Best of the Fest ““ San Andrés, 29th & 30th November.

Popular folklore on Tenerife has it that when Saint Andrew arrived on the island to preach the gospel he arrived late, San Andres 1discovered the island’s new wine and, just to be polite, partook of it liberally before giving in to a deep sleep. The story goes that local children tied pots and pans to the disciple’s clothes so that he’d wake up every time he tried to turn over.
Fact or fable, that’s the reason why the eve of San Andrés (29th November) has hordes of children running riot around the cobbled streets of Puerto de la Cruz from about 7pm pulling long trains of string decorated with old tins and bits of metal making an almighty racket.
If it’s raining the whole thing is usually called off, presumably so the little darlings don’t get wet, or rusty or something.

In the run up to San Andrés, Puerto’s harbour is filled with hot braziers roasting the season’s castañas (chestnuts) and serving them up with the new wine produced from local harvests, aniseed bread and succulent, spicy pork kebabs known as pinchos. It’s an aromatic, savoury fiesta and you can start to enjoy it from now until the 30th November.

San AndresJust along the road, young lads in Icod de los Vinos celebrate a past Saint Andrew’s day tradition by giving it some Jackass credentials.
In days of yore, wine producers transported their barrels down Icod’s nose-bleed-inducing streets on wooden sleds pulled by oxen and using a long stick which acted as both rudder and brake. Today, Icod’s daredevil teenagers take to greased boards and hurtle at breakneck speed down those same pass-me-my-crampons streets without the aid of brakes at all and plough into huge piles of old tyres, often featuring several feet of airborne anarchy.

If you’d like to witness this madness, head to Icod’s Calle El Plano on the nights of the 29th and the 30th. You’ll know you’re there by the presence of one or more Cruz Roja (ambulance) vehicles, which gives you some idea of the health and safety standards you’re about to NOT witness.
Naturally, the new wines will also be on sale from stalls around the town and should help to steady the nerves”¦ of spectators.

Those of a more nervous disposition may want to stay around the nursery slopes, some of the less steep streets where the juniors learn their trade.

San Andres2

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2 dead, in Los Gigantes rock fall

Anger and sorrow have followed the deaths of 2 women on the beach at Los Gigantes this afternoon, up to 6 other people are feared trapped under the rocks. Early reports say the victims are a 57-year-old British woman and a 34-year-old from Arona.

Owners of business’s near the beach are angry after a series of smaller rockfalls over the past few years, and in particular one incident a month ago when swimmers had their towels buried under rubble. At the time the area was merely taped off despite protests from locals.

John Beckley of Tenerife Magazine was one of the first on the scene after the 3pm tragedy, and helped the rescue efforts before police and fire service teams arrived. The pictures on here were taken by John and are also on our Flickr account.

Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

We will bring you updates as we get them.

UPDATE – It looks like there are no people trapped as first feared. Police have scaled down the search after sniffer dogs could find no trace of bodies under the rubble. The full scale of the rock fall is now becoming clear, the section that fell was 40 metres (130 feet) long.

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Tenerife Time Travel – El Pico Del Teide

historical-reference1

First time visitors landing in Tenerife may notice the strange lunar dryness in the south or the lush, verdant foliage in the north. Indeed in a day they could make a complete tour of the island and view its crowning glory from all angles. It wasn’t always so easy.

Thirty years ago, the quickest way to get from one side of the world to the other involved an epic plane journey which included a lengthy stopover and could take well over 36 hours. However, this is still no more than a drop in the bucket for travellers who made long journeys 200 years ago.

But what did those ancient tourists make of El Pico del Teide, Tenerife and the Canary Islands and what can their reports tell us about how Tenerife has changed?

John Walker, a physician and author, made the trip in the late 1700’s and made some interesting observations – including one which hints at how global warming has affected Tenerife and the other Canary Islands over the last couple of hundred years. I don’t remember seeing snow last on Teide for more than 3 months at a time. Do you?

From the varieties of soil, climate and exposure in the Canary Islands, the valuable productions, of temperate and tropical countries, thrive in it. The animals are camels, deer, horses, asses, mules, cows, sheep, goats, hogs, rabbits, fowls, geese, ducks, etc. The island of Tenerife rises on all sides towards the Pike, in it’s centre, like a hanging garden, till within a league of the clouds which are not above mid-way up the Pike.

But there are no houses anywhere above three leagues from the sea. The first league from the shore produces vines, the next corn, the next woods of chestnut trees etc., interspersed with some corn.

Beyond these woods are the clouds which in fine weather come down in the evening, and rest on the woods till morning when they retire about a league. Where the clouds rest in the day, there are many pine trees, beyond which grows no grass or vegetable except a shrub called retama.

Of the Canary Islands, which there are seven in number, Tenerife is the most considerable. It is about 36 leagues in circumference. The latitude of its centre is 28 deg. 30 min. N. longitude, 16. deg. 25 min. W. from London.

The principal differences in the climates of these islands arise from the different elevations above the sea. For eight months of the year, their summits of them all, except Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are covered in snow. Yet, in their valleys and shores the cold is seldom so great as to render fires necessary. A very great proportion of the surfaces of all the Canaries is covered with lava, calcined stones, and the black dust of ashes, formerly emitted by volcanoes, the remains of which are still very visbible in all the islands and some of them, among which is the Pike of Tenerife are not yet extinguished.

Extract from: Elements of geography and of natural and civil history, by John Walker.

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From Mount Teide to Hollywood hills

The huge metal cylinder slowed and hung in the air, before planting itself on the New York tarmac, the door swung open and out strode an alien? No just an elderly ex pat Brit from Tenerife, armed not with a ray gun, but a haul of SciFi short story books. Unbeknown to him, Tony Thorne MBE (left in pic) had taken his first steps to Hollywood glory.

First contact made

The first of 3 volumes of Tenerife Tall Tales won the Best Science Fiction Read award at the New York Beach Book Festival Contest earlier this year, and it would take a bizarre and speculative mind to see that turning into a film offer, but in Tony’s world, anything is possible.

Now retired from developing advanced medical products; and with his Queens honour for low temperature surgical instrumentation pinned to his chest, Tony’s cynical and mistrusting tales have taken him to several international SciFi events. Home life is split between Austria, native land of wife Eva (she’s written a Viennese Cooking recipe book) and the west coast of Tenerife for the winter months.

The Plot Thickens

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, as Tony was to find out, “the prize for the book award wasn’t money, but it was some excellent publicity. “Apart from several enthusiastic published reviews, I received an email contact from a Hollywood producer/scriptwriter, saying she liked my book and wanted to consider developing some of the linked stories into a screenplay, for a full-length movie. I told her about my other two volumes, and a new collection of Macabre Tales, and she insisted I send her them all!” Tony knows a bit about the gap between Hollywood plans and execution though; his friend, American writing legend, Harry Harrison (right in pic) has had many film options running since his story Soylent Green first hit the screens in 1973.

Delving In Tenerife History

Emails have since bounced back and forth across the Atlantic and things are firming up. “She is now developing a screenplay based on “Hologhosts” a tall tale about some holidaying ghost hunters who try to evoke the past up on Mount Teide. It will be a character driven adventure, set and filmed partly in Wales but mainly in Tenerife. The scriptwriter already has one of the producers of The Lord of the Rings trilogy seriously interested in selling the project to a studio.”

Mystery And Adventure Beckon

There is a rich vein of fiction to mine with Tony; he is just finishing his first full length novel, SciFi of course, and has written well over 70 short stories in the last 4 years alone. It all stems back to Saturday mornings at the local flea pit in Southend-on-Sea, watching the grainy black and white adventures of Flash Gordon. In his working life, Tony was always on top of science, but he wondered how easily those roles could be reversed, and that set him off contributing to various short story collections.

Unexpected twists and turns are normal to Tony, so as this real life drama plays out he will continue to type even more bizarre and surreal fates for his characters, as he awaits the call for action. Copies of Tony’s books are available on line from Amazon, WH Smith, and direct from Tony via his website www.tonythorne.com .

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Rasca Lighthouse

A candy-striped beacon as you gaze out to Palm Mar from Las Vistas beach, Los Cristianos. This is the newer 167 foot lighthouse, added in 1978, and fully automatic. A smaller squat building next door, is the 1898 original, perched on an outdrop of Malpais de Rasca. The stone for the original was quarried from Montaña Guaza , a popular walk that that marks the transition from modern tourist zone to the protected volcanic beds of Rasca. There have been plans in recent years to add a small jetty and car park for easy access – watch this space, as they say in Tenerife.

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Chicharreros

A soundtrack to Carnaval, and belted out by CD Tenerife fans. “Chicharrero de Corazon” has become an anthem for Tenerife. The people of Santa Cruz are referred to as Chicharreros after the popular fishing catch. A statue of a Chicharro fish lurks in a Santa Cruz backwater just down from Plaza del Principe. As for the song, it is based on a ditty from Chile, and has several variations, all sung with pride and passion.

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A Tenerife Mystery ““ The Güímar Pyramids: Ancient Wonders or Farmers” Rubble?

Before anyone gets excited and pictures themselves decked out like Lawrence of Arabia on a grumpy camel at the foot of some Giza like golden pointy structures, Tenerife’s pyramids aren’t quite like their Egyptian cousins.
In looks terms, the Egyptian pyramids are George Clooney, whereas Güímar’s are Woody Allen ““ not particularly stunning to look at but fascinating nonetheless.

Güímar’s are step pyramids, similar to those in Peru and Mexico, a fact that Norwegian adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl used to support his theories relating to the migration patterns of ancient civilisations.
Heyerdahl attracted controversy throughout his life, often because he wasn’t part of the established scientific community ““ something in his favour. It’s the people who challenge the established order who change the world, not those who kowtow to it.

His claims that Güímar’s pyramids were built by the Guanche have ignited heated debate on Tenerife for decades and have been treated with as much scepticism as his assertions that an ancient race could travel across the Atlantic on a reed boat. Wait a moment; wasn’t he right about that?

So why the fuss, are the pyramids real or are they an elaborate hoax?

The Pyramids are the Real Deal – Thor Heyerdahl and Supporters

  1. Güímar was a Guanche stronghold (this is recorded in Victorian explorer’s diaries). Even by the early 19th century, if outsiders visited a sacred Guanche site without permission the chances are they’d end up in a stew pot. If there were going to be pyramids on Tenerife they’d be somewhere like Güímar.
  2. There’s undisputed evidence of a Guanche settlement on the actual site.
  3. The Guanche were sun worshippers and the pyramids are laid out so that they are perfectly aligned with the summer solstice sunset.
  4. The rocks used for the pyramids have been carefully laid with a flat side facing out and have been trimmed so they fit together perfectly.
  5. Step pyramids are hardly unusual in ancient civilisations.

They’re a Work of Fiction ““ The Sceptics and the Farmers

  1. They’re a hoax constructed to fool tourists and part them from their holiday spends. Hands up how many people have actually been to Güímar? If that was the reason, it’s not been very successful.
  2. The stones used only date from the 19th century. This one comes from a couple of Canarian astrophysicists who also suggested that they were built by Freemasons. Historians are still laughing at that one. Maybe it was a mistranslation and they actually meant stonemasons.
  3. They are nothing more than discarded farmer’s rubble. This is my favourite of all.

Have you seen discarded farmer’s rubble on Tenerife like the piles of agricultural stones in Güímar’s Malpaís, or on Montaña Guaza? It would take an incredible feat of organisation and planning by local farmers to lay their rubble in such a way that it could be mistaken for step pyramids. And there lies one of the strongest arguments of all.

Co-ordinated organisation and planning ““ how likely is that?

It’s obvious where my vote goes. I like a bit of magic in the world. The question that bugs me is this.
On an island which is so proud of its Guanche heritage why are there so many people who feel so strongly about the subject that they cast doubt over their most sacred Guanche legacy?
Local farmers I can understand. When Thor Heyerdahl first championed the Güímar pyramids the area was about to be developed for housing. It must be a right bugger if you own land primed for property development which then turns out to have archaeological importance.

The Pirámides de Gűímar are open every day from 9.30am-6pm; entrance is €10.40 for adults, €5.20 for children.


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Boxing challenge – November 14

Title: Boxing challenge
Location: Los Cristianos sports hall
Description: One night and 8 bouts, featuring some of the best young boxers in Spain. The sports hall is between the school and swimming pool on the main road between Los Cristianos and Las Americas. The action starts at 9 pm and tickets are just 10 euros from the sports hall reception.
Date: 2009-11-14

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Soup-er Halloween Recipe

pumpkinThe clocks have gone back and Halloween looms, a sure sign that winter is well and truly at our door.
(Okay, can we please for the purposes of this piece forget the fact that the temperature outside is touching 30 degrees and the sun is shining mercilessly. Work with me here, people!)

Halloween is a celebration of the old Celtic New Year which welcomes the onset of true winter and has traditionally included the use of divinations to try to predict what the New Year would bring; will CD Tenerife manage to avoid relegation, who will win the free holiday at Sands Beach Resort and how soon will the resort of Costa Adeje spread all the way to Los Cristianos?

Of course, Halloween is also a time when people dressed up to parody the witches and demons who supposedly stood guard over the doors to the spirit world, on Tenerife they’re better known as landlords and landladies (ouch).

But if there’s one thing that transcends the cultural divide between the ancient Celtic lands and our small island in the Atlantic, it’s the wide availability of the humble pumpkin. Apart from being liberally scattered over corrugated tin rooftops in rural hamlets such as Masca to ensure the roof doesn’t fly off, pumpkins are also available in handy cut wedges, minus their seeds and flesh, in most supermarkets. And at this time of year, farmer’s markets have a good supply of the whole pumpkin available. Pumpkins are part of the squash family which is one of the most ancient vegetable families of the world. That’s why they’ve always been a vital ingredient of the autumnal harvest and an icon of Halloween.

As well as the classic decoration of carving a face into the empty pumpkin and placing a night light inside, you could also fill it with earth and plant crimson geraniums for a fiendishly cunning splash of colour for the terrace. Just don’t leave it like that for too long as it’ll start to rot and you’ll have a devil of a job getting rid of the thing.

Pumpkin has a sweet flavour, is high in potassium and vitamin C and contains zinc which is a booster for the immune system. The minerals in pumpkin are also particularly beneficial for the efficient functioning of the prostrate gland so I reckon this soup is one for the men to make.

Devilish Pumpkin Soup
Hollow out the flesh, remove the seeds and make this spicy soup with the flesh. The hollow pumpkin can be used as a tureen to serve the soup in.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch root ginger, chopped
1 kg pumpkin flesh (skin & seeds removed), chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 litre stock
pepper
cream or Greek yoghurt to serve (optional)

“¢ Heat oil and fry cumin seeds for 30 seconds as they sizzle and dance in the pan.
“¢ Add onion, garlic and ginger and fry for 5 minutes till soft
“¢ Add pumpkin and soy sauce and fry for 5 minutes
“¢ Add stock and lots of pepper and bring to boil
“¢ Simmer for 20 minutes, then leave to stand for 5 minutes
“¢ Blend the soup until rich and creamy
“¢ Serve with a swirl of Greek yoghurt in the centre or cast the diet to the Devil and go for cream instead.

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