I was standing in the boiling sun, at the top of a waterslide, as a gorgeous Spanish man looked me up and down. I was wearing a bikini so, needless to say, this was unnerving. After drinking me in, he made a decision.
"You. You go opposite the man."
Whenever we were paired up in school, for a dance or something, I always had to be the boy. This is confusing, looking back. I went to a mixed school - there were plenty of boys around. Why were they never called upon to be boys? It's a mystery.
Anyway, I was always tall. Still am, funnily enough. So that's why I had to be the boy, along with some other sturdy girls. And it's something that's continued to this day, it seems.
I should explain. I was at Siam Park, a water park in Tenerife, ready to throw myself down numerous slides in an inflatable dinghy. There were four of us, which was the perfect number. Each dinghy sat four, which you plonked yourself into and clung to the handles for dear life.
At the top of each ride, a few lifeguards stood, ready to throw you down safely. Their other job was to weigh you up, to see where your weight would best be distributed. Which is why every time they made me sit opposite the man.
On these dinghys, you get to know each other quite intimately, quite quickly. Eight legs have to intermingle in the middle of the circle, and your legs mustn't be bent. If that sounds a little like a riddle, then I've described it well, because there is no way to do this with any sense of dignity. You just have to squash your feet into any crevice you can find, regardless of how well you know your dinghymate.
There's also a sense of panic at the top, when vague instructions are shouted at you amidst the noise of rushing water. It seems like what the guards are saying would be important... but there's no time to ask them to repeat themselves.
"My hands? In? Or on? My bum where? WHERE?"
Before you know it, the dinghy is drifting towards a dark tunnel. And you'd just better hope your bum is in the right place (it's high, if you're wondering. Keep your bum lifted high).
I can be a bit of a wuss on rides. I'm usually better when water is involved, but I'm still a bit wary. So I was surprised when I loved each and every ride I went on. They instantly blended into one, but typically you'd be thrown down a dark tunnel, round and round, before being shot out into some other surprise. One was reminiscent of a draining sink, or as I shouted,
"WE'RE BEING FLUSHED DOWN A TOILET!"
Another, and my favourite, was a half-pipe style wall. The speed you'd picked up in the tunnel flung you up towards the sky, where you'd pause for a minute, screaming wildly, before plumetting back down and around.
I spent most of the rides screaming. Actually, I started each scream while we were static and waiting to move. I thought it best to prepare myself for what was coming.
|The huge wavepool is a big hit with smaller kids (or anyone looking for a break)|
Despite somewhat nervy (and screamy) beginnings, and my insistence that I'm not really a ride person, I was almost instantly addicted to the rush of the water slides. I couldn't wait to get on each one.
What helped in my giddy race around the park was the VIP Fast Pass on my wrist. This gets you to the front of each queue (apart from the Tower of Power - the terrifying vertical drop that finishes in a SHARK TANK). When the long lines snake down hot, shadeless, endless steps, nothing feels better than shooting past them all, dinghy held high. You have to get used to people shooting daggers as you walk past them, but it gets surprisingly easy. From shuffling past them apologetically to racing past shouting "Later, suckers!" takes about two rides.
Another hint? Wear flip flops the whole way around the park. In the sun, the ground gets unbelievably hot. At first, I thought everyone was running around the park because of their uncontrollable excitement. Soon, I discovered it was because the soles of their feet were burning. I went barefoot and regretted it almost instantly.
If you really want to be a fancy pants, you can get yourself a VIP villa. This works out at around €100 per person (villas can accommodate between 4 - 10) which does seem expensive, but includes entry to the park, food and drink for the day (as well as beers and soft drinks in the cabana) and the all important wrist band. You'd want to be there for the full day to get the most out of it, and be sure you spend enough time actually up there - if you want to spend the whole day on the slides or in the pool, it probably wouldn't be worth your while. But if you have someone in your party who wants to chill out in the shade, occasionally soaking in the private hot tub, then you're on to a winner.
|The sundeck on our cabana|
|The view from our cabana|
Tickets cost €33 for adults, €22 for children
You can buy a fastpass for €15 at the door.