Archive for September, 2018
A Tip Of The Hats To Virgen Del Carmen

For all the modern development and tourism growth, Los Cristianos still has a strong beating heart built on the old fishing traditions that made the port an important hub of commerce years before a flip flop or bucket and spade plonked down on the beach.

Once a year local pride erupts into a big spectacular homage to the Virgen del Carmen, the patron of the fishing community. With a great sense of timing, Arona council unveiled a new statue by Inma Serrano outside the cultural centre just a few days before the celebrations. One of my favourite events of the days of music and dance is the Fiesta del Sombrero on the Saturday afternoon in the small Plaza del Amalia Alyon. The hat fiesta is always bold, loud, and inventive of amazing creations are popped on peoples heads as they enjoy the big family buffets and the infectious dance music from the DJs. All ages come together to show off their sea and fishing themed creations, the detail is impressive and there are usually a few cheeky digs at those in authority.

I had been tempted by the line up of inflatable water castles down at the Plaza del Pescadora but apparently I´m a little too old to splash around on them, so I immersed myself in a sea of hats. A fish fiesta a week before featured lots of historic photos and boat models depicting the history of local fishing, they even had a new temporary lighthouse looking out across the old beach.

The Sunday activities came to a climax with the statue of the Virgen being carried around town from her church home, and then taken out on a fishing boat at the head of a flotilla of other craft in full party mood. At night the firework display was even bigger and more stunning than ever, I enjoyed a great view from The Victory Bar in the Apolo Centre, very appropriate with the sea theme.

 

Whistles And Bicycle Bells In La Gomera

 

San Sebastian twinkled in the early morning sun as the Fred Olsen ferry chugged into the main port of La Gomera, just a 40 minute crossing from Los Cristianos in Tenerife. My return visit was long overdue and memories of seeing off a couple of Atlantic Rowing Races from the marina flooded back. This time the Tour de Tenerife cycle race had lured me back thanks to an invite from the British team, Stuart Hall Cycling.

On the short walk to the pits area just behind the main beach, I passed a trussed up sculpture of Christopher Columbus, ready for unveiling as part of the local fiesta. The explorer stopped off at the island on his way to discover America and also has a park and a tower named after him. I’m sure he would have approved of the in depth preparations for the second stage of the cycle race. Some teams had their own treadmills to warm the bikes up but many were just keen to whizz up and down the coast road and blow away a few pre race cobwebs.

I had a close up view of the racing from the British support car as the riders tackled steep rises and plunging falls as they circled the outer edges of the island. Here’s a link to my Canarian Weekly coverage, for me it was a magical reminder of the beauty and contrast of the island. Many villages we passed through produced crowds of well wishers, and the sheer drops beyond the cliff roads were a start reminder of the dangers involved. Some riders had to make nifty stops as they overshot corners or were nearly mugged by rogue brambles. Roque de Agando was a sight to behold, and San Sebastian port looked lovely as we hurtled downhill on the rush to the finish line. The local whistling language, Silbo, warned many ancient farmers to be careful on the terraces and tight turns, and Silbo still holds its place in the Guiness Book of Records as one of the worlds oldest surviving languages.

Just over two hours later, riders were streaming back into the pits area with a clean bill of health but frantically racing pulses. After a welcome reception meal at the local hall, I nipped out to catch up with some favourite sights. The La Gomera government building stood proud and noble at the front of the main plaza but I headed deeper in and up a steep back street to an old “mirador” viewpoint for a full frontal of the beach, marina, and port.

Just beyond the port the Playa de la Cueva beach was quiet and restful, with two craggy outcrops and a tight winding path leading up to an old beacon holder where the Olympic torch of 1968 paid a visit, the anniversary was to be marked in a few days time. Normally there are clear views across to Tenerife and the familiar peak of Mount Teide, but a hazy calima denied that possibility. I couldn’t resist the chance to pose a few special photos, the Angeles Verdes (Green Angels) were part of the race support team, doing a sterling job clearing roads ahead of the cyclists, it was a pleasure to meet them and all the other fabulous people who made it such an enjoyable day.

Time, tide, and inter island ferries have deadlines to meet so we all piled back on our returning ferry to Los Cristianos. This time the evening sun was our companion – along with some top memories. Here´s all my pics from the day.