Glory Of The Crosses And Beauty Of The Petals In Santa Cruz

Hardly a shop was open in the centre of Santa Cruz and the streets were strangely quiet even for a Tuesday morning. On the outskirts of the Tenerife capital I stepped off the tram at La Paz into a buzzing throng of people in Las Ramblas, Dia de la Cruz (Day of the Cross) was in full swing as music and laughter filled the air.

Every year is special so why not for the 522nd aniversary of the official founding of Santa Cruz, to the left the wide walkway in the centre of the busy road was full of stalls selling traditional food, games, and crafts. A troupe of musicians wandered, spreading good cheer, and children made the most of this extra May 3 holiday. From the bridge over the barranco I looked down to my Heliodoro home in the knowledge that I would be back for another CD Tenerife game on Saturday – all was well with the world.

Retracing my steps past the dancing fountain I found myself among the first batch of crosses made specially for the day, these were put together by schools, youth groups, and clubs and showed plenty of fertile imagination. Cartoon characters, animals, fruit, sweets, and even a homage to Cervantes were woven around the crosses. It was very busy so I had to drift with the flow, again on this side of Las Ramblas the wide central area was a car free zone as traffic worked its way past on outside lanes. The old bull ring still looked unloved as posters curled and paint peeled, was it really ten years ago a competition produced plans to revamp the old arena. Henry Moore’s statue reclined under a shady tree as people took turns to snap pics of the youngsters creations.

Approaching Parque Garcia Sanabria the crosses changed to the larger, adult, flower versions, and what a beautiful sight they were. The clear blue sky fought for attention with the bursts of coloured petals, framed against the overhanging trees from the park. The air was sweet and scented, gardeners were swooning in admiration, and I was suitably impressed as this was my first trip to the celebrations. Beyond the end of the crosses, there was a childrens play area but in the park below more temptations awaited.

Several days of Fiestas de Mayo had been taking place in Parque Garcia Sanabria, it’s always a special place but had an increased vibrancy with the walkways lined with flower and plant stalls. The flower clock near the main entrance had been given another change of colours and positively pulsated with pride. I was a little upset to have missed the children’s puppet show but after a sulk and a stamp of my feet I recovered my composure. In the centre of the park by the fountain a stage was brimming with singers and musicians in traditional dress. The paths that radiate out from the fountain had plenty of food and drink stalls including a Dorada van selling exotic bocadillos (rolls) with black pig, salsa, and yoghurt.

You can never have enough flowers, Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento (council) have just had 55,000 flowers added to beds and borders around the city, I don’t know how much that cost but it’s worth every cent. It wasn’t just the park that looked lovelier than ever, the roadsides and junctions looked wonderful all across the city. Down by the port there are a lot of concreted areas but creative use of flowers took the hard edge off them, it helps to shout a huge welcome to visitors from elsewhere in Tenerife and on the many cruise ships. I wasn’t the only one snapping away at the councils range of choice that included kalanchoes, tagetes, begonias, geraniums, petunias, surfinas, and marguerita daisies.

Santa Cruz is always moving forward, if you pop back to this blog I will share the rest of that days activities – including meeting 60 of the world’s most famous people and being detained by the national police. Dia de la Cruz was an outstanding success and the regular weekend shopping promotions will ensure a steady flow of retail raiders. Concerts, sporting events, and fiestas will keep the pot boiling but it seems every time I pop up from Los Cristianos it’s for a very different reason – I feel another tick list coming on.