Archive for January 22nd, 2011
Two Fiestas, Two Saints, One Great Week

Any excuse for a party, I’m sure each year they slip in a few new saints days in the Tenerife calendar to keep us on our toes but there are always some old reliables that fire up the party spirit and this week the weather was at it’s scorching best. Sunday kicked it off with San Antonio de Abad in Arona town, a lovely unspoilt haven just up in the hills and a starting point for many of the mountain walks. I had far less energetic pursuits on my mind this visit and after squeezing onto the Titsa bus I dived straight into the fun and games.

San Antonio is a protector of animals and they come out in force with oxen pulling carts leading the way and everything down to dogs, cats and even ferrets joining in. Drink plays a key role in fiestas, local wine is cheap and plentiful and the bars off the main tourist trails are very reasonably priced, it’s great sampling the atmosphere in the local hostelries as singing and dancing soon has them swinging. The more religious minded packed the church for a service but already the beer was flowing in the plaza among the stalls and various musicians were wetting their whistles.

The parade did a wide lap of the town coming back up alongside the plaza with all guns blazing and food and drink being handed out to anyone willing to reach out a hand. Daytime fireworks? why not, I was just worried that the rockets might scare the oxen and goats into making more street deposits, I did well to avoid stepping in any and also not to get bitten, chewed or nibbled by the animals on show. As I was covering the event for Tenerife Magazine I did my best to clamber on walls and hang off dodgy railings to get better pics through the lively crowd. You can’t beat a Sunday afternoon scoffing a huge baked potato as old ladies in Canarian dress dance and sing for your entertainment, when I left late afternoon there was a natural lull as the stage band took a break but it was sure to burst back into life in the evening.

Onto Thursday and San Sebastian patron saint of Adeje was waiting in the wings, another guardian of animals it was time to rouse the horses, goats and sheep but this time with the end result of riding the horses down into the sea at Playa de La Enramada in La Caleta. Seeing the goats and sheep in their pens reminded me of the old cattle market in Oxford, one of my favourite trips as a nipper, the smells and the chance to stroke the animals. The Tenerife sheep and goats were loving all the attention and the pigs were really hamming it up. Stars of the show though were the horses and foals, groomed to perfection and decorated they looked magnificent, the really keen ones trotting up and down the road to be joined by the ones in the paddock just before the parade marched off.

There were around 30,000 people gathered for the climax of the celebrations, most of them perched in precarious vantage points looking down on the beach. I followed the horses and riders down to the sand and then scrummed down as a wave of people washed over the beach as the horses galloped along the shore line and danced in the waves. The police kept people back at a safe distance but the shifting shingle and incoming tide made it fun keeping our footing. A few riders slithered off their horses and a brave little terrier of a dog raced after them snapping at their hoofs but backed off at the sight of the foaming water. San Sebastian made an appearance carried aloft but as he was carried away the crowd subsided all buzzing with the spectacle they had seen.

Full reports and different photos are on I musr scan my diary and see what other delights are coming up in the next few weeks before Carnaval fever kicks in.