There’s a joke that goes along the lines of ‘what’s the time difference between Tenerife and Britain?’ Answer – ‘About 30 years.’
Just in case anyone’s wondering, there is no time difference between Tenerife and the UK.
The ’30 years’ tag might be a bit exaggerated but there are some areas where it isn’t that far from the truth. Sometimes it can be frustrating i.e. some business practices on Tenerife haven’t reached those that were standard when I started a career in the Civil Service 30 years ago. If you are involved in an official capacity in Tenerife and are wondering what the hell I’m talking about – that’s called unconscious incompetence. And if you don’t know what that is… well that sort of confirms my point.
In most cases the ‘time difference’ can be what makes Tenerife a wonderful place to live. The sense of family and community in the island’s traditional towns harks back to a warm and fuzzy time long gone in modern day Blighty and I hope they manage to hang on to this special quality for at least another 30 years.
In other cases, the difference can be fascinating and amusing; almost like being in an episode of Ashes to Ashes. Golliwogs grace the cover of packets of coffee; people get ‘blacked up’ like the Black and White Minstrels for carnival events and at this time of year you can hardly step out of your front door without falling over a beauty contest à la Eric and Julia Morley. Beauty contests may have disappeared from British TV 15 years ago but on Tenerife they still thrive.
Just about every fiesta requires a fiesta queen, so each town may end up having a few queens over the course of a year. Additionally every town on Tenerife that holds a carnival will also stage a carnival queen contest where not only will there be a queen elected, there will also be a few carnival ‘dames’ to keep her company.
The most prestigious of the fiesta titles is Santa Cruz ‘Carnaval’ where an epic televised gala is held to choose the lucky girl. Carnival queen contests aren’t just for the young and nubile, there is also usually a third age and infant crown up for grabs as well.
More along the lines of the conventional Miss World pageant is the Miss Tenerife contest which in terms of how they’re conducted and the way the girls are paraded and dressed is a real throwback to the 70s. This is real Austin Powers territory.
If it all sounds a bit sexist, there is also a Mr Tenerife contest to even up the balance and which I’m sure has an appeal that stretches beyond the female population. There was even an ‘alternative’ beauty queen contest for the gay pride parade in Puerto de la Cruz a couple of years back, but the town’s nationalist mayor soon put a stop to that when he came to power in the local elections. That and a lot of other fun events – so much so we refer to him as the Butcher from El Hierro.
There are so many beauty queen contests across Tenerife that there must be few girls on the island who haven’t held some sort of title at some point in their lives. The heats for Miss Tenerife are currently taking place and are worth having a gander at if you’d like a glamorous glimpse into a popular slice of island life that doesn’t get on to the radar of many visitors.