Andy calls me a Time Lord. It’s a throwback to our life before Tenerife when parts of the jobs we both did involved project management.
Over the years effective time management became ingrained. But where Andy has loosened up, I still have a bit of an obsession with it. Managing our time is an essential part of what we do; however, I’ve let it slip over into other parts of our life.
The other day we were having a Skype meeting which involved planning a trip to Gran Canaria.
In the past we’ve made the mistake of organising trips to coincide with the start of the working week. The commuter traffic between Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz on a Monday morning is a nightmare. Try driving it at 8am and sometimes the queues can stretch as far back as El Sauzal. The TF5 first thing in the morning reminds me of the daily crawl I used to make from Stockport to my workplace at Salford Quays. It’s not fun. It’s so bad that plans on how to combat the volume of traffic are regularly debated by Tenerife’s Government.
One time we were booked on the 8.30am ferry from Santa Cruz to Gran Canaria on a Monday morning. We left the house at 7am thinking that even with heavy commuter traffic an hour and a half would be more than enough to undertake a journey which normally takes 25mins. By 8.25 we had just reached the hill descending into the capital.
Somehow we still made it, mainly thanks to a lorry which had trouble manoeuvring backwards onto the ferry combined with crew who were used to the traffic queues resulting in cars screeching up the ramp at the last second.
“It’s Monday, it’s always the same,” a crew member shrugged with that wonderful Canarian casualness. Wonderful when it works in your favour.
Since then we avoid heading towards the capital on a Monday morning. The new Anillo Insular road link to the west has meant we can now get south in an hour first thing on a Monday morning instead of the three hours it took us last time we went via Santa Cruz.
Subsequently we won’t be travelling to Gran Canaria on a Monday morning. We’ll saunter along the TF5 at around sometime after midday instead to catch the 1.30pm ferry.
The day after the Skype meeting we had a conversation about the need to visit Ikea and Decathlon in La Laguna.
“The trouble shopping with you is we always have to rush around to beat the crowds, it’s hardly a fun way to shop,” Andy pointed out.
She’s right. It’s not because I don’t like shopping, I love shopping, it’s because I hate time wasted in queues. We do the weekly shop on a Friday rather than a Saturday because it feels like all the people from the Orotava Valley descend on the La Villa shopping centre on a Saturday and it’s a jam-packed hell.
We go on a Friday morning at 9.30am exactly. The Al Campo supermarket opens early, the other shops in the centre don’t open till 10am. Going at 9.30 means we get there just as the locals who do their supermarket shop first thing are leaving and it’s before the fashion shoppers arrive.
It’s good time management. This sort of planning is especially useful at peak holiday times like Christmas. We got through Christmas without having to queue once. I remember someone commenting on a photo I posted about how quiet the supermarket looked. That was only thanks to timing. We leave it a bit later and end up leaving after midday, we’ll be caught in siesta queues.
Siesta is useful for time management freaks. It’s another time we (I) like to go shopping. We wait till after 2pm, when the mass siesta exodus has calmed down, and get the shopping done an dusted before 4.30pm when the masses return from their lunch, clogging up motorway slip roads.
Siesta isn’t as noticeable in the main southern resorts where the pattern of the day flows along on generally an even keel. I’ve seen people who have moved to Tenerife comment about how surprised they were to find big towns almost like ghost towns when they visited mid afternoon, not realising how much siesta impacted on traditional areas.
Take the webcam overlooking the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz. All sorts of assumptions are made when the normally bustling harbour scene goes quiet. Most of the time it’s simply because it’s the siesta period.
The different timings in the way the average day works impacts on eating as well. Many places don’t open for lunch till 1.30pm or for dinner until a couple of hours after many Northern European visitors would like.
If you want to fit into the Canario way of life, you have to align your timings. In our case that means eating and generally having fun Canario style, planning things Northern European fashion.
It’s a balance which works for us.
So our next shopping outing will involve travelling to Santa Cruz mid-morning on a Wednesday. We’ll shop till lunch time then have some tapas in the city. After lunch we’ll head to Ikea at around 2.30pm (after the start of siesta rush is over), which gives us an hour and a half before we have to leave to avoid the end of siesta traffic build up.
I’ve no idea where Andy gets this ridiculous notion I’m a Time Lord.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+