Pigging Out On A Busy Santa Cruz Calendar

Snorting, grunting and oinking he stuck his head deep in the bucket and devoured every last morsel. Maybe I’m talking about my breakfast routine, maybe about the rare Canarian Black Pig at Agrocanarias in Santa Cruz, or maybe both! For me it was a day to get far away from British TV and bunting, so with a notebook crammed with events I caught the early 111 Titsa bus up to the capital from Los Cristianos.

First stop was Plaza de España to delve below and taste some history around the old remains of Castillo de San Cristobal. The surviving fragments of the old castle wall were re-discovered when the plaza was rebuilt in 2006 and now make a nice free dip into the beseiged past of the city with pride of place going to the Tigre (tiger) canon that shot Nelson and stopped his invasion in its tracks. The developers have done a nice job of bringing the maritime past to life and with commentary and information in English as well as Spanish it’s an overlooked but fascinating insight into a British naval hero.

I have been meaning to see the Frans Lanting photo exhibition Vida, Un Viaje A Traves Del Tiempo since the 28 March opening so when I surfaced to a sprinkling of rain the Caja Canarias exhibition hall in Plaza del Patriotismo seemed an appropriate next call. The Dutch photographer is a master of wildlife shots and has filled the pages of National Geographic with some stunning photos. This exhibition is a journey through time starting from the creation of the Earth and through the evolution of life from volcanoes in Hawaii to Quiver trees in South Africa and sand dunes in Australia. Each dramatic photo comes with explanations in Spanish and English including the equipment and technique used to get the snap. It’s open until 30 June, Mon to Weds 11 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm, Thurs & Fri 11 to 1 and 5 to 8, Sat 11 to 2 and 5 to 8, it’s 5 euros to get in, 2 euros for residents, and free for Caja Canarias account holders.

A short walk up to Parque Garcia Sanabria and the Feria of flowers, plants, and local customs was just getting underway, finishing on Tues 3 May. It’s a beautiful park at any time but now its long leafy walks that centre on the fountain and performance area were lined with stalls offering loads of goodies. Friday was not a holiday in Spain and that with the dodgy weather meant it wasn’t very busy but with live music and childrens entertainment to come over the long weekend it would certainly pick up. Off the main paths there are ponds, sculptures, waterfalls, kids play areas and lovely picnic zones. Trade was slow at the stalls but I did my bit by buying a home made chocolate cake and a tasty lemon cake, a few people were buying floral displays and the crafts like basket weaving and cigar making attracted a few curious visitors. My old complaint rung true again, there were posters around the park and stacks of programmes on all the stalls but it wasn’t advertised outside of the event, when will they learn. It’s only a few minutes walk from Plaza de España or Plaza Weyler and the key times are 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm each day, free entry.

Heading to the other end of Santa Cruz the Recinto Ferial exhibition hall was my target for Agrocanarias, not a gathering of football hooligans but a massive showcase for all the best in agriculture from across the 7 Canary Islands. Just 3 euros for this one and I barely had time to pass through the doors before being offered free biscuits and sweets, preperation for the goodie bags and samples being handed out at some of the 83 stalls on the 16,000 square metre site. The emphasis is on trade interest but there is something for everyone, the Canarian cooking championships were due to conclude later that day in the multi kitchen area, Masterchef with local ingredients. A parade of tractors and digging machines gleamed to the side of me and the little ditty I can’t read and I can’t write but it don’t really matter because I come from Oxfordshire and I can drive a tractor sprung into my head but I kept it to myself.

Moving down through the hall I picked at cheese samples and sipped the odd taster of wine, a horse was being limbered up in the show jumping ring and just beyond that was the livestock section and those lovely black pigs, straight tails not a curl in sight. OK lets get the giggle fest out of the way up front, there were bullocks, rams, and rampant cocks on display, the docile donkeys were a big attraction for parents to lift their kids close to stroke them. I felt sorry for the cows, sheep and bulls they all looked very sad, maybe they knew what the future held for them, several flared their nostrils and stamped hooves when I got near, well I had recently enjoyed meat balls. The show finishes on Sunday but there are some great events held at the Recinto Ferial and with a balcony cafe bar and a restaurant it’s a good place to visit.For me that was my list exhausted and time to return south, a great day out and not a royal in sight.