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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! :-)
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