Eight hours after leaving Norwich, we turned the key on our digs at Playa Del Inglés. Aside from a few up-market hotels, Canarian apartments tend to be standard fare – concrete boxes with a small dark bedroom, an enclosed shower-room with barely enough light to fix your face, a stark balcony with nasty plastic seats, an ill-equipped kitchenette and a wipe-down living space decorated with lopsided Athena prints. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our concrete box was a comfortable cut above, with laminate flooring, trendy fittings and a flat screen TV. Liam flicked through the channels. The only one in English was CNN. They were showing an interview with Mitt Romney’s sons – all Hollywood teeth and apple pie. I wanted to throw up. At least the Osmonds could sing. I swept open the balcony door and the first thing to catch my eye was a sign for the ‘Garage Sex Shop – Cabins, Cinema and Video.’ It does exactly what it says on the tin, a metaphor for the entire mid-Atlantic rock. We’d arrived.
When it comes to a turn around the dance floor, location is more important than lodgings. Happily, we were spitting distance from the Yumbo Center, the throbbing epicentre of gay Canarian low-life. The Yumbo is a naff treat for all the senses, a crumbling multi-layered open air shopping and sex emporium. It started to fall apart as soon as it was built (some twenty five years ago). By day, it’s an over-sized pound shop patronised by ancient slow-lane Germans in busy shirts and socked sandals. But, at the stroke of midnight, the racks of tat are wheeled away, the garish bars throw open their doors and the entire place is transformed into a gaudy cacophonous neon-lit cess-pit of drunken debauchery. After four years of tranquilising sexual ambiguity in Turkey, the no nonsense in-yer-face, up-for-anything style was right up our alley.
Our photos couldn’t possible do justice to the wonder that is the Yumbo Center (we must get ourselves a better camera) but this certainly does:
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