Tuesday, December 23, 2008

#3.2 Tenerife!

It took my sister about a week to pack. She was taking 2 suitcases, more then I had brought to Finland for the whole year. I packed the night before, just what I needed. Despite this amazing opportunity to travel to some place I never dreamed of going to, I wasn't really looking forwards to it. For one, things were starting to get good in Rovaniemi, and I didn't want to miss out on Finland. Another thing was we were going to a tropical island. Now I'm the kind of person who chooses of her own free will to go to Finland for a year. Tropics is not my forte'. If I wanted heat palm trees and a Spanish speaking culture I would have gone to Mexico or Costa Rica or something. Not that I'm complaining, how can you?

There were 5 of us going together. Me, my host dad and sister plus his girlfriend and his girlfriend's 14 year old daughter.The 5 of us crammed ourselves in a car for about a 3 hour trip to Oulu, where we would catch our plain. The weather was frigid as we drove. There was about 5 cm of snow and about -12 degrees C. I saw a few herds of reindeer grazing alongside the road. Once we got to the airport we had a direct flight from Oulu to Tenerife. The flight took about 6 hellish hours. Our headphone jacks didn't work and i had to sit in the middle, deprived from my usual window. We flew over Stockholm, Paris and Lisbon.

We arrived at about 9:00 local time. We got of the plane as was welcomed by some overly cheerful tour guides handing out maps. "To quiero una carta?" One of the ladies asked, I was so impressed with myself that I understood. "Joo, kiitos!" I said. It took me a minute to realized that I had definitely not responded in Spanish as I had planned. This multi-lingual thing was giving me a headache. The outside air was just cooling off, but it was still hot. About 18 C. (That's in the 70's I think..)

We were picked up by a Finnish travel agency who had a bus. We got on and they gave the tour, only in was in Finnish, so I didn't retain much. Our hotel was about 10 minutes away from the air port. From what I could see it was a sprawling maze of a complex. We went in to check in. There was a Spanish man at the counter. I was curious to see how my host dad would handle this situation, as he hardly speakers any English. He asked for our passports, and we gave them to him. He started talking about Finland, when he heard where we were from. "Finland?! ahh Terve Terve! Mitä kuulu? beautiful country!" I was surprised to hear him speak Finnish, but it turned out that almost everyone knew a little.
He gave us 3 girls lollipops. As he was giving the passports back he saw mine. It stood out between the burgundy of the Finnish ones, the eagle on the cover blatantly parading my origins. "Alright" He said. "Which one of you is American?" Uh oh... I knew that America wasn't exactly popular these days but I never expected to be singled out like this. "That would be me" I said. "How old are you?" He asked bluntly. "Uhh 16.." "Ahh. so too young to vote, yes?" ah now I saw where this was going. "Yeah I'm too young. but if I could have I definitely would have voted." "And who would you have voted for?" He asked, blunt again. "Obama!" "Ahh yes! Good, muy bueno. Well if you had I would have given you another lollipop!" I was taken aback by the whole exchange. Not what I was expecting at all.
We made our way through the maze that was our hotel to our room. The hotel was basically a lot of suites with patios stacked on top of each other an and order that hardly seamed planed. The whole complex was open to the sky. It was a playground for parkour, full of ledges leading to roofs and staircases leading down and away. Later on we would wonder through our hotel we found 3 swimming pools and the ' cave bar' all tucked away.The hotel room it's self was small hot and stuffy. The main room had a little kitchenette and dining table a couch and a TV that had a huge contraption attached to it, it was coin operated. 1€ per hour. T(hey charge you for everything here in paradise) Riikka Mari and I shared one room and Tarja and Jussi got the other. Mari's suitcases took up about ½ of the floor. The bathroom was a bit grimy, but alright I guess. It was strange to be crammed back into such a tinny shower after the all to open one I had back home.....no wait...in Finland.

It was about at that point that i got hit by a crazy double home sickness. I missed Finland, the people and the space, not to mention the cooler temperatures and cleanliness. I missed Denver, I always do, but I guess I just learned to live with it in Finland. but now on vacation away from home away from home It hit me, and it hit me hard.We went on a walk that first night. I hoped i would feel a bit better after some fresh air. That's when i discovered the cockroaches...It would be a long two weeks.

Every day there was surreal. Being back now it feels like it never really happened. The landscape was picture perfect paradise, complete with palm trees and sandy beaches. Everything was set up to cater to a tourists every need, at a price of course. The restaurants had menus in almost every language. There were tourists from all over Europe, and there were a lot of British people. I can almost be sure when I say that there were more tourists on that Island then there were natives. You could tell that half of the natives were happy doing business with tourists, they were always helpful and cheery. The other half seamed to resented us all.

We went down to the beach almost everyday. There were shops and restaurants all along the coast. Some of the shops were cool, all of them were cheap, but after a while they all seamed the same, after all they all sold the same merchandise. But the beach was beautiful and the sun was welcome after being pretty much deprived from it for 3 months. Some days we would go swimming in the hotel, or we would go on some activity planned by the travel agency. One day we went inland to the water park where they had a bunch of water rides and dolphins! The dolphin show was free for customers so we sat and watched.

Another day we went on a boat tour. We sailed between two of the islands. we saw a few funny looking whales, and then we ran into a huge pop of spotted dolphins! It was amazing, there were about 20 of them and they were all at the front of the boat, swimming and jumping through the waves. It was so much fun to watch! The boat pulled into a little cove and stoped there for a while, giving people a chance to go for a little swim. I jumped oout into the Atlantic Ocean expecting it to be couls, but was pleasently suprised when i found out that the water was rather warm.
Time passes in that sluggish was it does in paradise. But it passed none the less. After two weeks of rest and recreation it was time to go back to Finland a little tanner and a bit more traveled and well rested.

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