Foreigners in ‘overwhelmed’ Tenerife have even started living in caves | Travel News | Travel

The invasion of foreigners in Tenerife has become so extreme even the island’s caves have been taken over, much to the anger of local people.

In a ravine on the outskirts of El Medano, a town beside the island’s airport, the Express found Ingo, a German from Berlin whose home has been dug into brown volcanic rock.

“I fell in love with the island,” he said. “I have been here eight years, four living in this cave.”

Ingo has painted the walls bright colours and carved a tiered sleeping area into the rock so his mattress is well away from the solar-powered cooker he uses to make meals.

His modifications are controversial because they change the shape of a natural landscape which locals say has both a delicate ecology and archaeological significance.

“We are citizens of the Earth,” Ingo replied when we asked about his decision to move to Tenerife.

The Berliner is far from the only outsider to claim a patch of Canary Island desert. Dotted across the horizon above the ravine are the campervans of yoga teachers and kite surfing instructors who’ve decided to stay there for free.

“I have lots of friends here. We have great parties, everyone is invited,” Ingo said of his relationship with the neighbours.

Locals are less enamoured with the foreigners partying in their cherished natural habitat. Activist Ivan Cerdana Molina, who volunteers with the group ATAN, showed us videos of raves in the caves filmed by locals who felt disrespected by loud music and the brazen sale of drugs.

“I feel really angry. I know it’s not [Ingo’s] fault, but what right does he have to come and take this cave,” Ivan told us after seeing the German’s dwelling.

“This used to be a nice place for people to come and walk, but now it’s not.”

As the Express’s team picked our way through the ravine Ivan pointed to plastic bottles and broken glass, urine-stained rocks and tissues soiled with human faeces stuck to plants.

Not everyone living in the encampments around the ravine was there by choice. Edgar, a Canary Island resident for 20 years, lives in a van despite having a full-time job in the construction industry.

“I cannot afford the rent,” he told the Express. “There are too many people [coming to Tenerife]. If I can pay €500 per month and a tourist will pay €1,200 of course that’s what the landlord will choose.”

The 60-year-old said he is one of many made homeless by the massive rent increases which hit the island post Covid, a development he does not feel was possible without the intense demand from holidaymakers for places to stay.

“For the workers there is no space in the town anymore,” he added. “Everywhere is expensive.”

It was a point Canarian Ivan Cerdana Molina said has led to an exodus of young people like him from the island.

“The coastal areas are targeted by investors,” he explained. “So we are pushed back to the hills and forests, but even there people rent their homes on Airbnb so there is nowhere to go. We are just an island and an island has a limit.”

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