Archive for the 'Life' Category
Walk For Life Offers Hope And Friendship

Approaching the Siam Mall starting point, a mother and young daughter skipped along dressed in pink, I thought wouldn´t it be wonderful if the next generation didn´t have the spectre of breast cancer to worry about. That´s what drives Tenerife´s Walk For Life (carrera por la vida) now in its 13th year it has provided so much support and continues to grow.

Little annual tweaks to the route and presentation keep it fresh, the forecourt of Siam Mall was packed with people slipping into pink costumes and make up as rousing music and speeches from the stage pumped up the walkers. The skies looked a little threatening but they wouldn´t and didn´t dare to spoil the sunshine spilling out from 4, 500 eager entrants. With founder Brigitte Gypen leading from the front, the pink wave surged across the motorway bridge and down past the Magma Centre.

For many the walk was personal, breast cancer touches so many families and the will to prevent, treat, and defeat this disease grows stronger by the year. There were noticeably more men that ever on the walk, and as always the spread of nationalities and communities was as wide as the smiles of reunited friends from previous walks. It´s become a major event for Adeje and Arona, holiday makers streamed off the beaches to applaud and cheer as the walkers spread out into Avenida Las Americas. The drum bands were loud and strident and there was plenty of dancing as the clouds parted and the sun poured through.

You never know who you will find yourself next to on the walk, pink angels, decorated dogs, and towers of balloons all jostled for space. At times it was difficult to see where the procession started and ended, the distance was 4 kms but noone was counting their steps, the sheer enthusiasm swept everyone along. Walkers had loaded up with sponsors in the lead up to the day and spectators were generous in coming forward with change for the bucket collectors. As always I felt great pride as my fellow CD Tenerife fans in the Armada Sur added to their raffle and pink shirt funds with heavily laden buckets for a total of 1,673.07 euros.

There was a nice refreshing breeze as the finishing straight at Compostela Beach came closer, more music wafted out from the stage and balloons raced up to the sky as they were released from their netting. The organisation was spot on, bananas, biscuits, and energy drinks greeted the finishers and a whirl of dancing filled the street. Frantic counting and totting up revealed a new record of just over 20,000 euros raised, a magnificent effort by all. The good work goes on, The Pink Room in Adeje is one of the tangible results of the Walk For Life, somewhere to offer support, advice, and hope. Once again the Walk For Life was an uplifting, inspiring, and a pleasure to be involved in, Massive thanks to all involved – roll on next year.

Big Masts Big History Big Voyage

Sorlandet stood head, shoulders, and three tall masts above the luxurious cruise liners, and economy boosting oil platforms that were calling Santa Cruz port their temporary home. Even the clear blue skies tinged with the dust of a calima were merely extras in this big picture. Majestic and stately tussled for star billing to describe the Norwegian training ship preparing for its next epic voyage.

I can always rely on the busy port to deliver a pleasant floating surprise or two, but more was to come as Norwegian Stine Elisabeth Bryh invited me aboard. One of the senior full time crew, Stine has plenty of experience of sailing but the international students who will make up most of the 60 strong crew have a steep learning curve to climb, as well as those imposing 35 metre masts. I could feel a gentle rocking motion beneath my feet, and the sea around looked calm but the previous weeks high winds and hints of a big storm had shown how quickly the weather cam change.

Stine told me a bit about the student crew. “They are mainly Norwegian and Danish but we also have some from Mexico, Colombia, and Hong Kong. On our voyage to Cape Verde, Barbados, Bermuda, and Miami they will learn how to set the 240 rope lines, and learn how to set the 25 sails as well as general duties.” Like the many other training ships that pass through Tenerife, the trainees have to pay for their passage as well as work.

The Sorlandet was originally built in 1927 but was refurbished in the early 1980´s after damage in the Second World War and later neglect. It´s one of several ships run by World Academy, all with a remit to teach life skills and team work. There was a pleasant smell wafting from the galley, no ships biscuits then? The wooden wheel up on deck looked daunting but Stine tweaked it with ease, it has the help of a sturdy hydraulic system. At 64 metres long and with a top speed of 14 knots, Sorlandet can cut gracefully through the water.

There was clearly plenty of pride in the mighty vessel, The Viking inspired painting on display translated to “our ears and our strength have given us a white plot” that sounds pretty rousing to me. Hopefully they will have kind seas and plenty of adventures, I look forward to seeing them in port next winter if not before.

 

What A Blooming Libertad

Sails partly furled and framed by flags of the world, the Argentinian naval training ship Libertad (liberty) took a well earned rest in Santa Cruz before rounding off its 46th world tour. Built in 1961, it puts new generations of crew through a gruelling six month voyage, this year there were 13 port stops including Portsmouth.

I didn´t need a press gang to drag me on board the 103 metre long vessel, it was open house for the four day stay over in the Tenerife capital but most of the crew were taking shore leave. There are 27 officers and 187 petty officers, and 61 cadets including 14 ladies – sadly I never got to meet any of them. The young skeleton crew welcomed small groups on board, they even piped us onto the deck, they had clearly done plenty of polishing and scrubbing so it really was ship shape.

As someone who struggles to do his shoe laces up, I am always impressed by the neat coiling of the many ropes, the three masts feature 27 sails so they have to have perfect recall of what links to each cross beam. It was top deck only for the tour, well it is a navy vessel and has some rather delicate and potent equipment. The four 4.7 mm Hotchkiss canons stood proud on each side, and a wall mounted axe and hammer harked back to more basic operations when the ship was first commissioned. Just because it was sleek and functional, it didn´t stop the inclusion of some impressive art work around the steering column and compass.

As luck would have it, another ship was moored nearby, the French navy´s La Gracieuse P687 patrol ship was taking on supplies and not receiving visitors. It didn´t seem intimadated by its larger and more powerful neighbour. One ship that definatelt wasn´t about to get a welcome in a Canarian port was the British MV Cheshire,loaded with fertilizer it had burst into flames off Gran Canaria and had taken several days and much concern before it could be made safe.

Brits Are Canon Fodder In Santa Cruz

Blood coursed red, white, and blue through my veins as some jolly jack tars sang Rule Britannia, I even managed to avoid singing the rude version. A bit of decorum was definately called for as Admiral Nelsons British forces tried to storm Santa Cruz, 220 years on from the original failed assault. It´s such an important event in the history of the Tenerife capital, La Gesta is commemorated every year as near as possible to 25 July.

The great man Horatio Nelson wasn´t part of the recreation near the Castilla Negra (black castle) by the ultra modern Auditorium with it´s distinctive wave shaped roof. On the fateful day he came ashore from his ship in a rowing boat with some of his men but was shot in the right arm as he stepped onto dry land by the black castle. Nelson was always against the assault but had orders from on high to take the strategic port, he lost his arm, the locals stood firm and repelled the invaders with 250 Brits killed wounded or drowned. Despite that it was a very polite surrender due to the mutual respect between the forces and the help and hospitality offered afterwards by the Spanish governor, Juan Antonio Gutierrez.

Local enthusiasts keep the memory of the defeated invasion alive and perform as the red coated Brits and their white coated rivals. A good crowd was gathered for one of several events throughout the city over a three day spell. It wasn´t a full scale battle this year, just some well coordinated posturing and symbolic surrender. Two canons shattered roared and smoke billowed as a flock of startled seagulls took flight pretty quick and a couple of small children got a little tearful but it was all very enjoyable and safe to watch.The canons were called El Miserable, and El Gato (the cat) but the big canon that did so much to save Santa Cruz is called El Tigre (the tiger) and lives in a special museum under the Plaza de España. The commemoration is a big deal to Tenerife so it was fitting that the President of the Canary Islands Fernando Clavijo was on hand to inspect both sets of soldiers.

There was a lot of extra detail added to the show, an outbreak of sea shanty´s and some rifle polishing showed the plucky spirit of the British forces, I did spot one making sneaky use of his mobile phone, maybe to pre order the beers, they do like a hearty celebration after their hot, thirsty work. It was the third defeated attack on Santa Cruz from sea based forces and they are rightfully proud of their stubborn resistance. It was a great way to educate and entertain at the same time, hopefully it will encourage visitors to look out for the commemorative plaques at key points around the city where smaller skirmishes took place. Down by the port, near the old, small, lighthouse, there is an impact mark on a wall from a canon among the British fleet.

So the bad run continues, Nelson´s boys will carry on trying in future years to rewrite history but they aren´t going to get any joy. Hopefully when all the upgrade work is finished on the port, the large sculpture that used to stand in a glass case will be restored. It shows the agreement signed by Nelson and Gutierrez, the deal was also sealed with several barrels of Canarian wine that were loaded aboard Nelson´s flagship. No wonder they were signing that song about the drunken sailor.

La Orotava In Full Bloom For Corpus Christi

Fancy throwing open your balcony windows to be greeted by a sea of flower carpets and tapestries. Shuffling slowly and respectfully onto the small, tight balconies of the municipal palace, home to to the local council, there was a collective gasp as the full scale of the beauty below sunk in.


It had been a few years since my last visit but hitching a lift from friends Dave and Annie, I was now feeling just a little unsteady. Well I´m not great with heights and was a bit delicate from another CD Tenerife promotion play off game celebration the very late night before. Working through the crowded streets we had so far just seen a small selection of the flower petals, and volcanic sand that was still being transformed into a glorious painting by numbers operation for Corpus Christi week. It´s been packing them in since small beginings in 1847.

Tenerife tv crews were competing for the best vantage points to broadcast from and many local radios were broadcasting interviews with the organisers and foot soldiers. It´s a great tradition and is lovingly passed down through the generations, small children were being encouraged to get their hands on the soil and petals that were arriving by the sackful. Wooden templates and chalk outlines are used to make the frameworks but the eye for detail and a slowly emerging masterpiece comes slowly with many years of dedication.
La Orotava is an old, tranquil, and almost sleepy town most of the time but when Corpus Christi arrives it draws in thousands of people from across the world, the range of tongues and accents were again as diverse as the colour of the petals that made up the mosaics. It´s a slow process working around the tight streets, roped off from the creations being coaxed into existance, the one way flow on each side of the streets ensures everyone gets to wind their way up the steep paths before plunging down past the open plaza in front of the two towered Iglesia de la Concepcion, a beautiful and imposing church.


Beside the murmurs of wowed visitors, a constant peel of bells from the church tower adds a delightful theme tune to the day. There are other tunes competing for attention, a pipe and drum trio added a quicker tempo as petal artists worked painstakingly behind them.I always like those ancient meets modern moments, turning a corner I found teenagers bopping to more modern music from a radio station stand in the shadow of the church. There´s plenty of respect for traditions but healthy elbow room for some modern commercialism, inflatable Disney characters bobbed from their strings a short walk away from religious landmarks. The bars, restaurants, and snack vans were all doing a brisk trade, and tourist coaches were parking up at any handy spots they could find on the modern outskirts of the town.


Mundane needs like,, food, drink, and commerce play their part but the big stars are the carpets. Assembled by an army of enthusiasts after months of planning, they will stay in the memories and camera images of those who gaze on them for years to come. It´s just not going to be quite the same when I pop up for the CD Tenerife Teide Trophy pre season game v Deportivo in a few weeks.

Feeling On Colour In Las Galletas

Sport, music, fashion, and a few beers, sounds right up my street, or in this case right up all the streets of Las Galletas. The annual Arona En Colores is always a good excuse for me to make the short 20 minute Titsa bus ride to the lovely fishing village just the other side of Guaza Mountain from my Los Cristianos home.

The sea on the Marina del Sur side was packed with swimmers and people trying out a few water sports like stand up paddle. On the other less sandy beach the waves wee much calmer than normal and more attuned to bathing than the usual surfing. Strolling along the promenade is always rewarding but the back streets and plazas also had plenty to offer on this Saturday.

Reggae Notes Band were warming up the crowd at the big stage, my tootsies were twitching, especially to a good cover of Buffalo Soldier. After a wander and a beer, I popped back later and Montserrat Siverio hooked me with a ska cover of Monkey Man. In the main La Rambla street I watched a bit of the magic show from Borras and Yasmine, their backing music caught my imagination, they had a disco version of the Star Trek theme – well why not?

With so much going on at little stages set up on street corners, I found a good vantage point outisde the Rincon del Pescador with a couple of crunchy arepas and a cold beer. Saturday night tv may be trying to kill variety but in Las Galletas it was diverse and uplifting. Full marks for the acrobats and the novelty act where passing members of the public were enticed to do a bit of Full Monty, and a dress up as a baby in a pram.

There was plenty for the children, face paininting, inflatable football games, and musical games. As the afternoon eased seductively into evening, the drink was flowing and more people were getting down. I departed after a good few tours of the streets, some sampling of tasty food, and some Dorada lubrication. Arona council try to spread their events around the municipality, it helps to introduce more people to different towns and villages and gives their economy a nifty boost. Here here to that.

It´s Only Natural To Enjoy Imoque Fiesta

Wild horses have dragged me to La Caleta before but this time it was the promise of cow racing that lured me to the Plaza San Sebastian. Each February it´s the start point for another fiesta that includes horses riding into the waves at the beach. This time was different, there were some mighty fine horses in attendance but also enough assorted creatures to do a long playing version of Old Macdonald Had A Farm.

The plaza and the grazing areas around it make a wonderful venue, the modern church stood proud on a higher level with a decorated stage below looking out onto a sea of seats surrounded by food and craft stalls. There was even a wedding taking place, the sound of the church organ wafted out of the open doors and mingled with the barks of Canarian hunting dogs in a series of cages down the side. Chickens were clucking, goats crying, and two black Canarian pigs were snuffling at their food basket, I christened them Messi and Ronaldo.


There was a display of birds of prey, falcons sat tethered and blinkered but my favourite was a large, wise looking owl. Later in the afternoon one of the falcons was put through its paces in the showground area, it had a cheeky sense of humour and split its flight from sender to receiver by perching up in trees and even on a balcony of a nearby hotel. Some racing pigeons were cooped up in some tight cages on the other side, they didn´t seem to bothered by their temporary homes, they all had their chests puffed out with immense pride.

A bit of a jamming session broke out on the stage, I was impressed that one of the musicians wore a t shirt with a union jack and the slogan punk classics. After a plate of meatballs and a few samples of local cheese I ventured round to the paddock where the horses were tethered at one end and the cows at the other. In between a horse was having its shoe changed with old traditional hand tools. I checked the cows and could see no hidden motors, they looked strong but very docile, I was looking forward to seeing them burst into action.


Eventually a pair of cows were led into the show ground, linked with a wooden yolk and then a flat wooden pallet was chained behind them and large bags of grain loaded on as ballast. It was to be a time trial to see how quick they could pull their loads around the circuit guided by a farmer with a wooden staff. The ground was dry and dusty and the cows showed a fleet turn of speed and power, they really pounded their way around and on a couple of circuits they nearly burst through the barriers keeping the spectators back. I was very impressed, it was quite a spectacle. There was more live music and dancing to come later in the evening but I had other calls to make so I bid farewell to my new found animal friends and caught my Titsa bus back to Los Cristianos. As it chugged up the hill above Playa del Duque I couldn´t help thinking that those mighty cows could make a useful addition to the fleet.

Casting The Net Wide In Santa Cruz

Multi coloured fish statues stretched out ahead of me along the La Rambla pedestrian area of Santa Cruz. These eight chicharritos had been specially comissioned as an art contest with a special website to vote for your favourites. The chicharro is a symbol of Santa Cruz and lends its name to the local people and the song we proudly belt out at CD Tenerife games “Chicharrero de Corazon”.
Even on a non football trip to Tenerife´s capital city my rxploring was being influenced by my beloved football team. First stop was the DISA petrol station behind the bus station, it´s now officially linked to the club and I paid due homage to the giant posters of Suso, Aitor Sanz, and Vitolo. A special club scheme offers discounts and team bracelets, maybe if we clinch promotion this season we can dance through the car wash rather than in the Plaza de España lake.


Back down through the bus station and a tram awaited me for my short journey to La Paz. It´s the 10th anniversary of the modern tram line, I wasn´t convinced it was needed but as soon as I stepped on board a decade ago I was a convert. Fast, sleek, and cheap, just 1.35 euros for the full ride to La Laguna, it´s a comfortable way to explore.There have been 132 million clients in the 10 years, that includes the shorter second line from Tincer to La Cuesta that may eventually extend to the north airport.

My walk to the new sculptures took me past a few older models from a street exhibition of the mid 1970´s, and how proud I was to see Henry Moore´s Guerro de Gestar reclining and free of recent graffiti.The new fishy friends were quite an assault on the eyes and brought plenty of smiles to my face, passers by were giving them a double take and even a security guard patrolling the area had a smirk playing on her face. Some of the works had historical images of Santa Cruz on their bodies, and others had extended their arty touch to the stands that held them aloft. The shoal is only on display until 15 June and well worth seeking out. There´s a quicker way to reach them than my long route, coming up through the shopping heart of Santa Cruz and through Parque Garcia Sanabria. The park is always a delight, on this visit it was holding a weeks book fair with tented stalls lurking in the shaded walkways that radiate out from the ornate fountain.


The port always lures me down to the sea, it´s such a hive of activity. There were no mammoth cruise liners calling in this time on their voyages but the Ocean Endeavour was moored in the old part of the port for a months repairs. This is a new lucrative income for the capital, many oil rigs lurked just outside the harbour wall and the Reliant Floatel nearer in looked to be nearing the end of its lengthy refit before going out to provide accomodation in the oil filled seas. Ocean Endeavour is the first cruise ship to get a scrub up in Santa Cruz and already Thomson have one of their cruise ships booked in for a make over in November. There was even some giant wind turbines from Germany, still in kit form and awaiting instalation at the new Poris de Abona park.
There´s a long busy summer ahead for Santa Cruz, July alone heralds two outdoor mega concerts. On 8th July thoise mighty rockers Aerosmith finish their last ever tour with a concert in the Heliodoro Stadium, and on 22 Juky, Luis Fonsi will take over the portside for an evening of latino dance music. I had a more imediate appointment at the Gastro Canarias in the Recinto Ferial, just scroll down a couple of posts and prepare to feel hungry.

Tucking In At Gastro Canarias

Just a few yards inside the Gastro Canarias food festival and my heart had been broken. Well not so much broken as cut into small tasty pieces. It was the Egatesa meat company stand and they were cooking a selection of their meats for tasting, the burgers were heart shaped and I was torn between them and the sizzling sausages – so I had a little of both.


My last visit to this annual feast at the Recinto Ferial in Santa Cruz was three years ago, it´s aimed mainly at those in the trade but offers plenty for everyone. Slightly dearer this time at six euros, it was still good value and had my nose twitching and my mouth watering. After covering the ladies football team of Egatesa Granadilla Tenerife for a few seasons, it was good to meet a few of the players, Ayano and Silvia, doing the rounds. A quick tour showed me that the stands were split more in favour of drink than food this time, but a large stage area featured a show cooking competition in front of a bleacher seat audience.


I seem to recall that on my last visit I paid a lot of attention to the beers on offer, I decided to pace myself this time – but then I saw a Belgium beer stand. Even better, Gert, the sales manager for Transbelga, was a friendly face from Los Cristianos and welcomed me into the heavenly parlour. Showing remarkable restraint, I started with a 5.2% Jupiler, the range of bottles was incredible, many had enchanted me in the past on trips to Belgium and Holland. It was mid afternoon when I strolled in but the pace was picking up as people came in after work. As well as the consumable items there were innovative cooking and storing systems and some very delightful promotion ladies to demonstrate and entice the public.


Gofio cookies, caramel gin, and multi flavoured chocolate fountains were among the temptations, and the dazzling array of ice cream scoops were getting bigger as time went on. I´m not a wine buff, a shame as there were tasting and appreciation classes, Tenerife has some exceptional wines that can pop their cork with the best. Some of the pastries, tarts, and cakes had me drooling. It seemed a bit bizarre that the Recinto Ferial had no free Wi Fi, trade shows are their standard fare, maybe they are missing a trick. There´s a large outside terrace which gives lovely views of the Auditorium one way and the full glory of the Cepsa refinery the other.


Dorada didn´t have a stand, they had a mock up of a bar, and I was pleased to see one of their brewers I remembered from the brewery tour. They had the full range of their bottled beers on, the Trigo wheat variety went down nicely and I also tried the new Especial Esencia Negra, a little stronger at 5.7%. My football Peña ,Armada Sur, runs on a fuel supply of Dorada, last Saturdays home game saw us clear 500 bottles at our La Tahona pre match watering hole. In the interest of fairness I felt compelled to also drink some Mahou beer, they sponsor an annual pre season cup for CD Tenerife and also the player of the month award. Their brewery in Candelaria has also had the dubious pleasure of my company for a tour with the CD Tenerife squad.


I didn´t want to make a pig of myself so l did one last circuit of the hall to make sure I hadn´t missed anything. There were definately a lot more theatrically large stands this time, Lanzarote had a beach scene to showcase their products, and Heineken seemed to have a homage to the Star Ship Enterprise to promote their no alcohol beer. With my legs crossed tightly for the one hour Titsa bus trip back to Los Cristianos, I was looking forward to continuing my beer browsing back at The Victory Bar.

And The Sun Shone Down On Santa Cruz

White faced and with a sparkling blue top hat, the clown mimed pulling himself across the zebra crossing on an imaginery rope near the Meridiano shopping centre. Santa Cruz Carnaval was warming up nicely for the main events but this clown from the south of Tenerife had a full tick list to cram in before CD Tenerife v Elche.

The auditorium was my first stop after arriving on the 111 Titsa bus from Los Cristianos. Reports of the mosaic pattern peeling off the roof amid a row with the architect reminded me to give it a full 360 degree nosey. Apart from a bit of light scuffing low down it looked as majestic as ever, the cafe terrace facing the sea was overflowing and people were enjoying a sun kissed rest on the sea wall with the rock stars spread out below. Happy with architectural matters, I cut back through the bus station into the city centre and felt a sigh of pride at the Chicharro fish statue in its sea of new flowers.


The port always lures me down, as always there was a nice assortment of sea faring craft from the inter island ferries to the huge MCS Magnifica cruise liner. Further in, the marina I found the Rubicon 3 taking a rest from clipper racing. Originating from Plymouth, I bet it bobbed up and down a bit when the Green Army made life hard for Liverpool in the FA Cup. Tall mast ships were moored up further round, they are recruiting crew at this time of year for their adventure voyages, the Eye Of The Wind looked particularly fine, and together they partially masked the rather ugly oil platforms that call in for repairs.


Back in the busy capital city, shoppers were packing the streets as I passed through onto another favourite haunt, Parque Garcia Sanabria, it was ablaze with colour, well tended, and chomping at the bit for spring to come along. Whilst admiring the flowers I could hear a loud croaking sound which drew me to the big pond area. The murky green soup was full of tadpoles but many had already started turning into noisy frogs, it just needed Rupert Bear to complete the scene. I wouldn´t rule out seeing Rupert or any other cartoon character over Carnaval time, I can feel a few more walk abouts coming on.