Archive for April 25th, 2008
Blow me – it’s a Calima

Phew, it’s going to be a hot weekend, a Calima has blown in and cranked up the temperatures. For the unfamiliar, a Calima is when the dust and sand from the African deserts blows across giving a greenhouse effect, it gets hot humid and sticky for a few days and the visibility is reduced.

CalimaThis photo was taken of a previous Calima, the Canary Islands are to the bottom of the white swirl and just above on it’s own is Madeira, I think, but don’t bet your house on my poor geography. A few years ago we had an added bonus with a Calima, a swarm of locusts came across on the sand, they were fine, I reckon the bible gave them some bad press, most of them just sat around on balconies, well locusts need a holiday too.

I went to the beach this afternoon for my swim and the air temperature on the digital readouts was 36 centigrade. Going down to the sea felt like being sand papered, what do you mean how do I know what that feels like, Heather Mills told me. Walking back up the hill it was like standing in front of Sir Alex Ferguson as he has one of his half time rants. Even now at 7pm in the evening, if I walk out onto my balcony, it’s like walking into a wall of heat. And you think we have it easy out here!

You can whistle for it!

Laying on the shingle beach at Las Galletas the other day when I heard a familiar sound that reminded me of something I wanted to mention on here. Have you ever heard a distinctive high pitched whistle here in Tenerife? It’s a long shrill sound that tapers off with a flourish and repeats several times, usually in the morning.

It’s not some rare breed of metal bird, just the sound of an old tradition that lives on. It’s a knife sharpening service sold by old men who travel round, usually on a pushbike but some now use a motorcycle,  sounding their whistle to attract custom. When they park up they either use the motor or the pedals to power a grinding machine fixed to the back of the bike.

Knife sharpener

They are often heard but seldom seen, I spotted this chap in the photo, in Puerto de la Cruz, there is also one operating near me in Los Cristianos. When I worked out of The Tenerife Sun office in Alcala, there was a sharpener there, how quaint I thought, this man of simple means, keping this old tradition alive in a cynical commercial world. Thinking it would make a nice little story, I asked him if I could take a photo for the paper and ask him a few questions, he said yes but it would cost 30 euros, obviously not quite as innocent in the ways of the world as I thought. I declined his offer and passed his number on to Hello magazine, they like to pay for exclusives.

Still, it is good to see these old crafts surviving, I should imagine a lot of small restaurants and bars find the service very useful, and a lot easier than a trip to the nearest ferreteria.