Archive for January 21st, 2014
Saddled Up For San Sebastian At La Caleta

Church bells ringing, paella cooking, and wine pouring into glasses, what a wonderful way to start a special celebration. The fiesta of San Sebastian is dedicated to the animals and a full paddock of horses were grabbing what rest they could under thee shade of the trees as young and old alike stroked them and posed for photos.

The buses into La Caleta were crammed full like cattle trucks as thousands flocked to one of Tenerife’s most popular celebrations. The church doors were flung open and the noon Holy Mass was being conducted with the dedicated faithful inside and many curious visitors straining at the doors with cameras, phones, and I Pads. Down below a large open air showground was brimming with stalls selling traditional food and drink alongside American inspired cartoon character merchandise. A sea of tables groaned under the weight of baked potatoes, sweet almonds, beer, and more wine.

There was no real hurry to get the parade of horses underway so I had a good stroll around, despite gray clouds over the Adeje hills the sun was blazing down and the shaded outside of the church was a popular place to gather, All around the building groups gathered together as old Canarian songs were sung while small guitars and timple were plucked. Meat sizzled on the hot plates before tasty salsa sauces were added, pancakes were filled with sweet fruity fillings, and you guessed it, more beer and wine was added to the mix.

As the church service drew to a close, horses were untethered and ridden out to the sealed off main road. All sizes and ages were mounted as hooves clip clopped along the tarmac at a sedate canter. Falling into a rough formation, the runners and riders were finally allowed to saunter down the side road, past the five star hotels where people were hanging onto every possible viewpoint, and down the path to the beach. Police and security kept a wide opening for the animals and once on the sand they broke into a faster trot as they headed to the shore. The sea was a bit livelier than usual so some of the horses pawed cautiously at the rolling waves before risking a deeper wander.

The best vantage points had been quickly grabbed and the large mound was peppered with people, some perched in quite precarious positions. As the horses frolicked in the water loud rockets were let off but it hardly registered with the horses, they were having too much fun. I did well not to get soaked feet or something nice for the roses on my trainers. It was noticeable there were more ladies taking their charges for a dip this year and most of the riders were recording their own snippets of photos and video on phones and cameras.

Considering the huge swell of people on La Enramada beach it was impressive how smoothly it all went off and as the procession of horses filed back up to the main square the crowd dissolved away either to enjoy more music, food, and dance or like myself to disperse to other parts of the island. It’s a few years since I last took in the San Sebastian spectacle but the magic is still there and it was good to see new generations of Canarians passing on the appreciation of the historic partnership between the land, the workers, and the animals.