Fires a little dimmer for San Juan

“I’m a fire starter, twisted fire starter”, so said that great modern poet Keith Flint, maybe he was referring to the annual Noche de San Juan. Maybe i’m getting older and more cynical, but I thought last nights celebrations in Los Cristianos were quiet subdued by normal Canarian standards.Â

Basically San Juan is about renewal and cleansing and based around midsummer, lots of fire and water are involved, and of course lots of alcohol. I got to town at 9.30 to catch the old Canarian ladies gathered outside the local florists, armed with large spears of heather, a statue of Saint John was perched on a table, decorated with more flowers and smouldering with incense. Spot on the half hour, the ladies took up their leader and carried him shoulder high towards the beach.

I raced ahead and was a little taken aback to see that there were no bonfires underway on the main Las Vistas beach, and people were only just starting to drag old wooden pallets and boxes to start the biggest showpiece fire. Luckily I had arranged to meet Neal and Karen, a.k.a the Bournemouth section of the Armada Sur at Goodfellows bar on the front. As we sipped our Dorada and discussed the state of football in the world, we saw lots of young Canarian kids pass by with carrier bags clinking, heading for the beach, but there were few flames leaping into the night.

Just after midnight we hit the beach and weaved our way through large groups of drinking, clinking youngsters, there were a few very small bonfires, easy to jump over, as tradition demands, many more were dipping in the sea – another way of symbolically cleansing the soul. There seemd a shortage of family groups and candles, normally they dominate the celebrations, but not this year. It looked like the drinking was set to go on well into the early hours, but I headed for a couple of late beers on the way home to my waiting bed.