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Friday, January 11, 2008

Tenerife Carnaval: Creatures of the Night

With Carnaval season about to begin again this month, Real Tenerife Island Drives' Andrea Montgomery writes about her and Jack's experiences at Carnaval in Puerto de la Cruz.

We're standing at the Plaza Charco end of Calle Perdomo. A family walks past and the youngest child looks back, catches my eye and screams. There's a steady trickle of flashes from cameras as people ask if they can take our picture.

Three hours earlier we'd been watching the Barcelona match on TV, still dithering about whether or not we should attend Carnaval's opening party and not having given a moment's thought to a costume. After raiding the 'Halloween and Xmas Panto' box from our former lives in the UK, Jack emerged as a fiendish werewolf and, with the aid of a recently discarded mosquito net, I'm the Corpse Bride.

A sudden hike in volume in the music persuades us to abandon our diorama and join the throngs of furry animals, transvestites, super heroes, ghouls, witches, Smurfs, Cardinals and nuns (to name but a fraction) who've turned the street into an open air rave.

The small beer stands dotted along the centre of Perdomo and around the plaza and harbour area are doing brisk business in JDs and coke and the tapas stall has removed its high stools to make standing room only for the hordes of revellers whose attack of the munchies can only be sated by a Desperate Dan sized montadito or three.

By 3 am the whole of Plaza Charco, the harbour, Calles de Mequinez and Perdomo are dance floors and a circuit of them takes us through different music zones and their respective audiences. In the main plaza, a Latino band is pumping out salsa to couples who sashay and swirl in synchronised rhythm within the confines of their floor space. On Perdomo, Mequinez and Marina, the disco beat provides the background for a Club mix of grime and hip-hop with hot Latino undertones and one or two classic anthems riding the airwaves en route.

The circuit, which would normally take us 2 or 3 minutes to stroll, takes upwards of an hour to negotiate, only moving forward when the crowd permits and stopping at regular intervals to dance or order a drink. At one point we detour to the car park on Parque Marítimo, where we've abandoned the car until the sober hours of Sunday, and stumble across a whole alternative Carnaval.

Every other vehicle has its boot open and is distributing drinks from the small off licence within to throngs of teenagers who surround it. On the roof of an old battered VW van, a devil is standing at decks, lining up the next track in between swigs from a bottle of Soberano Rum. The van is shaking from the impact of the bass beat that pounds out across the car park. Everyone seems to know each other and they're all partying like it's their last chance ever to do so. But it's not, it's just the first night and over the course of the next 7 days, there'll be six more just like this one.

It's 5.30am before we finally arrive home having walked from the Plaza. I drag my weary limbs up the path to begin the tiresome and messy job of removing my theatrical make-up before my head can hit the pillow. By the time I wake up, I won't need the make-up to complete the look tomorrow night.

Copyright © 2008 Real Tenerife Island Drives. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of Real Tenerife Island Drives.

Lying on a beach all day every day might make for a relaxing holiday, but memories of it fade as quickly as your sun tan. Island Drives is aimed at travellers who want to experience the real essence of Tenerife, not just its pools and beaches. If you want an unforgettable holiday as opposed to a good one, Real Tenerife Island Drives will make the difference.

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