Many Milestones Of History In Santa Cruz

Working the celebrity line up I bowed slightly upon meeting Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Jules Verne, and King George V. They had nothing to say for themselves but that was hardly surprising as they were plaques on 60 new tombstone shaped monuments at Santa Cruz marina.

The great and the good have all popped into Tenerife over the years, I knew of some like Agatha Christie who is honoured with a bust at La Paz in Puerto de la Cruz to recognize her stay when writing a short story. Leslie Charteris is another famous crime writer who called in, he penned a tale about Simon Templar chasing jewel smugglers through the Canary Islands, maybe with the upcoming TV revival of The Saint that yarn may yet be filmed. There were many surprises among the 24 Brits and 3 Irish figures from history immortalized in stone just a ferry hooter away from the shopping heart of Santa Cruz, each features a small biography in Spanish and English including the dates they passed through Tenerife.

There’s a lot going on at the portside and it looks smarter with every visit I make. The new cruise ship reception centre on the inland side is growing quickly and will be a classy addition. As it stands now cruise ships moor over the far side and disembarking passengers have a long wait for shuttle buses to the city centre and beyond to tourist attractions. The new centre will fast track visitors through and a new green covered ramp nearer the marina gives a short cut to Plaza de España for walking shoppers. Some of the older, rusty ships that have been hanging around since the dawn of time have been moved to the far flung corners of the port near the oil platforms awaiting a spruce up, and others removed to give a less cluttered look to the place.

Was I being stalked? The Spanish Navy ship Cazadora was in port, the day before it had been moored off Los Cristianos. I tried to blag my way onboard but was met with stony indifference, hardly surprising as it turns out, they were on a drug busting mission and had seized 800 kilos of synthetic drugs from a yacht. One of my main missions was to check out the new monuments, and I was mightily impressed. Well researched and informative they help to evoke the sense of history surrounding this important stop over on old trading routes. Who would have thought Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Scout movement would be rubbing cement shoulders with author Graham Greene, and William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Some of the revolutionary figures were reminders of violent struggles from the past, I was going to check out another testament to civil unrest. Yes I was about to be detained by the Spanish National Police, or at least their exhibition, The Victory Of Freedom, showing at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Calle Castillo, the main shopping street. This looked back almost 50 years to the police fight against terrorism, in particular ETA, the Basque movement. The AUNAV bomb disposal robot in the entrance hall drew some strange glances from passers by, but many curious people were lured inside to the free exhibition to see more.

The first Policia Nacional terrorist death was in 1968 when a chief inspector was killed. Just inside one of the early brown uniformed dummies held a Astra 960 revolver but further inside there were also video and written news reports plus victim testimonies, much of it in English as well as Spanish. One of the most infamous displays was the GEO sniper rifle that was used in the aborted assassination attempt on King Juan Carlos by ETA in 1977, this was in a glass case. A Russian grenade launcher made another menacing sight, also encased,, complete with remote control explosive devices. All this may sound a bit gruesome but it is an important part of history, maybe the recent nature of the exhibits are what make some people squeamish but a few yards down towards the port the famous Tigre canon that helped to repel Nelson, is on display, an equally deadly weapon as its modern ancestors. It was certainly a different exhibition and well put together, history has lots of lessons to teach us in Santa Cruz.