Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Día de Canarias - Canaries Day

Kids Celebrating Canaries Day

May 30th, is Día de Canarias or Canary Islands Day, which is a holiday locally that celebrates "Canarianess" and remembers the anniversary of the first session of the autonomous Canary Islands Parliament, which took place on May 30th, 1983, when the Canary Islands gained greater powers of self-governance after the return to democracy in Spain. That parliamentary session took place ten months after the publication of the Estatuto de Autonomía (Statute of Autonomy) in August 1982, which had introduced the concept of a "Canarian nationality". The day is celebrated across the archipelago with concerts, native sports and plenty of popular folk activities, which makes it one of the occasions, as well as the traditional folk festivals, romerías, that provide an excuse to dress up in the "traje de mago" typical Canary Islands costumes.

Each island has it's own costume, with slight variations in each municipality and the costumes, which cost several hundred euros to make to quite strict requirements, were actually invented in recent times and rescued from oblivion in the 1970s and 80s, based on the form of dress of the campesinos (country folk) of the islands in antiquity.

Read more about Día de Canarias celebrations (in Spanish).

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Secret History of the Potato

Papas AndinasWhen you eat your humble spud for dinner, do remember that it was introduced into Europe via the Canary Islands in the mid-16th century. What has been in question, though, was whether it originally came from the Andean or Chilean varieties.

My neighbour, Gregorio, proudly announced, when he brought these round that they are papas andinas, which is to say they are Andean potatoes. He grows them here in Las Portelas in the El Palmar valley in Tenerife, but, he explained, they were sown with seeds that had originally come from the Andes region.

However, "Most scientists have long assumed that European potatoes, the foundation for all modern cultivated potatoes, come from the Chilean variety, because Chilean lowlands resemble Europe's environment most closely."

"But between the Americas and Europe, in potato history, lie the Canary Islands, off northwest Africa. Shipping records from 1567 make these islands the first known home to potatoes outside of Central and South America. And some researchers say the potatoes there resemble the Andean variety but have never had genetic proof."

Solving the long-disputed controversy over the origin of the European potato, it turns out it's both Andean and Chilean origin. "Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of La Laguna in the Canary Islands and the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, used genetic markers to solve the mystery." Further, the report says that "Scientists believe the landraces of those early potatoes still grow there."

Local growers, it seems, would already consider that as fact.

Potato foundation story

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tenerife Rally Calendar for 2007

Yesterday's 23rd Palma Canaria Norte Rally - the first date in this year's rally season in Tenerife - took us by surprise yet again, but finally, after extensive searching, we've been able to find a program of rally events taking place on the island this year.

2007 Rally Calendar in Tenerife
  • June 23rd - Granadilla Rally
  • September 15th - Rally Villa de Adeje
  • November 10th - Rally Isla Tenerife
If you'll be in Tenerife on any of these dates, these rallies certainly make a fun day out.

2007 Subidas (Hill Climbs) in Tenerife

As well as rallies, there are an ample number of subidas (hill climbs and we certainly have the hills for them!) - including; June 16th - Guimar, July 14th - Arona, October 6th - Tamaimo, October 20th - San Miguel and November 24th - La Guancha.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The 23rd Palma Canaria Norte Rally

The 23rd Palma Canaria Norte Rally as it passes the El Palmar Valley

As with last year's 22nd Edition of this rally, news in advance of the 23rd Palma Canaria Norte Rally was non-existent. It might have been in the sports pages, but if you don't look at those ... Honestly, I'm not complaining, because I do enjoy motor sports, but it just makes me giggle. Otherwise, it could seriously piss me off to find out that I can't leave home for the entire day and, you would imagine that someone (the council maybe) would think to let residents know about road closures. Still, this is Tenerife, not the "real world."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fiestas de Mayo 2007 Puerto de la Cruz

Fiestas de la Cruz in Puerto de la Cruz

The Fiestas de Mayo, especially Día de la Cruz (The Day of the Cross) are celebrated in Santa Cruz - obviously, as Santa Cruz means "Holy Cross" and in Los Realejos (with their famous, annual firework battle), as well as in various other locations. These fiestas are also celebrated in Puerto de la Cruz as the Fiestas in honour of the foundation of the town (3rd May) and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, where they are especially pretty as residents decorate the fixed crosses in the streets with enormous flower and fruit decorations.

For both residents and visitors to be able to enjoy this custom, this year, Puerto de la Cruz town hall has arranged guided tours of the crosses. Whilst the guided tours will explain various historical information of interest, with the aid of a street map of Puerto de la Cruz and a modicum of initiative, it ought to be possible to get round and see some of these works of art independently. The route starts from the Plaza Enrique Talg (at the end of Calle Iriarte, next to Hotel Bambi) and passes by the house of artisan, Don Felipe Barreto, the chapel of Las Lonjas, the Cruz de la Carola, the chapel of Cruz Verde, Calle Mequinez, Calle del Lomo and Cruz del Peñón. (Calle = Street. Cruz = Cross.)

What is unique to Puerto de la Cruz is that the floral decorations are added to existing crosses of historical importance, whilst in other towns on the islands, such as Los Realejos and Güímar, the custom is to make crosses out of flowers.