In Tenerife

Welcome To Janet Anscombe in Tenerife

In real life, I am an ancient historian, and was a university lecturer in Classics & Ancient History specializing in rhetoric, law and politics before moving to Tenerife. I’ve been here now for eleven years that have gone in an astonishing flash, after finding Higher Education had become just a processing factory churning out graduates in great debt or “failures” who had been pushed to a level of education that was simply beyond them and who’d have been better without a university education. Tenerife was our holiday home before we moved here, and its climate, culture and beauty pushed it to the top of the list of choices for where to retire. It is a sub-tropical haven with a pretty much year-round Spring climate and a language and culture both exotic and familiar. For anyone who wants to stay in Europe but in a place with a buzz, and who has rheumatoid arthritis, like me, and so needs steady humidity and kind temperatures, it is just about perfect.

I live with my husband in a tiny 200-year-old Canarian cottage on the edge of a mountain village a kilometer above the west coast. Our garden is full of flowers and trees, and lizards making constant demands for cheese, egg, fish or fruit! One thing I love about living at altitude is that we have seasons, something I think northern European bodies simply need, and in Spring the air is perfumed with blossom scent, while in autumn it’s a glorious relief to see the leaves change colour and fall and mist roll up the barranco like a steam train! Here’s a view from up here that I never tire of every mid-January, this old gnarled unsheltered almond tree outside my house looks virtually dead for most of the year, but off it goes, middle of every January, covering itself with blossom and smelling like heaven on earth! The other trees will be following suit any time now! The coastline is tiny far below and La Gomera is out there somewhere behind the tree and a bit of cloud. The “blessed isles”. Yes, indeed!

Over the last decade, I have spent quite a bit of my time indulging my interest in houses and homes, particularly interior design but also architecture – ancient architecture was always one of my favourite sidelines in work. My main fields, however, of rhetoric, law and politics have been the launchpad for considerable research into modern Spanish law and politics. If I see this website as having any function beyond that of personal enjoyment, it is as a source of advocacy for anyone thinking of moving here, or actually living here and struggling with bureaucracy and legalities. Ideally in such a place, people would be stress free and fulfilling their ideal of “living the dream”, but all too often it turns into a nightmare. I hope this site is helpful to anyone looking for accurate up-to-date information about what is happening here as well as a straightforward guide to the legalities and bureaucracy involved for resident and visiting foreigners, and their rights and responsibilities.

Please investigate the tabs across the top of the page. They lead to information and advice on being legal, owning property or living here – there are also a few private sales for those looking to buy property – as well as questions and answers on a wide range of related topcis. There are links to pages on everything from the rights of consumers generally to those of patients in the health service in particular, and from keeping dogs to donating a body to science! Under “Useful Stuff”, you’ll find some Spanish vocabulary, links to jobs available for English speakers, books written about Tenerife, essential places to visit, readers’ photos, how to stay safe in heat and water, and a full calendar of “what’s on” with links to detailed information about events.

Below on this page are the latest of regularly-updated posts about news and events; for earlier items, just look to the right and click on the main news link or on a particular date in the calendar  (just hover over a date and it will show you the posts made on that day). The right hand column also has buttons to “follow me” on Facebook, Twitter or by RSS feed; a search box to help locate news items or information of interest; links to recent comments made by readers (please do express opinions or ask questions – just click on individual headlines to find the comments box); and the latest news from the BBC and in English from El Pais. The final tab at the top of the page is to Links and Laws, a whole range of legal, official, practical and inspirational resources for anyone with an interest in this wonderful island I call home.

COPYRIGHT: Unless specifically stated otherwise, I have written every single word of text on this website myself. The entire content therefore belongs to me or the source I quote and the copyright is protected and reserved. Spanish law assigns liability for copyright infringement not just to someone who takes text without permission, but also to anyone who “induces or cooperates with” – or can control – the infringement. Readers are welcome to take text without permission on condition that they both name and provide a link to this site. If anyone wants to use anything without crediting me in this way, please ask first.


Latest news and events in Tenerife

Click HERE for the What’s On Diary

Police arrest elderly Arafo man on suspicion of shooting dead fleeing burglar

The Guardia Civil has arrested an 80-year-old man on suspicion of shooting dead a thief who had just burgled his finca at Arafo. Two men had broken into the property around 10pm last night, both wearing balaclavas, and having bound and gagged the elderly couple who were at home, were making their getaway when, it seems, the husband managed to free himself and gave chase. One burglar got away, but the other was shot within 20m or so of the house and died at the scene. Police are taking a statement from the elderly householder, who, they say, does not have a firearms licence. Neither burglar has yet been identified, and the escapee remains at large.


Extra hand-luggage checks from tomorrow

From tomorrow, 1 March, travellers to and from all Spanish airports including those in the Canaries will have to expect further inspections of hand luggage to comply with Spain’s adoption of EU directive 2015/187. This requires Aena to impose controls for trace explosives throughout its network, and any electrical items, including irons, hair dryers, cameras and any battery-operated objects including toys will be subject to specific inspection. Aena network director Fernando Echegaray said that the new regulations will “improve defences against the threat of improvised devices hidden in hand luggage, and are the result of recent data concerning new ways that explosives can be hidden in hand luggage. The new measures have no impact on rules about carrying liquids over 100ml in hand luggage in EU airports, which remain in place.

One dead, two seriously injured, in head-on collision on TF1

A woman died, and two others were seriously injured, in a head-on car crash last night on the south-bound TF1 near Los Cristianos. The dead woman, said to be around 40 years of age, was in a car travelling in the wrong direction and the man with her, of around the same age, had to be cut out of the vehicle. He was then transferred with multiple injuries to Candelaria, where his condition is said to be serious. A second woman, slightly younger, in the other car involved in the crash also needed to be cut out of her vehicle. She was transferred to HUC, where her condition also is said to be serious. The couple in the car travelling in the wrong direction has not yet been identified.


€90m theme park in the pipeline for Güímar

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Update 28 February 2015: It’s been almost 18 months since the project was presented to the Ayuntamiento, and now it has been submitted formally to the Cabildo by promoter Andrés Alonso, president of the Hemi Investment Group, and the mayor of Güímar Carmen Luisa Castro. The Mimiland Park Canary Water World will be a 4* hotel and leisure complex set in the former quarry in the Badajoz barranco in the Güímar valley. Some 2,500 jobs in total are forecast to be created by the project, which will involve a hotel, “Afrikan” commercial centre, aquatic park, museum, theatre and casino, and cost €94m overall. The above video of the project will give an idea.

Original post 16 October 2013: The Hemi Investment Group has presented a €30m project for a theme park in a former quarry in Güímar. The new Mimiland Park will be a development of some 200,000 square metres and will provide employment for some 2,000 people: according to agreements reached with Güímar, these employees will be  from the municipality itself. The park will include over 25 attractions, including a shopping mall, an auditorium for events and performances, a 5* hotel, and a mirador – a lookout tower set to become the highest in Europe.

The president of the Hemi Group, Andrés Alonso, said that all the paperwork had been submitted to the Ayuntamiento and they were now waiting for the procedural change of land designation. Sr Alonso indicated that a considerable number of obstacles had been presented both by the council and the Canarian Government, but that he was hopeful of getting approval to proceed in the next few months. He suggested that if agreement was not in place by mid 2014 the investment could be withdrawn. Güímar mayor Carmen Luis Castro dismissed the possibility of problems, however, and said that the Mimiland project would not only regenerate an area of illegal quarrying but also represent the economic regeneration of the town.

FCO – what it can – and can’t – do to help British nationals overseas

In view of the successful information session with the Consulate in Los Cristianos the other night, it seems an appropriate time to pass on this press release from the FCO on some of the stranger – and inappropriate - requests they receive for help. Last year the FCO’s Contact Centres received more than 365,000 calls from British nationals. The vast majority of these were genuine and appropriate calls from people who needed help, but still there are thousands of enquiries every year relating to issues for which the FCO is absolutely the wrong agency to call. The FCO says that these enquiries can take valuable time away from those in genuine need of assistance.

Some of the stranger – and inappropriate - calls include:

  • a request for a recommendation for a Scottish chef in Brussels to make haggis
  • advice on how to tune a TV antenna to receive English TV channels in Italy
  • finding cheap flights to New Zealand
  • arranging  someone to put up ‘British-style’ hanging baskets at a trade show
  • checking whether a British woman’s Albanian fiancée was already married
  • how to treat a cat’s infected paw
  • finding out if a mobile phone had been left on a plane

The FCO says that such enquiries stem from a lack of understanding of what consular teams can do for British nationals abroad, and they are launching an awareness campaign to remind UK travellers and residents overseas of the services they can and do really provide, and what they actually cannot do. They say that the FCO’s priority is to protect the welfare of British nationals abroad, and consular staff will always do their best to assist people when they find themselves in difficulty. However, it is important for travellers to understand what services the FCO provides before getting in touch. There are also some simple pre-travel steps that you can take to reduce the risk of getting into difficulty and needing help, such as taking out comprehensive travel insurance, researching the destination and any health risks and ensuring access to emergency funds.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, David Lidington, said “it is important for FCO consular staff to be able to focus on our most vulnerable customers, such as victims of crime, those who have lost a loved one abroad or people who have been detained or hospitalised overseas. Consular staff support thousands of British nationals who encounter difficulties overseas every year and we handle over 365,000 enquiries annually. We will always try to help where we can but there are limits to what we can do, so it’s important for people to be aware of how we can help. We can issue an emergency travel document if your passport is lost or stolen, offer support if you become a victim of crime or visit you in hospital or prison, but we aren’t able to pay medical bills, give legal advice or get you out of jail, or indeed act as veterinary surgeons.”

Head of the FCO’s Global Contact Centres, Meg Williams, said that “the role of the FCO Contact Centres is to help enable consular staff to focus on what is important and to concentrate on those in need, but we continue to receive misdirected enquiries from British nationals. We receive hundreds of thousands of calls every year and while the vast majority of these are from British nationals in genuine need of our assistance and services, in 2014 38% were not related to consular support at all. For example, one caller asked us to help find his son’s missing suitcase – as it had apparently been lost by a British airline, the caller thought the British consulate would be able to locate it.”

Recent UK Travel Habits Tracking research revealed that the number of people who actually know what embassies and consulates do has dropped to the lowest in three years among the 16-24 age group, down from 62% in 2011 to 55% in 2014. That’s almost half who could find themselves making inappropriate calls, leaving themselves without an adequate response, and even worse, taking up time that should be dedicated to genuine and appropriate calls for help – calls that they might one day need to make themselves. Here is a straightforward chart of what the FCO can and cannot do for British nationals abroad.

Granadilla residents up in arms about crimewave

A row has broken out in Granadilla town with residents blaming the local authorities for insufficient security which has resulted in a wave of house robberies, some with violence, over recent months. Although the council itself says that it’s operating full security measures and cannot do more, locals hit back, demanding a promise both that the council would complain to the courts that some thieves who had been arrested had been released, giving the impression that they could act with complete impunuty, and that it would liaise with Granadilla Guardia Civil and Policía Local for residents to be told first hand what would be done to resolve the “unsustainable situation”. Residents say they will hold a demonstration outside Granadilla Ayuntamiento on 25 March to protest publicly about the crimewave the town is facing.


British Consulate information session in Los Cristianos auditorium Wednesday 25 February

Update 26 February: Around 100 people turned up last evening for the info session given by the Tenerife consulate team, Clio O’Flynn from Adeje Ayuntamiento, and the Healthcare adviser from the FCO. Apart from explaining about the consular structure and functions, topics covered included voting in the forthcoming UK election, registering on the padron, and the new driving licence legislation.

Two topics in particular, however, were of great interest to the audience, and both concerned healthcare. Clearly everyone needs to ensure that they have the correct healthcare cover for their particular circumstances, and to be registered for cover in either the UK or Spain, or to have private medical insurance. What has been a source of confusion and anger, however, is the system in Hospiten Sur (the Green Hospital) for patients with a UK EHIC. There are stories galore of the hospital – the only “hospital” with an emergency centre in the south – refusing to accept this card, despite a Spanish and EU-wide reciprocal system for the EHIC.

Helen Keating, Vice Consul and head of the consulate in Tenerife, said that only yesterday morning she and the FCO healthcare official from Madrid had had a meeting with top management in Hospiten Sur. The situation is that the hospital is a private one, but it has an agreement with the Canarian Health Service to treat emergencies in south Tenerife as part of the state system because there is no other hospital A&E facility in the area. Anyone who needs treatment beyond primary emergency care will be transferred on to Candelaria. As part of this system, anyone who attends the Green Hospital as an emergency, whether taken by ambulance or turning up by themselves, will be treated with an EHIC - but only under two conditions. First that the case is an emergency – as medically defined – and secondly, that the patient has no private medical or holiday travel insurance.

The hospital was quite clear that since it is a private institution, insurance will be taken if it exists even if the patient has an EHIC. The FCO healthcare official said that technically, under EU regulations, patients had a right to choose whether to use their insurance or EHIC, but as everyone agreed, it is perhaps not the best time to start having an argument about means of funding when presenting as an emergency patient. It is also important to note, as Helen Keating said, that any UK EHIC holders (i.e. UK residents who are visitors to Spain or Spanish-resident pensioners whose medical cover is via the UK) who found that their medical or holiday insurance company refused to confirm cover for some reason. would not be able to bring in their EHIC as a backup at that point. The EHIC has to be used from the outset, or not at all, and so anyone starting out with insurance cover could end up with a large bill should the insurance company refuse to pay up. The only people with no such problem, therefore, are those who have a genuine medical emergency and an EHIC but no other insurance of any sort.

The other matter that was of interest to people was the Convenio Especial, a pay-in scheme by which those without health cover of any other sort can buy state insurance. This was previously only available in Valencia but is now running here too. The scheme is being run by the Spanish government, and costs those of working age (i.e pre-state pension age) €60 a month. The system does not, however, provide any rights to subsidised prescriptions, nor to an EHIC, so is neither a cheap nor useful alternative to getting proper healthcare and medical cover in other ways if at all possible. It is also only available to those who are legal residents of over a year’s standing (on a local authority padron as well as a Registro) so is not available for newcomers.

All in all, the attendance and the length of the meeting – it was at least half as long again, I think, as might have been expected – will have shown the consulate team how valued it was, and people clearly expressed their appreciation at the end.

Update 24 February:  Just a reminder of this information session tomorrow evening in Los Cristianos. See you there.

Original post 12 February: The British Consulate will be holding an information session on Wednesday 25 February at 6.30pm in Los Cristianos’ Auditorio Infanta Leonorto inform British residents here about the benefits of registering with their local ayuntamientos on the padron, and for healthcare and other public services. The Healthcare Team will also provide information about the new “convenio especial”, a special pay-in public health insurance scheme in the Canary Islands for those not otherwise covered for state-run healthcare, such as early retirees. They will also explain how to register for healthcare in general and how to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are a worker or a pensioner. Admission is free and there is no need to register in advance.

Is there a doctor in the … island?

Update 25 February: It’s still speculative, but the best money is on the Teide national Park near where Clash of the Titans was filmed, and Garachico. In fact, the Garachico filming could be tomorrow. It does seem, though, that it’s possible the filming involves Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez rather than the Dr himself.

Original post 24 February: It’s still speculative, but in terms of time travelling through the universe, perhaps reality is relative anyway. Fans are reporting that a Dr Who team is filming in Tenerife right now, and although confirmation is hard to come by, they have acquired a photo of an itinerary for the current series involving Tenerife this week. It seems that scenes are presently being set ready for filming in Parque García Sanabria in the centre of Santa Cruz, and at least one crew member appears to be staying in the El Nogal Spa Htel in Vilaflor, though whether purely as an accommodation base or a further filming location is unclear. No doubt all will become clear … or maybe not … but it might be worth keeping an eye out this week for a Tardis in Tenerife, or even the Dr himself!


Man drowns at Playa de la Arena

A 70-year-old German swimmer drowned just before lunchtime today at Playa de la Arena, Santiago del Teide. The emergency services were called by the beach’s lifeguards who had pulled him out of the water in cardiac arrest. Despite their efforts at resuscitation, when the paramedics arrived they could do nothing for him, and confirmed his death at the scene. Cardiac arrest is a recognized symptom of cold water shock. For medical purposes, the waters in Tenerife are technically cold even in summer, let alone in February. In addition, right now there is a government alert for rough seas. Please take extreme care in the sea, and also see my page HERE on how to stay safe in Tenerife waters.


Windsurf champion found dead in El Médano

The body of Italian windsurf champion Alberto Menegatti was discovered yesterday in an apartment in El Medano where he was staying while following a rehabilitation programme after an injury while windsurfing last July. Menegatti, who was just 29 years old, was expected to return to competition in May. According to the Italian press, he trained until late on Sunday and failed to appear yesterday morning, whereupon his friends and fellow windsurfers began to worry when he didn’t respond to their calls. Calling at his apartment and seeing his vehicle there, they broke in and sadly found his body. The main hypothesis seems to be that the young sportsman died of natural causes, though an autopsy is being carried out today to determine the exact cause of death.

Janet Anscombe
Tenerife News
March 2015
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