I Say Fuck You Joboo, I Do It Myself

Although I had an appointment for 1 March for my visa extension, an acquantaince I'd met on one of the Facebook groups that did some immigration assistance, Janice, recommended that we visit the police station a couple weeks before, just to confirm that my 1 March appointment was for the correct thing, and to confirm what paperwork I’d need for the appointment.  So on 18 February, I met her mid-day at the National Police office, near Playa Jardín.  She said the officers there were very strict, and didn’t have much time for non-English speakers, so she did basically all the talking.  According to the officer, my appointment was for the wrong thing, and at the wrong place, nevermind the fact that I followed the exact directions, at the exact web address, that the consulate in Los Angeles gave me.  The only saving grace was that I’d at least saved 11 days in figuring this out now, rather than coming to my 1 March appointment and getting turned away then. 

I spoke with Janice for a short while thereafter, trying to make sense of the chaos.  She didn’t seem too concerned, that this was par for the course.  She said one thing we definitely needed to do was get our empadronamiento (padron).  A padron is basically paperwork from your local town indicating that you live there, with your address, phone number, etc.  I had seen online that this was something we needed to do, but I had not seen any indication that this was something that was related to, let alone a prerequisite to, a visa extension.  I walked back home and told Crystal what transpired, and then we went about setting up an appointment for our padron.  The website for this process was at least working correctly, and we were able to procure an appointment for just a few days later, on the 22nd.

On 21 February we made an excursion to a Mexican restaurant that Sandra had told me about, El Chile Verde. It was in Santa Ursula, a town or two over from Puerto, and coincidentally right near where Sandra lives.  We had taken a cab over there (in a cab that seemed like it was going to die every time he shifted gears) and enjoyed a very nice lunch.  The food was excellent, but the margaritas – as with Poco Loco – were way too sweet and watered down.  The cost, relatively speaking, was pretty expensive as well.  But the alambres were excellent, as was the hot sauce - we got the impression that the server appreciated us asking for the hot sauce, as the look on her face perked up when was asked. We took a cab there, but decided to try walking back on our own.  The views back towards Puerto were stunning, but the road had a minimal sidewalk and the cars were driving at a good clip, so we weren’t huge fans of the walk back.  Then, out of nowhere, a car stopped and asked if we wanted a ride – it was Sandra!  We jumped in ASAP (before a car came around the corner and rear-ended her) and she took us to our place – she was headed into Puerto to meet some friends, so it was just a nice coincidence that saved us from a horrible walk. 

On the 22nd we skipped Spanish class to go to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), with our passports, our rental lease, all our visa paperwork, and any other paperwork that we even 1% thought they might ask us for.  We were very wary of our limited Spanish, but were told that this was not as daunting a task as at the National Police office.  We kind of hoped we’d give them the paperwork and that would be that.  We waited out front for a long while, waiting for them to call us.  We had an appointment, but it seemed that they were backlogged.  Our appointment was for noon, and the office was due to close at 13:00, and as the time went by I got a little more nervous, minute by minute. 

Finally around 12:45 they let us in, and we were either the last or next to last people they let in.  A young woman helped us, and was very patient with us and our less-than-stellar Spanish.  Everything seemed mostly okay, but she kept asking about the name and ID of the person who signed the lease agreement.  I kept pointing to the spot in the lease that showed the ID number, but she kept asking for something else that I couldn’t place.  Eventually I got the idea to just have Manolo, the property manager, speak directly to her so that I wouldn’t screw up as the middle man.  Fortunately on the second call, Manolo answered.  It turned out that what they actually wanted was a picture of the ID card of the company that owned the building.  Why they wanted or needed this, when they had the signed lease agreement, I have no clue.  But this is something we didn’t have at all, let alone on us, so I was pretty crestfallen. 

On the plus side, the woman told us we could come back at 10:00 tomorrow with the picture, and that would be everything we needed to do.  On the minus side, I had my CT scan at the hospital the next morning, so there was a conflict.  I decided to just nod my head and say we’d be back at 10:00 the next day.  I told Crystal to just take copies of our passports, all the paperwork we had brought today, and the paperwork Manuel was going to send to us, and that hopefully the people in the ayuntamiento wouldn’t be too upset that I wasn’t there.  I also told her how to say “he’s at the hospital” in Spanish, figuring that her saying that would hopefully blunt any hostility they might have. We had a nice lunch at Al-Amir, a Lebanese restaurant just south of Plaza de Charco, which I'd eaten at before Crystal arrived. This time, instead of being on their interior courtyard, we were on their exterior balcony. One might think this is even better, with views over Plaza de Charco. But in this case, no, since a lot of road work was being done on Calle Blanco, the road we were sitting along. The food and wine made up for the noise, however.

The next morning I got up very early, to get on the earliest bus from Puerto to Santa Cruz.  Even though my appointment wasn’t until 08:00, I was aware that traffic on TF-5 going towards Santa Cruz is pretty bad in the morning, so the “arrival time” on the bus timetable was a hope, not a promise.  Since I’d still have a decent walk once arriving at the bus station, I figured it better to be safe than sorry.  So I walked down to the bus stop closest to us, on the Carretera right by Calle Aceviño, before the sun was even up.  [As an aside, coming back down the Carretera, there is a stop right at the Botanic Garden, and we never figured out why there wasn’t an accompanying stop across the street for buses going the opposite direction.]  It was pretty brisk outside, so I was wearing a light jacket.  Because of COVID, the first buses were leaving at 06:00, and so they came by this stop around 06:10.  I was worried there might be no seats, but there were at least a couple.

Traffic was pretty bad on the TF-5 for a good chunk of the ride, until we got extra lanes a little before the North Airport.  I got off the bus at the penultimate stop, near Centro Comercial Meridiano.  I just walked straight up Avenida La Salle towards the north, then walked through Parque García Sanabria to Rambla de Santa Cruz and the hospital.  Around the park I had to take off my jacket, and briefly take off my mask, as it was really hot outside, even early in the morning.  Santa Cruz, because of its location south of the Anaga mountains (which block the trade winds), plus all its concrete, is quite a bit warmer (normally) than Puerto.

At the hospital I got there just before its doors opened, and once opened, I knew where to go, and by now I had my insurance card from Sanitas.  I told them I had an appointment for a CT Scan, and they told me where to go.  I was able to follow the instructions and went down to where they indicated, and I’m fairly certain I was the first appointment for using the machine for the day.  I laid down on a bed, and then the bed moved up and down, forwards and backwards as they tried to best orient my chest relative to the big donut that was going to take all the images.  There were instructions that were coming over a speaker, but there were also pictures on the machine itself, basically when to exhale and when to inhale.  The donut started up and something started spinning, and the whole process was just a minute or so.  I’m not sure if I did something wrong, or if they just wanted additional photos, but I went through the process again, and this time the instructions on the speaker were in English – fortunately I think I’d followed them correctly the first time.  After I was done, they arranged for a follow-up appointment for me to go over the images with the doctor, and that was that.  All told, I was at the hospital about 30 minutes.

After leaving the hospital, I walked a couple blocks east to the embarcadero.  I came out right by the cruise terminal area, which I vaguely recalled from April 2019.  I walked south along the embarcadero and tried to find the location where our guide Alicia had picked us up and dropped us off.  I’m pretty sure I found it, but I have no clue how I’d be 100% certain.  Around this time, I realized that I’d gotten out of the hospital so early that I might be able to get back to Puerto by 10:00, so I started walking a bit faster towards the bus station.  When I got there, however, I saw on the departure board that the bus I needed to catch had just left a few minutes prior.  I pinged Crystal and asked if she wanted me to try for the next one, acknowledging that I’d probably be late, and she said no, so now I basically had a free morning to myself, as it wasn’t even 09:30 yet.

The bus station wasn’t far from either the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín (the Sydney Opera House looking building) or the Palmetum (a botanic garden full of palms), so I figured I’d check these out.  From certain vantage points, the auditorium looked like a Trojan helmet or a wave.  Once past it, there was an old fortress right on the water, which I assumed was quite old and historical.  [Turns out yes, Castillo de San Juan Bautista.]  Being next to the huge auditorium, however, the fortress looked pretty puny.  Past that, there was a water park area similar to Lago Martianez, Parque Maritimo César Manrique, also designed by César Manrique.  It didn’t look open, and indeed looked like it was undergoing some renovations.  Then again, even if it was open, I’m not sure how many people would be there before 10:00 on a weekday.

Past the waterpark was a big parking lot, then the Palmetum itself.  When we visited in April 2019, our guide Alicia pointed it out just as we were coming back to the cruise ship to leave; I knew nothing about it.  It’s on a hill at the south end of town, and used to be the garbage landfill.  Now it’s the “buffer” between the tourist areas (which I’d just walked past this morning) and the industrial area further down the coast, such as the oil refinery and the highway heading south to the South airport.  The Palmetum was built only around 20 years ago, and I knew nothing about it other than it was full of palms.

I had to wait about 5 minutes until 10:00 for it to open, then I went in.  I asked for the local resident discount, and then showed my visa, and specifically my NIE number, as proof.  Inside, I decided to circumnavigate counter-clockwise, staying to the right whenever there was a choice on which direction to head.  The layout was by geography, with areas such as Hawaiian palms, southeast Asian palms, Madagascar palms, South Pacific palms, etc.  It was really well done, with great signage and plenty of space so that things were not so cramped.  I think I saw less than two dozen people the whole time I was there, and because I was basically by myself, I was able to walk around with no mask, which was really nice on such a warm day.

After I wrapped up at the Palmetum, I looked for something to eat for lunch, but none of the restaurants in the southern part of Santa Cruz sounded that tasty, so I just walked back to the bus station and headed back to Puerto.  Crystal had succeeded with getting everything filed for our padrons, and I had got my CT Scan, so the day was already a success. But we ended up doing more. We walked up into La Orotava, the eastern part this time, as there was a store that supposedly had tennis rackets. I was hoping to start playing again - after a 20+ year "break" - and there were courts just west of the Spanish school, maybe a 5 minute walk from home. To get to Orotava, we walked up a slightly different way, still through El Durazno, but then southeast on Caminó el Ciprés, where we were walking on a deserted cobblestone street through some fincas. Then, just before getting to the Autopista, there was a giant house on the east side that at least two big French Mastiffs, who got very excited, and startled us a bit.  Finally, after passing over the Autopista, we walked by a house with a life-size gorilla statue outside, which was disorienting - I had to do a double take.

From there, we were in the city, and the roads were quite steep going uphill, probably even more than in Puerto. We found the sporting goods store easily, but they didn't have any tennis rackets after all. This was a long way to walk to return empty handed, so we debated what to do next. Crystal thought the area reminded her of the part of La Orotava we went to with Alicia around Christmas in 2019, i.e., the historic part with cathedrals, gardens, famous houses, a historic square, and more. We checked Google Maps, and sure enough it wasn't that far from where we were, so we continued up the hill and explored a bit. It was pretty cool seeing this again, and randomly finding it on our own this time. There was hardly anyone out, which was a big change from the town being absolutely packed in December 2019. The video below shows many of these same areas and buildings, and actually took the same exact routing from Puerto up into La Orotava. He goes up the Carretera through La Paz, passing by Calle Retama just before the 7:00 mark, going east on Calle Camelia (which is what Calle Retama is called on the west side of the Carretera) past our local grocery store Tu Trebol, then left (south) on Calle Luis Rodríguez Figueroa (just before he would've gotten to the tennis club, by the way), through El Durazno, onto the cobblestone street Caminó el Ciprés (at the 9:40 mark), past the Mastiff house (at the 11:57 mark), over the autopista, past the Gorilla house (you can make it out if you look closely at the front left of the closest house at the 12:22 mark - it's on a pedestal about 3 meters off the ground), and up into historical La Orotava after that.

We walked back into Puerto, re-tracing our steps, but rather than go straight home, we went to Intermezzo, a restaurant and cocktail bar between Calle Aceviño and Mirador La Paz. This was one of the few days where Mount Teide was clearly visible in the afternoon, and Intermezzo was one of the few places where both the mountain and the ocean were visible from the same place. So we had some wine, cheese, and a cocktail, and enjoyed our afternoon to the fullest. There was a man of Indian descent at the small shop across the street, and he seemed bored out of his mind since there were no customers. We decided if we needed anything from one of those shops (they were all over town, and about half of them were run by people of Indian descent), we'd give him our business.

Crystal got a haircut on 25 February. I'd done some diligence on this before she arrived, checking out stuff downtown and also reading reviews and recommendations from some of the Facebook groups. I knew she'd had the same hairdresser for close to 20 years now, and I wanted to make sure whoever the next hairdresser was, they wouldn't make a mess of anything. I found a couple that seemed highly regarded, and after Crystal arrived, we walked by a couple of them. The one she decided to go to was near the Vodafone store just southwest of Plaza de Charco, and was coincidentally owned by a guy originally from Hungary. So she was able to speak a bit of Hungarian in making her appointment. The haircut ended up fine.

On Friday 26 February, Janice indicated that in addition to needing our padron, we’d also (very likely) need a Spanish bank as well, and not just one with a Spanish IBAN number, but an actual bank registered in Spain.  After some digging, I came to the realization that this was because the government wanted the ability to freeze your bank account if you didn’t pay your taxes, and thus wanted every citizen and resident to have an account with a Spanish bank.  So we started looking into this, adding to our never-ending “to-do” list.  In the evening, we walked down (for the first time, I think) to Elements, a cocktail bar that we’d walked past a few times on Calle Mequinez; along the way we stared at an absolutely incredible sunset, which several of my classmates saw and messaged as well.  We’d seen some signs at Elements indicating they had happy hour on Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays, but we hadn’t been down in that part of town at the correct time on the correct days.  Today we made it, and we were very glad we did.  Seating was outside, right on Calle Mequinez, so there was lots of good people watching. One guy bumped into us, but we realized after the fact that he was one of the blind individuals that was selling tickets for a local lottery, with the proceeds going to help the charity helping those with sight issues. In addition to people watching, we could also see some of the giant street art, including this one guy who looked vaguely like a tennis player, but we couldn't place him. Maybe it was just a self-portrait of the artist, who knows. For happy hour, all drinks were €5.  I got a Zombie, and Crystal got a margarita.  They were both excellent, and the bar itself was quite nice as well, with a good style and a really nice proprietor, Oliver.  On the second round, I asked if he could sub maracuya for grenadine in the Zombie, and that made it even better.  Crystal got a gin gimlet.  We decided we’d be coming back weekly.

On the weekend, we decided it was time to make some Mexican food, as we were missing it, and El Chile Verde was a bit expensive and not within walking distance. So on Saturday, 27 February, we looked at a bunch of recipes for Pastor tacos and also for Adobada tacos.  I went through a bunch, seeing what was highest rated, then wrote down the ingredient list for the four recipes with the best ratings, two Pastor and two Adobada.  I then compared the ingredient lists, and then concocted a recipe that was kind of a mix of them with the ingredients I thought I might enjoy the most.  As an example, the pastor recipes called for pineapple chunks, but I didn’t want the pineapple itself, just the hint of sweet flavor, so I decided to just put in some pineapple juice.  As another example, one of the recipes called for a tiny bit of fish sauce for some umami, and I decided that might work well. Once we had the finished recipe, we went to the store and picked up the ingredients as well as some cerdo secreto, a cut of marbled pork that’s at or near the top of the skirt. 

Then that afternoon I took an empty backpack down to Bazaar Raj, a liquor store on Calle San Juan - just prior to Marion Cotillard.  Sandra had recommended this for price and selection, and we’d been in there (and confirmed they had Cuervo Silver), but hadn’t purchased anything since it was a 25-30 minute walk from the house, uphill.  So today I brought an empty backpack, got some tequilas (including Cuervo), rums, and other goodies, enough to load up the backpack, and then walked back home.  Back at the house, we noticed something about most of the bottles - they had pour restrictors. We didn't really understand the point of this, as it didn't stop us pouring more, it just made it more time-consuming. Saturday night I made the marinade and cut up the pork into small pieces, then put everything in a Ziploc bag overnight.  Sunday morning, 28 February, I put on some salsa music, something I hadn’t really listened to before.  I remembered a photo that I’d taken from Pisco, the Salsa bar in Vienna that we went to on Christmas in 2018 and 2019 – it showed a screenshot of a song being played by Willie Colón.  So this morning I put on some Willie Colón and whatever else YouTube thought was similar enough. I have to admit, it made me want to dance, which is basically unprecedented, sober or not. 

As to the food, Crystal made some guacamole.  I’d bought some totopos (tortilla chips) at Coviran the day before – none of the other grocery stores had any.  I chopped up some onions and cilantro and figured out how to cook the pork for the tacos.  I originally put in all the pork and the marinade, but it seemed too soupy, so after about 5 minutes I poured off most of the liquid, then cooked the pork until the remaining liquid was basically gone.  Then we ate tacos with onion, cilantro, and guacamole.  They say that hunger is the best condiment, and this may contribute to my reaction this day, but I honestly cannot remember ever eating a better taco.  I can’t remember how many I ended up eating, but I’m guessing 5 or 6.  Thankfully we didn’t run out of tortillas.  They turned out so well that I shared the recipe with friends and family, imploring them to make the same thing.  I’m not sure if anyone ever did, though. Here it is:

In the afternoon, after we'd digested the tacos, we walked east from La Paz, through the various fincas, to Playa El Bollullo. The first video below (coincidentally taken by the Canary Relax guy four days before we went ourselves, so things looked pretty much identical) shows the route through east La Paz, where the buildings slowly disappear into the banana fincas, and the path underneath Puerto's eastern highway and through the fincas up to Bollullo. At Bollullo there was a restaurant with tapas that had phenomenal views, and even though we were full from tacos in the morning, we found room for some food (and wine) in the late afternoon as well. All in all, a great end to a good week.


Previous Entry
Next Entry