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Monday, September 18, 2006

Tenerife Wine That Cures

Blackberry BramblesYeah, any excuse! :) Interesting story in Sunday's EL DÍA about the production of vino de mora (blackberry or bramble wine) in Taganana in the Anaga mountains in the north east corner of Tenerife. Apparently, this exclusive mixture that has been made for their own use in the area for years, is known for its curative properties on internal injuries.

Antonio Negrín, who was born in Taganana in 1953, is, they say, perhaps better known as a local Policeman in the Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz, a profession he has undertaken for the last 23 years, than he is for being one of the only three or four agriculturists who remain faithful to the traditional elaboration of blackberry wine.

Negrín, a member of the fifth generation of the family, who have lived in Taganana since around 1880, says that demand has exploded in recent years, because of the rumoured curative properties and the rise in homeopathic and natural medicine.

The makers of this wine guard the secrets of its process of elaboration jealously. Some have diluted it - sacrificing quality - in order to make enough to keep up with demand and, says Negrín, there are really only two or three bramble bushes.

What struck me is how, only 50 or so miles away in the north west, here in the El Palmar valley, almost all the paths and roadsides are lined with bramble bushes, yet there does not seem to be any tradition of using this fruit for any purpose and appears not valued at all. Shortly after they had blossomed this year, the council came and cut them back so hard at the roadsides, that hardly any fruit was to be had.

In other years, I have found things to do with the surfeit, because I can't stand to see anything wasted. Didn't get around to wine making, however, but I do think this is a demonstration of the typical circumstance on this island, which, because of the steep geography and, until recent times, difficulties in communications between one area and another, has developed quite different and distinct traditions and cultures.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Carnaval 2007 Santa Cruz

Carnival Queen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2006

Carnaval is celebrated in all the towns and villages of Tenerife, but with the greatest splendor in the capital of Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz. There are many activities as well as the main Carnaval 2007 Santa Cruz events, however, those which will be likely of most interest to visitors are:

  • Wednesday, February 14: Elección de la Reina del Carnaval - This is the huge gala for the selection of the Carnaval Queen, a spectacular event - for the size of the costumes - as well as performances of so many other groups involved. I've no idea how easy (or not) it is to attend this live, but it's televised - via satellite if you're outside Spain - and is well worth watching.
  • Friday, February 16: Cabalgata anunciadora del Carnaval - Once the participants are all chosen, this is the customary parade on the Friday night that brings "announces" the Carnaval to the streets of Santa Cruz.
  • Tuesday, February 20: Gran Coso Apoteosis del Carnaval - The main event of Carnaval is this big parade that happens on the afternoon of Shrove Tuesday. This is again televised, but that is no substitute for being there, preferably in costume. If you are visiting the island from elsewhere, this is the date you will not want to miss. Book early to avoid hotels being full!
  • Wednesday, February 21: Entierro de la Sardina - "Officially", the end of Carnaval, when the poor old sardine has his blasphemous funeral, followed by a cortege of wailing widows; men dressed up like pantomime dames and who are "on the game". (Well, you gotta make ends meet, don't you?) This is cited as happening on the proper date, Ash Wednesday. We'll keep our eye on this as it's been known to be moved until the following Friday.

The whole of the carnival had to be moved to the following weekend, owing to bad weather, this year, which is the only time in my 15 years here that I have know anything like that to have happened and, fingers crossed, it remains so. Two more [unconfirmed] items that I think are worth seeing are, if the usual calendar is followed, are the Kids Parade on the following Saturday (in 2007, this will be February 24th) and the parade of Old Cars on the Sunday morning (February 25th, 2007) around the streets of Santa Cruz.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fiestas Colombinas in La Gomera

What more fiestas? Yes, moving swiftly back in time and to another famous visitor to the Canary Islands - one who made the transatlantic trip in the opposite direction - the Island Corporation of La Gomera has announced a "half hundred" (50 or so) events to commemorate Christopher Columbus leaving for America.

The celebrations known both inside and outside the island as the Jornadas Colombinas (Columbus Days), have been celebrated in La Gomera for forty-seven uninterrupted years.

Among the celebrations will be concerts for young people, workshops for children, theatre, painting contests, exhibitions and sports activities throughout the month of September. The stars of the musical program are Spanish pop duo, Andi y Lucas and Tenerife R&B / Reggae / Hip Hop girl duo, K-Narias.

The big day of the Jornadas Colombinas is September 6th, coinciding with the day in which Columbus left La Gomera to begin his voyage to the New World.
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