Tenerife is affectionately known as The Island of Eternal Spring because of the climate, but I’ve changed the title a bit to suit the nature of this article.
The average life expectancy in Spain is 83 and when I go out for my morning shop, trekking 4kms up and downhill on foot it makes me smile when I see an 80 year old woman or man in front of me doing the same thing. I’ve read articles as to why they can still do this, but today, I’m putting my own spin on why I think they can still do it.
My article is based on observations I’ve made over the past 16 years living in Tenerife, as opposed to any scientifically proven research. Personally, I’d rather trust what I see and feel, as opposed to what I read or am led to believe.
So, I’m going to talk about some of the perhaps lesser expected secrets to improving your chances of a longer and more fulfilling life.
The obvious thing most people point out is the importance of diet. I agree with that, and my diet is rich in fresh vegetables bought from a local market that only sells local produce. Then there’s the locally caught fish and seafood. There’s nothing more satisfying knowing that what’s put in front of you was caught fresh that day. Great start!
Wines of the Canary Islands: The New York Times http://nyti.ms/2pnm3C5
As with any Mediterranean diet there are a lot of salads and olive oil involved, along with the wine. But I’d like to explore what else makes me believe my remedies will help me live a longer life here in Tenerife, as opposed to London, where I was born and lived a very stressful life as a senior management consultant who was working more hours than was healthy.
This is the black volcanic sand beach at Mesa Del Mar, just a 10 minute drive from where I live. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve arrived there feeling tense and agitated. But, once I start walking, smell the salty ocean, see children playing carelessly in the crashing waves, and greet what we call the third generation (people over 65) as they walk past I start to breathe normally again, and I’m reminded that life is for living and being enjoyed.
Walking is a big thing here in the Canary Islands and very much encouraged by the local government for all ages. It’s not overly strenuous, and you can take it at your own pace. I’ve found the benefits go beyond physical because it also helps improve your state of mine. I return home feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on my next challenge.
If you’re a bit more adventurous and have the ability, me and my friends quite often go for long treks (well, 8km is long enough for me!) Again, taking in the scenery, breathing fresh air and knowing the trek is doing you good fills you with a sense of achievement and is wonderful for clearing your head and appreciating life.
Art and Culture
Perhaps surprising to many, Tenerife is not just about sun, sea, and fish and chips because it’s rich in art and culture.
When was the last time you went to an art gallery and got totally lost and consumed by the works of art being displayed?
The world renowned artist, Oscar Dominguez, was born very close to where I live. http://bit.ly/2pTfzy7
Antoinette Castro Dominguez is a very dear friend of mine, and as you will see later, I’ve been one of her photographic subjects. Antoinette’s works have been exhibited/published/selected by the Royal Photographic Society in London, The Cloud Appreciation Society, and the Espacio gallery in London…to name but a few.
Meet Carlos, the fisherman, who helps fill our tables and plates with freshly caught fish.
The Fisherman: http://antoinettecastrophotography.com/
To read more about Antoinette, her work, and the fabulous day I spent with her in her studio, click on this link to my column article in Divine Magazine: http://bit.ly/2o9zGr8
When I had my art gallery here in Tenerife, about 14 years ago, Julio was one of my favourite artists. He’s whacky, out there, but has a very good head on his shoulders. He’s been commissioned by a lot of the local authorities here to produce some amazing large-scale sculptures that are proudly installed on the streets all around Tenerife.
Have a look at Julio’s website, and watch this space because I’m planning to interview him for an article.
Julio’s sculpture leads me nicely into my next subject. If you want food for the soul then there’s plenty to choose from here in Tenerife. I could ramble on for hours, but I’ll focus on The Auditorio in Santa Cruz which plays host to concerts, ballets, and numerous other cultural events. Just put me in a seat and already I feel 10 years younger. Fabulous! Just what the doctor ordered.
If you’re not the outdoor type, or unable to get outdoors, there are still many ways you can entertain yourself and live the life you may have always wanted to live from the comfort of your armchair. And, that’s not by stagnating your mind watching television programmes you don’t really enjoy, or films you’ve seen a hundred times but having nothing better to occupy your mind with.
If a book’s written well, has a good storyline, an enticing plot, an appealing setting, and engaging, likeable and loveable characters then there’s the secret to more escapism and enjoyment that will stimulate your mind, imagination, and sense of well-being.
I’ve now written 7 books in my series so I guess you could say I’m addicted to writing. I love it because it keeps my mind active and young at heart, perhaps by living tales and adventures that I’ve dreamed about.
Maria is another dear friend, and the cover says it all. I read some of Maria’s poetry so I could write an article about her and it simply brought me out in goose bumps. Here’s the article: http://bit.ly/2nFcXTw
Friends and family
As an author I live quite a solitary life working from home and I don’t have the social interaction during the day that I used to. Thank goodness I have my imaginary characters to keep me company during the day, and my friends and followers on social media to remind me I have real people who care for me and make sure I’m never left feeling lonely.
I also have a close circle of friends here in Tenerife who drag me away from my computer now and again, so I get a break and bring myself back to the real world. The Spanish are very sociable people and whereas when I lived in London, my neighbours used to look down or turn their heads when they saw me coming, I get greeted on a daily basis by people I don’t even know. A complete contrast that brightens up my day!
Doesn’t it make you feel younger just looking at the photos and pretending you’re there?
In the UK, they call people over 65 old age pensioners. I’ve always found that term ugly and offensive. Here in Spain, we call them the tercer edad (the third generation) – which I find much more fitting and appropriate. Being called a pensioner surely can’t make you feel any younger! So, even a simple difference in term of phrase can change your attitude about yourself.
The end result
Tenerife, along with its surroundings, the great people, food and wine have put that smile on my face and made me feel human and happy again.
Thanks to my new surroundings, I discovered my creative side and the will to live again. That’s right. I just said the will to live. In London, I’d got to the point I was losing the will to live. I had all the money I needed, but I lacked something deep inside me, and that’s called self-satisfaction.
I’ve been injected with a sense of renewed energy and the desire to discover new things. And I’ve done just that. Now, I’m an author signed to a respectable publisher in North America http://www.extasybooks.com/ and have 6 books published.
I may not be the richest man in the world now, but I can claim to be one the happiest. I willingly traded money for self-fulfilment and a better quality of life. One day the big bucks may come rolling in from my books, but so long as I have my health and happiness, I’ll settle for that.