Fire And Water And A Lot Of Booze For San Juan

On the day Tenerife bursts into flames on the beaches around the coast, the government issued a ban on fires and BBQ’s in the hills due to the heatwave that is roasting the island. Well it has been hot, very hot, at the beach in the afternoon it had slipped to a chilly 31 degrees but even as I headed down to Los Cristianos beaches again at 10.30 pm it was still reading 24 degrees.

Noche de San Juan is our own little bit of mid summer madness and with the weather so hot there was a bumper beach bonanza this year. I met some Armada Sur friends Dave and Annie near the old beach and the promenade was packed with the dedicated and the curious. The statue of San Juan, or Saint John to his close friends, had been carried down a little earlier and was holding court at the Plaza del Pescadora in front of tables serving tapas and a large music system pumping out variations on Canarian dance tunes. Some people carried flowers ready to cast on the sea, just one way to symbolize cleansing the bad and wishing for better in the year ahead.

As we walked through the tunnel to Las Vistas beach we left behind one large bonfire burning brightly on the old beach, already several splinter fires were being set up in the sand as focal points for families and their nocturnal picnics. On the bigger beach the flames of several large fires were licking at the night sky as young revellers streamed down the steps from San Telmo armed with bundles of card for fuel, and of course the inevitable clinking carrier bags of cheap beer and spirits. Not wanting to be left out we stopped at Goodfellas bar, nicely positioned at the centre of the promenade with good views of the teaming mass of half dressed bodies dancing on the beach.

Taking a few cool Doradas we were joined by another Armada Sur couple Ian and Janette and chatted as we watched the sights go by, many were hopping over the wall onto the sand where some were making close runs through the very edges of the flames. On the beach some larger parties had set up stashes of booze and were clearly in for the duration, others were dancing to radios or scoffing. With midnight approaching I made my excuses and hit the sand wending my way through the gathered groups to the shore to see people running into the waves, some fully clothed. Normally people make small fires from a few sticks and jump them while making a wish but the cooling sea was the main attraction this year. I was wearing my CD Tenerife shirt and had a few drinks forced down my gullet, honest I didn’t want them.

As I moved along Las Vistas to head to the old beach some massive lean to wood stacks were promising fires of epic proportions later. As I emerged near the Plaza del Pescadora many plump elder ladies were grooving like grannies at a wedding to spiced up Canarian music, i lingerd a while but drew the line when the DJ went all 80’s mainstream and bunged on Jive Bunny – not very traditional. Not wishing to roast my chestnuts on an open fire and rather thirsty from the smoke I headed home via The Merry Monk for a few late, or should that be early nightcaps. After a few quieter years it was good to see the beaches heaving for one of the highlights of the fiesta year