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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.