Archive for February, 2012
The Santa Cruz Sun Has Got His Hat On – And Giant Boots, A Glitter Wig, And Feathers

Was it The Twilight Zone or Westworld when the power goes off? I had pitched up in Santa Cruz at Carnaval midday, when party animals were sleeping last night off and mere mortals like myself were flooding in for the big Coso parade later in the afternoon. Several fancy dress bodies were snoozing where they had dropped and as the fair rides stood eerily still, burgers, hot dogs, and spuds were being stock piled for the assault ahead.

I walked through to Teatro Guimera, the temporary end of the Tenerife tram line and found a gradual stirring of people, nearly all the shops were closed for this local holiday but along at Plaza del Principe music was blaring out as groups performed. The weather had blossomed nicely with bright sunshine as parade performers prepared in side streets, a group of multi coloured Murgas were helped into their outfits and had make up applied to their faces. Even at their young ages they were real troopers, turning on the smiles for curious cameras as they battled the nerves.

I passed by Plaza de España where the goliath sized stage towered over all like a cathedral, empty now but I hope to see it throbbing with music at Saturday’s all day celebrations. The plaza lake was drained and sealed off and makeshift cafes had set up around the edges, the sizzling burgers and onions were forcing my nostrils open and teasing my tummy. Two large cruise liners had just come into port and a tidal wave of passengers rushed up the stairway from the quay to Avenida Anaga where the floats and bands were assembling. One ship, Aidabella had just come from Las Palmas and many of her guests were already decked out in party gear from the Gran Canaria carnaval, small stall holders along the promenade gleefully waited to kit them out.

The Avenida and Paseo Maritima were packed with carnaval fans, the front few rows had bagged their seats hours before while others climbed, statues, trees, and the cactus trimmed cafe roofs by the plaza, to get a prime view point. Just before 4pm the lead marching band drummed up a strident rhythm and the parade set off very slowly. The Carnaval Queen Carmen Gil led the way as dancers and baton twirlers trailed behind them, individual characters darted between the main acts displaying delightfully bad taste and squritng their admirers with water. Cameras clicked and proud parents waved to their offspring as the procession inched along.

This year the road widening work on the Via Litoral made things a bit more restricted, I found this out the hard way, squeezing through a gap only to find a sheer drop to the underpass halting my progress, a few risked a narrow ledge but I retraced my steps back along the Avenida to find a crossing point to the city side of the street. This detour really underlined the length and sheer numbers of the parade, I finally found the tail down by the old jet foil station with many smaller vehicles still waiting to move off. Crossing and squeezing along the packed pavement outside the busy bars and cafes I eventually caught up with the half way section of the parade for some more photos.

The leading performers had reached the fair by now and were ripping off layers of costume and grabbing a drink and a cigarette as padded hats and jackets were slung into vans. The big wheel and other scarey rides were turning now, the formal part of the day over meant it was time to party into the night. I had my own game to play, sardines at the bus station, but thanks to the Titsa bus company I was soon heading back to the south with memories of one of the biggest and best Coso parades in recent years.

Nightmare Ref Can’t Stop CD Tenerife Carnaval Dream

Clowns are a key part of Carnaval season, normally in red wigs and baggy pants but CD Tenerife players and fans were dismayed to find one with a referee’s shirt and a whistle. It’s difficult to imagine how a match official could be so bad in every aspect of his job but this guy was hopeless right from the off but despite everything CD Tenerife showed great character to grab a late 1-0 win over Getafe B.

The run of three straight wins and Santa Cruz Carnaval fever put us all in an expectant mood, crowd costumes were as colourful and imaginative as ever and a lively start saw Chechu cut in from the right to squeeze his shot off the post in the first minute. Perona only lasted seven minutes before going off injured, his replacement Kiko had one of his worst game, putting two headed chances wide and struggling to make any real impact. Loro has been an inspirational play maker but he was closely marked and bundled over repeatedly by the visitors with no protection from the ref. Despite that blind spot, the ref reacted to every over dramatic fall and writhing response from Getafe, all very frustrating.

The second half started with Getafe growing in confidence and taking the game to Tenerife. As CDT worked their way back into the play Kiko couldn’t break through the visiting defence and Chechu’s early raids fizzled out. Kike (below) was a little terrier but he also picked out for close attention, a 60th minute mugging left him on his back but was ignored by the ref. Coach Garcia Tebar tried to inject some urgency into the attack by bringing on Aridane for Marcos but he was unconvincing. At the other end Getafe went close, flashing a shot just past the post. Tacon was the last change, replacing the fading Chechu, just after a loose ball fell perfectly for Kiko but his footwork was slow and clumsy and the chance was wasted.

Aridane found the target but was called offside then Kitoko went down with a bad injury and was helped off and down the tunnel with no hope of return, early reports suggest a groin problem will sideline him for the rest of the season. The ten men became nine after 82 minutes, Tarantino already had a yellow but went out of his way to foul his opponent and paid the price. The game was still up for grabs and spurred on by the 9,424 crowd Tenerife pushed for a winner and were rewarded with an 88th minute penalty that Loro converted. Garcia and the Getafe coach had a flare up with the ref and both got red cards, just for good measure he even gave one to back up goalie Razak – poor bloke hasn’t even played any league minutes yet.

The ref conjured up six minutes of injury time, long enough to deny a Getafe goal amid heated exchanges that saw Seiz and Hugo join the early shower club. Tenerife hung on for a just win and as the ref slinked off the party kicked into top gear among the fans, I was nearly suffocated between the large false breasts of a large chap wearing a bright wig – what a way to go. The aftermath of this extraordinary game will be felt in next weeks team selection headaches, but having overcome such adversity CD Tenerife deserve their reward of two free days to sample the delights of Carnaval.


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.

Triple Delight For CD Tenerife And Coach Garcia Tebar

It was a gamble changing coach a few weeks ago but so far it’s hand shakes all round at CD Tenerife as Garcia Tebar saw his side win 1-0 at Coruxo to make it three wins in his first three games. The new players brought in during the January transfer window have given the club a boost and it’s full steam ahead with the top four promotion play off spots seeming more obtainable.

Tenerife dominated the first half at the neat and compact Coruxo ground, Raul Llorente was doubtful with a bad back but filled the left back slot and even shrugged off an early slam to the floor. Kike Lopez and Luismi Loro were buzzing and Perona was unlucky to see his 17th minute header flick wide of the home goal. Ferran Tacon made himself at home on the left wing and even had the ball in the net only to see it called for offside. Coruxo managed a rare attack but Pablo Sicilia hooked the ball clear from a position of danger.

The 25 th minute goal was a classy little number, Loro mesmerised three markers before laying off the ball to Chechu (top) to tap into the net. Chechu showed his worth at the other end with a well timed intervention to halt the other Coruxo chance but should have done better in front of the home net when Kike set him up from the right. Instead the midfielder chip ped the ball up to Tacon (below) who’s header was cleared at the foot of the post.

CD Tenerife sat back a bit in the second half and Coruxo had their best spell. Zazo came on for Tacon and later Kiko for Kike and the big number nine was soon in the action. Kiko couldn’t quite reach a stray long ball and soon after turned well to get a shot in but a defender blocked the way. Coruxo had their best chance from a free kick in a dangerous position but hit the ball high over the goal. Ayoze replaced Perona as the game went into the last five minutes and the points looked safe but there was a late scare as Llorente made a wild lunge of a tackle and his second yellow card saw him sent off. Even in injury time Tenerife could have doubled the score if Kiko had won a race to the ball with the keeper. Llorente will be missing for next Sundays home game with Getafe B but with CDT back on track the fans should return in even higher numbers.

On The Menu Today, Indian Cooking, Hereford Brandy, And Oxford Snow

Like Clark Kent’s transformation in reverse I swept through Birmingham airport and train station adding layers of clothing as I went – but still felt cold. Yep it’s a trip back to Oxford. Only a few days so frantically fitting things in and today, Saturday, I managed a trip to London for the Destinations Holiday and Travel Show at Earls Court.

Good connections and an early start got me in the warm foyer for doors opening so once I grabbed my press pack and pass I was in amongst the action. It was a slow start but as more people poured in the atmosphere improved and after a few exploring tours I began to pick out a few favourites to focus on. There were two performance areas, two theatres for talks by experts and one Taste The World area for cuisine from various sources. I was near the front to watch Indian cook Manju Malhi (below) whip up a south Indian chicken curry and a north Indian spinach curry, the chicken tasted wonderful. A bit later Levi Roots took to the small cooking area and produced a tasty red snapper with lime and peppers yummy.

I sought out the Tenerife Tourism stand, it was doing a brisk trade, hopefully some of those enquiring will be heading out for holidays soon. There were a lot of far flung destinations and adventure holidays including a Tipi (wigwam) and canoe break around the river Wye, Australian outback adventures, and African safaris. It wasn’t just the obvious holiday based companies pitching for sales and bookings, there were massage beds, insect repellent sprays and revolutionary shoes to put a spring in your step.

I was strangely attracted to the salsa dancers in their skimpy outfits and the Malaysian dancers with their incredibly small and dainty feet. The large cake and doughnut stall made my mouth water, and that was just the sales girls with their lovely buns. Later in the day all the cakes were reduced to 2 pounds so it would have been rude of me not to shovel a mammoth chocolate eclair down my gullet. Not that I went hungry, there were samples on offer from the Cheshire cheese stand, Cadburys World and some surprisingly nice Vegan soda bread. I was forced to try two new varieties of brandy liquer, one with apple and blackcurrant at 20 percent proof, and another called Bloody Furlong with apple and maple at 27 % proof. The surprise with these was they came from Herefordshire – very welcome though.

With a last tour to make sure I had entered all the competitions going and ensured I hadn’t missed any exotic dancers, I was back out in the cold for the underground journey and coach. At that point it was just perishing cold but no snow, by the time the coach hit Oxford the snow was cascading down and a white blanket greeted me forcing me to seek solace in a couple of town pubs. I decided not to be late, just as well, I had just got off the bus as it crested the hill and it swerved across an icy patch and stopped in its tracks. Another bus and a car did the same in the opposite direction and they were all stranded as the snow built up around them – the end of public transport for the night. Never mind it had been a good day and Tenerife was on the horizon for my return home.



Bagging An Arona Lighthouse On Malpais De Rasca Walk

Soaking up the sun on Las Vistas beach in Los Cristianos it’s easy to see the distinctive candy striped lighthouse across the water, it’s a modern guardian looking over an ancient and fascinating protected area of Tenerife. Having enjoyed the first of Arona councils new batch of free guided walks I thought I would sign up for the last one of January, Malpais de Rasca.

Our group met up at Las Galletas at 9 am just as the unusually cold dawn transformed into a clear blue sky day, this time there were 16 of us including our guide Virginia, a good sign that the walks were gaining interest. Leaving the busy main road to Las Galletas behind a few strides opened up a well marked path to the rugged coast as we threaded our way through large clumps of cactus and tabaiba plants. Nature’s handywork in the twisted and sea sculpted outcrops of rock provided new delights with every step. The receeding tide had left a treasure trove of rock pools, I couldn’t resist checking out a few of them for signs of life but apart from a few scuttling crabs they were empty and sparkling as the waves lapped gently.

Passing the banana plantations we left the concrete walkway and entered the protected area of Malpais de Rasca as the lighthouse grew larger in our sights. Natural salt pools left by the sea were once used to soak gofio, one of the basic cereals that has been such a staple diet across the Canary Islands, the amarga tabaiba plant with its bitter toxic quality was also used to sedate fish in the larger pools. Taking a slightly steeper climb we crested a hill and got a good close up eyeful of the Rasca lighthouse.

Bagging is the name adopted by lighthouse spotters or if you want to be more scientific pharology is a better word, either way it was a double treat as the tall automatic red and white beacon built in 1978 sits alongside the original squat lighthouse building that dates back to 1898. The days when a family lived in the old house are long gone and the newer structure was receiving a generous cleaning spraying of water from the top balcony and from ground level. We rested and scoffed at this point, it proved to be a busy midway point for other walkers coming from Palm Mar and the modern road out to the road that links Las Galletas to the motorway.

Walking down onto the flatter area beyond we were able to see the remains of some old stone dwellings from the time when this was a well populated area. The closeness to the sea and farming of cereals and tomotoes made this an important part of the south. The morning was wearing on and the trickle of other walkers had grown to a flood, our destination was not right through but back to our start point via a slightly different inland route – or that was the plan.

Veering off from the modern road we headed across country to the point where the old fincas (farms) were abandoned and the walls fallen allowing access to El Fraile. It was at this point we discovered that a 20 metre high chainlink fence had been put up alongside the banana plantation sealing us in. Heading up towards the passing traffic on the main road we found a series of large gates firmly locked. Some of our more mature walkers showed remarkable agility in climbing a gate but luckily a few of the others found a loose flap of fence further along that we could squeeze through. Luckily we didn’t have to explain our breakout to any passing police, it added about 45 minutes to make the walk nearly five hours but the adventurous finish merely added a little spice to a very enjoyable excursion.