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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Prettiest Fiesta in the Canary Islands

La Orotava dressed for the fiestas

That's what newspaper  La Opinión called the traditional Romería de San Isidro Labrador that took place in La Orotava on Sunday. This year was the 70th Anniversary of the fiesta that was started in 1936. On the first occasion, there were a few folk musicians and four borrowed carts, decorated with palm fronds.

This year, 75 carts and around 25,000 people took part - and they couldn't have had any more carts, because, apparently, there aren't any more yokes for the oxen on the island. There were also around 15,000 spectators for the event too, which is popular with tourists for the vibrant colour it brings to the streets with so many people dressed as magos - in traditional Canarian costume.

Events of the day began with a mass at 11 a.m. after which two Icons; San Isidro Labrador and Santa María de La Cabeza, headed the parade of politicians, ox carts, camels, groups of musicians and, above all, people, through the town's streets, which took five hours. It would be hard to stay away from the music, the food and the wine components anyway, but just to make sure nobody gets hungry en route, many of the carts are fitted with barbeques on the back. Someone's job is to walk behind and flip the grilling meats. :)

OK if you can walk and chew gum, I suppose and, so long as you can handle the copious quantities of wine that are sure to be flowing around you! This is the fertile Orotava valley, after all, where many of the islands vines grow.

Kids are not left out either. One of the growing customs in recent years has been the number of push chairs decorated as mini-carts that resemble the ox pulled variety, with the little one inside also dressed in traditional costume.

The fiesta also has it's Reina (Queen) and new this year were dancers who danced around a pole with ribbons, much as we would know as a Maypole. And a team of thirty coordinators were distributed along the route, just to make sure that everything went along with order and fluidity.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Patrulla Águila at Santa Cruz Air Show

Patrulla Águila
Originally uploaded by onairelave500.
Well, we may not have got much advance warning of the air show that took place in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, last Sunday morning, however, we do have photos to show you. If they give us a bit more notice next time, hopefully, we'll have more. The photo (right) is of the Patrulla Águila - Spain's answer to the Red Arrows - over Santa Cruz. There's another shot here.

There were parachutists, helicopters, rescue planes and a noisy F-18, which apparently surprised the thousands of spectators (kids, young and old) at the port in the island's capital with their perfectly synchronized show.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

June's high days and magic nights

By a trick of the calendar - and a highly movable feast - the penultimate week of June sees a plethora of fiestas and folksy events taking place in Tenerife which combine all the hectic colour and frenetic energy of the Corpus Christi celebrations in La Orotava (which this year falls late) with all the magic and mystery of the San Juan rituals (which coincide with the solstice).

Wednesday was the Solstice, Thursday was the Day of the Carpets, last night was Bonfire night. Bonfire night, in Spain and the Canary Islands is on June 23rd. It's a night of fire, water, spells and rituals in which thousands of people burn their desires and dance around the fires that are lit in every town and village.

Last night, here in the valley, the air was filled with the scent of the purifying fire of the Hogueras de San Juan (Bonfires of Saint John). The actual origins of the celebrations of the shortest night of the year, the 23rd of June, eve of the festivity of San Juan, are lost in the remote past. This pagan festival was integrated into the catholic calendar because of its proximity to the festivity of Juan Bautista (John the Baptist), which is celebrated on the 24th of June.

People jump acrobatically over the bonfires. Jumping the fire is supposed to help you avoid aches and pains, but surely, if you are ABLE to jump the fire, you are probably therefore fit enough not to suffer aches and pains in the first place. :) The Noche de San Juan has created all kinds of fantastic legends, which are best taken with a pinch of salt.

Puerto de la Cruz has one of the island's largest celebrations of this fiesta. They also have the traditional Baño de las cabras (bathing of goats) today at the old fishing port. Yes, I am sure that sea water is great at cleaning off the odd parasite and helping to heal any small cuts and grazes the animals might have, which is one of the other, original motives for this ritual. "If you've never seen a goat swim, now's your chance, and if you never knew how stubborn they can be in the face of a dousing, now's the time to find out!"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tapestry Artists from all over the world come together in La Orotava to celebrate traditional Corpus Christi Festival

Tibetan Monks and the main alfombra in La Orotava 2006

This year, the town of La Orotava, in the north of Tenerife, held its traditional Corpus Christi celebration on the 22nd June. On this occasion and to conclude the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Orotava's foundation, the town organised a Congreso Internacional de Alfombristas (International Congress of Tapestry Artists) with participants from other Spanish towns and representatives from Europe, Asia and America.

The congress, entitled “El arte efímero de las alfombras de flores y tierras en el mundo” (The ephemeral art of flowers and soil tapestries in the world), brought together artists from Muhlenbach (Germany), Brussels (Belgium), Genzano di Roma (Italy), Kobe (Japan), Huamantla (Mexico), Texas (U.S.A.) and representation from Tibet.

Muhlenbach (Germany)

Brussels (Belgium)

Genzano di Roma (Italy)

Kobe (Japan)

Huamantla (Mexico)

Carpet made by the visiting carpet makers from Barcelona.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sex in Tenerife Caught on Film

Originally uploaded by Mataparda.
Before you get too excited, I should explain that this is actually a case of "the birds and the bees" - well, butterflies - and not for one moment a porn film! (But hey, the headline might draw in some traffic!) Some people are just blessed in my opinion. I thought I was pretty fortunate when one monarch butterfly stood still long enough for me to get a halfhearted snap of it. Jose Mesa, who took this series of 12 action photos, says that in the middle of June, these two mating butterflies appeared in the patio. After ten or fifteen intense minutes, they separated and flew off. Not unlike the behavior of many other summer visitors to Tenerife really!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Corpus Cristi in La Laguna

La Laguna
Originally uploaded by kasia.kazmierska.
La Laguna, the former capital of Tenerife, is another town which celebrates Corpus Cristi with flower carpets . Their celebrations were also this past Sunday, I believe. Here are some examples of the carpets they make, from last year. See here and here too and I just love this one, with its fish made of cactus leaves.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Making a Mandala

Originally uploaded by Mataparda.
As previously reported, from the press coverage, a group of Buddhist monks are currently here in La Orotava, Tenerife, making one of their traditional mandalas and which is being integrated with the town's traditional sand carpet for this week's Corpus Cristi celebrations.

Jose Mesa wrote to me this morning to say that he has put a provisional set of photos online, showing the monks starting on their work. Yes, he was there in person. On Friday, he says, after they had consecrated the area, they spent six or seven hours drawing out the design. Yesterday, Saturday, they started to fill it in with the colored sand and, as far as I am aware, it will take them a few more days yet before it is fully finished. It is a painstaking and fascinating work of art.

As well as the Buddhist monks and, of course, La Orotava's own alfombristas (carpet makers), there are also representations here from Mexico, Japan, Italy and possibly others this year. Since this is such a new and unique occurrence - usually it is only the local carpets - I hope to get there on Thursday to see them finished and, naturally, take some pictures for you to see.

It's possible that Jose might be going again also and, since he takes MUCH better photos than I do, this really gives us something to look forward to.

Making a Mandala

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Uniting Buddhism & Catholicism in La Orotava

Buddhist monks on the steps of the Town Hall in La Orotava

In La Orotava in Tenerife, it has been the custom, every year since 1847, to make sand carpets as part of the celebrations for the Catholic feast of Corpus Cristi. Such sandpainting is also traditionally practiced by, among others, Tibetan monks.

This is certainly an historical first: Buddhist monks from the south of India are making a mandala, dedicated to compassion, in the plaza in front of the town hall in Orotava. This is where the main sand carpet is made each year.

This year, for the very first time, the local alfombristas (carpet makers) are leaving space to include other similar works. And, since yesterday, the five Buddhist monks, most of whom are from a monastery in the south of India, have been making one of their characteristic mandalas in one of the corners of the plaza. The idea is of sandpainting as a symbol of the union of cultures. The delegation, headed by the director of the Casa del Tibet in Barcelona, Thubten Wangchen, was invited to participate in this international meeting of ephemeral art by the La Orotava town hall.

The presence of the Tibetan monks in La Orotava yesterday caused much expectation. As a sacred art - mandalas have a spiritual value - the monks perform a ritual before commencing work. The Mandala, which is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community and connection, uses many colours, which represents a positive energy to develop the heart. And, although there are many types of mandala, Wangchen said that they chose compassion, because "it is a value we need a lot of in the world at the moment."

The monks will take between three and five days to complete the mandala, a circular composition utilizing six main colours in various tones and which is being made on the floor over a wooden support. The fact that they do not - as the local sand carpet makers do - paint directly onto the pavement, is a matter of purity and respect for the sacred art.

Also, the mandala will not be destroyed by the Corpus Cristi procession next Thursday, as the local sand and flower carpets are. Once finished, the sand from a mandala is brushed together and is usually placed in a body of running water - such as a river or the sea - to spread the blessings of the Mandala. Saying that they are very content to be here, Thubten Wangchen emphasized that, "We are going to spiritually unite two cultures."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Funky Cabra: Goat on a Moped in Tenerife

At least it was wearing a crash helmet!

At least it was wearing a crash helmet! (Their subtitle.)

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up. Newspaper ElMundo.es report this item from Spanish newsagency, EFE: "Agents from the Local Police in Santa Cruz, Tenerife intercepted a moped after detecting that it had three occupants (riders) and, upon proceeding with their identification, verified that one of them was a goat, upon which they had placed the corresponding helmet for protection."

According to a press communique from the town hall in the island's capital, the offence took place in the Avenida de Anaga, the seafront road.

The goat was the middle of the three occupants and none of the three had any documentation on them, the report says. The humans were charged for not having a drivers licence, nor insurance, nor log book for the moped, which was impounded.

Well, I've heard of people calling their other halves an old goat before, but in this case, it appears that s/he could really have been. :-D

Localizan una cabra que circulaba en ciclomotor en Tenerife

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, April 14th 1931

Allegory of the Spanish Republic,
displaying republican paraphernalia
The Second Spanish Republic began on 14 April 1931 after the abdication of King Alfonso XIII, following local and municipal elections in which republican candidates won the majority of votes in urban areas. One of several contributing causes to the downfall of the Spanish monarchy was the same as that which had befallen Tsar Nicholas II, last ruler of the last imperial dynasty of Russia, in 1917.

Just as Alexandra Fyodorovna (Princess Alix of Hesse) brought to the Romanov family a mutated gene from her grandmother, Queen Victoria, which was responsible for her son's (the long-awaited heir to the throne, Alexei) hemophilia, so had Alfonso XIII's wife, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, who was Queen Victoria's favorite granddaughter, brought this affliction to the Spanish Royal Family.

Alfonso XIII had been a posthumous child and therefore was proclaimed King upon his birth, though his mother had been Regent until he took over the reins of government himself at the tender age of 16. In March 1906, Alfonso XIII had visited Tenerife, the first Spanish monarch to do so, even though it was 400 years since the Spanish conquest of the island. Shortly after that, on May 31, 1906, he had married the British princess, who became Queen Ena.

Anarchist attack on the King of Spain Alfonso XIII (1906)
The King was then, just, 20 and his new Queen, not yet 19 and it was a contentious match from the beginning. The news raised concern among many Spaniards because the prospective bride was a Protestant and not sufficiently royal. The couple had narrowly escaped assassination, when returning from the wedding, an anarchist, Mateo Morral, had thrown a bomb, hidden in flowers, at their carriage, killing 23 and injuring more than a 100. Foro Real quote an article (in Spanish) about the attack, by Juan Antonio Pérez Mateos in La Razón, entitled, Cien años del atentado que ensangrentó una boda real (One hundred years after the attack that bloodied a Royal Wedding).

Two of the couple's seven children, the first and last sons, were hemophiliacs.

Age, inexperience and concerns over this affliction, must surely have played their part during Alfonso XIII's reign, in which Spain lost its last colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines and lost several wars in north Africa.

In 1923, Primo de Rivera had become dictator. In 1930, King Alfonso XIII revoked the dictatorship, but a strong anti-monarchist and republican movement led to his leaving Spain in 1931, abandoning the country with no formal abdication. The new constitution declared Spain a workers' republic, broke up the large estates, separated church and state, and secularized the schools.

But the Republican joy was relatively short-lived. It was also the last period of democratic government in Spain before 1977. The Republic suffered a terrible crisis when General Franco, then military commander of the Canary Islands, attempted a coup on 18 July 1936, which was the start of the Spanish Civil War.

"It was from there [Tenerife] that the political coup was secretly planned and the Canaries were consequently first to fall to Franco's forces and the first to suffer mass executions of writers, trade unionists, socialists, anyone whom Franco's militia considered a threat."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How Not to Measure in Football Pitches

Unit of amusing measurement

If I enjoy a little poke at the poor standard of the translations around here, wait 'til we get started on the maths, as seen in the local press. The now, sadly, defunct blog "La ruina de las islas canarias" (The Ruin of the Canary Islands) gave the example of a story which ran recently in Diario de Avisos, which referred to quarries on the island of Tenerife.

"As soon as the article begins", said "La ruina", we come to the catastrophic paragraph: "The Tenerife Cabildo has approved the respective plans for four areas of extraction which add up to 1.57 million square kilometres, which is equivalent to 157 football pitches." Despite being an ex-accountant (and a reformed journalist), my mental arithmetic is crap and my judgement of distances even worse, but even I could work out that there isn't that much space in all of the Canary Islands, let alone in Tenerife.

The nearest equivalent country with 1,564,116 km² is Mongolia.

The entire area of Tenerife is only 2,034.38 km2 (785.48 sq mi).  

While most of us can visualize a football pitch, it doesn't really help when they suggest the wrong size. If 1.57 million kilometres squared is 157 football pitches, Diario de Avisos are suggesting that a football pitch is 10,000 kilometres square. If that were so, then the whole of the Canary Islands together, whose area is just 7,500 kilometres square, would be smaller than a football pitch. This might explain the high population density, mind you.

To imagine an equivalent area, try: "About 10,000 square kilometres of the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam are under rice cultivation..." Also, "About 10,000 square kilometres of the total area of Bangladesh is covered with water". The whole country of Lebanon is 10,400 kilometres square. Bloody hell, it would be tiring running round that for 90 minutes!

For the non-fanatics: An official football pitch measures about 105 x 65 meters, which is to say, 6,825 square meters (not kilometres). Somewhat less than ¾ of a hectare. As ever, said "La ruina", they have confused their meters with their kilometres. Something which is bad enough with lengths, but these errors multiply by 1,000 when you square them. 

The only figure that makes sense is that the quarries add up to 1.57 million square meters, which is to say one million times less than what the newspaper have reported.

"La ruina" had kindly provided us with a map that marked an area of one million square kilometres, which contained all of the Canary Islands, Madeira, a portion of the Western Sahara and lots of Atlantic ocean ... That was only about 2/3rds of the 1.57 million that would be affected by the quarrying, IF we were to take Diario de Avisos' figures as gospel. 

Maybe their reporters were afflicted by some kind of World Cup fever.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Remembering the passing of the First Fleet

The First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788
Furious battles, patriotic displays and frenetic trading, the harbour of Santa Cruz has certainly witnessed some sights over the past five hundred years or so. But when it came to the one week visit of the First Fleet – 219 years ago this month – it must have been quite an experience.

The First Fleet set sail from Portsmouth on Sunday, May 13 1787, first port of call, Tenerife and it would have been with no little relief that on June 3, land hove into view in the majestic shape of Mount Teide and the Anaga mountains. It was a welcome pause on what was to be the longest voyage ever attempted up to then by such a large group of civilians.

The agrarian revolution and the population explosion in British cities had resulted in an increase in crime. The American Revolution had put paid to the off-loading of convicts on the other side of the Atlantic. The only way, as the authorities saw it, to ease the overcrowding of prisons was to send their occupants to establish a penal colony in the land discovered by Captain Cook.

The fleet was in Santa Cruz for a week, taking on water and provisions, providing locals with trade and plenty to talk about. On the morning of June 10, 1787, with a fair wind behind them, the fleet sailed out of Santa Cruz bay. They arrived in another, Botany Bay, on January 18 1788.

The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which sailed from the United Kingdom in May 1787 to establish the first European colony in New South Wales. It was a convict settlement, marking the beginnings of transportation to Australia. The fleet of 11 ships was led by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Experts Say Delta Was an Extratropical Cyclone

Tropical Storm Delta near peak intensity, November 24, 2005.
NASA image by Mark Gray and Bill Ridgway, Goddard Space Flight Center

According to the final report from the meteorologists, reported in La Opinion, what we have been calling Tropical Storm Delta, was actually an extratropical cyclone and the damage caused by the phenomenon was the fruit of the orography of the archipelago.

We're glad to have that one cleared up, aren't we? But, unless you're an expert in these things, they may as well have said it was caused by extraterrestrials. In other words, you may be wondering, as I was, what all those big words really mean, so I've done my best to make sense of this news.

The final technical report from the National Meteorological Institute (INM) on Delta concluded that it was, on its arrival in the Canary Islands, an extratropical cyclone and not a tropical storm as had been said at the beginning. They also say that the destruction caused in some parts of Tenerife and which left some areas without electricity for a week and without water for some days, was caused more by the physical geography of the island than by the weather system itself.

Researchers from the National Meteorological Institute presented their report last Tuesday at the Museum of Science and the Cosmos in La Laguna, Tenerife during a conference called Profundizando en Delta: un estudio avanzado. (Getting to the bottom of Delta: an advanced study). During this chat, INM technicians made scientific data available for the first time, covering this phenomenon that wipped the island last November 29th.

The information had been collated two or three months earlier and, despite its importance, had not been made public and was presented in a discrete conference.

During the presentation, Francisco Martín León, of INM, explained that at the beginning Delta was a tropical storm, with all the characteristics of one and was generated in subtropical waters. Between November 23 and 27, "it behaved like a tropical storm", explained Martín León and added that on November 28th at 12:00 hours, the National Huricane Center in Miami [the center with jurisdiction over this type of phenomenon in the Atlantic] catalogued the phenomenon as a tropical storm. (Note: I expect this was also when they gave it a name.)

After that moment, a number of atmospheric circumstances came about together, which caused Delta to arrive in the Canary Islands and, the form in which it did, which was that it became an extratropical cyclone.

For a tropical storm to travel, it normally needs water with a warm temperature of 27 degrees centigrade. One of the first curiosities of Delta was that it developed over waters with temperatures inferior to 25 degrees and even water at 21 degrees. Also, Delta had a singular movement and was conducted over a course that brought it to Canary Islands latitudes and, it was precisely this course that prevented it from dying out in mid-Atlantic, as is usual with tropical storms.

Delta 2005 track

Later, Delta evolved with a warm frontal system and with this injection of dry air, it began to displace rapidly, where before that, it had been moving slowly and erratically. On November 28th, Tropical Storm Delta began its transition to extratropical and lost its symmetry (another of the characteristics of tropical storms).

On arrival in the Canary Islands on the night of November 28th, it had already converted into an extratropical cyclone.

Martín León assured, in turn, in response to questions, that a similar phenomenon to Delta had been produced in the Canary Islands in 1975 and that, with these two events, it is fitting to think that this is something which could be repeated in the islands.

Orography and Wind

Juan José Bustos, also from INM, explained that the grave destruction that was produced in the Canary Islands, especially on the islands of Tenerife and La Palma, had more relation with the physical geography of the terrain that with the weather system. That is, that in less mountainous islands, there were few problems reported. He also explained that the largest gusts of wind were on the leeward side (On or toward the side to which the wind is blowing. The side sheltered from the wind.), as in the case of the Valle de Güímar.

Javier Calvo explained that the various methods that exist at the moment to predict this type of phenomenon do not have the capacity to predict exactly what time they will arrive or the force of the winds they will bring with them.

Reference and Definitions

Orography: the physical geography of mountains and mountain ranges.

Cyclone: An atmospheric system characterized by the rapid inward circulation of air masses about a low-pressure center, usually accompanied by stormy, often destructive weather. Cyclones circulate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Extratropical Cyclone: The extratropical, or middle-latitude, cyclone originates as a wave, or perturbation, in the polar front separating the cold polar easterly winds from the warmer prevailing winds farther toward the equator.

Tropical cyclones, formed over warm tropical oceans, are not associated with fronts, as are the middle-latitude wave cyclones, nor are they as large as the latter. A tropical cyclone that has matured to a severe intensity is called a hurricane when it occurs in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical cyclones usually move toward the west with the flow of the trade winds during their formative stages.

To be fair, the information on Tropical Storm Delta (2005) at Wikipedia (in English) reflects this information. The Spanish version contains more information, but, curiously, doesn't mention the extratropical word.

Report of the preliminary evaluation of the front, which explains how the lie of the land added to or caused the turbulence, causing the level of damages (in Spanish, but with ever so pretty pictures, diagrams and graphs.)

El informe final del Meteorológico dice que ´Delta´ fue un ciclón extratropical

Conclusions and Takaways

So, it was bigger than an ordinary cyclone and nearly a hurricane then. There is a certain amount of satisfaction (we aren't simply whining or making a mountain out of a molehill), in being able to say that we really were beaten up by a whole bunch of thugs and not just one slightly threatening 7 stone weakling.

The two bold paragraphs above were my added emphasis. Is the reason that this was not made more widely public nor in a timely fashion, indeed because of the prediction that this is something that could repeat? That would require action to change methodologies and ensure infrastructures are built to deal with the events. The authorities may also fear that it might scare tourists, although, I would counter that the unknown / unprepared is far more frightening.

But far be it for me to make a conjecture. (Sarcasm.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Figures in Tenerife History

Here Lived D. Luis Rodríguez Figueroa. Lawyer, historian and poet. 1875 - 1936

There are many figures who have played a part in Tenerife's history, about whom, most of us, know very little. When it comes to those people whose lives were directly touched by harsh repression and the Spanish Civil War, our knowledge diminishes greatly and the mysteries multiply themselves manifold. The political and emotional repercussions of the war reverberated far beyond the boundaries of Spain and sparked passion among international intellectual and political communities, passions which still are present in Spanish - and Canary Islands - politics today.

One such figure is Luis Rodríguez Figueroa, who was born in Puerto de la Cruz in 1875 (where there is a street named after him) in. He studied law at the University of Granada and practiced law in Tenerife, along with maintaining a cultural, social and political life on the island. Rodriguez Figueroa was an intellectual, involved in the fight against the domination and influence of a cacique (political leader or boss). He was worried about the elevated level of illiteracy in the Canary Islands and about the mediocrity in political life. This mediocrity inspired Rodriguez Figueroa to write a novel, "El Cacique".

El Cacique is an novel of the school, Modernismo Canario (Canarian Modernism). The central character is an heir to the conquistadores and his sidekick, Cho Sixto, a descendant of the pre-colonial Canarian inhabitants. (The novel is available from Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria). Rodriguez Figueroa also wrote in several newspapers on diverse subjects of the Canarian reality and, sometimes, used the pseudonym of Guillón Barrús.

Figueroa occupied various political positions: he was a local councillor in Puerto de la Cruz in 1912 and in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1920. He was a member of the Tenerife Cabildo (Island Corporation) in 1919. From republican ideas, Rodriguez Figueroa evolved towards a leftist position, some say close to socialism and was elected as a delegate for the Izquierda Republicana (Republican Left) to the Cortes (Spanish parliament) in February 1936. In that same year, Rodríguez Figueroa was assassinated by the fascist movement.

Writer, Leopoldo O'Shanahan, grandson of Luis Rodríguez Figueroa, says there are four versions of what happened to his grandfather. Some have said that he was thrown into the sea, others say he just "disappeared" en route between Cádiz and Tenerife, while others assure him that Rodríguez Figueroa was taken to Llano de Ucanca, in Las Cañadas del Teide, where he was obliged to dig his own grave. The forth story says he was beaten to death.

In the wake of the war, the winners began a program of mass killing of opponents where house searches were carried out, and unwanted individuals were often jailed or killed. On all sides, brutality was common. O'Shanahan, in an interview with Spanish news agency, EFE, on the publication of his own work in 2004, said it began with the thought that he was going to leave this world without knowing the truth about his family.

Rodríguez Figueroa's son, Guetón Rodríguez de la Sierra, had been born in the same year - 100 years ago in 1906 - as Canarian surrealist, Óscar Domínguez. In fact, the pair had gone to school together in La Laguna and later, shared the frivolous life of Paris. When the painter was broke, Guetón Rodríguez bought paintings from him in order provide him with a bit of money, although, later, these paintings disappeared during the Civil War, when the family home in La Laguna was ransacked. O'Shanahan believes that a bit much is being made of a purely casual link between Domínguez and other surrealists of that era and that the facts of the Civil War in the Canary Islands continue to be distorted.