More Ketchup than Salsa: Confessions of a Tenerife Barman

It was while holding aloft a not altogether pleasant-smelling mackerel that the decision was made. The March rain hammered on the rotting tin roof high above the market stall, where I had spent the last six months pushing out dubious trays of marine life at three for a fiver. After a two-week holiday abroad Joy and I vowed that a life in fish giblets was not going to be our destiny and a life in the sun, was. A complete lack of catering experience, zero business acumen and the sum of our vastly wealth barely reaching waist level of a ceramic pig did little to deter our enthusiasm for buying a bar on a sub-tropical island. “Where do we sign?” we said. And then the whole silly, sunny saga began… When Joe and his girlfriend Joy decide to trade in their life on a cold British fish market to run a bar in the sub-tropical sunshine, they anticipate a paradise of sea, sand and siestas. Little did they expect their foreign fantasy to turn out to be about as exotic as a wet Monday morning. Amidst a host of eccentric locals, homesickness and the occasional cockroach infestation, pint-pulling novices Joe and Joy struggle with the expat culture and learn that, although the skies might be bluer, the grass is definitely not always greener. A hilarious insight into the wild and wacky characters of an expat community in a holiday destination, More Ketchup than Salsa is a must-read for anybody who has ever dreamed about jetting off to sunnier climes, finding a job abroad… or anybody who has even momentarily flirted with the idea of ‘doing a Shirley Valentine’ in these trying economic times.

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Even More Ketchup than Salsa: The Final Dollop

The first six months of running the Smugglers Tavern had been a baptism of fire. The subsequent years were about as much fun as bobbing for apples in a vat of acid. Having swapped the tin roof of a cold British fish market for the sunny skies of Tenerife, one of Spain’s holiday islands, Joe and Joy succeeded in thwarting the first wave of attacks from bungling bureaucrats, bewildered holidaymakers and their own spectacular ineptitude. What they didn’t realise was that their enemies were regrouping. Not only that, but those enemies had made camp a lot closer to home, enemies that would make their encounters with exploding gas bottles, East European squatters and big-time Charlies seem like chapters from a children’s picture book. Dreams are shattered, relationships left in tatters and sanity is tested in this prize-winning travel and humour memoir in this revelation about what it’s really like when you try to make a better life for yourself overseas.

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Joe Cawley is an award-winning travel writer and author. He’s medically compelled to travel to alleviate sporadic bouts of island fever that leave him with a nasty rash and an uncontrollable urge to shout obscenities at the top of his voice.
His work has been published in The Sunday Times, New York Post, Tapei Times, Conde Nast Travel and many others. His first book, More Ketchup than Salsa, was voted Best Travel Narrative by the British Guild of Travel Writers.
Joe lives in the hills of Tenerife, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, with his family and an assortment of other wildlife. The goats are no relation, despite rumours to the contrary.

Follow me on twitter – @theWorldofJoe