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Saturday, August 26, 2006

CD Tenerife Visit the Virgen de Candelaria

Virgen de Candelaria
Football results in Tenerife are not merely left to fancy footwork, nor even luck. Much higher powers are invoked, because the CD Tenerife team have a tradition of visiting the Patrona of the Canary Islands, the Virgen de Candelaria, as part of their pre-season preparations.

The team made their annual expedition to Candelaria on Tuesday. They were received by Father Mendoza and, after making a floral offering, a few words were had in private with the captains and they signed the Book of Honour.

CD Tenerife president, Miguel Concepción, said "We've asked the Virgin to help us and bring us luck, although the rest we have to do ourselves." (Though, with so many seasons in the Segunda Division (Second Division) now, one might begin to wonder if the Virgin has become a Las Palmas supporter!)

The latest of the team's flurry of new signings for this season, most of whom are on loan, is Wolves Flop Thomasz Frankowski. Glenn Hoddle had high hopes for the £1.4M Polish International last season, but the "Goal Machine" failed to score. Let's hope the weather agrees with him here in Tenerife!

To keep up to date with CD Tenerife news, in English, visit the English Speaking supporters club, Armada Sur website.

Friday, August 25, 2006

From Candelaria to San Roque ...

San Roque
De fiesta, a fiesta ... You'd be forgiven, mainly because you'd be right, for thinking that in Tenerife there is a fiesta a week (at least) to attend. And there is certainly no lack of variety in the entertainments these events provide.

It was indeed only a couple of weeks ago that the fiestas in Candelaria took place for the archipelago's Patrona. Then the party moved to Garachico for fifteen days worth of fiestas in honour of San Roque, which this year drew a crowd of 30,000 to the traditional romeria alone - and that ain't a half bad turn out for a small town of scarcely 6,000 inhabitants.

The origin of the devotion to the saint goes back to the middle of 17th Century, when an epidemic of plague hit the island of Tenerife. The villagers in Garachico, who had been particularly affected, asked the saint to intercede and, apparently, it worked. Since then, the people of Garachico have remembered the event honouring the patron saint of the locality with a traditional romeria.

The police had never seen so many at this fiesta before. The town was completely blocked off by 11 a.m. and people had to park as far away as La Caleta. Forty-five carts went in procession behind the saint on it's route through the town, which along with good local wine, of course, potatoes and meat cooked on the barbeques on the back of the carts, kept folk amused for 5 hours.

In the meantime, La Guancha have also been celebrating their fiestas in honour of the Virgen de la Esperanza (Virgin of Hope).

This week, it is the turn of Buenavista del Norte, who celebrated a solemn mass for the town's patron, San Bartolomé, yesterday - along with an open-air rapid painting contest in the Plaza de Los Remedios. The winning entry, by Meca González, recreated the scene of the unique dance of Las Libreras - which will be part of the fiestas here in El Palmar next month.

On Sunday, in Buenavista del Norte, also as part of the fiestas in honour of San Bartolomé, some 90 crafters will be taking part in the Feria de Artesanía de Buenavista del Norte (Buenavista del Norte Crafts Fair), which is also becoming one of the principal summer attractions of the Isla Baja area.

The time is given as "from the first hours of Sunday". I would translate that as about 10 a.m. ish onwards. As well as typical crafts, there will be ambulant musicians through the day and at 7 p.m. there is concert of folk music.

Also in the El Palmar valley this week, in the district of Las Portelas, are the fiestas in honour of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, from today, August 25th, until September 3rd. I have it on excellent authority - proving the rule that public washbasins are indeed news broadcasting sites, so this is breaking news here in the "media" - that there will be a salsa band from Los Realejos tonight, fireworks tomorrow and mass and a procession on Sunday afternoon.

The Las Portelas fireworks are an annual event that I "attend" from home and it's a spectacle that has to be experienced. Fireworks are always spectacular here, but these have another, entirely unique attraction: that of the acoustic effects of the valley walls. I can hardly describe it, but because the valley is a big basin, almost completely surrounded by an inverted "D" shape of sheer walls, it's like a very noisy train running around that ricochets off the Teno mountains.

And, as I hinted above, the next local fiestas and mini country-fair will be those of the village of El Palmar itself, at the back end of September, which includes the dance of Las Libreras and the annual event of La Trilla (threshing).

Before the fiestas in El Palmar, there will be fiestas up in Teno Alto. Then, in October, there will be more fiestas in Buenavista del Norte and, there are the fiestas up in Erjos to be taken into consideration.

And you can't help thinking that once this fiesta season is over, it will be only a few short weeks before the two public holidays at the beginning of December usher in the month-long Christmas season. Then, as soon as we've had Los Reyes, in January, the carnival season will commence ... and as soon as that is over, the spring-summer-autumn romerias and fiestas circuit will begin again.

We came to the conclusion that the best job in the Canary Islands is hot dog or sweet stall holder, because they follow every fiesta of every type! :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

History of Ycoden-Daute-Isora Wine Region

2005 harvest

Wine searcher say, "Ycoden-Daute-Isora is the most ancient but most recently Denominated of Spain's regions. The best dry white wines in Tenerife, from the Listan Blanco grape, are made here." (I think the reds are even better.)

The region of Ycoden-Daute-Isora, which was constituted in 1994, started with 800 hectares and now has more than 2,000 hectares of vines, most of them with the varieties of listan blanca and listan negro. It includes the areas of San Juan de la Rambla, Guia de Isora, La Guancha, Icod de los Vinos, Garachico, Los Silos, Buenavista del Norte, El Tanque and Santiago del Teide. This recently created Denomination of Origin, which takes its name from early Guanche kingdoms and dominions, from the far western side of the island of Tenerife is a recognition of the ancient wine growing pedigree of the region with its recognized centres like Icod de los Vinos and La Guancha.

Wine growing began here in the 16th and 17th Centuries and is inseparable from the history of the islands themselves. Being almost the only economy, both locally and of Tenerife at that time, had a determining influence on the customs, the landscape, the history, the art and the culture of the area.

The Canary Islands being then an obligatory stop between Europe and America, exported the famous "Canary" wine from the port of Garachico. It was to the wines of this region that William Shakespeare was referring, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, saying, "Canary, a marvellous and penetrating wine that perfumes the blood."

Walking among the vines in the El Palmar Valley

Today it is an area of small but vigorous wineries with new ideas. The vineyards grow in small terraces built into the slopes of the mountains, generally, between altitudes of 200 and 800 meters and, the rich volcanic soil and mild climate give the wine its own unique aroma. The whites obtained from the Listan Blanco and Malvasia species predominate but the red, made mainly out of Listan Negro and Negramoll are velvety to the palate and have an unique character.

A long, phylloxera-free past in Tenerife has allowed twenty-seven wine-making grape varieties to survive. Authorized varieties in the Ycoden-Daute-Isora region include; Bastardo blanco, Bermejuela, Forastera blanca, Gual, Listán blanco and Listán negro, Malvasía, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Sabro, Torrontés, Verdello, Vijariego (blancas), Bastardo negro, Negramoll, Tintilla, Malvasía rosada, Moscatell negra and Vijariego negro (tintas).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fiestas in Candelaria

La Virgen de Candelaria

August 15th, is the fiesta in honour of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, the patron of the Canary Islands and these fiestas are possibly the most important fiestas in the Canary Islands. The fiesta which commemorates the first appearance of the virgin to the Guanche aborigines which occurred in the town of Candelaria is held in August every year and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the archipelago, many of whom walk to Candelaria as a form of pilgrimage to thank the virgin for the favours she has granted.

In fact, the party has been going on all weekend. British R&B star, Craig David, came, was seen and conquered the audience at the Eleventh Festival de Candelaria at the Candelaria football stadium on Saturday. (Yes, very "Canarian", we wondered too. Craig David has a notable following here and has influenced Canarian artists, such as Tony Santos.)

Sunday was sports day with Lucha Canaria (Canarian wrestling) and yesterday was the popular Romeria (think procession, street party and local costume), which each year includes a reenactment of the apparition of the Icon to the Guanches. August 15th is the day when the floral offering is made to the virgin and is a public holiday in the whole of Tenerife. Local authorities were expecting a turn out of 250,000 for the total of the various events this year, with more than a hundred thousand expected for yesterday's Romeria alone.

Image: CARLOS TEIXIDOR CADENAS [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 14, 2006

What Time is it in Tenerife Spain?

Reloj de Flores (Flower Clock)
Since people are searching the net for the time in Tenerife, Spain, I thought I would make this quick post as a reference. If you live here, you can look at your watch, but if you are coming to visit, especially from the UK, you may be pleased to know that the time in Tenerife is the same as the time in Britain.

If you've visited mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands, then you'll know that Spain is on Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of the UK and the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands are on what is known as Western European Time (WET) - no that is not a measure of humidity!

The Canary Islands are NOT on the same time as the rest of Spain, resulting in the fact that when National Spanish TV and radio stations give out time checks they always give the current time in Spain, followed by the statement, "una hora menos ..." (an hour less/behind) "en las Canarias" (in the Canaries).

Now that the whole of Europe changes to and from Daylight Savings Time on the same dates, the time in the Canary Islands and the UK are always the same.

This is, of course, terribly convenient for British visitors or British ex-pat residents who regularly communicate with family back in Blighty!

That isn't the reason, however. If you look at the map, you will see that the Canary Islands are a fair way due west of Spain, off the north west coast of Africa, where the time in Casablanca, Morocco, is also on GMT. (They don't use Daylight Savings Time there.)

The difference with Spain also causes some confusion for Canary Island residents, because we have both National and local media. National media, of course, advertise upcoming program times in Spanish time. Local stations give upcoming program times in Canarian Time. Please don't ask me how many times one forgets to make the one hour adjustment, only to switch on and find that the program has just finished!

We also get to celebrate New Year twice each year, at 11 p.m., from Spain, on the National channels and again at midnight with the local ones. 

Once upon a time, until the British moved it, the Meridian used to be in the Canary Islands, at the Faro de Orchilla, on the island of El Hierro.

Current local time in Santa Cruz, Canary Islands, Spain

While you are checking the time, I have no doubt that you will also want to check the current weather conditions in Tenerife, which you can do here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Watch the Perseids: Rain of Stars

perseids-001 Originally uploaded by Martin Krzywinski.
The Canarian Astrophysics Institute inform us that the Perseids - a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle - will be best viewed during the nights of August 12th and 13th this year. The maximum activity will be on the 13th at around 1:12 a.m. (Canarian and British time.)

This phenomenon, apparently, is known popularly here as Las Lágrimas de San Lorenzo (The Tears of Saint Lawrence), whose saints' day falls on August 10th.

The rain of stars is nothing more than small particles of cosmic dust deposited by comets, which visit earth on their way around the sun. When these particles enter the earth's atmosphere at high speed, they disintegrate, putting on their brilliant firework display. Most of the dust in the cloud today is approximately a thousand years old. (Space is as keen on housework as I am. LOL!)

To observe the Perseids best, it is a good idea to get well away from illuminated urban areas. The sky in the Canary Islands, we already know, is one of the clearest in the world for astronomical observation. The show will be over the horizon in the north east part of the sky at an angle of about 20 degrees. No special equipment is needed: they are best seen with the naked eye.

This year, however, the full moon on the 9th, which will only just be in decline during the Perseids' appearance and which is relatively close to that position, may present some observation difficulties.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Canary Islands could be lost Atlantis


Well, they could be, in the sense that it has yet to be wholly disproved, but I am not aware of any scientists - romanticists maybe - who hold this view.

Sadly, to disappoint those of the latter "discipline", what science does tell us is that the valleys behind and the Teno mountains were formed by volcanic activity - in the Miocene epoch - however the cliffs, amongst which are the steep-sided ravines of the Masca gorge, were formed by the subsequent four million years of erosive action of the sea. In other words, yes, the Canary Islands have seen cataclysmic events. Unfortunately, none have happened during the time span required for the Atlantean theory to hold water: they were well before any humans walked the earth, even possible citizens of Atlantis.

The incidental details of the facts not withstanding (the Guanche natives are descended from the North African Berber tribes and Garachico was destroyed 300 years ago, not two), what are sub-tropical, paradise islands for, if not to inspire the traveller to dream?

Imagen de Enrique Meseguer en Pixabay

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fiestas in August in Playa San Juan, Tenerife

A Secret Tenerife reader, we'll call her Julie, writes,
"About three years ago we stayed in Los Gigantes in August. We took a boat trip to San Juan and watched the most spectacular fire work display from our boat. We think this was to celebrate the fisherman's festival. We want to travel again to Tenerife and hopefully see this festival again. Does the date of this festival change?"
This is indeed a regular date and, in Playa San Juan, is held on the first weekend of August, where, "A lively fiesta lights up the resort in early August when the Virgen del Carmen is taken down to the fishing boats amidst dancing and fireworks."

Firework displays are always amazing in Tenerife and are an integral part of every fiesta, but the one to which Julie is referring is for the Fiestas del Carmen - in honour of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel), who "looks after" fishermen.

According to a pious tradition the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock at Cambridge, England, on Sunday, 16 July, 1251. This explains why the rightful day for her festivities is July 16th, but I have yet to discover how she became implicated in the fishing trade and why she is specially venerated in the Canary Islands.

Fiestas del Carmen are held July and August at various locations in Tenerife including; Santa Cruz, Puerto de la Cruz and in Puerto Santiago, near Los Gigantes. The fiestas move on to other towns on other dates, so that they don't all coincide at once.

The Grand Fireworks display in Puerto Santiago, for instance, was held on Saturday 15 July in 2006 and, on 17th July in 2005. Santa Cruz also celebrates this fiesta, on the closest Sunday to the 16th of July, followed by Playa San Juan, on the first Sunday in August and Playa de Alcalá, which, unlike the other two, worships La Virgen de Candelaria.
"The Toste brothers from Los Realejos - the company that puts on the show - did themselves proud, from a set piece depicting our Lady of Carmen which had been floated out on a pontoon, to the non stop eardrum splitting finale that lit up the sky for kilometers around, it was a superb display and a fantastic evening as the party went on until the early hours in the plaza."
The reason for mentioning all of these celebrations on the west of Tenerife is that, coming one after the other, there is this tendency for each village to try to outdo the last. Playa San Juan tries to beat the, already grand, Puerto Santiago Fireworks and Alcalá fireworks have the reputation locally of having the biggest display. So, whether you come for the weekend nearest to July 16th for Puerto Santiago's celebrations, the first weekend in August for those in Playa San Juan or the magical night of August 15th in Playa de Alcalá - you can be sure of seeing a really grand firework display.

NOTE: Though the actual day of the fiesta is always likely to be the Sunday, the fireworks displays can be expected to be on the Saturday night.

Fiestas de San Roque in Garachico, Tenerife

Fiestas de San Roque in Garachico

The organizing committee for the Fiestas in honour of San Roque in Garachico - one of the most important in the town and in the Isla Baja area - publish the program for this years events, which commence on Friday, August 4th.

The fiestas have a special significance this year, being the 400th Anniversary of devotion to the saint in the area, which coincided with an outbreak of plague.

On Friday, the candidates for Romera Mayor (Queen of the Fiestas) will be presented. On Saturday 5th, are the 'Arrastre de Ganado' (Pulling with Livestock); a rural sport activity and the Romería Chica (Romeria or traditional fiesta). On Friday 11th, the Romera Mayor will be chosen at an event attended by the President of the Canary Island Government, Adán Martín Menis. Saturday, August 12th is the date of the Baile de Magos (Dance at which people will attend in traditional costume) and August 16th is the main Romeria.

The figure of San Roque is taken from its chapel (pictured) to the church of Santa Ana in the town center. During the popular festivities, the figure is taken back to its church, accompanied in procession by the municipal band, carts, flocks of goats and other festively bedecked animals, carnival-type dance and music, while the fishermen of Garachico also hold a sea-going procession. As well as the religious and popular events, sports and culture provide an ample program that runs right from August 4th until the 19th.