Miguel and Sara, a middle-aged couple from Tenerife, decided to spend, like many Tenerife, two days of the last long weekend in the south of Tenerife. They stayed in a four-star hotel in Las Americas Beachwith the good fortune that they left her the room long before two in the afternoon as it was consigned, despite the fact that “it is low season, but between Easter and this Bridge we are in high season numbers,” Amelia tells them, a Galician receptionist.
The couple just wanted to leave the small suitcase and go quickly to the beach, almost on foot from the hotel, but they were able to receive the room, but not before being invited to a glass of cava and an orange drink.
Amelia gave them the entrance, while the porter, of Canarian origin, accompanied them to the room. They only left the few belongings and collected the towels to go to the beach.
There, Mamadou, a Senegalese who arrived in Los Cristianos by boat three years ago, offered them one of those giant quilts that Africans sell in coves throughout the south, although others also offered them glasses and bags from well-known brands, of course. What counterfeit replicas. Almost before they put on the cream to enter the sea, an Indian approaches with a Mercadona bag offering them water, beer or Fanta. Right next to it, two young Italian women braid themselves at the hands of another Senegalese woman, and a Lithuanian man walks along the beach with a kind of folding table offering you a massage. A whole market and an exhibition of how some look for each other, literally ‘Las Américas’, although irregularly.
But not only the foreign presence in irregular work is observed, one also has the perception and the data, that the majority of workers in the tourism sector (hotels, restaurants, commerce and various services) are of foreign origin, nothing that might be surprising if we take into account that the foreign population in Adeje reaches 55% and in Arona it almost reaches 50% (48.9%), the two municipalities that share Playa de Las Américasthe first tourist center of Tenerife.
Miguel and Sara return to the hotel in the middle of the afternoon. In the pool there are Canarian clients, but the majority are English, peninsular and Italian, some with small children, but the large percentage of older people. The couple decides to reserve a dinner in a Lebanese restaurant in Los Cristianos, while the sun goes down on La Gomera, which seems like a continuation of Tenerife. There they are served by a group of waitresses, none from the Canary Islands: Lithuanian, Brazilian, Italian and Galician, while the owners are two Lebanese brothers. Among the diners, the same, a rosary of different nationalities, but it seems that Italian is the official language of Los Cristianos.
The next day, to keep fit and improve their health, Miguel and Sara volunteer to walk the promenade that connects Los Cristianos with Costa Fañabé. They are not alone, that avenue becomes after dawn a real athletics track, now even dangerous to avoid electric scooters. Before returning to the hotel they decide to have a coffee near the Golden Mile. A Turk, who barely speaks Spanish, serves them.
Back at the hotel, they proceed to have breakfast. There Sergio, of La Gomera descent, is one of the few Canarians who works as waiters: “Now there aren’t many of us, living here has become impossible, since you don’t have houses you’re fine, we can’t pay 800 euros in rent. Of course, people think about it, because the salary does not reach you. I’m looking for something else,” he told the couple, while a young waiter, Li Xiamping, took away their plates and prepared to set up the table again.
Back in the room, Cecilia, a Galician chambermaid, comments that “people from all over work here, there are a lot of South Americans, but also from the Canary Islands”, while she is grateful that they have left the room almost clean, because “some people leave it as if the Ukrainian war was over.
Returning to the beach, the same sensation of seeing oneself included in a large souk. The promenade, almost clear a few hours before, is now abuzz with people, with the getters or cajolers trying to convince you to come in for lunch at their place. That is the job of Sami, a Senegalese who has been working for years at a mixed-dish restaurant managed by a Chinese man, thanks to the fact that he speaks up to five languages. “I’m still here because now I’m doing very well”, after remembering that “I’ve always liked agriculture and I don’t despair that one day I can set up a farm”.
Convinced by Samuel, the couple decides to eat at that restaurant and order the three-course menu for 10.95 euros. They are satisfied and return to the hotel to deliver the room, after four in the afternoon, another generosity from the receptionist, now a Finnish woman. On their way back to the capital, Miguel and Sara stop at a gas station halfway between the south and the metropolitan area. There Fernando, a canary, attends us. And the closer you get to the capital, the more likely you will find a worker born here, something that in the south of Tenerife seems almost “like an endangered species,” says a well-known hotelier from Los Cristianos, for whom ” there is work, but people are more comfortable every day and prefer to live on the paycheck”.
There will be work, but the working conditions -the agreed schedules are not always met-, the scarce language training and the lack of housing resources, scare away our young people to come to the South, even when the bus is free. Many prefer to stay at home with their parents or emigrate to Europe to work and learn languages, either with minimal studies or even university. Something happens so that our youth does not want to do Las Américas in their own home.
P.S: The facts are real and only some names are imaginary.