Archive for July, 2016
High Praise For Santiago Del Teide

I wasn’t putting off my big walk down the Camino Real, just delaying the pleasure with a catch up around the small but delightful county town of Santiago Del Teide. I’ve arrived there before on the Titsa 460 bus from the south into near freezing conditions before the almond blossom walk but this time the digital readout above the chemist was shouting 35 degrees. A stroll through the back streets reassured me that civic pride was as strong as ever, the shrine to the local firemen outside the bomberos station had been spruced up since I last saw it a little overgrown.

But enough of skulking in cooler back streets, I was well overdue a trip up the Fuente de La Virgen de Lourdes, a short, steep trail through an ornate white archway and marked out with large white crosses. Pride of place at the top goes to a statue of Our Lady Of Lourdes, placed in a small cave next to an old spring in 1990. The walk up doesn’t take long but offers increasingly wonderful views over the small town. What a great way to spot the main influences in the history of Santiago del Teide, the pine forests, the lava fields, and even the new ring road bursting through the mountainside  tunnel.

The shrine at the top of the trail does attract visitors, floral tributes and candles surround the statue on the tiled floor, and wooden stools invite the weary climber to sit and contemplate. Outside there is an altar and a bell and it’s clear to see that the surrounding bushes and shrubs are kept in check by regular pruning. Clambering back down to the entrance bridge I felt ready for the days adventures ahead. You can read about my big Camino Real walk in Island Connections, out on Wednesday 3 August.


CD Tenerife Up And Running With Friendly Win At Las Zocas

Trying to match new faces and new squad numbers, looking for who has put on a few pounds, and feeling the buzz course through my body again. It must be pre season time and Las Zocas were the hosts for CD Tenerife’s opening 0-3 victory.

Pep Marti was beginning his first full campaign and only a few days in had been getting the players puffing with work outs in the hills, on Las Teresitas beach, and on the morning of this game, a full training ground session. Even so match fitness is another matter and some of our players were clearly not at full pace but there were lots of encouraging signs, most notably the first half display of Honduras 18 year old Darixon Vuelto. The under 17 international has arrived with an eye to playing for the B team but on this showing he could be hammering on the first team door. The sometime midfielder shared the main striking duties with Ale Gonzalez, another rising star, he took just over 20 minutes to grab his first goal from a short pass by German.

Las Zocas were restricted to a few chances, one long shot brought a good turn aside from goalie Angel Galvan. Omar Perdomo was another player who impressed, he forced the home keeper to make a smart save before latching onto a cross for a 36 minute goal. Marc Crosas looked strong in midfield and Camille looked solid at the back. There were wholesale changes at half time, Nano and Cristo Gonzalez took over up front but Las Zocas replacement keeper did well to block their best openings. Another sub, Oscar Gonzalez, brother of Ale, looked good as an attacking wide midfielder, both brothers made great strides with the B team last season after joining from Sporting San Jose and will fancy their chances of earning a senior shirt.

The floodlighting struggled to illuminate the second half, Carlos Ruiz put a strong header wide and Nano went close a few times before being bundled over in the box for a third goal from the spot. It was a good workout on the long road to the Segunda Division season, the Armada Sur were in good voice and the coach even had the players in a circle at the final whistle, stretching and warming down, they looked a little shell shocked by the extra exertions. There is still another new striker to sign and Choco Lozano to return from Honduras duty, the season tickets are cheaper than ever, and the after match beers slipped down nicely. Welcome back live football.


Art Meets Magic In Santa Cruz

Sat in a dark room watching a 1902 fantasy film and chuckling like a drain. Not how I had expected to start my art and culture trip to Santa Cruz but I wasn’t moaning. My how I chortled as a space rocket landed in the eye of the man in the moon! Maybe I should rewind a little before you think I’ve lost my marbles.

Georges Melies was a true genius, illusionist, director, magician, and producer, the French impresario loved fantasy and fables and combined them with horror, humour and ground breaking special effects to mesmerize audiences in his glass sided Paris theatre. The free exhibition La Magia Del Cine (Magic Of The Cinema) is filling the two floors of the Espacio Cultural at the Caja Canarias bank HQ in Santa Cruz until 15 October. It reveals the passion and dedication of Georges Melies with the help of drawings, sculptures, props, and film clips. The great man embraced all the new delights of his age like stroboscopes, magic lanterns, and shadow puppets, all enhanced by painstaking cutting of photos and film. Several of his short films were being played around the exhibition with the tinkling piano soundtracks adding to the atmosphere of the well staged halls. A Trip To The Moon is his most famous work and is still visually stunning, try to pop in to the exhibition, Monday to Friday 11 to 2 pm and 5 to 8 pm, or Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Next call for me was the Summer Art Exhibition at Ciculo De Bellas Artes in Calle Castillo, the main shopping street near the port. It’s more about modern, cutting edge art here and this seasonal show features bright summer images, they even have some deck chairs so you can sit and contemplate the exhibits. All the works here are for sale, some are very small and manageable, they open week days 10 am to 8 pm, apart from August when they close at 2 pm, and this show goes on until 24 September with a 3 euro entry price or free if you have a residencia. Back outside I had a stroll around the sale filled shopping area, a quick dive down a few side streets rewarded me with some interesting graffiti art, part of an urban project called Submergete En Santa Cruz. Most of the settings for these wall drawings were a bit neglected and were cheered up no end by some artistic intervention.

I’ve always had a liking for strange art and one place I can guarantee strangeness that goes off the scale is El Tanque, the former giant oil tank between the bus station and the Auditorium. The first time I went they had a series of large Rank Film style gongs hanging from the high iron rafters and large fluffy cod ball type sticks to hit them with. The acoustics in the cavernous tank are eerie and the almost total darkness makes it a good setting for light shows such as the current show, Irradiacion De La Energia by Milton Becerra from Venezuela.

The darkness also makes it a rather difficult place to move around in, UK health and safety would have a hairy fit. I could see a couple of the large lighting projections as I tried not to trip over anything. There were a few other people in there, I made a pinging noise like a submarine sonar but they never responded, it was also sweltering hot. The free exhibition is on until 26 August, open Tuesday to Friday 5 to 8 pm, and Saturday 11 to 2 pm. It was almost a relief to get back outside and onto my air conditioned Titsa bus back to Los Cristianos.

CD Tenerife Paradise Postponed Not Lost For Pier Cherubino

Never one to shirk a tackle when playing for CD Tenerife, Pier Cherubinho is showing the same dogged determination in his quest to become President of the club he loves. Barring a late landslide of   share holder votes he looked certain to lose out to long serving rival Miguel Concepcion but was already planning a December challenge.

The 44 year old, born in Rome but raised in Puerto de la Cruz played 137 games for the blanquiazul and has been the fans choice in the election. Meeting with the Armada Sur and small share holders at the Gaelic Corner in Playa de Las Americas, he was signing up late pledges of support but warned it was a near impossible task as Concepcion has squeezed out every last favour and remaining loyalty from his backers. However the momentum gained by Pier in this campaign will drive him on to build towards a December challenge to cut short Concepcion’s planned five year extension.

Pier made a point of speaking to small groups among the large crowd and did well to get his message across to our Armada Sur contingent originating from the UK, Sweden, and Holland. Battling the live band next door he dismissed any suggestions of working with his rival as he felt it needed a new approach after the old regime had failed to change over 10 years in office. There was a clear passion about Pier and his willingness to come to see us echoed his view that the club has abandoned the south of the island. Another criticism was the clubs stance on dealing with only big sponsorships at the expense of many smaller companies that would like to get involved.

Tapping into local talent was another popular theme with Pier, he wants a squad of mainly locally raised players with just a few outside signings that can make a difference, not imports to just make up the numbers. The clubs coaching staff would also include many ex players passing on their passion for the shirt as well as expertise. Marketing would be cranked up with a local company lined up to explore opportunities all over Tenerife and involving promotions through the big hotel chains of the south. Even during this current election campaign the club has been forced to show signs of recognizing the fans longing for new ideas. However for Pier it doesn’t go far enough and he is ready to take this game into extra time to get the best result for the fans.


Tenerife Has A Passion For Fashion And Cars

It was enough to make Jeremy Clarkson and Chris Evans flip their bonnets, a multitude of cars spread over two parties. For me it was the fashion models at Parque Santiago 6 that revved my engine but for all who attended it was the overall glamour of a Saturday night in the west end of Los Cristianos that made it special.

The open air top tier of PS6 is the setting for regular promotional events but this was the most ambitious, a red carpet circuit around a central seating area was the focal point for the models to show off some of the outfits on sale at the centers shops. Before reaching that area there was a large display of classic cars from the Club de Amigos de Coches de Tenerife, and modern sleek styled motors from Mercedes, Porsche, Maserati to name drop but a few, all courtesy of Canary Cars. A cava and cocktail bar kept everyone fuelled up and the show was under starters orders.

A gleaming car heralded each pair of catwalk stars as they set out from their changing area. It was all about practical elegance at affordable prices for men as well as women. Full marks to all concerned, it was smooth and professional against the backdrop of the top floor shops. There were some quick changes going on and it was a very warm evening but they managed to look cool and chic. The music pumped up the mood and a commentary pointed prospective buyers towards the outlets where they could purchase their own slice of style.

On my way in I had noticed another party going on in the former pink supermarket just behind the ring road. It was the official opening night for Autostil Tenerife and more superstars of the luxury car scene spilled out onto the forecourt. They very kindly invited me in and what a transformation greeted me. There were two big open plan halls, one full of names like Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, and Bentley, linking to another hall with a stage and live band, and a raised bar area. It was banging in there with lights, music, and tasty snacks and a cooing admiration for the big guns of modern motoring. It was all a bit more glittering than my usual Saturday night with a few pints and a bag of pork scratchings.


Reggae Reigns At Mumes Festival In Arona

What a lucky lot we are in Tenerife, there’s always plenty of music to make our days and nights brighter. Arona has a particularly good record in staging diverse concerts and festivals,most of them free, such was the case with MUMES, a rousing blend of African and Canarian vibes.

Friday night new arrivals to Tenerife couldn’t believe their ears as they strolled into town and found top class reggae oozing from a large stage outside the Los Cristianos cultural centre. I had heard of La Laguna band Ruts & La Isla Music but never got to see them, I was soon lamenting those lost opportunities. The five piece band was joined by two young female dancers and the charismatic lead singer who lit up the evening stage. Their light, laid back reggae was interspersed with a few classics like Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved but what clinched it for me was a strong ska influence on the later numbers. The girls really worked the growing audience of seasoned reggae fans and families giving their younger generation a glorious musical baptism.

When they left the stage there was a DJ session from Dab Maia with the sounds of Bob Marley, this allowed time to change the stage settings and a quick beer break for myself. Spyrow was next up with his band from the Ivory Coast, they were more hard core and very strong musically. By then the crowd were loosened up well and dancing, the four piece band behind Spyrow kept it tight and upbeat, especially the guitarists. It was a wonderful night for good music and the festival continues with exhibitions in the cultural centre and a jazz flavoured Sunday night (10 July) with Djarabikan Balafon, also from the Ivory Coast, at a free concert in the Auditorio Infanta Leonor that backs onto the main building.

All Ship Shape On The Danmark In Santa Cruz

I was scared to stand still in case I was oiled, polished, varnished, knotted, or stowed away in a locker. They’re a hard working and cheerful bunch aboard the Danmark training ship. This was a few days port call in Santa Cruz for the triple mast sailing vessel, on a 9,000 mile voyage from Denmark to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but there was no slacking for the 80 young trainees.

They graciously rolled out the gangplank for weekend visitors and added host and tour guide to their growing list of skills. Several training ships pass through Tenerife with similar values of teaching teamwork, sailing, navigation and social skills, these trainees also got involved in all aspects of the day to day running and maintenance of the steel ship built in Denmark in 1933. It’s an impressive sight to see close up and the number crunching adds to its imposing stature. The ship is 215 feet (74.4 metres) long, 33 feet (10 metres) wide, standing 125 feet (38.6 metres) above the water line, three masts with 26 sails of 1,700 square metres, and 219 rigging lines. As well as the sails there is a 357 KW engine.

The crew are the heart and soul of the ship, there’s 15 full time crew plus the 80 trainees taken on for each voyage. I grabbed a word with a couple of the keen hands. Grunnhild from the Faroe Islands told me in English, the official ships language. “I had been thinking about following my two brothers into a career at sea but have no practical experience so this is a big test for me. It’s hard work but I’m enjoying being part of a big team.”

Mathew from Ireland was also relishing the challenge. “I have sailed on a tall ship in Ireland before but this is a much longer experience, I flew out to Denmark to join the voyage and sailed back past Ireland as we came down over the north of Scotland. It’s going well, we’ve seen lots of wildlife like turtles and I haven’t been seasick so that’s encouraging.”

The trainee qualifications are to be between 17 and a half and 23 years old, have a health certificate, and pass though an interview. Then six weeks craftsmanship training on shore leads to 14 weeks continuous training on the voyage. Education rarely comes free, the whole trip with training costs 3,200 euros and lots of tough, physical work, then at the end they get a certificate as an Ordinary Seaman which will get them entry to a career as a merchant marine. It’s open to anyone who is a EU citizen, whoops that ship has just sailed for some people. Hammocks are the order of the voyage but it was looking very spick and span when I popped down to the sleeping quarters, the wooden lockers and table were gleaming from a good polish.

They do get some leisure time, they are split into two watches, port and starboard, one watch was out on a coach trip around Tenerife when I called and I spotted a smartly dressed group of crew out in the city later on. This trip is the Olympic Voyage as they arrive in Rio for the games and will be promoting Danish industry. By the time they arrive they will have acquired many new skills, a lovely aroma wafted from the galley and the menu offered lasagne, veggies, and salad, not a ships biscuit in sight. Good luck to them all, it certainly seemed a happy ship.

Things were a little glummer across the port, two large Danish oil tankers, Maersk Traveller, and Maersk Trimmer were moored up, one of the Danmark crew informed me they were laid off due to the post Brexit crash in oil prices, a fate shared with many other containers, double whoops, I made my own exit at that point.

Sizzling Fun At Armada Sur Barbecue

We deserve a treat, it’s not always easy following CD Tenerife but the Armada Sur keep the faith with the help of good company and liberal amounts of Dorada. Thanks to a dedicated team of organizers we just had to roll up to Suters Bar in Parque La Reina and dive into a mountain of food and swim through lashings of beer.

The barbecue always attracts a few old friends that we don’t get to see that often and also we get some UK based fans flying in especially – come on where’s our award for services to tourism? The weather was just about spot on, a mix of passing cloud and sunshine, there were plenty of shades set up to make sure we were spoilt for comfort. As the beer flowed plenty of the old tales were rolled out for another airing, so many good memories over the years.

The get together also marks the countdown to the new season, at last definite news comes trough about pre season friendlies, player movement, and this year the build up to the Presidential election, a key point for our long term hopes. The new Armada Sur shirts made their debut as part of the membership package and were going like hot cakes, or hot burgers. Bob had a special surprise for The General, his own limited edition shirt with his name on the front, the comment on the back “Not Available For Away Games” drew some ironic cheers. The General’s record at away games has led to suggestions that he could be cursing our chances of more away wins.

The highlight of the afternoon is always the burning of the Pio (mascot of our yellow rivals), health and safety has made it more difficult in recent years as the damn things are mainly fire retardant. Even so, with plenty of vocal encouragement and prodding our two fluffy victims were dispatched to their rightful resting place. Back to the beer, our juggling Scottish waiter Bert nearly lost a tray of liquid refreshment but we discovered we have plenty of budding goalies who came to the rescue. We even got a visit from some hairy bikers, old friends of our, the hangovers were being booked by then, Armada Sur is a well oiled machine and I was certainly well oiled. It was a great afternoon and we are now refreshed and ready to follow our team on their wibbly wobbly road to destiny.