Tenerife: Beach Balls and Beer Bellies.


Five years ago, when I last visited Tenerife, I was about to turn sixteen. My fourteen year old brother and I got drunk for the first time in our lives on all-inclusive alcohol, which we got hold of using an adults wristband. He threw up black, slimey sick on our hotel room floor. I fell in love with each and every boy my age that I saw.

This trip was a little different. Firstly, my now eighteen year old brother didn’t come, and it was just my eight year old brother and I, along with mum and dad. This time, getting off the plane in Tenerife felt a little like getting off a plane in Skegness, only Skegness in a major heatwave. Crimson beer bellies and bottle openers shaped like willies. Signs for McDonalds 10 metres away, alcohol served with breakfast, photos of what your cocktail is meant to look like, but never will, on the menu. In other words, a holiday for people who want a tan, but don’t actually want to leave England.
I flew out on the Friday separately to my family, and within ten minutes of landing my mum informed me that on Sunday we would be going to our hotel’s sister hotel to a meeting about buying a villa there. ‘Are you joking?’ I asked. There’s not a chance my family would ever consider that, or be in the financial position to do so. ‘No,’ mum said, ‘if we go, we get a free breakfast and £50 off tickets to Siam Park!’ That’s more like it, I thought, anything for a freebie.
The trip to the sister hotel was lovely, if you could convince yourselves the over-exaggerated smiles were genuine, and not just because they wanted you to buy a villa. On arrival, John (a Scottish expat who had emigrated to Tenerife with his third wife just 6 months ago) shook hands with my dad, my mum and I, and high-fived my brother. The receptionists asked us for our life stories and told us theirs in thickly-coated, northern accents. They told my brother he could go and use the hotel Wii, or watch a DVD, or connect to the WiFi, like each option was a special previledge we couldn’t get in England. ‘I think we’ll just go in the pool’, I said.
Like most girls, I set my mind on finding my Spanish prince. Pickings were scarce. Between a sweaty restauranteur who shouted ‘eat here, Barbie!’ at me down the street, a twelve year old boy who made a ‘call me’ sign at me whilst I was on a run, and a cockroach which I swear was giving me the eye, my choices were not exactly plentiful. I chose to stick with my one true love, sangria.

And wasn’t it good. Didn’t you hear? A litre of sangria a day keeps the doctor away, or at least that’s what I was told. Oh, and then there was the pasta. Mum and I very rarely eat carbs with dinner at home, so Tenerife was a good excuse to splurge. Creamy prawn, tomato, garlic and spinach pasta helped keep the boys away – the garlic was cut in thick slices instead of crushed. Though I said earlier that my heart wasn’t won over in Tenerife, I forgot about Canarian potatoes! Potatoes boiled in two tablespoons of salt and very little water, also known as perfection, or obesity.
I also mentioned earlier that we got £50 entry to Siam Park, Tenerife’s waterpark. I’d been before and was incredibly excited. Last time I went to Tenerife, Oscar was too young to go on any of the bigger slides with me – now, he was just too scared. So my dad was forced to accompany me. The only one I could get him to go on was a steep, wavy slide which you road down on your belly. £50 off was not enough to convince mum and dad to buy fast-track passes, so we joined the mile-long queue up an incredibly steep hill, in nearly forty degree heat.  
Dad is 58, and good for it. You can tell he likes his beer, but Oscar keeps him active. Not, it seems, active enough, however. The hour queue, in which we stood facing forwards, up a steep hill and therefore stretching our ham strings, led to him limping for the next two days. When we finally reached the top, we got down on our bellies (on mats) and tried to push off. Dad went flying. Meanwhile, I flopped around like a fish out of water trying to push myself off and down the slide. Not very flattering, and perhaps another reason why I didn’t find my Spanish prince.
On the fourth day, mum was horrified to discover she had let her eight year old son burn on his back. He was promptly shoved into a water t-shirt which he was not allowed to take off, despite the zip at the back irritating his skin. In what may have been a way to punish herself, mum burned also. She decided to buy a t-shirt to cover up, so we marched down to the shops. T-shirt choices were almost as scarce as the Spanish princes. Did she want a pink tee with a bejazzled kitten on the chest, or a bright red one with Bart Simpson mooning? She settled with the kitten, and thankfully wore it insideout.

On my final day, I was treated to a trip to the hotel my family would be moving to when I left. We had been staying in a 3 star apartment, and the splurge had been saved for the 5 star all-inclusive hotel when I left. The hotel boasted two nudist areas (because one just isn’t enough), basketball courts, tennis courts, and a handful of restaurents. Walking in to reception and looking up, you see what appears to be a ceiling full of water. That is, until you start to see bodies in the water, and realise the swimming pool is on the roof top. Thank god it wasn’t the nudist pool.
I watched, green-eyed, as mum and dad handed their passports to the Spanish lady on reception – one of the first actual Spanish people we saw on the trip, it felt like. ‘Where is her passport?’ the lady asked, gesturing to me. ‘She’s not staying here’, dad replied. Thanks, dad! As what I can only guess was supposed to be a condolence for not being allowed to stay at the hotel of dreams, I was allowed a glass of welcome orange juice reserved for guests on check in, win!

I exaggerate, of course. It was a lovely holiday. Thanks for reading! 

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