In Vistabella there are two cafeterias one in front of the other: El Mirador and Quintuma, next to the Santa Cruz-La Laguna highway, similar to the naked eye, each with its external glazing, as in a trompe l’oeil. Between the two is Calle Sor María de Jesús. It is the prototypical way of the working-class neighborhoods of the Islands, the 80s and self-construction. And it is one of the clearest cases of border points between both municipalities: half is in the capital and the other, in La Laguna. Such is the thing that not even its paving, decades ago, was conventional. “Elfidio Alonso was in La Laguna and Manuel Hermoso in Santa Cruz, and they reached an agreement and they paved it and put the lighting between the two,” recalls Francisco Ramírez, president of the Jariguo Neighborhood Association, about the work and the local councilors who governed in one and another municipality.
Vistabella is, together with Las Moraditas, San Matías and Barrio de la Salud, one of the main areas where the two most populous municipalities of Tenerife adjoin. The above are very populous enclaves and in which it is often not clear what is on one side and what is on the other. And how is cleanliness and security guaranteed so that nothing is left in limbo? Official sources from the Santa Cruz City Council confirm that there is no agreement with La Laguna to share services. One of the neighborhood leaders consulted, María Dolores Rodríguez, from the San Jerónimo de Taco Association, points out that at some points there are tacit agreements between sweepers. “There is a park between Los Andenes and Tíncer that the workers who sometimes clean half the ones from La Laguna tell me and other times, the ones from Santa Cruz, because they really don’t know where the municipal limit is,” he exemplifies, and also refers another peculiar case: “There are agents from La Laguna who have told me that they patrol the Taco Mountain area and they don’t know if they are within the municipality or not.”
Shortcomings that are solved
Francisco Ramírez’s opinion is that years ago there were “quite a few” shortages in these areas. “On the part of La Laguna, many streets were unpaved, but it has been solved and right now they are more or less at the same level,” he says. “There are aspects in which some protest and others do not, because, for example, the water in La Laguna has a bonus for pensioners of 50%,” he points out, before summarizing that an equalization has occurred and that there are no longer any differences of yesteryear. His feeling is shared in the place. Juan Antonio Rodríguez and Daniela Díaz perceive it in a similar way. The first spoke last Thursday by phone at the Vistabella viewpoint and the second was going to the house of some relatives. «I live nearby, in La Cuesta, and I have always passed through here a lot, and the impression I have is that this is not bad, that It is not that there is any great difference between what is in Santa Cruz and what is found in La Laguna»Rodriguez explained. For her part, Daniela, 42, spoke in similar terms: “I have always seen this well, normal, like any other neighborhood in this area.”
Leaving there, and walking up a few streets, Alfredo appears, a retired sheet metal worker who has the feeling that “the lower, the worse.” “I don’t think this whole area is in a worse situation because be part in La Laguna and another part in Santa Cruz. Here the thing is that we are in a corner, at the end of everything. It is not a problem of lack of agreement between the municipalities, but that we live far away. If our house were in the town of La Laguna, the situation would surely be different », he regrets. José Carlos González, 27, agrees that the services and facilities can be improved, and comments immediately afterward that he sees a solution as difficult. “This has always been more or less like this,” insists the young man.
Las Moraditas calls for improvements
That joys and misfortunes go by neighborhood is clear in the story they tell from Las Moraditas. Sonia Rodríguez is from the neighborhood platform that exists in this Santa Cruz nucleus, with a population of around 1,000 inhabitants. “Up to the neighborhood of San Ignacio it is Santa Cruz and from there it is already Taco, La Laguna”, clarifies, before going into a list of problems: difficulties with transportation, a “terrible” cleanliness and complications of importance to park. “There is a very serious problem, even with clashes between neighbors, that if one has two cars, another three cars…”, he explains. “We are still the same or worse than 40 years ago,” laments the neighborhood spokesperson.
«We live on a border, in a municipal limit where perhaps a feeling of belonging to La Laguna has been increasing in recent years. Some of us feel neither from La Laguna nor from Santa Cruz. We, even at the health level, and until the regulations became stricter, we had more tendency to go to the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Santa Cruz, than to the Hospital Universitario de Canarias, in La Laguna, because we have it closer ». This is what María Dolores Rodríguez affirms when she analyzes the particularities of living with one foot in each municipality, and states that doubts are frequent: «In that same confused area we are not only the neighbors, but the Administration itself». So much so that she Rodríguez indicates that from the San Jerónimo de Taco Neighborhood Association they have requested in writing to the City Council of La Laguna to specify “what the municipal limits are and where they pass.”
The head of San Jerónimo gives another example of the problems of being on the border between Santa Cruz and La Laguna. “Coming down from Los Andenes there are two abandoned buildings and a part of them is in La Laguna and the square below is in Santa Cruz. We have problems there because there are fights, and if it’s in La Laguna, if it’s in Santa Cruz, if it’s in Santa Cruz, if it’s in La Laguna… and total that the house without sweeping, “laments Rodríguez.
San Matías feels it less
Another of the authorized voices in this area is that of Bárbara Santos, president of the La Montaña Neighborhood Association, from the San Matías neighborhood, another of the points where La Laguna ends. When she is asked about deficiencies, she refers to the Ofra-El Chorrillo road and to an accumulation of garbage that is produced there. “It is Santa Cruz who has to clean it,” she points out, as it is a point that is already in the other municipality. He agrees with the president of the Jariguo Neighborhood Association, of Vistabella, in that the inequalities in services that the place could have had in another era have been resolved, and celebrates that in terms of cleaning they usually receive a quick response every time they notify the City Council of La Laguna some deficiency. In addition, she indicates that security is not too different from that of other lagoon neighborhoods.
The Barrio de la Salud is divided into two: the lower part and the upper part. In that second one is another of the division points between municipalities. Antequera and Bobadilla streets are located halfway between Santa Cruz and La Laguna. Again, and as in the rest of the neighboring neighbourhoods, it is a populous area. “This is how it is. It seems that we are forgotten… Anyway, it is nothing new. This is not Beverly Hills and never has been.” These are the words of a young woman who preferred not to give her name and who was walking with her dog through the place in the early hours of last Thursday afternoon. David Díaz ate a sandwich inside a parked car. “I work halfway around here and sometimes I park in the area and make time or have lunch,” he began, before making his particular x-ray of the situation: “I live in Tacoronte and the truth is that this here has always caught my attention because it is as if it needed an improvement, to renew itself a little… What if it is a consequence of being on that kind of border between Santa Cruz and La Laguna? I have no idea. But what, as I say, I have always thought is that he is not in the best condition.
More examples from ‘the Taco border’
Returning again to Taco, the president of the San Jerónimo Neighborhood Association does not seem to be exhausted by the peculiarities of a border area that is lived there. «On Alegranza street, in the neighborhood of San Luis Gonzaga, to the right is from La Laguna and the sidewalk in front is from Santa Cruz. Another case occurs at the roundabout where Metropolitano de Tenerife is, where many times you will see that the grass in the La Laguna area is cut and not in Santa Cruz », she exposes. «It was curious when the first and most intense stage of the pandemic, when it was allowed to go out but only at a certain distance from the place of residence. There were people who walked along Los Majuelos avenue and, as soon as they did, they were already in Santa Cruz”, recalls María Dolores Rodríguez. “In the end, these types of areas always end up being dirty, uncared for…, like the corners of a house,” she maintains, and adds: “Municipal limits are only used to accumulate misfortunes.” To get out of this situation, she defends herself, the formula is to act to improve these areas. «It must be corrected especially in the issue of services, because the neighbors, wherever they live, have the right to the same services and opportunities. And we keep fighting to make that a reality.”