is not right. Get up and move on. I have great memories of my time in Tenerife, and I have no doubt that I’ll be back one day as there is still so much of the island that I would love to see. But when I come back I’ll have money and time on my side.
Have you ever made a move that didn’t work out? What did you do? Do you think I should have stayed longer or did I make the right decision? Let me know in the comments below.