The Pope, Cowboys, And Cooks In La Laguna And Santa Cruz

There was almost a queue to meet Pope John Paul the second in La Laguna, the fine new statue by Czeslaw Dzwigaj had only been unveiled the day before but a few of Tenerife’s Polish community were eager to get a photo with the main man. Karol Wojtyla had been a decent goalkeeper back in his youth but I don’t think that’s why USOPAL the Polish association commissioned and paid for the statue. It’s a nice addition to Plaza del Doctor Olivera and appropriately next to the iconic church Iglesia de la Concepcion.

So began another northern tour of discovery, the 110 direct Titsa bus to Santa Cruz had whizzed me up from Los Cristianos in under an hour and the tram ride to La Laguna was as smooth as ever. Wandering a few yards down into Calle Cruz de Candelaria my curiosity led me into El Cinematografo, a small shop packed with DVDs of classic films. I know everyone downloads these days but collectors still want to own copies of greats from Clark Gable, Randolph Scott and an amazing collection of old westerns. The box sets are wonderful, how about all 6 Gordon Scott Tarzan films, or 20 classic sci fi and fantasy movies, and they had a music section with CDs from Yes and The Alan Parsons Project – don’t think I will be lost for present ideas in future.

After a quick check around the main streets I hopped on the tram and back to Santa Cruz to tick a few more calls off my list. The port was quite busy with Independence Of The Seas docked, another nice top up for the bars and restaurants, the week is bringing 22,000 cruise visitors in total. At several points I saw Inside Tenerife the new free glossy colour magazine co-produced by the port authority and Santa Cruz council and aimed at cruise visitors, looks good, plenty of info on La Laguna as well as the capital and guides to culture and food stops. Everyone is frantically trying to tempt people into their shops and bars which means bargains for visitors, I had a basic but nice three course meal for 7 euros in Cafe Dachita at the top end of Calle Castillo.

One of the days main calls was the Expohostel & Gastronomia show at the Recinto Ferial, mainly aimed at the catering and hospitality trade but well worth a look as it was free to get in. One of the first sites to greet me was a huge upside down gutted pig in a glass case, part of the Egatesa stall, CD Tenerife fans are used to seeing their advert on the back of our season ticket – try a gutted Pio next event chaps. I was impressed by the greeen cow on top of their stand – maybe heights make it ill. There was plenty of food stalls, the cakes looked lovely but they were a bit mean on the freebies, it was quiet and stall holders seemed to be touring other peoples stalls and sharing the goodies out. Shame really as I might have been shopping for a bulk order of fancy cakes and spring water for the Armada Sur summer BBQ – never mind we will have to do with burgers and beer.

On a football theme a couple of falcons were being shown off by the pest control company that protects the pitch at the Heliodoro Stadium, one of the birds stops us from being continually crapped on – well at least by the pigeons. One of the centre pieces of the show was a slow cooking contest with five chefs facing off at a row of cooking stations watched from rows of bleacher seating. It was all modern cuisine designed to show off as much of the plate as possible rather than cover it with food – and not a single Gordon Ramsey style tourets outbreak in sight.

On the way back to the bus station I popped into El Tanque, one of my favourite and weirdest art places. The former oil tank, 20 metres high was built in 1929 but after being pensioned off was turned into a cultural space 15 years ago. Inside there is just a series of steel girders supporting the roof and some spotlights are all that break the darkness. On this latest visit four sets of video art were projected on the inner metal skin with a series of cushions to sit on in the centre of the tank. On my first visit there was a circle of huge gongs suspended from the ceiling with fluffy cod ball type drumsticks to beat them with. The acoustics in El Tanque are amazing,they sometimes have live theatre and music – it’s very bizarre, the latest display is open 5 to 8pm in the week and 11 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and always free entry. One day I expect to go in and find hundreds of dormant Cybermen. El Tanque has just been declared a site of cultural interest. Time to catch the bus back to the relative sanity of the south.