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Another insight into quirky life on Tenerife 

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It is three months since the opening of the new municipal library and it is going well.

Three hundred new members have signed up since opening its doors, according to their Facebook page and I am not surprised as it is a lovely building.

It has four floors, a separate children’s area, a chill out zone, plenty of study areas and a conference zone, much better than the dark, dreary, very cramped and often damp old building.

For me, however, there is something missing. Where are all the books as there seems to be a distinct shortage? I haven’t asked the question before, mindful of cultural differences, thinking that perhaps books are not the main event in local libraries, but now I know different as other libraries in the area are crammed full of them. Also I have answered my own question. I now know where they are, still languishing on the shelves in the old building. A lot of use they are there but of course there must be a very good reason.

I have heard a rumour. I know I shouldn’t always take heed of them but in Puerto more often than not they are true and besides, it is the only way you get to hear anything here. Information is not forthcoming and is circulated very much on a need to know basis, unless that is there is a photo opportunity to be had, and a chance for a bit of back slapping!

Take the opening of the library as an example. Plenty of photos of the island’s President and of course our local Mayor, oh, and we mustn’t forget the local councillor ‘responsible for’, a contradiction in terms if ever I have heard one, but where in all the photos were the hard working librarians, the very people who put in all the hours to make the move to the new building a successful, if not a particularly speedy one?

Sorry, I am way off- piste already. Back to the afore-mentioned rumour, and the most probable reason why all the books aren’t in the new library, which apparently is, because they are still, three months down the line, waiting for the arrival of some of the shelving, which again is just a rumour, coming from Portugal. It is good to see the Council supports local businesses.

Whilst on the subject of books, I have perused the depleted stock and couldn’t help but notice the absence of new releases. Of course they could all be out, but again I have heard, and a whisper rather than a rumour this time, that whereas the library in La Orotava receives a very healthy budget from their local council to purchase new listings, our library in Puerto does not, and has to rely on the generosity of its members for donations.

Still on the subject of the library, no I haven’t finished yet, so if you are bored already you just have to turn the page, there is a new initiative coming soon from the council which must be true as it has been in the local papers. Strangely enough it concerns the old library building which in September is due to reopen as a student study area. They have even gone to the expense of sprucing it up a bit by giving it a lick of paint.

You have to question why, well I have to anyway, when there is a brand new purpose built building, just a couple of hundred metres away, light and airy, with four floors and plenty of study areas, there is the need to supply more in a separate building. Also given the choice why would anyone use the space, unless of course you happen to live just next door or have some nostalgic attachment to the place. There will no doubt be a cost to bear, light and heat and I assume it will be manned, somehow I can’t quite see, ‘last one outs turns out the lights and pulls the door closed’, working here.

I shouldn’t be flippant about it; any additional space for student use should be viewed as a bonus, although I am suspicious of there being an ulterior motive and can’t wait to see next year’s election manifesto. The irony for me is that during the last ten days of April and most of May, just before their exams, when students really needed the study space, both library buildings were closed, yet from September when, fresh from the summer holiday and at the beginning of their school year, the last thing on the minds of most students is the desperate need to study, they will have the choice of two venues, but only Monday to Friday.

Enough said about the library, besides, thankfully we Brits have the English Library.

I am sure I am not the only one who has been caught out by local opening hours. Oh, over time I have fallen for them all, tried to shop on a ‘local’ bank holiday, tried to shop mid afternoon, and have assumed places would be open on a Saturday, at least in the morning, only to be proved wrong. I thought by now I was immune to it, yet only last week I was caught out once again. I needed to post a letter and mindful of Correos closing for a long lunch, left it until late afternoon before venturing forth, only to find they were closed. Being August, the month when little happens, I suppose I should have known better, they don’t reopen in the afternoon this month, nor did they last month for that matter and nether will they throu-ghout September.

This scenario is by no means unique, it is the same throughout the so called ‘service’ sector, banks, tax offices, employment and social security, utility offices, even our very own ‘here to serve the community’ town hall, all are there to serve you, but only in the morning, or up to 14.00 if you are lucky, and don’t dare mention weekends. Now to make matters worse, more service providers, go-vernment department espe-cially, are insisting that you make a prior appointment before arriving at the office. How can this be worse? Surely it is better, yes, if only the appointment time was the time you were dealt with instead of the time you should arrive to join the queue of others who have been given the same time.

For shopping we do a bit better, and having the tourist town tag means we have Sunday opening, albeit it voluntary. Even so the 10.00 opening is still a bit of a bind and inconsistent, some will open at 10.30 some at 11.00. It is not as if you can rely on the time it says on the door, it may say opens at 10.00 yet you could still be waiting at 10.30, the key-holder having had trouble parking, having stopped for a coffee and then passed the time of day with two or three people whilst walking along the road.After all what is the rush. It is not ideal, but I can live with the extended lunch hours and with the shops closing, but again there is the disparity of the reopening times to mess up your schedule.

I suppose I should adopt a more local philosophy, I should surface around about 11.00 and then only for a couple of hours before enjoying a long lunch, followed by a siesta, only resurfacing again around about 18.00. At least then I might find the vast majority of shops are open. Life would be much easier if only my body clock worked that way.