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Friday, March 31, 2006

Finding a lady of negotiable affections in Tenerife



Hookers, whores, prostitutes, tarts .. These days they call them sex workers, so that it seems an acceptable "employment service" to contract and, clearly, there are plenty of er, "gentlemen" wishing to do so. One such visitor from Finland used Google to search for "tenerife prostitute price" and the unfortunate fellow ended up here.

So, always aiming to, ahem ... give satisfaction (though I would emphasize that my own street walking adventures in Tenerife are of the purely non-prostitute kind), I thought I would carry out a little research into this, erm, niche of the service sector.

Of course, the world's oldest profession is nothing new, even on this island.

Tenerife manages to get a mention in this book, The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees, set in the 1780's and sub-titled "The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and its Cargo of Female Convicts".

The female convicts antics are compared to the notorious dock-women of Tenerife in The Fatal Shore: History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868, which contains the following passage:

"Since the liaisons were free of legal ties, a settler could simply throw a convict woman out when he was tired of her. This caused a troublesome floating population of whores and unattached "disorderly women" to accumulate around Sydney Cove, whose westerly arm, "The Rocks," soon acquired a well-deserved name as the rowdiest and most dangerous thieves' kitchen in the colony. As early as 1793, these women were offending all who met them, including a Spanish lieutenant who stopped in Sydney on an exploration vessel, the Atrevida: They made "continuous seductive advances" to his crewmen, slipped them Mickey Finns, robbed them blind, and were so "degraded by vice, or rather greed" that the notorious dock-women of Tenerife paled in memory beside them."
Mostly British, French and German travellers chronicles from the 18th and 19th Centuries also reveal the invisible History of Canary Islands Women, in which,

"Some travellers also spoke of how misery drove many island women to prostitute themselves in exchange for a few coins, mainly those who did not have a man to look after them. And there are stories of how women offered themselves to sailors or a group of thirty girls, accompanied by their old mothers, who begged insistently for "the favour of an intimate conversation"."
The history of prostitution in Tenerife gets even darker when it gets linked to politics and cult religion with "the ancient practice of religious prostitution" and the story descends even further into the murky depths when the Tenerife-born sex cult "messiah" turned killer. And the Canary Islands get a fictional link to the sex trade in Christophe Honore's film Ma Mère, although critics said that the Hooker's Oedipal romp was boring.





Getting finally down to business, the World Sex Guide had quote priced for these services in Tenerife, in pesetas, from 2000. Undoubtedly, these will have risen (no pun intended) since then, as they seem to in everything since the introduction of the Euro. The price for a 5' 10", blonde, "porn star quality" prostitute in Playa de Las Americas in Tenerife back then, apparently, oscillated around 30,000 Pts per hour. That equates to 180.00 Euros in today's money, which was roughly £120.00 sterling or US $220 in 2006.

World Sex Guide also informed us that "The word "whiskeria" is often used for brothel and that "Barra americana" (American bar) are bars where you can find girls. They said that the best was the "Bar de la Rosa" at the highway exit shortly after the Tenerife South Airport northbound in direction Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They didn't say when or for what, but paid 15.000 ptas (90 Euros/£60).

Nightclub The Matrix Club offers a variety of euphemistically named relaxation and escort services of varying levels of luxury and exclusiveness.

Out on the street, there are bargains to be found, although one man "blew his top at the €20 price charged by a prostitute for oral sex and tried to denounce her for over-charging", said The Western Sun Newspaper, under the headline of "Blow me! That's a bit steep!" They went on to say that, "The 48-year-old Spaniard was still complaining about the rising cost of loving as he was arrested and charged with drunk driving", after he arrived at the police station in Santa Cruz in his car, with the prostitute still in the passenger seat.

Today, around 80 percent of prostitutes working in Spain are immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. There is little doubt that many of the foreign prostitutes have been coerced into the trade by criminals who lured them to Spain with false promises of other jobs, as reported on numerous occasions with the headline 'Europe's brothel' - referring to Tenerife.

Certainly, there isn't and never has been, a shortage of prostitutes in Tenerife.

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Lost Pyramids of Guimar

Pyramids of Güímar

One visit that should not be missed on Tenerife is to the Parque Etnografico, built around the Pyramids of Guimar by the late Dr Thor Heyerdahl and shipping magnate Fred Olsen.

Like every single aspect of Tenerife's history, there is truth and there is myth and the two have become almost indistinguishable over the centuries, but even of they have since been dated to the 19th Century, this is still one of the most fascinating places on the island.

For me, that was seeing the replicas of the reed boats that Paulino Esteban in Bolivia had helped make for Heyerdahl. Viewers of Michael Palin's journey, Full Circle, will have "met" Esteban when he took Palin for a test-drive on Lake Titicaca.
"Although well known in Europe, few people outside the continent have even heard of the Islands let alone the mysteries they hold. The Canary Islands could contain definitive proof that ancient people crossed the globe by sea long before Columbus ever did."
Sadly it didn't, but that doesn't mean that didn't happen either.

Read more: The Lost Pyramids of Guimar

Images by Berthold Werner [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons and Polylerus [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Documentary Teno: Man and Nature



A new documentary film, Teno: Hombre y Naturaleza (Teno: Man and Nature) has been well received by the 500 or so who attended it's premiere at the Cine Victor in the island's capital, Santa Cruz.

The production has been sponsored by the Tenerife Cabildo (Island Corporation) departments of the Environment and Landscape and their counterparts in the Canarian Government, with collaboration from town halls and museums.

Councillor for the Environment and Landscape, Wladimiro Rodríguez, voiced his satisfaction with the high quality of the film and hopes that it will be given a similar welcome by the public at national level. The documentary is to be broadcast by various national channels and at international festivals and, will soon be shown at various points around the Teno Rural Park. The object of the promoters is to get as much coverage as possible so that the public can get to know the importance of this national cultural treasure, that has been marginalized for many years, first hand.

The film is a reminder that it is well worth fighting to defend this inheritance and the need to leave it to the next generation in the same state we received it. The documentary aims to pay homage to all the efforts and sacrifices of successive generations of men and women who have lived and worked, morning to night, in such difficult and remote conditions.

The 50 minute documentary, filmed in Super 16 mm cinematographic format, is the result of two years of intensive work by production company, Alascine. Many of the images show the great difficulty it was to capture them in an enclave characterized by a non-uniform geography and almost permanent fog. Others expose the natural predisposition of the villagers to pose before the camera and to recount their experiences, bringing the cultural inheritance to present and coming generations before it vanishes forever.

Teno. Hombre y Naturaleza

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Training Ship Elcano in Tenerife

Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1992

The Spanish Navy's training ship, the 79 year old Juan Sebastián de Elcano, docked in Santa Cruz port on Friday, the ship's second stopover on it's first voyage since undergoing a major refit. As well as making improvements to security systems, cabling and air conditioning, the interior of the ship has been substantially modified to make conditions better for the crew. Previously, they had to collect their meals and take them down two decks on trays. Now they have a dining room right next to the kitchen.

Of the 228 crew on board (32 of whom are women), 38 are trainees. Ten are from the Canary Islands (eight men and two women). There are also six civilians on board, among them; a hairdresser, a sailmaker, a carpenter and two cooks.

The Juan Sebastián de Elcano has already sailed around the world ten times. The ship leaves Tenerife on Sunday, bound for Brazil.

The sailing ship is named after Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took command after Magellan's death and became the first man to complete the circumnavigation of the world.

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

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