Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The underbelly of living in Gran Canaria

Between holiday and life

For many of us who holiday in the sun and after the holiday dream of moving to those climes away from the dreadful weather of our humble abodes, we have to temper our fantasies with reality.

Many have moved to Gran Canaria, first for the weather and then for a seemingly sedentary life, it is anything but sedentary.

I have seen businesses all around the place that look like the owners are just getting by, the Paradise is lost in the struggle to eke out a living; tourists are not necessarily fair game, if you think about it.

Young people come to the island but are at the mercy of employers who work the system and take advantage of them with rotten contracts and threats of being kicked out for even cheaper staff.

One thing you cannot expect of cheap staff is good service except if they have a naturally friendly disposition.

From servile to service

When I stayed at Riu Papayas over Christmas which for all intents of classification is a 4* hotel, the service and staff were no where in the class of those in the sister Riu Palace Maspalomas where I first stayed in September.

The care and attention to the detail of comfort and satisfaction is beyond compare, one thing these people are good at is making you at ease and addressing every single issue you raise with professional and personalised attention.

It would appear many aspire to work at the Riu Palace or Riu Grand Palace brand of hotels, regardless of the pay, the people feel part of the system that compels you to return again and again.

Dilemma of the young and old

I overheard a conversation yesterday where a young man had a generally comfortable contract to do a show a few times a week for a nightly fee. It would appear employer likes his activities that he has asked the young man to do more shows but instead of an improved nightly fee, he is to be put on a fixed hourly rate.

On the one hand, he would have a stable income but it does not mean that he would be well off compared to if he retained the basic nightly pay-per-appearance fee. The young blonde head was in a dilemma, but these are some of the stark realities people face in the heat of the sun.

Just up the road, Dino's Trattoria, a bistro which looks like a tents and canopies on a balcony (definitely not built for the rain), I sometimes wonder if that was really his idea of coming out here, but he does have patronage and he probably does take occasional breaks in the sun, sitting beside his bistro.

Catching the dream through adversity

Then, the other day, I visited the bar that offers free WiFi connections and realised the ever so friendly chap whose friendliness and dynamism had him running the bar alone during the day was not in.

There are new faces, younger bodies and really not too excited people; a few days later, I saw the friendly chap, he was dressed as a tour director, I did not get to speak to him but thought to myself, people can have dreams and they can come true.

When I finally chatted to him this morning, I realised there was nothing like adversity to help you take those difficult steps to success – his boss in the ploy to hire cheaper, younger staff accused him of pilfering from the till; he left that employment but also decided to take the employer to court for trying to ruin him.

In the meantime, he got a job as a tour director with his own car and as he spoke to me, he radiated with confidence and assuredness that this was always what he wanted to do – it was his happiest and most fulfilling job.

I could only be glad for him, encourage him and congratulate him patting him on the back and telling him to live his dream to the full – the ex-employer might learn a tough lesson – not every young man can be taken for a fool, they also have rights and can seek legal redress for wrongs.

Living in Gran Canaria

It is possible that the case would embolden many others who no doubt have been wronged and have employers think twice before they play tyrant.

Holiday in Gran Canaria is one thing, living and working here is a completely different story, like James Brown said in Living in America, even in Gran Canaria someone somewhere along the way would find out who they are.

No comments: