This week's guest post is written by Hannah. Hannah is the blogger behind Pages, Places, & Plates, a blog dedicated to reading, eating, and travelling. Her passion is sharing her experiences with others and helping them to make the right decision for their next book, food, or travel venture. She lives in Essex, England, on the Sunshine Coast with her partner and her Giant African Millipede. Go and show her some love on her blog! :) You can also follow Hannah on twitter here.
Five things I love about Canarian Culture.
Anyone who knows me will understand just how much I love the Canaries – I plan to move
out to Fuerteventura eventually as well as visit all eleven islands. I love the weather and the
volcanic landscapes, but as a stressed-out Brit tired of our fast-paced society, what really
draws me to the Canaries is the wonderful culture they exhibit. Here are five things I’ve
discovered about the culture since visiting yearly that helped sway my decision to move there.
The Structure of the Day.
Spanish culture is very different to the UK, and one noticeable difference is the daily
structure. In England it’s very much “get up early, go to work, come home late, watch TV
then go to bed”. We go out at the weekends (sometimes), but if it’s been a long week then
those plans are easily cancelled. If I want to join clubs or activities then it can be nearly
impossible working 9am to 5pm and I often miss out on things I really want to do.
The Canaries do it differently – we often see people having coffee before work. Due to the
heat they have a siesta in the day which is lovely (and we have these on holiday) and then
the livelihood of the day carries on well into the evening. It’s acceptable to go out at 9pm to
go clothes shopping, for example (whereas here our shops often shut at 5pm), and dinner is eaten much later – more of an activity than a necessity.
The Environmental Focus
The Canaries is the most environmentally-friendly location I have come across – it’s easy to see that the inhabitants love their volcanic islands. Many national parks can be found across the islands, and the government are hot on the concern of over-tourism – Isla de Lobos, for example, has a daily visitor limit enforced and you need a permit to visit, which I think is great to avoid the destruction that over-tourism has caused in other countries.
There’s also a big focus on looking after oneself – vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free options
are easily found and residents genuinely seem to appreciate that their environment has an
effect on their own lives, and vice versa.
The Amazing Food
Being a remote set of islands off the coast of Africa, many speciality dishes have been
created in The Canaries and dining out there is always a delight. Food is primarily Spanish,
like tapas and paella, however their local availability is different to mainland Spain due to the harsher climates so the food is different. Goats cheese is popular (there are more goats than people on Fuerteventura!) and it’s rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve traditional Canarian potatoes served with mojo sauce. Cactus jam is another popular product and it’s the only place (to my knowledge) where you can buy honey rum, a wonderfully sweet liquor that is served at the end of every restaurant meal.
It’s also hard not to be wowed by their beautiful range of coffees – my two favourites are the nocciolino, a small coffee containing hazelnut syrup and condensed milk, and the barraquito, which contains cinnamon and Licor 43 and is popular in Tenerife.
How Laid-back and Safe it is
Due to the geography of the Canaries, each island has a small population and so it’s easy to
feel safe. Like other resorts there will always be a few bad eggs, but I’m yet to encounter a
situation where I feel unsafe there and I love that. People are always willing to help, which is comforting in a foreign country!
I also love how laidback it is – there’s no rush, and so much less stress. Perhaps it’s the sun
and the gorgeous temperatures, but the people are so chilled out and I feel immediately
relaxed once I’m there. They’re also very relaxed about beach nudity – many UK/US readers may disagree with me but there’s nothing better than being able to lie on a nudist beach and feel safe and relaxed, and it’s something I love about the islands! People there are much happier with themselves and their body image, and I believe it’s due to their chilled out approach towards the human body. Since going to those beaches I’ve felt way better about my appearance – that can only be a good thing, right?
The Positive Community
This one links in with the other points, but I feel wholly welcomed by the community when I visit the Canaries. The islands are accessible to tourists and you’ll find that many
establishments speak Spanish, English, German, and sometimes Italian. It’s useful if your
Spanish is a rusty, and waiters have been more than happy to give me mini Spanish lessons
– it’s those experiences that have helped me to improve. I’ve been to other countries where
I’ve been looked down on for being a tourist or people have been unwilling to help me, yet
the Canarian community do everything they can to welcome you.
With a mix of Spanish, Latin American, and African influences, the Canaries are all about
inclusivity and appreciating culture and their own culture absolutely shines. It’s why I can’t stop going back there, and I can’t wait to one day say that I belong to it, too.