Archive for January, 2013
The Lull Before The Storming Carnaval In Santa Cruz

It was eerily quiet in Santa Cruz for a Saturday but as I wandered around I kept catching glimpses of partly made costumes hanging up in doorways, and in front of the bus station the fair was being pieced together like a large jigsaw. Carnaval is in the air, the streets will be mobbed for the main events but more than ever this year there has to be a lot of belt tightening in the run up.

Anyway I had plenty of missions to accomplish, first up a photo sweep of the 36 Santa Cruz Carnaval posters recreated in pavement tiles beyond the Auditorium by the Parque Maritimo pools. The hot sunny weather boded well for the festivities ahead, my next call was the African Market or Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa to be precise. I popped inside and was impressed to see them trying to boost trade with a stall of breads, cherry tomatoes, and jams to taste and the offer of a prize draw for anyone shopping in the busy market. I tried some bread with a generous spread of blueberry jam and looked at the jar as I ate, hoping to see where in Tenerife it was made. What a shock, it was made in Barcelona, I just about managed to avoid a Little Britain moment and kept the jam down – bring on the lovely honey and jams made in Tenerife.

Outside the real reason for my market call was waiting, a new sculpture dedicated to the Chicharreros, the local fishermen. There is already a statue of a fisherwoman nearby carrying a basket of fish for market and this new addition compliments it perfectly. The weather beaten looks on the faces and the straining sinews really capture the dedication of those in peril on the sea. Big respect to the sculptor Javier Murcia.

Fate was on my side and checking the days papers in the vast library at TEA – Tenerife Espacio de Las Artes, I noticed that a catwalk of childrens Carnaval costumes was being staged in one of the small shopping streets. Hot foot I was there in a moment and caught the end of the presentation with a small stage and red carpet plus of course the drum rhythms that provide the backbeat to most Carnaval events. This years theme is Bollywood but it’s little more than a guideline, I spotted the usual pirates and a few big booted murgas (satirical bands) finding their motivation as the best performers say.

Duty calls, the Parque Bulevar shopping centre was on my tick list to load up with photos of the Carnaval Museum that is housed there. I have been several times since it moved in last June and each time the mannequins have outnumbered the shoppers. Maybe it’s because the centre is tucked away off the main drag as you cut through from Plaza del Patriotismo to Parque Garcia Sanabria but it’s another of my regular short cuts and always worth a visit.

Back in the centre of the city on Calle Castillo the main shopping street I saw a small tent settlement of people whose houses have been repossessed under the harsh mortgage laws in Spain. The BBVA bank was the target of their anger and desperation but it could just as easily have been any of the big banks. The system not only takes these peoples houses away when they fall behind but they also have to keep on repaying the debt, the nightmare doesn’t end. The Canary Islands has one of the highest unemployment rates in Spain and the crisis is hitting a wide range of people. Carnaval is all about the ordinary people, the biting satire of the murgas is largely aimed at politicians and councilors and the sardine funeral is a historical swipe at the hypocrisy of the church. Sardines and other scraps from the sea were all many had to survive on during a strictly enforced lent while the senior church officials and their friends continued to dine lavishly.

There was still time to set sail for the port to see what ships were in, the work on the Via Litoral is coming on well, crossing the main road, Avenida Anaga, I could see the new extra lanes of road were now emerging from the tunnel that will allow a large pedestrian area to spread across from the lake at Plaza de España. It’s another big project that will enhance Santa Cruz, for now it means a squeeze for the big Coso parade on 12 February but nothing stops Carnaval.

There were a couple of huge cruise ships moored up but I like to nose around among the marina and hopefully see a few vessels with more character. No surprise visitors on this trip but I quite liked the Miss Pezi from Linx in Austria just calling off on a pleasure trip from St Martin, France. With a full camera, a ticked hit list, and a song in my heart it was time to head back south to Los Cristianos – before returning the next day for football!

CD Tenerife Win Another Game Of One Half

It wasn’t pretty to watch but CD Tenerife stretched the unbeaten run to six games and another clean sheet as they eventually saw off Ourense 1-0 in Santa Cruz. Ending the match with three recognized strikers was using a sledge hammer to crack a very frustrating and stubborn nut.

A year on from the loss of our friend Andy Glover we welcomed his family to the game, I think we all know some of the choice words that our old mate would have had to say about the first half performance. Ourense had a plan, they stifled Suso and Chechu with close marking and although Aridane was winning the ball when it came his way, he again showed poor finishing.

The visiting goalie Pato made a good save after 10 minutes from Bruno but an Aridane header soon after was an easy take. Ourense even made a few raids of their own and found our full backs Moyano and Alvaro in nervous form. Too often Tenerife players made silly unforced errors or backed off when they should have been closing down players. A long lob on the half hour had Sergio back peddling, thankfully the ball cleared the bar. Moyano was shy and let Ourense in again just before the break, the dangerous Ivan Glez was just a little high of his target.

We needed changes at half time but had to wait an extra two minutes for new midfield signing Fran Ochoa to replace Medina. Playing deeper than I expected, Fran soon got involved and showed a good eye for a pass. Suso was still running into dead ends and Chechu had bodies waiting for his cross but he wasted it by firing a wide shot. Suso gave way for Ayoze Perez, scoring freely for the B team and hungry to grab his chance. Any scouts watching will have noted his pace and a determination, he didn’t take long to unload a shot at goal that just missed the target.

The nerves were jangling in the crowd, more firepower was needed to force a break through so Guillem joined the big push as Chechu departed. It only took a few minutes for Guillem to work his magic and latch onto a long ball before beating the keeper on 80 minutes – cue mass relief all round.

Ochoa went close to increasing the lead and as injury time drained away Guillem was brought down on the edge of the penalty area, it looked a sure penalty but the ref opted for the final whistle instead. Another unconvincing win for the 8,035 crowd as the transfer window prepares to slam shut but maybe Guillem and Ayoze will focus coach Alvaro’s thoughts on the options he has in the current squad.


Eyes Up For Sky HD With Wide Vision – Tenerife Style

Trying to evoke the spirit of John Noakes with a little dash of Magnum PI flair was always going to be a tough call for me but after a few days of anticipation there I was scaring the birds (nothing new there) in a helicopter above Tenerife. I get some good gigs for Tenerife Magazine and a chance to try one of the new Sky Experience helicopter trips was enough to overcome my natural aversion to heights. I was tempted to turn up at the Las Torres heliport in Adeje with a stiff white scarf, bomber jacket, and goggles but decided against it – well it would have looked odd on the Titsa bus from Los Cristianos and only old codgers like me remember Biggles anyway.

Helidream Canarias have been running flights in Barcelona for six years and have transferred their experience and expertise to a prime position just off the TF1 motorway by Tropicana nightclub. Each trip takes three passengers, one beside the pilot and the others in the back, all linked by headsets. The helicopter is a sexy looking sleek black Robinson R44 (please notice I am resisting all the obvious chopper jokes). As we parted company with the ground I felt like a rock star – well I did play the recorder at infant school, who knows what it could have led to. The views were amazing across Golf Costa Adeje to the sea as we turned effortlessly and traced the western coastline.

Feeling safe belted into in my comfy seat I was able to scan familiar landmarks as Playa San Juan led to Los Gigantes. I had thought that faced with the awesome cliffs that might be the point where my bottle started to twitch but I was fine taking in the shades and contours of the rocks as I snapped a few photos. Wheeling up and over the cliffs and looping around brought Santiago del Teide and Tamaimo into sight, I could make out one of the hill paths I had trekked down last year and my favourite precarious road that takes me north from Icod around tight sheer drop corners.

Hitting the coast again Callao Salvaje linked up with Playa Paraiso and then onto the approach to La Caleta where the banana plantations mingle with secluded coves. I felt like asking for another lap, I could take plenty of this high life but Adeje loomed ahead and the descent was steady and sure. What an enthralling trip, no white knuckles, no squinting through half closed eyes, just a half hour stream of treats for my senses. If you want to see a full report and more pics follow this link. Now if only I can arrange a lift to football with a landing in the centre of the Heliodoro.



A Draw From The Carnage – We’ll Take That

Was this a collective hallucination by CD Tenerife fans, the 0-0 draw at Rayo Vallecano B was certainly weird enough. Considering how much went wrong a point and another clean sheet was a good result but there are some searching questions to be asked at training.

New attacking midfield signing Fran Ochoa didn’t even get a place on the bench as the coach played the loyalty card, that meant that Jesus Alvaro continued to keep Llorente out of the left back slot. Chechu forced an early panic back pass from Rayo, Aridane could have given chase like a racehorse but lately he is more like a pack of supermarket burgers. Rayo chipped the ball wide of Sergio from a free kick and generally looked lively for a side that has nose dived into the lower reaches of the table.

Aridane had a weak header saved and Suso stole the ball off defender Owona and went through to score only to be pulled back by the ref for dangerous play. Inigo Ros was unlucky to get booked for hands after the ball was blasted at him – that takes him into a one game suspension. Chechu fired a shot at the Rayo goal but a defender got the Ros treatment for handling and Chechu stepped up to take the penalty. It was a poor shot that goalie Ismael got down to easily.

Aridane showed he does still have some skill with a nice interchange with Jesus before setting up Chechu who gave the keeper an easy save. Into the second half and Suso had a good chance blocked by a defender and a Tarantino free kick sailed over the bar. Loro came on for Suso but only lasted five minutes. A wild lunge with his foot at chest height brought an instant red card and probably a lengthy suspension. Marti Guillem replaced Aridane at last and put himself about, Alcaniz fouled him trying to pin him down and made his own early exit.

Nico replaced Cristo as the game faded, Nono was lucky to stay on after a forearm smash on Chechu’s neck and Medina put his free kick high and wide with the last real chance of the game. Changes will have to be made next week with Loro and Ros missing and it’s not before time.


East Meets West Down Memory Lane

The Russians are coming – and it could be just in the nick of time to save Tenerife tourism. That’s certainly my impression after a pleasant day up west visiting old haunts around Los Gigantes, it was always a more sedate area but in recent years it has thinned out considerably. The main point of my trip was to get s guided tour of Royal Sun Resort which re-opened in November after closing eight years ago, just before I moved down south.

The Royal Sun Hotel was known as The Jewel in the Crown of Los Gigantes, sitting at the top of the hill above the village like a slightly elusive beacon of luxury. In my days at The Western Sun newspaper I had many happy assignments up there, my first big interview was with actress Gillian Taylforth and I did reviews of several acts that performed in the first floor Imperial Bar of an evening. Walking up there from the bus reminded me of what a fantastic viewpoint there is from that lofty perch.

There’s a big Russian stake in the new ownership and that was reflected in the menus, notices, and the guests. Look out for a review soon on but for now these photos give a sneak preview , there’s more work to be done but it’s looking good. Walking down into the village it was busier than I expected as the New Year rush melts away, several business owners said they had noticed an increase in trade since November and Russian accents underlined the point. It would be good to see Los Gigantes enjoy a revival in fortunes – diversity could be the key.

Heading down to the marina I was quite dismayed to see the new barriers to limit parking at the front, it was like Checkpoint Charlie, apparently it has caused a lot of resentment and early tactical parking further up the hill. It was also noticeable how many pleasure boat and whale watching trips were competing for trade along the quayside, if they are all making a decent living that is another encouraging sign. On the other side the beach was busy but being buffeted by some biggish waves, I used to love swimming out from there with the towering cliffs making me feel I was clasped in the hand of nature.

Running up Cardiac Hill like a young frisky gazelle brought me into Puerto Santiago where I used to live, a lively Canarian enclave with nice little bars that I used to frequent. The big car park is still sealed and unused years after completion but again people were around in numbers as I headed down past the pocket sized beach below and the cultural centre with its eye grabbing fishing sculptures clinging to the outside walls. I was always amazed that there were no serious accidents at the tight hairpin turn known as Spanish Corner, even now I wince as two opposing Titsa buses squeeze by each other.

I was going to fill up on tuna at the plaza down below but it was early closing day for the restaurant so that can wait for another trip. Instead I wandered out onto the plaza and tipped my imaginary hat to the statue of former mayor Pancracio Socas. Before getting a bus back to the south I ventured into Playa de la Arena and watched some big waves fighting a duel with bathers on the black sand beach. This was another favourite swimming spot for me but getting a good line was important to avoid the rockier areas. It was always one of the best maintained beaches around, now they even have Wi Fi so you can surf without getting your tootsies wet. Lots of happy memories came back to me, every bar tells a story, but as the Titsa express pulled in bang on time I flashed my bono and headed into the sunset.

Slowly Slowly CD Tenerife Catch CD Marino

It was another win, that’s what we have to hold onto after CD Tenerife made hard work of beating bottom placed CD Marino 1-0 with a 78th minute Guillem goal. The pace of the game was snail like and defending dominated although Marino hardly threatened. Even the scoreboard was having an off day blinking and spluttering – at one point we thought it was going to click onto the porn channel – but alas not.

Marino were given a warm welcome onto the pitch, despite their often bizarre management there is a lot of goodwill towards them and their plight. The complaints were directed at the continued dictates from the TV companies, oh for an afternoon match like the old days. Goalie Alberto was quickly into action smothering a shot from Aridane, Suso bundled a shot wide a few minutes later and that was the pattern for the day, plenty of chances but wasteful and hasty finishing. Suso was buzzing but had no sting, Aridane is so slow lately we may have to fit little wheels on him, and even the consistent Inigo Ros put a good chip well over the bar.

Marino didn’t trouble Sergio Aragoneses until the half hour mark when he made a full length dive to block a shot. Marino defended stoutly, leaking goals has been their big problem this season but with a few new players they stood firm. Aridane missed another sitter just before the break and Ros popped another over the woodwork just after the restart. Marino tried to make progress on the left through Javi Marcheno but Moyano was on top of his game, Visiting strikers Noah and Balduino weren’t getting anywhere but a goal less draw would have been a good point for them. Aridane should have been taken off to graze at half time but lumbered on, Loro was introduced to force the pace but it was the arrival of Marti Guillem that made the difference.

The under under used sub picked up a pass from Suso on the right and squeezed the ball into the net from an acute angle much to the crowds relief. Alberto prevented a bigger gap opening with a strong punch clear and gathered a loose ball at the second attempt. Considering Marino had their three Tenerife loan players missing they gave a good account of themselves, it was up to Tenerife to be more clinical and decisive but they were poor. A win and a fifth clean sheet can’t be bad, the Marino team traveled back south as they had arrived – in cars, let’s hope our players appreciate how fortunate they are to play for CD Tenerife.


Suso Is King Of Kings For CD Tenerife

Would the players all come back from the festive break fat enough to have their own postcodes, would they have forgotten their playing roles, and would playing on Kings Day (Spanish Christmas) left the Armada Sur abandoned in a near empty stadium? The answers were all a resounding NO as CD Tenerife brushed aside Salamanca with a comfortable 2-0 victory in front of a 6,655 crowd.

There was a surprise selection with Jesus Alvaro taking Raul Llorente’s left back spot and he had a fine game, steady in defence and adventurous but never reckless in attack. Salamanca looked a poor advert for fourth place and had little to offer. Igor de Souza was a spectacular flop during his short spell up front for Tenerife and he showed he has not improved. Chechu tested thee visitors in the first minutes but Tenerife had the best player on the park in Suso, he forced an early save from Moreno and rode a tackle before shooting narrowly wide.

Aridane looked a bit slow again and at times drifted wide leaving the much smaller Suso to play as a target man. The ref had a poor game and favoured Salamanca all the way, Tenerife had two strong penalty appeals in the first half but he turned a deaf ear to both, the second trip on Chechu looked particularly obvious. The second half was only minutes old when Alvaro set Suso away, he raced at the goal and lobbed the ball over the advancing keeper. A few minutes later he was in a similar position and tucked the ball low past the bewildered keeper.

Salamanca went to ground at every opportunity but it wasn’t going to make a difference as the home side were well on top. Loro returned from injury to replace Cristo Martin just after he had gone close with a crisp shot. Aridane scuffed a shot when presented with a clear chance and Suso departed to loud applause as Nico came on. It was nice to have a two goal buffer as the minutes ticked away, even our imported jinx Dave Seddon from Leicester looked comfortable as his 22 game win less run departed. What a good way to start the year, a home win, a clean sheet, and still top of the table.