Interview with Carmen Gil González, Carnival Queen 2012, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

I”M standing in the hot sun of a Santa Cruz afternoon, looking over at the face of Carmen González, newly crowned Carnival Queen 2012, who’s chatting to Mayor of Santa Cruz, José Manuel Bermúdez (below, left), and Councillor for Fiestas, Fernando Ballesteros (below, right) in the garden of the Hotel Mencey. After the photo calls come the interviews and Carmen smiles through endless takes with a TV camera pointed at her and a microphone placed before her. Without the ornate make-up of last night’s Gala Election, the beautiful face of the 18 year old model betrays her tender years. But she’s beginning to look pale and a little uncomfortable.

“Carmen is feeling a little dizzy,” says her agent as she links Carmen’s arm and helps her to walk towards the shade of the hotel. “She’s going to get something to eat and then she’ll be back for your interview.”

The fact that Carmen is tired comes as no surprise to me. When I left the Gala Election at the Recinto Ferial at 1.40am today, Carmen was still on stage, in her full make-up and costume, mobbed by TV cameras and flash bulbs.

Looking refreshed and more relaxed when she returns, I ask Carmen what time she finally got to bed this morning.
“At 3am,” she tells me. “But at 6am I had to get up because I had TV and radio interviews.” In fact, she hasn’t slept much at all in the last two days, she admits, nerves keeping her awake the night before the Gala Election too. I”M sympathetic to her lack of sleep but she shrugs it off. In the excitement of the last 48 hours, being tired is a small price to pay she assures me.

Tall and slender with straight, long dark hair and the sort of face any aspiring model would kill for, Carmen Gil González has a grace and ease of movement that comes with her profession. Still in her final year at school, Carmen is hoping to combine a successful career as a model with her studies. Modelling since the age of 13 years and turning professional at the age of 16 years, it’s an ambition that she’s managing to balance well at the moment.

When the judges gave their long awaited decision 13 or so hours ago and the name of Carmen Gil González rang out around the vast stadium as the 2012 Carnaval Queen, it was an emotional moment for Carmen and the tears flowed. I asked her if she had managed to come back down to Earth yet:
“I”M not quite back on Earth yet,” she laughs. “I”M still getting there!”

Carmen’s winning costume was ‘Imperio’, a stunning interpretation of the splendour of the Roman Empire, designed by Santi Castro (with Carmen, above) which combined elements of a chariot and centurion helmets in luxuriant feathers of the palest blue radiating out from a gold and silver chariot adorned with sapphire and diamond costume jewellery, lions and the Imperial eagle. Like a cross between Boadicea and Helen of Troy, Carmen rode her chariot from its epicentre, dressed in an elaborate gold and bejewelled headdress, some strategically placed jewels in gold braid, and very little else. Although the event was held indoors, I couldn’t help but wonder if she hadn’t been just a teeny bit, well, freezing.

“Yes!” she admits, her face animated by laughter. “At first when I put my costume on backstage I was really cold but once I had the full costume on I forgot about the cold, and the emotion took over,” she says. “I have bruising here and here.” Carmen points to her hips where the harness with which she pulled her costume sat. “But I felt neither cold nor pain, nothing!”

Weighing in at an incredible 300 kilos (over 47 stones), it seemed to me that the stage at the Recinto Ferial must have seemed like an awfully large space for a slight young girl to pull that weight around and the bruises would seem to confirm that fact. I ask Carmen how much of a struggle it had been.
“Yes, it’s a very big stage to pull a costume around,” she confirms. “Imperio is a big costume and I was worried about being able to pull the weight successfully around the stage. But on the night, with the emotion, the audience and the applause, it felt like no weight at all.”

The ability to “Wear’ a costume as if it weighed nothing at all is one of the most important aspects of being a candidate for Carnaval Queen and the girls who are chosen to represent the designer and the sponsors have to be able to move as if they are a part of the costume and to look happy and relaxed as they do so.

The spectacular show which surrounds the election of the carnival queen in which the 12 candidates are introduced to the audience and the panel of judges, is a cabaret of epic proportions spanning almost four hours. As candidate number one, Carmen was first to appear on stage. I ask her if that made for a very long night.
“Personally, I was glad to be the first onto the stage,” she tells me. “I didn’t have time to get too nervous, you know. It only felt like a long time waiting for the second time to go out because I had to wait through all the other candidates and the whole show. But I liked being first.”

As an only child in her home in La Laguna, Carmen is used to being first, and now that she has realised her dream to become Carnaval Queen, she has a busy year of engagements ahead of her, representing Santa Cruz de Tenerife in events and promotions both at home and abroad. I have no doubt that Carmen will be an excellent ambassador for Tenerife, she’s a delightful young woman who’s beauty goes deeper than her flawless surface and here at Tenerife Magazine we wish her the very best for her year ahead.

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Sunshine and Crowds at the 2012 Santa Cruz Carnival Closing Parade

The Tenerife weather Gods smiled upon Santa Cruz Carnaval 2012 once again as the Tuesday Coso parade marked the beginning of the end of carnival. Blue skies and warm sun helped to take the edge of the cool breeze for the 150,000 or so people who lined the Avenida Marítima in Tenerife’s capital yesterday to witness the closing parade.

Having found our way to the Opening Parade on Friday night barred by the closure of Las Ramblas, we were taking no chances yesterday as we headed into Santa Cruz for the Coso Apoteosis. Parking the car at the bus station just after 3pm, we set off walking amongst the Smurfs, sexy policewomen, gangsters, princesses and assorted creatures of the night who were braving sunlight and a nippy breeze to get to food stalls and the fairground before the parade began.

Jacket potato, churros and hot dog stalls were doing a brisk business and getting our nostrils twitching as we made our way along the Avenida following the file of 8000 chairs placed ring-side for the thousands of visiting tourists arriving in the city by the coach load. With just under an hour until the start of the parade, many of the chairs along the Auditorium end of the Avenida Marítima were still vacant but the further we walked towards Plaza España, the fewer empty seats there were.

By 3.30pm the city was buzzing with crowds. The restaurants and bars lining Avenida de Anaga and Avenida Francisco la Roche were teeming with diners, plates of calamari, tapas, paella and fresh bocadillos doing nothing to temper the rising hunger caused by being in a city that smelled like one, vast kitchen in the throes of preparing a banquet. Progress along the pavement was a slow and stilted affair with the way being barred by groups of chatting friends, little dogs on leads, Christopher Columbus and a posse of baby carriages.

With time slipping away and crowds growing thicker by the second we finally found a standing place in front of some very whiffy bins where we could get an unbroken view of the action and waited for the parade to begin. Almost on the stroke of 4pm the first float set off to the applause and seat dancing of the audience around us and the usual arrival of late comers elbowing their way in front of us until I found myself almost pinned to the smelly bin and straining to see the action. Such is carnival.

Floats, Murgas, dancing troupes and costumed characters passed by, their faces and legs betraying the fatigue they were feeling after the biggest street party of carnival the night before, but still their smiles were never far from the surface when the camera pointed their way. Carmen González wore her costume ‘Imperio’ with all the grace and style of, well a Carnaval Queen as she passed by quite early on in the proceedings to the tumultuous applause of onlookers.

At 8pm when the last of the parade stragglers had made their way past the crowds, the Santa Cruz sky exploded into a spectacular fireworks display and the city was able to get on with the serious business of clearing away chairs for the nightly street parties to begin.

The city of Santa Cruz has a very different feel to it on Carnival Tuesdays. Streets which normally throng with city dwellers, office workers and those on port business with intermittent scatterings of cruise passengers and day trippers, are transformed into Tenerife’s largest tourist destination for the day. The seats which line the parade route are welcomed by visitors for whom the more than three hours of passing parade would otherwise constitute an endurance trail but there’s no doubt they also remove some of the spontaneity and joie de vivre of the Opening Parade. Add to that the fatigue of those involved in the parade following the excesses of the night before and it’s a quieter affair altogether.

But for all of that, the Coso Apoteosis (closing parade) of Santa Cruz carnival is a great day out for anyone visiting Tenerife during carnival. It’s a spectacular, three hour plus show for the price of a €2.50 front row seat and it does give just a little taste of the colour and glamour of a Tenerife carnival.

The party in Santa Cruz will continue with the Burial of the Sardine and nightly street parties until Sunday 26th February before the costume drama is finally packed away for another year.

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Carnaval Game Has Circus Feel But CD Tenerife Make It Four Straight Wins

Not even a dodgy referee could crush the Carnaval spirit as CD Tenerife set the terraces dancing with a 1-0 win over Getafe B in Santa Cruz. Newly elected Carnaval Queen Carmen Gil was guest of honour, hopefully she won’t always expect six sendings off, two disallowed goals and a late penalty winner.

The game was a slow burner, maybe just as well as hangovers and lack of sleep had to be overcome by the party crowd of 9,424. Chechu should have opened the home scoring in the first minute but hit a post, setting the tone for a half of missed chances. Confidence was high after new coach Garcia Tebar had seen his charges win their first three games under his command. The referee was lost from the start, Getafe players were allowed to roll around at the slightest touch, even the widows at the sardine funeral would struggle to be so dramatic. As gentlemen clicked their high heels in frustration at the spoiling tactics of the visitors, Tenerife forward Kiko wasted free headers in front of goal.

Life in Segunda B has not been as easy as some thought Spain’s third tier would be but after two successive relegations expectations of recovery were high and coach Calderon paid the price just into the new year. The club brought in some new faces in the January window and new coach Tebar has encouraged free flowing play but the goals weren’t coming by half time.

Pop stars, superheroes, and cross-dressers were all a little frustrated at the break. Security staff tried to look menacing but it’s not easy when three hairy men in dresses are using glove puppets to fire sweets into the crowd from a very intimate launch zone.

Back at the game Getafe were starting to threaten. Tenerife brought on Aridane, one of the new forwards, and he put the ball in the net only to see it ruled offside. Then a hammer blow as midfielder Kitoko had to go off injured and with the subs used Tenerife were down to 10 men. Tarantino followed up a booking with a ill judged tackle and was also off ““ nine men.

Local hero Pablo Sicilia urged the crowd to raise the noise and they responded giving their all. Meanwhile anger at the ref from the benches brought red cards for both coaches and Tenerife’s back up goalie. The roar from the crowd swept Tenerife forward and a penalty with just two minutes left was crashed home by Loro amid wild scenes from the home fans.

There was more drama even as the sound of Chicharrero de Corazon echoed through the stadium. The ref added six injury minutes on. Getafe thought they had scored and when it was ruled out their complaints reduced them to nine men. The tension was unbearable as the last minute ticked away before the final whistle unleashed a cauldron of noise, even the men in high heels were dancing. The party has another week to run in Santa Cruz and this sweet victory will fuel plenty of celebrations. The CD Tenerife players were promised two free days to enjoy Carnaval if they won ““ the city is all yours boys.

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Gala Election Santa Cruz 2012, a Carnaval Queen is Born

The voluminous stage is filled, end to end and rear to front with five metre high rainbows of luxuriant plumes rising from what are essentially mobile stage settings on the themes of imperial Rome, the rhythms of springtime, eternal love and nine more. At the centre of each stage is its star; a scantily clad woman harnessed into her chariot, her perfectly coiffured hair, painted lips and bejewelled face waiting. We’re all waiting. Audience, designers, families, cameras, laptop screens and TV viewers ““ all waiting for the moment when presenter Eloísa González announces the name of the new Carnaval Queen 2012.

“Reina Carnaval, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2012 …la señorita…” Eloísa pauses in between the words, a polished nerve jangler of an announcement. “…Carmen Gil González!” she shouts into the microphone.

There’s a collective releasing of breath as the full house of the Feria Recintal roars out its applause. Plumes of fireworks rise from front of stage alongside glitter streams which explode into the air and rain down on the entire ecstatic scene on and off stage. Slowly, Carmen moves her chariot ‘Imperio’ to front of stage and blows theatrical kisses to the deafening applause. Her body is shaking and her tears are flowing. She’s emotional, and she’s tired. We all are.

It’s been almost four hours since the curtain raised on the spectacular show that accompanies the election of a new carnival queen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

To a packed house and a live TV audience of almost half a million, the night began with a sombre reminder of the war torn world from which the Carnaval’s theme of Flower Power emerged. A mock Vietnam War of silhouette soldiers, machine gun rattles and fearsome bombings gave way to the surreal world of the Beatles” Yellow Submarine and the sex, drugs and rock ‘n” roll of the Rolling Stones” Satisfaction.

Through a medley of hits of the 1960s, the audience were treated to performances from some of their favourite singers including Chago Melián, Isabel Gonzalez, Morocho and Pepe Benavente, all accompanied by magnificent stage sets and polished dance routines. As the night continued, the twelve candidates were introduced to the judges and audience, each girl having just three and a half minutes in which to make her appearance, do a circuit of the huge stage area and get the audience on side.

Having started 15 minutes late to accommodate the TV channels” need to satisfy the twin demi-gods of football and adverts, the show moved at a pace through musical numbers, a Venezuelan folklore group Yacambú; a homage to 49 years of Carnaval Queens from 1966 to present day; a tribute to Manolo Monzón who founded the first ‘comparsa’ carnival group, Los Rumberos, back in 1965 and who died in October 201; and no less than two Murga performances, the clock ticked relentlessly on until the early hours of Thursday morning.

When the new queen was finally announced, the stage was mobbed by TV and camera crews, Carmen Gil Gonzalez got her first taste of what life in the spotlight would be like for the next 12 months, the audience made its weary way homewards and Carnaval 2012 could get ready to take the party to the streets with its Opening Parade.

 

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Santa Cruz Carnival Gets off to a Glittering Start

Bucking the trend of carnival weather and defying the threatened rain which was forecast to hit the city last night, Santa Cruz staged a glamorous and glittering opening to its 2012 Carnaval in a dry and balmy 18ºC.

Tenerife Magazine joined over a hundred thousand onlookers lining the route for the Cabalgata opening parade on Friday night which featured some 20,000 dancers, Murgas, musicians, fancy dress groups and of course, the newly crowned Infant, Third Age and Adult Carnaval Queens and their Dames.

Spanning more than three hours, the parade laughed, sang and danced its way through the city, setting the scene for the all night parties which will see the capital’s streets thronging with fancy dress clad crowds for the next eight days and nights.

Amongst the ‘celebrities” making an appearance in the parade, we spotted Michael Jackson, Captain Jack Sparrow (who’s remarkable resemblance to Johnny Depp had us doing a double take), Charlie Chaplin, Barbie and Harpo Marx.

Looking suitably refreshed after her gruelling schedule of photo shoots and interviews following the Gala Election on Wednesday night, Carmen Gil Gonzalez, Carnaval Queen 2012 waved and blew kisses to onlookers as she passed by in her spectacular costume ‘Imperio’, designed by Santi Castro.

When Tenerife Magazine interviewed Carmen the day after she was crowned Carnaval Queen 2012, she was hoping that the warmth of the crowd would make up for the lack of coverage in her costume as she braved the night air. In the event, the weather joined forces with the crowds to ensure her wish was granted.

¡Viva Carnaval!

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Carmen Gil González is Tenerife Carnaval Queen 2012

In the early hours of 16th February 2012, after three and a half hours of glitter and feather filled extravaganza, Carmen Gil González was crowned Carnaval Queen 2012 at the Gala Election in Santa Cruz’ Recinto Ferial.

Taking the Carnaval Santa Cruz 2012 theme of Flower Power and the 1960s, the event opened with a scene setting stage adaptation of the Vietnam War which morphed into the appearance of the Yellow Submarine with Chago Melián aboard, surrounded by Mary Quant-clad dancers.

In between the introduction of the twelve candidates for the title of Carnaval Queen 2012, a packed programme of singing, dancing and celebrities kept the sell out crowds partying, professionally and tirelessly hosted by Eloísa González, Alex García and Manuel Artiles.

Carmen Gil González was first onto the stage in her spectacular fantasy costume of Imperio designed by Santi Castro and sponsored by Zona Comercial Tranvia.

Runners up in the Carnaval Queen elections 2012:
2nd Dame Cecilia Navarro Arteaga in Quisiera Ser designed by Expedita Hernández
3rd Dame Jessica Guardia Carrillo in Aurora designed by David Hernández
4th Dame Fabiola Vera Martínez in Siboney designed by Saliarca Creativos.

We’ll have a full round up of the evening, plus an interview with Carmen and all the coverage of the Opening Parade and the Coso coming up in Tenerife Magazine. Follow the action on Twitter and Facebook and join in with the fun with your comments.

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Tenerife Carnival Scene, Las Burras de Güímar

We all know that carnival on Tenerife means madness, mayhem and over the top parades. But the carnivals that take place outside of Santa Cruz, Puerto de la Cruz, Los Gigantes and Los Cristianos rarely make it onto visitors” radar. And yet it’s at these where you can find some of the most unusual ways to celebrate carnival.

Each year Güímar produces one of the most stylish and sexy carnival posters on Tenerife and 2012 is no exception. The poster by Luis Marrero, titled The Transformation, illustrates one of the town’s main celebrations, Las Burras de Güímar.

Mysticism and Güímar, the home of the much debated pyramids, are no strangers. Neither is superstition or tales of witchcraft. So a carnival street event involving satanic dances, witches who transform themselves into donkeys to cause mischief and destroy farmers” crops and a full on battle between the forces of good and evil seems quite an appropriate way for the young people of the town to let their hair down and have a bit of fun.

Las Burras de Güímar has become one of the highlights of Güímar’s carnival, growing in popularity each year since the first witches took to the street in 1992.

The question in some people’s minds will be ‘do the witches actually ‘dress up’ like the one on the poster?’

You’ll have to go along to Plaza de San Pedro Apóstol de Güímar at 9pm on Friday 24th February to find out for yourself.

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Making Hay While The Sun Shines at Día de la Trilla

Sunshine and hay are two commodities they’re not short of in the hills of El Tanque where they’ve always been an integral part of community life, made all the more precious when one of those commodities was taken away from them for over 200 years.

Perched at the top of the Acantilados de La Culata, the 16th century settlement of El Tanque took its name from the large water tank which fed the farming needs of Garachico on the coast far below. A community began to grow around the tank and they worked the fertile land to produce cereals and grain which provided them with a living and a rural idyll… until the fateful 1706 eruption.

Destroying the crops of El Tanque en route to Garachico’s demise, the eruption left a trail of barren wasteland where once fields of golden corn had reflected the sun. Poverty ensued and the Tanqueros departed in their droves, immigrating to South America in search of a living. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that they returned and used their acquired wealth to reclaim the lands and recreate and preserve the traditions of their forefathers.

Today those traditions are a treasured part of everyday life in El Tanque where high summer means two things ““ thermometers are turning red and it’s time to gather in the wheat.

Día de La Trilla begins early on Friday morning when the farmers take to the fields with their traditional hand held scythes. Gathering, cutting and bundling the long straws of gold, it’s back-breaking, hot and dusty work under the relentless sun of an El Tanque summer. When the last bales of wheat have finally been transferred to the era (threshing circle), folklore bands strike up their song and the kegs are opened. Tomorrow the wheat will be threshed, but for now, it’s time to celebrate the harvest with friends and neighbours.

Now in its 16th year, Día de La Trilla attracts farmers and neighbours by the (literally) truckload to the site of the Eco Museum in the hills above the village of El Tanque to watch the wheat being threshed traditionally. As every year, it’s a hot and windy day for the fiesta and despite being damped down with hoses, the ground wants to join in the fun, sending swirling plumes of dust to parch already dry throats and colour bare feet a rusty shade of brown.

At the gate a religious painting is being raffled and a few feet further on, the same fate awaits a live pig on the back of a truck. It’s the perfect analogy for El Tanque where farming and religion go hand in hand.

First in the row of stalls is the straw hat vendor who’s doing brisk business and whose products can be seen at regular intervals sailing over the heads of horses and oxen before coming to rest in the straw or escaping into the distant hills. A handful of stallholders are selling honey, miniature carvings, musical instruments, farm implements and clothing but as tradition dictates, it’s the bar that’s doing the best business.

Beyond the era, several stalls are occupied by the Taller Empleo Recupera group who create and conserve the parks, gardens and greenery of El Tanque. Using only ecological methods to create their gardens, they’re giving away free plants to encourage and educate others to do likewise.

When the folklore groups take their bow, it’s time for the horses to take to the ring. Tethered in teams they canter through the stacked wheat, their hooves breaking the straws down as they go. Clockwise and counter clockwise they’re driven by their handler, the sweat glistening on their necks until it’s time to tag the next team and to pitchfork more bales into the circle.

When the mountains of straw are finally laid flat by the horses, it’s time to tether the oxen. Two by two the placid beasts of burden are led by the nose into the era and harnessed to a thrashing board. Adding weight to the board and claiming a mini fairground ride are hordes of local children who ride the boards as they’re pulled around the circle, breaking the wheat down to a size that’s small enough to flail and winnow.

As the sound of the children’s laughter carries on the wind, locally grown potatoes are being boiled and fish from the coast is being fried for the traditional meal that will follow the threshing and signify the end to another Día de La Trilla. Accompanied by home made saffron mojo and gofio amasado and washed down with red wine from the area’s own vineyards, it’s easy to taste why keeping their traditional farming methods alive is so important to the Tanqueros and why they’ll continue to make hay while the sun shines.

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The Corpus Christi Red Carpet on Tenerife

It’s June 1936. Francisco Franco is Governor General of the Canary Islands and is in La Orotava watching the Corpus Christi procession as it passes over the floral works of art.

Well known as a dissenter, Franco has been posted to the furthest and quietest outreach of Spanish governance to keep him out of harm’s way. If only they’d known then that most powerful of idioms – keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The authorities are expecting trouble, there have been whispers of an assassination attempt and the Guardia have a heavy presence, their cars parked beneath the magnolia frontage of Casas de Los Balcones. In the event, the procession passes quietly without incident.

Fast forward 75 years and on the 30th June 2011, the alfombristas of La Orotava will unveil the 106th carpet to be constructed in the Plaza Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square). During its existence this most fragrant of Canary Islands traditions has seen some important feet passing over its cobbled streets, not least those of the Corpus Christi procession to whom it owes its existence.

Rolling out the carpet
The feast of Corpus Christi had already been celebrated for over 300 years in Tenerife, predominantly in La Laguna where the day was marked by theatre, dancing and traditional games as well as pious acts, before the first petals were ever laid in La Orotava. The honour of being the first is attributed to Leonor de Castillo Monteverde who, in 1847, thought it would be a nice idea to decorate the road outside her home for the Corpus Christi procession to walk over. So successful was Leonor’s idea that the practice quickly spread to other parts of the island and her descendants still complete that section of road outside her home today.

In their 164 year history the La Orotava flower carpets have only twice been suspended, once in 1891 and again in 1897. Last year, despite the persistent rain that marred the whole proceedings, the people still turned out to make their flower carpets and to ensure that their 120 year unbroken record still stands.

The La Orotava Town Hall tapestry
Despite the popularity of decorating La Orotava’s streets for the procession, it was to be almost 70 years after Leonor’s radical gesture before the Plaza Ayuntamiento stained its face in the name of religious devotion.

The Corpus Christi procession began passing through the Town Hall plaza in 1913 but it wasn’t until 1919 when Felipe Machado and Benítez de Lugo took it upon themselves to carpet the square in flowers and vegetation that the tapestry tradition began. Before then, the only time the square had seen decoration was in 1905 when a floral carpet tribute had been laid to honour the Spanish Navy ensign.

On the 21st May 2011, work began on this year’s tapestry, the theme of which is the 26th World Youth Day which will once again bring the Pope to Spain. This year’s design will use 21 different colours to create 20 individual tapestries as a nod to the 20 years that this particular group of alfombristas have been the creators of the carpets and the latest generation of artists to continue the ethereal tradition that has characterised the town for so long.

The La Orotava Corpus Christi flower carpets take place on 30th June 2011.

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Feel The Passion In Adeje On Good Friday

No flash mob can match its impact, no computer game can outdo its intensity and no history book can deliver its raw emotional power. The Passion tells the harrowing story of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus and you can experience it in all its glory in Adeje on Good Friday, 22 April from noon.

It’s a piece of street theatre that will be played out in several towns across Tenerife but the tight palm tree shaded Calle Grande makes the perfect setting where over 10,000 people line the street as the story unfolds over two emotion packed hours. The preparation for The Passion involves a large part of the local population. Costumes and props are worked on all year and a cast of hundreds, including many children, spend hours rehearsing their parts. Even the animals have a role to play, with horses and cattle needed to set the scene.

Calle Grande becomes a living stage and as the church bells signal noon, trumpets herald the arrival of a Roman legion with centurions mounted on horses and others braving their sandals as they march in their wake. The emperor and his wife look regal and arrogant as they follow, carried on their thrones. All this happens at the top end of the street and there will be new vantage points this year as the revamped church plaza has finally opened.

Modern technology ensures that the crowds get to see and hear as the story develops at key stage areas en route. The Last Supper opens the show, the disciples seated around a large table are shocked to hear that one of them will betray Jesus. Head microphones relay the conversation to speakers placed along the route and film cameras capture everything for local television and a giant screen at the bottom end of the street. Powerful and moving it may be but it’s a well worn event for some of the older locals who take the relaxed option of watching from one of the bars that line the route.

Lamp posts, benches and balconies are much sought after for the best views as the epic moves on to the garden of Gethsemane where Judas reveals his true colours. Jesus is the only professional actor, all the other parts are played by well rehearsed locals. If that conjures up thoughts of village hall amateur dramatics, you will be surprised at the sheer scale of The Passion and its graphic realism. Once Jesus is sentenced in the court room, whipped and forced to carry the cross down to his crucifixion, the wounds and the blood clearly shock some of the onlookers.

The final scene is met with a hushed reverence as the cross is hauled up and Jesus nailed to it, only keen eyesight or a zoom lens will reveal the small gripping points the actor has to hold on to. This is not just a performance for the deeply religious, it’s a moving story that will make your senses tingle whatever your beliefs. As Jesus looks down and forgives those that have killed him there are many wiping away tears in the crowd. For the true meaning of Easter, an insight into local religious culture, or a superbly played out piece of theatre, this is one of the must-see events on the Tenerife calendar.

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