The Booths

Two hours late, they tell us. We take two single blankets, for the night is chilly and the Booths do love being fussed over. There is snow on Teide and the wind coming in from the North-East. Two hours late means a chilly night will be turning bloody cold.

No. Latest estimate says only one and a half hours late. Small mercies!

Taxi drivers don't like it if private motorists collect passengers. Taxi drivers have been known to be quite insulting. There isn't really an off season but there are long lulls when drivers get edgy waiting in groups for late or cancelled flights to arrive and it is for the sake of protecting our guests from confrontations that we park in the car park and not on the concourse where the taxis stand. And there is no point in trying to fool the policeman standing at the swing doors to the carousel; his job is to prevent non-travellers getting to the incoming passengers, and we have been here often enough to be recognised as habitantes. So we wait in the hall, having grabbed a rare wild trolley, for there aren't many of them about. Truly the trolleys don't keep pace with the increasing volume of traffic. Only the car park seems to expand indefinitely.

Aha! We have the Booths, spotted in the distance by Lizzie. There is not a single unclaimed trolley anywhere by the carousel and we are not allowed through, so we must watch their two bent grey heads as they struggle with their cases as far as the watchful policeman before we dive on them with greetings and load our trolley.

A bad flight and a bumpy landing, but now we have them safe and their two single beds are waiting with hot water bottles at Paloma Beach 1. We are not often greeted tearfully but Marjory really has had a bad time. Fred squeezes her hand.

Right up to the door of the lift. We bring their cases up. We make tea and whisper to Fred "Get to bed. Unpack in the morning. We'll be round."

Tomorrow morning we have two couples in 1B1 arriving 8.30. I shall wait with the keys. We've had them before. One couple is quarrelsome - or they were last time. Seems like an unsettled marriage. God, how well I remember! Pest control boys were round yesterday clearing manholes of cockroach nests. Problem is, the damn things scoot up the waste pipes trying to evade slaughter and end up in the kitchen sink. Best to go in before our people arrive to make sure all is clear.

We get a late dawn here. The mountains are in the way. Sunsets are best, way over the sea when La Gomera stands out like a lump of pig iron and you might just see El Hierro on the horizon. But the morning is cold and I am not in the best of tempers: we really should get our silent phone sorted so we can check times of arrival with the airport.

Lizzie will creep round to the Booths about 9 a.m. and listen at the door for signs of life within. Then she will knock and offer to do some shopping. The Booths are from Ruthin in Clwyd and the Welsh love of music has provided a link, for I had a Great Uncle Lambert who sang with the Huddersfield Choral Society.

They arrive by taxi, two couples plus luggage. I welcome them, open the front door, hand over two sets of keys, briefly go over cupboards, show them Mas a Menos which has expanded somewhat since the Italian furniture store has gone, give the usual warning not to drink the tap water, and remind them that we get rain in October and sometimes short power cuts. Any problems, I am in Cristimar next door Bloque D 4/1.

Lizzie returns full of laughs "The Booths are having a party tomorrow. We are invited. Some of their friends are here already. Dr Gethin was asking me why Jesus Christ was Jewish?"

"OK, I'll buy it!"

"First: He went into his Father's business; second: He lived at home until he was 33; third: He was sure his Mother was a virgin - and his Mother was sure he was God."

The day has promised to be gentle with us. Only two apartments are occupied so I suggest a day of culture. How about the archeology museum at Santa Cruz?

"OK, you're on!"

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