Archive for the 'News' Category
Life In The Slow And Fast Lanes

Money, or the lack of it, is on many minds at the moment but as some long term Tenerife projects never seem to end, other big money dreams are still hoping for a green light to start.

The ring road linking Adeje to Santiago del Teide is a long running sage dating back to the first digging in 2006. Since then the only motor action it has seen is the demolition derby of the film crew of Fast And Furious 6. Now comes the news that work has stopped, nine sub contractors have been told to pick up their gear and take a break and 200 workers have been advised to sign on the paro. It seems the money isn’t around to finish this short cut, I thought it was near to completion, the tunnels have long since emerged at the Santiago end and late last year when I was walking that way the site was buzzing like Bob the Builders depot.

Meanwhile at the other side of the island the proposed motor racing track is back on the agenda. The site is Atogo in Granadilla and the land has been identified but now comes the tricky matter of funding. The next step is a big presentation in Santa Cruz on 30 April to outline more details of the project, then there is a four month window for financial backers to put in their bids. You may wonder why Tenerife needs a motor racing circuit, so do I, but the government and supporters are keen to show that it will create building jobs and then admin and running costs as well as pulling in more specialist visitors to the island.

Another huge project nearing completion (the tunnel should be open early April) is the Via Litoral in Santa Cruz, that’s the new layout from the port across to Plaza de España. Now into the fourth year it started with a 40 million euro budget that increased to 48 million and should have been ready by this February.

The big improvement wont be seen until the finish, so far the road has been widened and taken down under tunnels going past the ferry port and coming up in Avenida Anaga. Six laurel trees were uprooted by a giant crane and moved back a few feet as well, once it is all done, traffic will be taken down and out of sight while the area above will become a 50,000 square metre pedestrian zone spreading across from Plaza de España to the port with extra cafes and leisure parks. The slogan is Uniting The City With The Sea and it will certainly make the capital more attractive to visiting cruise traffic. We should see if it was all worth it before the end of the year

To be fair many of these big projects were drawn up before the crisis kicked in but now we are stuck deep in its grip it’s proving hard to top and tail them as the money runs out. The race track, like the proposed north to south rail link, is very dependent on new money being poured in, maybe we should savour these grand designs, if things don’t buck up in the global economy the next wave of development in Tenerife may be whether or not to replace light bulbs or dab a new coat of paint on public buildings.

Arona Carnaval Signs Off With Smiles And Buckets Of Tears

As Drag Queen Orgasmica climbed down off her high heels and the sardine spat and spluttered in a wall of flames at the beach, most people looked back and agreed it had been a cracking Carnaval in Arona.

The weather teased but came good for the key events and the showground clocked up some of the latest, or should that be earliest, finishes in recent years. The Coso parade was advertised as an hour earlier than usual but started an hour late so that pleased me as those nice police sent our Santa Cruz football coach from the edge of Los Cristianos back out of town on a big circuit back in via Guaza roundabout.

It was a scorching Sunday and as usual the best vantage points along the route started filling up hours before the event. The gathering point down by Paloma Beach Apartments was throbbing with a posing, pulsating, cast of dancers and novelty floats baking in the afternoon sun. The Pope made an appearance on his farewell tour, the mobile BBQ trio looked highly suspicious but very topical, and Carnaval Queen Vanessa Ventura looked ace at the centre of her Rumbo A Rio costume creation.

The pace of the procession seemed a little quicker this year, maybe it was better organized or maybe the heat was driving them on towards the relief of shedding their Carnaval skins. I always like to spot the different reactions of the participants, some are nervous, some are polished, and some have found the stage they always craved for. I always worry how many barely covered bottoms will end up sunburnt by the end of the meander up the long stretch towards the town centre. The other extreme is to be buried under a cascade of glitter, baggy pants, and high rise hats – but they all coped well and entertained the estimated 30,000 people lined along the route.

Monday was a duller day but with the sardine funeral in the evening it allowed a few hangovers to subside. The more open plan setting outside the Cultural Centre this year allowed crowds to gather around the shiny scales of the sardine but the two Civil Protection minders stuck so close constantly twitching on their radios – were they expecting a fishy kidnap? The usual wailing widows appeared in their extravagant black dresses, only the stubbled chins and bulging biceps betrayed their true gender.

The beer was flowing from the stalls but most mourners had come well prepared with their own top ups, even the Brazil flag on the stage was at half mast. Mock bishops and priests appeared and led the parade the parade in a wild dance of defiance and celebration up behind the church and then down to the beach to be engulfed in flames as fireworks tore through the sky. That wake was only just beginning as the last drops of Carnaval fun were squeezed out at the showground – there would be no sleep till dawn.

 

 

Arona Carnaval By Night And By Day

Women in skimpy costumes, bizarre fancy dress, industrial quantities of alcohol, and ear splittingly loud music into the small hours. Arona Carnaval serves all these ingredients up on my own doorstep, well a short walk down the hill, but as it has a duty to delight all the municipality the opening Cabalgata parade started in Playa de Las Americas just outside Veronicas.

The threat of heavy storms hung over the big launch but that didn’t stop the party people from squeezing into their dresses, tunics, and high heels. Parents passed on their Carnaval make up skills to the next generation as they preened and polished the young guns ready to set off down Avenida Rafael Puig Lluvina. Brazil was the theme vaguely kept in mind but basically it was a dressing up box free for all driven along by the usual strident drum rhythms. Crowds were big all along the route and the rain held off, the smiles and kisses radiated out from the dancers and tipsy holiday makers came out from bars and restaurants to do their dad or mum at a wedding routine with the sort of dance moves that would make Bruce Forsyth’s wig spin.

Gloomy stall holders around the showground in Los Cristianos had a few lean days as the rain lashed down and gales rattled the stage but it all held together and the sun was back in time for the main stage events. The following Saturday was the all day Carnaval and on a scorching hot afternoon I started at the showground mingling among the music fans enjoying a string of dance and pop acts. The Espacio 40 Principales show brought a younger mix of acts rather than the usual old favourites and had people up and bopping as they clinked and clanked endless bottles and glasses of happy juice.

The all dayer brings out families with cute photogenic kids, and yummy mummies distracting me at every turn. The smell of the food stalls adds to the atmosphere and the mojitos were proving to be the favoured form of refreshment. There was more action to be found at the Plaza del Pescadora down near the old beach so I wandered off there to check it out. A couple of free face painting stalls has been set up along the way and young singers and dance groups were gathering ready for their turn on the plaza stage.

The party mood was infectious and older holiday makers were shimmying in their sandals and shaking surplus sun cream off their gyrating bodies. As well as the performers there were contestants lurking around for the later fancy dress competition, all very ingenious but a bit hot in the full blaze of the sun. Ice cream and cold drinks were flying off the shelves of nearby shops, and restaurants and cafes where the views were good had full tables. The sea was calm and twinkling and the sand soft and sizzling, all that and free music wafting across – we really do spoil our holiday makers.

Heading back towards the showground there was a bonus attraction as more drum based groups performed outside the Cultural Centre. With the election of the drag queen set for the evening it was shaping up for another late night and the previous night had only finished at 5 am. Deep breath, the Coso Parade and Sardine Funeral were still to come.

 

Fishermen Battered By Economy In Los Cristianos

The beach front restaurants were doing a brisk early evening trade with fish as always a popular choice but generations of Los Cristianos as a fishing community may soon be lost. The crisis is biting deep and the local association of fishermen owes 140,000 euros to the port authority in ever rising fees for mooring and landing the catch.

The evening diners may have found the demonstration of workers, marching to a vibrant drum beat, a pleasant distraction but it was the latest protest in a desperate fight for help and understanding. Several generations took part in the short walk from the church plaza to Plaza de la Pescadora and as they emerged in view of the harbour the fishing boats that had moved to the edge of the beach saluted them with a fanfare of horns.

The fishermen feel they are being squeezed out, the new pontoons installed last year near the ferry port may look nice and modern but are aimed at pleasure boats and smaller fishing craft leaving a cramped open area for the traditional landing of the catch to be packed in ice for transport. There are also more restrictions now on what they can catch and how much, red tuna is one of the more valuable captures but quotas are very limited.

There is also anger at a lack of protection for local waters, the fishermen feel that other unlicensed boats are nipping in and scooping up some of their bounty. All in all it’s a pretty depressing picture. Los Cristianos has a proud tradition and it would be terrible to see it slip through the net, let’s hope that the council and port can find a way to save and nurture this important industry.

Sea Cloud Heralds A Silver Lining Of Tourism

Ooh you wouldn’t get that in your bath…and other admiring phrases were heard from a packed harbour wall at Los Cristianos as the four mast barque Sea Cloud began a new era of leisure cruise visitors.

Advance reports said it would moor offshore and shuttle passengers to their short Tenerife stop off but I was delighted to see it nestled up to the port as Fred Olsen and Armas ferries inched respectfully around it. Once on the dockside I could appreciate the sheer size of the 3,077 ton yacht built in 1931 at Kiel shipyard. The 316 foot length (96 metres) Hassar as it was originally christened fitted snugly in port and a welcome table of Canarian food and wine awaited at the bottom of the gang plank as traditionally dressed dancers and musicians tuned up.

The 32 cabins of oak and Italian marble hold only 64 passengers and they seemed shy to come ashore and meet their large welcoming party but gradually they emerged and were given flowers and nibbles. I grabbed a few words with Wollmer a German from Berlin who had got on at Cadiz and he turned out to be an experienced sea dog. “This is my third cruise on Sea Cloud, it has a nice family feel, most of us on board are from Germany or Belgium. The weather has been good but the waves got a bit strong near Madeira and for two days it was quite lively.”

Wollmer had also been hiking in La Gomera and Tenerife before and was looking forward to seeing some old favourite spots. A coach was nearby waiting to whisk a few keen explorers to Teide national park but with only five hours in port it would be a whirlwind trip.

I really wanted a look around on board but the staff at the top of the gang plank weren’t having it, maybe I should have mentioned my nautical past – Captain Birdseye inspired me as I grew up. The free food wasn’t shifting that fast but lots of trays of goodies were being moved about on board just before the Arona mayor and friends joined the crew.

Sea Cloud certainly added a buzz to Los Cristianos waters before heading off to Las Palmas and will make a quick return on 16 November and Sea Cloud 2 gets in on the act on 18 November. The ships get bigger next year, The World with 550 passengers arrives on 25 February and Albatros (above) with 900 money spending tourists pops in on 18 April, 5 May, and 9 December.

Stirred But Not Shaken At Los Cristianos Cocktail Competition

There was a whole lot of shaking going on in Los Cristianos as the mixers and shakers of Tenerife’s cocktail crowd gathered outside the cultural centre to find the most creative bar staff from the seven Canary Islands. The hunt was on to find a classic cocktail and the best gin and tonic – my taste buds had been salivating since I first heard of the Arona based Ruta de Cocteles that offered a month of cheap cocktails at selected bars around the area. So there I was lurking in the crowd with a pint glass in one hand and an extendable straw in the other. Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered about cocktails, ever since that film with Tom Cruise beer drinkers have cursed flash young barmen who want to juggle glasses, squirt juices into the air, and generally do anything except pour your damm pint.

There were 50 bar staff dressed to impress but I was pleased to see that several of them were young ladies, they wore slinky black uniforms and I half expected Robert Palmer to join them to sing Addicted To Love. But enough of my daydreams, this was serious business, the mixing bar was at the top of the centre steps and below a panel of experts prepared the fruit and other accessories in full view so no contestants got an unfair advantage. One immaculately dressed gentleman slipped on a pair of tight white gloves, I thought he might be a snooker ref but he set about dissecting a grapefruit like a brain surgeon while his colleagues teased their cherries and caressed their plums.

Backstage tables were loaded with fresh fruit, juices, syrups, whisks, and syringes. Senior officials in blazers checked clipboards and adjusted stop watches as the first contestants took to the stage and poured liquers, rums, and brandies into tall stemmed glasses. I was surprised to see a large bottle of Sunny Delight on one table but not a Nesquick in sight. The first finished creations took their place on the judging table and it was onto the next batch of hopefuls.

With my curiosity satisfied but not my thirst I headed off for a Dorada, maybe I would go wild and have a pineapple chunk in my pint. I did spare a thought for the judges, maybe they would be seen later staggering up the road singing rude ditties about women of dubious backgrounds whilst wearing a traffic cone on their heads.

Tenerife History – To Airbrush Or Not To Airbrush

Blimey it’s more exciting than Eurovision and we all get to vote. Arona council have produced the list of new alternative names for Calle General Franco, the road that runs from the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre down past the church square and onto the old beach. The big day of decision is Wednesday 13 June but why does this well known road have to go all ex directory?

It’s all part of a the Law Of Historical Memory brought in by Spain’s socialist government in 2007 to espunge memories of the Franco era from public buildings and monuments. Some monuments were removed quietly overnight and others have been largely ignored, but regardless of political views I am a bit uncomfortable with such sweeping changes. History happened and in this case it is particularly relevant in the Canary Islands as Franco started his rise to power here when exiled to supposedly stop his plans. Basically the law amounts to airbrushing parts of history away, maybe the next mob in power will decide to remove reminders of events they don’t agree with.

Anyway here are the choices of new name for Calle General Franco – LOS ARTISTAS, LAS MARCHANTAS, LOS COSTEROS, LOS PLAYEROS, MARCELINO CAMACHO, BARTOLOME DE SARABIA, JUAN RODRIGUEZ FEO, JOSE DE VIERA Y CLAVIJO, NICOLAS ALVAREZ HERNANDEZ, JOSE MANUEL ENCINOSO MENA. As you can probably guess the peoples names are politicians of various eras which goes back to my original point about people of different political persuasions choosing to stiffle memories of the past they consider wrong. The voting takes place on 13 June at Los Cristianos Cultural Centre from 9 am to 7 pm but you must be registered on the padron. Just be thankful, if this happened in the UK Simon Cowell would turn it into a game show with premium rate phone votes, and we would end up with Calle Bonzo or Calle Patch.

On a similar theme some councillors in Santa Cruz want Plaza Weyler renamed, I wrongly assumed that General Weyler was also from the Franco era but he goes back a lot longer. Originally from Mallorca, Weyler was Captain General of the Canaries from 1878 to 1883 and when back on the mainland he ordered the arrest and imprisonment of a Canarian independance fighter, Segundinio Delgado in 1902. So you can see why people might be a bit miffed at his name marking a well known landmark in Santa Cruz, just for good measure Weyler is also credited as inventing concentration camps in Cuba – charming chap. A quick trot up the road beyond the La Paz area is the old crumbling bull ring where Calle Horatio Nelson interesects with Rambla del General Franco.

That’s another anomoly, Nelson’s defeat when trying to invade Santa Cruz is remembered with an annual celebration and the old British Admiral is held in high esteem with a monument to him down at the dockside. What’s in a name – quite a lot it seems.

 

Tenerife Work In Progress – Inauguration, Consternation, And Celebration

Delays and over runs are a fact of life in Tenerife, noone expects any project to run to schedule – or budget, but I find it a bit annoying when they have a show piece inauguration for a project before it is finished. It’s nice for the politicians to get their grins in the media but looks silly when the fences go back up after the ceremony. Over the last two weeks I visited the sites of two major building projects a few days after they were unveiled to the world – and found drastically different results.

Let’s start with the new Garachico port, much neeeded to boost the local economy it was started in 2008 with a finish date of 10 September 2011 and a budget of 33,150,0oo euros. The revised date was mid January 2012, I had a peek early in that month and it was clearly a long way from finished but even then showed it would be a pretty impressive home to 200 berths and even a small ferry. The inauguration was set for 14 May so I planned a trip a few days after that. The big day was splashed over the local media with two small boats bobbing up and down in the port but it was eerily empty when I called in and the fences were back up.

The port still lacks gruas to lift boats in and out, it was daytime soI couldn’t tell if the electrics were working for the street lights around the dock. Fair play they have made massive strides, the port wall and dyke was defiantly made up of 1,700 concrete blocks of 70 tons each – I didn’t count them all. There was a big Neptune theme running along the concrete surrond with bigger murals of the King of the Sea’s head at regular intervals. Hopefully it will be just a few more months before it is functional and busy, wouldn’t it have made sense to do the big bash later?

Then on 18 May Callao Salvaje’s much delayed beach received its inauguration – cue photos of councillors making speeches on the sand but I didn’t see any of people taking to the water. Ever hopeful I headed up west a few days later and was greeted by the uplifting sight of sun bathers, swimmers, and even divers enjoying the fresh and inviting beach. Playa Ajabo was always a wild natural beach at the mervy of frequent big waves, a dyke and a quayside reaching out across part of the cove have tamed the sea and on a hot clear day it was a lovely place to be. Work started in 2009 and stuttered along as the cost rose to 1.8 million euros, whenI last looked in February there was still a huge pile of sand waiting to be spread out on what resembled a building site.

Things are very different now, wide walk ways down at each side of the cove and a wooden path leading to the shore beckon you to lapup the sunshine. I like the two outcrops of rock that protrude through the sand to break up the eyeline and add a bit of character, and far round one side beyond the quay there is a series of steps that makes a nice chill out zone to read or just enjoy the sea view. There is more to come, a raised changing and toilet block at the rear of the beach is not in use and a kiosk at the very top is awaiting someone to take it on selling snacks and drinks. Benches are at key points and on my visit a few people were enjoying a mini picnic, it’s a very family friendly beach.

Nature will no doubt put it to the test at some point but they look prepared, a large area of netting is guarding against any small rock falls and a tunnel and furrows in the sand at each side of the beach should channel any storm water straight out into the sea. It’s been a long wait but it’s a classy addition to the area. I must pop back soon and have a mice stroll along the cliff top path from Playa Paraiso followed by a cooling dip in the sea.

 

Sands Beach Resort, What A Place To Win A Weeks Holiday

Lanzarote made quite an impression on me during my week over there – and not just because I managed to squeeze in a visit to the local football team.Sands BeachResort in Costa Teguise was my base and I tried three of their six pools for my early morning dip. Now Tenerife Magazine is giving you the chance to explore this land of volcanic rebirth with a free weeks holiday for two at Sands Beach Resort.

During my trip I packed in some of the big tourist attractions like Timafaya National Parkwhere volcanic heat performs party tricks like cooking food and propelling a geyser high into the air. Swimming as always was on my agenda, Costa Teguise beaches are popular with families and surfers. The more active guests at Sands Beach Resort used their sea water lagoon to learn windsurfing and scuba diving, outside horse riding and running are popular, Jenson Button keeps fit outside the motor racing season with triathlons in Lanzarote. Next time over, I’m going to check out the walking trails but in the meantime you can keep up with the news from Sands Beach Resort at their Facebook or Twitter contacts.

Oops there’s me wobbling on and you want to know how win this weeks half board holiday for two people. Just go to the Tenerife Magazine homepage, answer a simple question and sit back and wait for the draw on 31 March. You must claim your prize within two weeks of notification and it’s not transferable. The prize at Sands Beach Resort must be taken, subject to availability, and excluding public holidays and fiestas, within 12 months and does not include flights. Go on give it a go, you could be the winner.

Choppy Seas For Tenerife Fishermen

Battered by the elements, restricted by politicians quotas, and now hit by the recession, these are difficult days for the fishermen of Tenerife. Tradition is being eroded as ports and marinas look for boats with more profitable cargos suh as pleasure craft.

Los Cristianos is feeling the pinch more than most, the Cofradia, fishermens association is fighting for survival with outstanding collective debts of 40,000 euros for mooring and the facilities they use to land and package their catch. The latest meeting this week with local port officials and politicians ended in a tense stand off. At the same time the traditional landing point between the old beach and the ferry port has been undergoing an expensive facelift with new pontoons filling the area. Some moorings are now in use but the official inauguration has yet to take place and the petrol pumps are still covered.

Further around the coast in El Medano the small concrete mooring area at Playa Chica is being cleared, 17 boats will see their three months notice run out at the end of February. The area just behind the bus stops is to become a “solarium” surely the sandy beaches and dunes are ample tanning grounds as it is? Then there is Las Galletas where the fishermen are refusing to move into their custom built area La Lonja (below) preferring to wash, gut, and sell their daily catch where the public can see them in the old wooden stalls which are at the roadside.

The new marina was opened in March 2008 but neither the fishermen or the Policia Local have taken up residence in their new modern home. The fishermen say they were promised that their new vending point would be a lot nearer the passing public than it has turned out to be, this is another dispute that will roll on. Long before tourism gave the south of Tenerife a new income, fishing has been a way of life for generations eating at the many local fish restaurants it’s always good to know that the food was locally caught. Hopefully progress and financial pressures can be balanced off against tradition and identity, otherwise we may as well pave the whole coast and put up a parking lot.