Archive for July 25th, 2011
Santa Cruz Gripped By Bike Fever But Left Cold By Half Nelson

What a good way to start the weekend, hanging around the docks with sailors and hairy bikers, ooh do you know I think that could be taken the wrong way by some mucky minds. This was all in the line of work, leaping out of bed early I caught the Titsa bus to Santa Cruz and was sat outside a cafe with a coffee and a salami and cheese bocadillo by 9 am. Tenerife’s capital city slowly kicks into action on a Saturday morning, most shops hadn’t opened yet and it was quiet as I walked through to the ferry port. The ongoing work to the Via Litoral meant a slight detour and has also seen the monument to Nelson taken into storage for a while, but more of the Admiral later.

Following a lone Vespa round to the Armas ferry quayside I found a swarm of them all gearing up for their Vespasion tour of north Tenerife and awaiting more scooters from Gran Canaria. I’d had a small preview when Vespas helped set the tone for the Peroni calendar shoot a week ago and had followed up the local enthusiasts on their website. But what was this, a large group of bikers was set up a few yards away and more Harleys, Hondas and Suzukis were sweeping into the parking area. Thankfully I wasn’t in the middle of a turf war, just great minds thinking alike, the biker fans were also having a north Tenerife rally and two day tour. I’ve never had a moped, scooter or chopper, speedway was the closest I came to engine envy, but caught in this Quadrophenia meets Born To Be Wild scenario I was very impressed with these classic motors. The ferry arrived late and more merry motorcyclists poured down the gangplank boosting the gathering to around 200 with a 50 50 split of scooters and bikers. There’s a full report and photos galore at

I felt a stirring and a call to arms, this was no ordinary weekend but the anniversary of Nelsons thwarted invasion of Tenerife in 1797 and a small scale march was set for the city centre soon after noon so I had to head inland. The actual anniversary day is 25 July and the local historical group for La Gesta had planned events for Saturday to Monday but budgets and cultural funding have been slashed so it all came down to a few good men, a replica canon and some dry ships biscuits.

Taking a drink and a catch up of the local papers in Plaza del Candelaria there was a small demo being made against cruelty to animals with some owners accompanied by their dogs on leads. An advance trooper from the Nelson march was handing out leaflets and fending off sniffing pooches, the protesters were in no hurry to move on, could have made an interesting mix as a naughty dog widdled on the gunpowder and changed the course of history. Refreshed I cut through to Plaza del Principe where the small group of soldiers were posing with rifles and the 2006 built replica canon on wheels. I recognised some of the players from previous years. Nelson wasn’t there himself, he was an early injury having his arm shattered after just stepping foot on Tenerife soil. Shoppers and strollers tagged along as the group marched down towards Plaza de España, there seemed to be quite a bit of artisitic licence at play with the main characters, one figure looked more like Mussolini.

A steady drum beat and a police escort later the soldiers were stood to attention at the edge of the Plaza de España lake with the canon facing out to sea – were they going to shell Las Palmas? There was an agonizing wait when it seemed that the canon might not fire but fair play when it blew it had quite a punch and scattered pigeons to the four winds. That was about it for the re-enactment, no sea invasion with musket fire and full battle like last year and no marking the main points of the story arouns the city. I couldn’t help thinking that although it’s great to see history preserved, maybe it might be better to make this a sporadic affair, maybe every two years to justify a decent budget.

The memory of the battle will never be forgotten, the Tiger canon is on display down below Plaza de España among the remains of the city wall. If you want a very modern tribute to this part of history check out a new locally developed computer video game that features a young Canarian boy and his dog Tigre slipping back in time to take part in the battle.