You know it’s nearly Christmas on Tenerife when the poinsettias come into bloom and La Villa shopping centre starts to open on Sundays.
So on Sunday we decided to try to put the gift-buying to bed in the hopes that we could get everything in the post by Monday and it would still have an outside chance of getting to the UK before Santa did.
We figured we’d head up to La Villa around 11.30am which would give us enough time to do the shopping without descending into bad tempers and get to the beach for 2.45pm where we were meeting Nicole for lunch.
I was surprised at the lack of traffic on the slip road to La Villa and we remarked on the stark contrast between Tenerife and the UK where, by now, any hope of getting to somewhere like Manchester for shopping on a Sunday would entail setting off at 8am with a flask, a tartan blanket and some emergency food for the journey.
The smugness was soon wiped from our lips when, driving into the car park we were faced with row upon row of empty parking spaces. Something was amiss.
The doors of the centre were open and we wandered past shuttered stores like extras on the set of 28 Days Later until we reached the Al Campo hypermarket where a security guard was sitting, idly thumbing through a magazine.
“Excuse me,” we asked. “Why isn’t the supermarket open yet?”
“Because it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.”
“But that isn’t until Tuesday is it?”
“That’s right, but this is the bridge.”
‘The bridge’ is the name they give here for all the extra holidays they take every time a public holiday falls within spitting distance of the weekend. So because Tuesday is a public holiday on Tenerife the shopping centre closed on Sunday, opened (inexplicably) on Monday and closed again on Tuesday. The Correos (post office) is of course closed Monday (the bridge) and Tuesday.
So, to all our friends and family in the UK who are now not going to have their cards and presents by Christmas Day, I’m taking the Mary defence; I blame the Immaculate Conception.