Settling in Tenerife

A man brandishing a machete was responsible for my settling in Tenerife in 1960. He emerged from a plantation overlooking Puerto de la Cruz. As soon as I saw him, I knew I wanted the kind job that demanded I carry a cutlass!

At 18 and just out of school in Scotland, I had to choose my future. I’d failed to win entry to the BSc course in agriculture at Aberdeen University, so I decided to head for Argentina. My great-grandfather had gone there to build a railroad and never returned. But by the time I reached Santa Cruz de Tenerife, I was close to penniless. None of the cargo boats in the harbour were heading across the Atlantic. I was out of luck.

The quiet composure of the Tinerfeños and Santa Cruz’s drowsy timelessness captivated me. Tiers of little, coloured houses crept up the green hills behind the town. The air smelled of salt and warm vegetation. The perfect cone of Teide beckoned. Why not just stay and work? Here were people different from my own back in Scotland. I could learn a lot from them.

“Take the guagua to Puerto de la Cruz,” the harbour-master advised. “You’ll find work in construction.” But that sleepy little town proved silent and workless. What now? Night was approaching. I walked back up the hill to the main road. Puerto de la Cruz lay spread out beneath me, quiet, compact and dignified.

When suddenly I saw that daunting man with the machete step out of the plantation, I made up my mind. “I will find myself a job where that gleaming blade is the tool of choice.”

“In a banana plantation in Buenavista del Norte,” advised the plantation worker. “That’s where the work is!” Within 15 minutes, he’d hustled me into a guagua heading to that remote 15th-century village at the end of the narrow road on the tip of the island.

Buenavista from the Sea

Throughout that journey, the driver, the conductor and the delighted locals plied me with questions. For most, it was their first encounter with an ‘extranjero’. ‘Forasteros’ and ‘peninsulares’ were odd enough, but a living, breathing ‘extranjero’ was real curiosity!

“Does your mamá know where you are?” “Do you shave yet?” “Why can’t you speak Spanish?” “Do they speak a Christian language where you come from?” “Why are you going to Buenavista?”

At the Pension Méndez on la Plaza de los Remedios, the driver presented me to Doña Lutgarda, the innkeeper. She scrutinized me from head to foot and then announced, “Forty-two pesetas a day. Room and meals. Your laundry is included.”

Snuggling around the Plaza de los Remedios, the stone church, the pension, the ‘venta’ — the general store — and the bar, together formed the beating heart of village life. In the 15th century, when Buenavista had been founded, streets were for people, mules and donkeys.

Buenavista Village Street

The village offered the warmth and comfort of timeless tradition, its simple, elegant buildings provided fitting harmony. Villagers were upright, hardworking, hospitable, friendly and above all, curious about the arrival of an ‘extranjero’.

Buenavista locals

First, Alcalde Don Paco García Martín, then his legal counsel Don Eduardo Champín Zamorano, and finally two nameless Civil Guards, checked me out with shrewd questions. They concluded that this 18-year-old Scotsman, kilt and all, was ‘buena gente’. I was welcome to stay if I adapted to village life.

Buenavista Plaza Fiesta

During the year I spent there, everyone knew me simply as ‘El Extranjero’.

I explored the village, the rocky coast and the surrounding cliffs and barrancos. I learned Spanish and made friends. The Pension Méndez was my home. Doña Lutgarda and her girls, Pastora, Obdúlia, Angélica and Lula treated me like a distant relative from abroad.

They had never met anyone who couldn’t speak perfect Spanish, so they found my mistakes a constant source of fun. With their help, I learned the language quickly so I could fit in and find work.

One day, I discovered Caya, Carmita, Toño and Mario, Doña Lutgarda’s grandchildren, in my room examining the contents of my rucksack. “What are you looking for?” I asked.

“Well,” said Caya – at 8 years old she was their leader — “you remember you told us your first tongue, the one you brought with you, was English? And that you wanted to get Spanish as your second tongue? Well, now that you have got your Spanish tongue, we’re trying to find your English one. We only want to see what it looks like!” Her tiny companions nodded soberly. “We want to see how different your first tongue is from the one you have now!”

Confusion is understandable when ‘lengua’ means both ‘language’ and ‘tongue’ at one and the same time!

Carmita, Toño, Mario and Caya

Doña Lutgarda and her girls fed me well on gofio, lentejas, garbanzos, papas arrugadas and fresh fish. Within three weeks I could handle myself in Spanish. Now I was ready to find a job!

Doña Lutgarda Méndes Hernández and her large family, my co-workers and the villagers of Buenavista del Norte taught me a great deal. For their warm hospitality, for the gifts of their language and friendship, for sharing their culture and their ways, I salute the people of Tenerife with respect and gratitude.

Text and photos by Ronald Mackay

To discover more of Ronald’s amazing year-long adventure in Tenerife, take a look at his book here:

Fortunate Isle: A  Memoir of Tenerife

 

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Dreaming of Puerto de la Cruz & a Clueless Thief in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

The Modernisation of Puerto de la Cruz
Last week saw the great and the good of Tenerife’s political world meet in Puerto de la Cruz to announce a 10 year plan to modernise the north’s number one tourist town.
The dynamic plan includes a new port; the renovation of the Hotel Taoro; the regeneration of the Playa Martiánez area; a new bus station, a new sporting complex, the extension of the Botanical Gardens, the development of a sustainable urban mobility plan; the renovation of important colonial houses as well as improvements to San Telmo, Mirador La Paz (surely only recently improved), 34 streets, 15 plazas and 4 parks as well as a few other odds and ends.
It all sounds wonderful apart from one tiny obstacle. There isn’t actually any money to pay for the 10 year plan. Are they having a laugh? How can you seriously announce a plan that has no funding attached to it? At least how can you do it without having a red face at the time? A plan with no budget isn’t a plan at all, it’s a pipe dream.

La Laguna Leads the Way
A big round of applause for La Laguna council who have already taken steps to simplify the application for certificados de viajes which will be required to get a residents” discount when travelling from September 1st. The council have already implemented a system where Laguneros can apply for their certificado online and download it for free. Let’s hope that other ayuntamientos (councils) take note of this Tenerife municipality that has its finger on the pulse. But by the state of some of their websites that might be too much to hope for.

Where Most People live on Tenerife
Statistics supplied by the Tenerife Government show that 41.3% of residents on Tenerife live in La Laguna and Santa Cruz ““ nearly 375,000 people in all. The biggest municipality on Tenerife in geographical terms is La Orotava followed, surprisingly, by Arico. In terms of density of population, Puerto de la Cruz wins that title, mainly because it is the smallest municipality covering only 8.73 square metres.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦ a clueless thief
Last week a patrol car in Santa Cruz stopped to help a man lying in the road who was calling for help. According to the injured man he’d been the victim of a hit and run. An ambulance was called and it was confirmed that he’d suffered a double fracture of his tibia. However, the police, suspecting all was not right, investigated the area and discovered an abandoned vehicle with a broken window just 30 metres further along the road. On the front seat of the vehicle was a knife and a number of packets of cigarettes of a quite unusual brand that just so happened to be the same brand used by the ‘accident” victim. Further investigation revealed that there had been no hit and run. The ‘victim’ turned out to be the perpetrator of a number of violent crimes during the evening. Whilst trying to steal the car, he’d fallen underneath it and it had run over his leg.
Sometimes the world works in wonderfully mysterious ways or maybe the car was a distant relation of Herbie from The Love Bug.

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Investigating Memories of the Past in La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz

Compelling detective stories usually begin with a crime; often a heinous murder. Thankfully this one doesn’t. It begins with a clue – “Guy Attwood from A A H 1898 ““ views of Orotava, Tenerife”.
It’s a clue that teases the little grey cells as the words were found on a photograph album of evocative and rare images of Tenerife at the end of the 19th century.

Recently Cornwall based photographic historian and genealogist Steve Colwill and his partner Karen Willows acquired a treasure chest of a photograph album featuring 42 photographs of life in La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz in 1898. The images not only show islanders going about their daily business, they also capture the world of the rich and possibly famous visitors who were enjoying Tenerife’s friendly climate from the luxury of the recently built Gran Hotel Taoro above Puerto de la Cruz.

This is where the mystery comes in ““ who are the people in the photographs taken at the Hotel Taoro?

Steve and Karen contacted Tenerife Magazine to ask if we could help put names to the faces and places in the photographs. We in turn sought out expert assistance and contacted Tenerife’s answer to Robert Langdon ““ Kenneth Fisher (except Ken’s much more amusing), the former president of the English Library in Puerto de la Cruz.

Ken has already managed to throw some light on the photographs.

However, whilst he continues to follow up leads and extricate himself from the occasional blind alley, we’d like to ask Tenerife Magazine’s readers to assist by contributing any information at all which may help pull the pieces of this sepia tinted jigsaw together; whether it relates to the people or the locations in the photographs.

If you can’t help you might know someone who can. It might be someone who’s lived in the area for a long time or has Canario friends who have abuelos (grandparents) who may be able to help ““ or who might even enjoy seeing images of their island from the past.

Discovering who may have stayed at the Hotel Taoro around the time the photographs were taken is proving a tricky business. The whereabouts of the hotel’s register is also a mystery, having disappeared after the hotel closed in 1972. Any information or thoughts about where this historic document might be would also be very helpful.

Ox drawn cart - still a common sight at fiestas on Tenerife

Even if the locations and people in the images are a complete mystery to you, the photos offer a wonderful and fascinating glimpse into north Tenerife’s social history.

Anyone who recognises any of the people or places in the photographs or can provide any information at all which they think might be useful can leave a comment here, email us at editor@tenerifemagazine.com or contact Steve and Karen directly at lorgan@helagan.eclipse.co.uk

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A New Chapter for The English Library in Puerto de la Cruz

Those are our founding fathers“, says Ken pointing to the row of three portraits looking down on us from their elevated status above the bookcases of the reading room. “Pointing them out is what we begin our school tours with, if we can keep the children quiet long enough to hear us.”

Keep them quiet? In a library? Surely that’s a given. But there’s no wall of silence here in the English Library in Puerto de la Cruz. Where you might expect covert whispers there’s a quiet buzz of conversation and where you might look for bespectacled librarians despotically maintaining strict cataloguing systems, you’ll find sections that shift wholesale to make way for the ever-expanding DVD library, and a hand written note pinned to a bookcase that reads “Humour has been moved…”.

The English Library is not simply a repository for books written in the English language. For over a century it’s been a social hub for the British ex pat community for whom it has provided a source of knowledge, reading and entertainment along with a hefty helping of socialising, support and gossip exchange.

The First Edition
The first meeting of British residents of Puerto interested in the establishment of a library is recorded in ‘the English Library, A Brief History’ as being in 1900 when a Mrs Boreham, resident of the town, decided to put her habit of allowing friends and visitors to borrow books from her extensive personal collection onto a more formal footing. Ably assisted by the Parson, Reverend Humphries and the then Vice-Consul, Mr Peter Reid, the first order of books was placed, the library was named and the terms of Constitution were laid down. The following year Colonel Owen Peel Wethered pledged a donation of up to £500 including the site for a new library building. After some controversy, the proposition was accepted and work began on the building in Parque Taoro which today still houses the English Library.

I first visited the library six years ago when I was dropping off some magazines. At the time I was astonished at the existence of such an institution which appeared to occupy some parallel universe of England in the 1940s, staffed by genteel Brits who painstakingly hand wrote every title being borrowed into large ledgers while discussing the weather with their equally genteel customers. I felt as if I’d walked onto the set of a black and white Sunday matinee.

Revisiting the English Library to meet up with Ken Fisher who, until standing down at the recent AGM, has been President of the library for the past two years, some things hadn’t changed. Books were still being entered into ledgers by hand and the staff and clientele still appeared on the genteel side but there were noticeable differences. In the main reading room the large table was occupied by several people surfing the net on laptops, the bookcases on the long wall were filled with DVDs where previously video collections of TV sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s had taken pride of place and outside, tables and chairs were busy with coffee drinkers enjoying the beautiful garden and warm sunshine.

Is the WiFi free?” I ask Ken.
Oh yes. In fact we have a computer support workshop now run by Peter and Mike.”
I tell Ken about my last and only visit.
Well we only got a telephone installed two years ago when I got elected as President. I insisted,” he admits. Heady progress indeed.

The Latest Edition

Under Ken’s auspices, the English Library has taken a leap forward and newly elected President, Brian Arnold (above), is confident the library will continue to go in the right direction.
We’re becoming a wider thinking library,” Brian tells me. “Catering to the needs of the English speaking community and finding ways to make their lives easier. We have good links with the British Consul for example and we’re a research resource for those ex-pats who over-winter in Puerto and don’t have access to WiFi or computers.”

Brian recognises that the days of being purely a lending library are behind them and that the future is bleak for the printed word.
I believe John Lewis were selling one Kindle every 30 seconds over Christmas,” he says. “You can’t compete with that.”

Installing free WiFi and offering computer self help workshops is just one of the ways the English Library is adapting to better meet the needs of its customers. An ever growing DVD lending library is another. Unfortunately it means that the reference library is becoming less and less used but there are still some classics in there, including all volumes of the first edition Oxford English Dictionary, and the library is a valuable resource for researchers and anyone who has an interest in the history of Tenerife and of Puerto de la Cruz. They also sell novels at 50 cents and one Euro – perfect for holidaymakers who haven’t yet discovered the joys of Kindle.

Financed entirely through subscriptions and fund raising events, the English Library is run by a team of dedicated volunteers who manage not only to keep the book lending and cataloguing efficiently but also organise two coffee mornings a week (Saturdays and Wednesdays), nine or ten guest speaker events over the course of the year, a couple of hog roast garden parties and an annual dinner dance.

Finding myself engrossed in conversations with friends old and newly acquired, time slipped all too easily away at the library and I began to understand why so many people found themselves drawn to its smiling faces and familiarity. It’s like popping round to a friend’s house for coffee and a catch-up and I suspect it won’t be another six years before I return.

Epilogue
The English Library; Calle Irlanda, 5; Parque Taoro, Puerto de la Cruz; (0034) 922 383 098; open Monday & Friday 3pm-5.30pm, Wednesday & Saturday 10am-1pm. Annual membership €30, membership for those only resident for part of the year €12.
The next speaker event will be on Feb 23rd at 12 noon when guests will hear about the Churchill and Onassis visit to Puerto de la Cruz. Tickets €5 including “our world famous buffet” to quote Ken. Booking essential as all 60 places are invariably taken up.

Editor’s Note: Fresh from his revolutionising of the English Library, Ken Fisher will soon be gracing the pages of Tenerife Magazine with memories of life in Tenerife from 40 years ago. Watch this space, as they say.

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Win a FREE holiday in Tenerife with Hotel Las Águilas in Puerto de la Cruz

Win a FREE holiday in Tenerife with Hotel Las Águilas in Puerto de la Cruz

Win a Week at Hotel Las Águilas and Experience North Tenerife.

Combine luxurious comfort with the rural charms of North Tenerife during a one week half board stay for two people at the four star Hotel Las Águilas on the edge of Puerto de la Cruz.
That’s the latest great prize from tenerifemagazine.com and all we ask of you is to answer a simple question.

Entry Form

[contact-form-7 id=”9153″ title=”Free Holiday 3″]

What a great way to start the New Year, the natural beauty of Mount Teide’s national park , the wine growing regions around the La Orotava valley and even the designer shops of capital city Santa Cruz are all in easy reach of your hotel pools, tennis courts and restaurants.

The prize will be drawn on Tuesday 31st January and can be taken, subject to availability, within the next year. The prize is not transferable and must be claimed within 2 weeks of the draw or it will be re-drawn.

Keep your fingers crossed and think of that wonderful prize, and in the meantime keep up with all the wonders of Tenerife through tenerifemagazine.com

Good Luck.

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Witchcraft & the Mafia Sting in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
Despite continued earth tremors, the volcanic situation in El Hierro hasn’t changed much in the last few days. The stain on the ocean left by the volcanic discharge is moving slowly out to sea and residents of La Restinga have been allowed to return to their homes. Although some experts say that the eruptive process is possibly coming to an end, there are still some townspeople who are, understandably, nervous of actually staying in the town overnight.

For the moment El Hierro remains on a state of yellow alert whilst La Restinga stays on red alert.

Witchcraft on Tenerife
Appropriately in the week before Halloween comes reports of dark deeds and sorcery in the south east of Tenerife. Dead animals have been turning up at the entrance to the La Gallega cemetery in the hills above Santa Maria del Mar. Apart from slaughtered chickens wrapped in red handkerchiefs, coins and cards have been found at the entrance to the cemetery when dawn breaks ““ sure signs that witchcraft of some sort has been going on. But in true horror movie fashion, the jittery locals are keeping quiet, preferring to ignore the spooky goings on.

These stories turn up every year but no-one ever seems to actually hear or see anything taking place. Mind you, it would take a brave person to hang around La Gallega cemetery after dark, especially if they’ve seen The Wicker Man (the original).

The Mafia Sting
Tourists and residents were surprised by a massive police operation in Adeje last week which resulted in the arrest of 13 people (11 Italians, A Brit and a Moroccan) in connection with money laundering for the Italian Mafia. The operation was called ‘Pozzaro‘ – a Neapolitan word for hooded figures who cleaned out wells and probably a reference to the fact that the ‘family’ said to be behind the money laundering were from Naples. Most of the action was centred around the Marina Palace complex in Playa Paraiso. Anti-corruption officers indicated that the gang had been involved in illegal operations in the Adeje and Arona area relating to real estate and various other business sectors including hotels, restaurants and the sale of luxury boats and cars.

What was it La Orotava’s mayor Isaac Valencia claimed only last week? Makes you wonder if he knew something was afoot.

What is Geocad, the New Info Site About Tenerife?
The website says it’s a digital atlas for Tenerife and it does look as though it has loads of what could be interesting information about Tenerife. The new info site, www.atlastenerife.es launched by the Cabildo last week looks as though a lot of work has gone into creating it and, although there are a few glitches (some pages not being available in the languages stated and links not working), it’s still clearly work in progress.
We haven’t had time to fully study it yet but our first impressions are that although it appears to have information that isn’t currently available on other official sites, much of it isn’t particularly easy reading; some sections read a bit like a dissertation.
I found my attention wandering mid-way through paragraphs such as – ‘the Reworded Text of the Canary Islands Management and Natural Areas Acts hierarchically organizes planning, meaning that higher level plans (at island or regional level) draws a series of master lines that lower level ones (sector, municipal or local) flesh out for each individual space and way of territorial use.”

Someone order me a black coffee.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦Puerto de la Cruz Council
We can all become frustrated when we hear the term ‘strike action” being bandied about but sometimes workers have no other recourse. Take, for example, the situation with the cleaners and refuse collectors at Sufi Tarajal who are threatening an indefinite strike in Puerto de la Cruz from the 5th of December.

What’s their grief? They don’t want extra money or privileges or anything like that. They want assurances that they’ll be paid at the end of every month. Even though they are ostensibly council workers, it’s not a given that their wages will be in their bank accounts come pay day. This month they had to threaten strike action in order to force the authorities to pay their ‘overdue’ wages for August and September. If their wages aren’t in the bank at the end of October it’s ‘everybody out”. And who can blame them?

The culture of an aversion to paying people for work is rife in Tenerife ““ it makes the island seem backward and Third World in terms of business practice. But when you have some authorities setting examples like this what can we expect?

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From Dusk Till Dawn & Where’s Harry? in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Santa Cruz the Party Town
Summer in Tenerife’s capital is really set to sizzle with news that the council has relaxed the opening hours for bars and open-air terraces in parts of the city. The extended opening hours relate to establishments within the area that includes Avda. Marítima, Avda. Francisco La Roche, Rambla de Santa Cruz, Avda. de las Asuncionistas and Calle San Sebastián. Throughout summer bars can stay open till 4am, clubs till 6am, restaurants till 2.30am and open-air terraces till 3.30am (Sunday to Thursday) and 6am on Friday, Saturday and festival days. Not everyone is pleased with this news but if the city wants to promote itself as a serious city break destination it needs a thriving nocturnal scene to compare with the best of Europe’s top cities.

How to Attract the Crowds in Tenerife
To put into perspective the embarrassingly low figures that turned out for the Michael Bolton concert last week, here are some figures from the Virgen del Carmen celebrations in Puerto de la Cruz. According to official figures (some bloke in a cap counting 1,2,3…) 130,000 people visited the town for the celebrations with around an estimated 53,000 cramming into the harbour area to watch the embarkation. Of course local fiestas are free and instead of Michael Bolton crooning Dock of the Bay you get a local singer belting out Ave Maria ““ so it’s no contest really.

Bow WOW ““ Tenerife’s Doggie Park
The council in Candelaria have created a park exclusively for the use of man’s best friend (should that be human’s?). The 5000 square metre park lies near the TF1 slip road at Punta Larga and is open for doggie business between 7.30am and 9pm every day. There’s one area specifically for small to medium sized dogs and another for the big guys ““ a bit of segregation there ““ and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their dogs as well as ensuring there’s no canine hanky panky…there will be young pups present after all. Apparently the municipality’s feline population are not a-mew-sed at this blatant display of favouritism.

What 110kph Speed Limit?

There’s been a lot of debate about the decision by the Spanish Government to reduce the speed limit to 110 kph earlier in the year. Doubt about its effectiveness continues with news that the result of a traffic survey revealed that only a third of Spanish drivers actually stayed with the temporary limit. Nearly 50% of drivers surveyed admitted to going over the limit every now and again whilst over 20% confessed to more or less ignoring the limit completely. The findings won’t really come as a surprise to anyone who spends a lot of time driving on Tenerife’s motorways. Rules? It seems traffic laws are treated, as Captain Barbossa would say, more like “what you’d call ‘guidelines” than actual rules.”

Problems in El Médano
It looks like café society is in danger of spiralling out of control in El Médano. Some residents are up in arms because they claim bars, cafés and restaurants have invaded pedestrianised areas with their tables and chairs; apparently making getting anywhere on foot in parts a difficult and risky business. The council are taking urgent action to stem the flow of tables and chairs especially as there are concerns that someone may get accidentally clobbered by a beach bag…clearly serious stuff.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…
whoever is responsible for the English language movies on Tenerife
Whilst most of the world were treated to the last instalment of the wizard who has matured with a generation, film fans on Tenerife who prefer to see films in their original language had to make do with animated cars. It’s commendable that Gran Sur Cinemas screen an English language movie each week but by not choosing Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 they not only disappointed HP fans on Tenerife, they also shot themselves in the foot economically as well. You have to wonder if the person who picks which English language movies are screened is the same person who advises the Sun Live Festival organisers about ‘famous” international singers. Before anyone suggests that film fans could always watch Harry in Spanish, here are two words that make that a serious non-option ““ Spanish dubbing.

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Crooks with Super Powers & Gaddafi wants the Canary Islands in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Movie Superheroes to Descend on Tenerife
Well that’s the plan if Mark Millar, the creator of the cult superhero flick Kick Ass, has his way. The movie, called Supercrooks, a cross between Oceans 11 and X-Men, has been given the green light by Universal Studios with filming scheduled to begin in January. But will it be filmed in Tenerife? The plot revolves around a gang of villains with super powers who descend on Tenerife to rob the richest man on the island ““ their logic being that Tenerife is full of fat cops who wouldn’t pose nearly the same sort of opposition that villains meet when they head for the likes of Gotham City. Millar wants to cast 10 top stars in the movie and no doubt another high profile movie would do wonders for tourism ““ but a script focussing on fat cops and crooks might not be exactly the image that Tenerife wants to present to the big wide world.

The Invasion of the Canary Islands
Muammar Gaddafi announced on Libyan television this week that the Canary Islands, Sicily, Andalusia and some Mediterranean Islands were all Arab lands that should be liberated. He clearly subscribes to the theory that Tenerife’s original inhabitants were descended from Berbers. Looks like those in the Canary Islands who want independence from Spanish rule and really want to embrace their Guanche heritage may get their wishes granted if the Libyan leader gets his way. Not sure this is what they had in mind though.

No Fun in the Sun in Puerto de la Cruz
For years the Dia de la Embarcación in Puerto de la Cruz has been a heady mix of wild and wet water party throughout the day followed by an emotive and serious procession as the Virgen del Carmen and San Telmo are carried through the streets of the town and loaded into their chosen craft to be taken on a trip around the bay. Dia de la Embarcación attracts thousands of residents and visitors and is an enjoyable mix of religious tradition and contemporary activities…but not this year. In the past the town’s elderly mayor threatened to ban water pistols from the celebrations but after being voted out of office four years ago he’s had to wait until his re-election to implement his plan to extract the fun elements from the day. As one person commented in a Spanish newspaper ‘this isn’t a fiesta for fun”. In that respect it’s mission accomplished.

Michael Bolton and Kenny G ““ How Was it for You?

The question is did anyone go? We didn’t (there are some things above and beyond and all that). Press reports were thin on the ground but suggested that around 4,500 thousand people turned up for the event. It was a very poor turnout for a concert on Tenerife where local Latino bands can attract much more. However, the concert was never going to attract high numbers. The artists weren’t ‘superstar’ names even in their heyday a quarter of a century ago and the low turn-out wasn’t helped by the fact that tickets only went on sale a couple of weeks before the actual concert. However, those who did turn up seemed to enjoy themselves and the organisers claimed that they were pleased with the result ““ what else can they say? If the Sun Live Festival people want bigger audiences they need to put more thought into the artists they bring to Tenerife. Whilst the island had Michael Bolton and Kenny G last week, neighbouring Gran Canaria has Sting this week. Sting’s not exactly at his peak but we’re willing to bet he attracts a hell of a lot more than 4,500 punters.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…The Tourist Office in Santa Cruz
Good first impressions of anywhere are vital, especially when you’re talking about a destination like Santa Cruz which receives thousands upon thousands of cruise passengers each year.
The contemporary curves of Plaza España are an attractive and promising start to visitors arriving in the city. But if they wander into the tourist office beside the fountain their impressions may change rapidly if our experience is typical.
Tenerife Magazine ventured into the office to carry out some research about the information available to new visitors. The welcome (if it can be described as that) was unexpected. A surly woman, clearly irritated at having to tear herself away from her computer, thrust a map under our noses, scribbled a few circles, mentioned a few names that would have meant nothing to people who didn’t know the place and dismissed us by turning back to her desk. She hadn’t taken the time to find out what we actually wanted to know…and we were speaking Spanish. God knows how she would have reacted if we’d tried in English.
In fairness, most (but not all) tourist offices on Tenerife are staffed by people who are very helpful. However, this is the capital, the first port of call for cruise passengers. Would it be too much to expect that tourist officers were trained to realise that it is of the utmost importance that the face they present to ‘guests” in their land is a friendly and welcoming one?

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Caravan Festival

Title: Caravan Festival
Location: Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz
Description: This could be a late night, starting at 6pm a packed bill of live acts headed by El Guincho and Peter Hook the former bass player with Joy Division and New Order. Other bands include Pumuky, Nectar, and another name that uses the F word. Tickets are 10 euros in advance or 12 euros on the night.
Date: 2011-07-16

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Spain’s Best Wines & the Seafood Smugglers in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Tenerife’s Wines are the Best in Spain
Congratulations to Sociedad Cooperativa Cumbres de Abona and Bodegas Insulares Tenerife, S.A. who both picked up awards at the prestigious Baco Cosecha wine awards for Spanish wines harvested in 2010. The Sociedad Cooperativa Cumbres de Abona on Tenerife’s southern slopes picked up the gold medal for their Testamento Malvasia in the category for barrel matured whites, whilst north Tenerife’s Bodegas Insulares Tenerife, S.A. won the bronze award in the red wines category for their young red, El Ancón. It would be positively rude not to toast their success with a glass or two of each…salud.

Santa Cruz in the Top Forty
But this particular statistic is not one to crow about. A recent survey of more than 5000 local authorities in Spain that have some sort of debt (there are over 8000 in total in Spain, so respect to the 3000 who don’t have) revealed that Santa Cruz came in at number 37 with just over 97 million euros of debt. It’s an improvement of a few places since the last time the study was carried out but it’s not really the sort of top forty that you want to be in. However, there was one Canarian local authority who came out worse. Neighbours and rivals Las Palmas de Gran Canaria were seven places higher up the black list at number 30; a fact which no doubt softened the blow a little for the Las Palmas-phobes on Tenerife.

A Fishy Business
A story that made us smile this week was the news report regarding agents from the Canarian Police Force breaking up a heinous smuggling ring. In truth it wasn’t exactly heinous as the culprits were illegal fishermen caught red (snapper) handed on a beach in Los Realejos. But with a haul of over 30 kilos of fish and nearly 10 kilos of shellfish these guys were clearly no minnows. Every cloud has a silver lining however, and residents of a local old folks” home found themselves the beneficiaries of the crime as the Canarian Police donated the fishy haul to them ( fish & dodgy hips perhaps). We don’t want to carp on about Tenerife’s police forces but at least the story provided a clue as to what the Canarian Police Force actually do. Finally, we’re still trying to confirm reports that the three perpetrators were all sporting mullets. Okay, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Camino de Socorro – A Site of Cultural Interest at Last
It’s only taken 21 years, but this week the historic pilgrims” route of Camino de Socorro in Güímar was finally declared a Site of Cultural Interest. Thousands follow the route each year to commemorate the place where the Virgin of Candelaria was first sighted on Tenerife at the unassuming hamlet at El Socorro. Anyone who says that it takes a lifetime to get anything done on Tenerife is exaggerating…it only takes decades.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…the organisers of the Michael Bolton concert

With little more than a month before the big summer concert featuring Michael Bolton and Kenny G at Costa Adeje Golf on 8th July there is incredibly, and worryingly, still no sign of tickets going on sale.
The official Sun Live Festival website still bears the legend “More information soon” on its ticket information page.

Certainly it’s not the norm for a concert of this calibre not to be making tickets available way in advance of the date to maximise attendance and give visitors who want to plan a trip to Tenerife to coincide with seeing Michael Bolton time to organise their schedules.

Given that the organisers have experience of putting on concerts of this magnitude it seems unlikely to be purely down to inept marketing and planning (then again…) so it suggests that there might be another issue.

No doubt the mystery will be cleared up soon but, as one Spanish visitor to the organisers” website commented, it is “Muy raro’ indeed.

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