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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tenerife for pharologists

La Farola del Mar, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

A note at the bottom of Colin Kirby's post about tram spotting in Tenerife, says, "Coming soon on hobby corner, Lighthouse bagging." Er what? Obviously, having lived on, if not under, a rock for 16 years, this new fetish hobby had passed me by. I had to check it out. And, surprise, surprise, it really is to do with lighthouses - well, you can never be sure - and Princess Anne is a regular anorak wearer and "champion pharologist", apparently.

The lighthouses of Tenerife are operated by the Autoridad Portuaria de Santa Cruz de Tenerife. And pharology tourists (a.k.a. lighthouse bagging holidaymakers) have quite a few lighthouses - 8 sites, some have 2 structures - to bag in Tenerife at: Punta de Abona, Punta de Rasca, Punta de Teno, Buenavista, Puerto de la Cruz, Punta del Hidalgo, Punta de Anaga and Santa Cruz de Tenerife Muelle Sur ("Farola del Mar") Not all are working.

The province of Santa Cruz, of which Tenerife is just a part, if you add in the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Palma, offer even more delights.

Probably the most famous lighthouse to bag on these islands, is the Faro de Orchilla (Punta Orchilla Lighthouse), in Frontera, El Hierro. It's an important lighthouse, because it was once the most westerly point of the "known world" and, from the 17th Century, was used to mark the zero meridian, until the British moved it to Greenwich in the 1880s.

List of lighthouses in the Canary Islands

Photo: CARLOS TEIXIDOR CADENAS [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 28, 2008

How Tenerife avoided another conquest

Recreation of the Gesta of 1797

"Actors re-enact on Friday, July 26, 2008 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife the naval battle and disembarkment in which the infantry of the Canary islands prevented the conquest of the Canary islands in 1797 by English hero Horacio Nelson. Horacio Nelson lost his right arm in the battle."

Rosa Rodríguez, writing in Canarias 7 suggests that, if Nelson had travelled through time 211 years, he wouldn't have dared try to take Santa Cruz this time, because on Friday, not only were General Gutiérrez' men waiting for him, but also an enthusiastic (bloodthirsty, maybe?) crowd of 3,000 spectators.

Nelson probably shouldn't have tried to take the city 211 years ago, but it's a good job he couldn't time travel, because he might have been able to go back and stop himself before making such a huge error and then there wouldn't have been anything to re-enact ... which seeing how it all turned out in the photos would have been a shame.

The best bit is where one of the readers commenting here says that this same Oracio (sic, he appears to have lost and H now, as well as an arm) Nelson defeated the Armada. There's another wee point of logic I could pick up on in their statement, in that it couldn't have been a very "Invincible Armada" if it got defeated, but never mind that part ...

The commenter could have meant the Other Armada of 1779, I suppose, except I'm pretty sure that isn't what they were referring to. And they probably didn't mean the Armada Sur of expat football supporters either. Anyway, if Nelson had trounced the Armada (of 1588) and then lost in Tenerife (in 1797), rightly, says the following comment, not only would Santa Cruz be celebrating victory, but also the longest known life of a human being!

What the reports failed to mention is that Nelson also got his own tram in Santa Cruz, to mark the 211th anniversary of his defeat. Wonder what he'd make of that if he time travelled forward 211 years? Colin Kirby was out, in an anorak, spotting that and he was there on Saturday morning too, to see the period costumed, military parades.

At the end of the day, Santa Cruz was, once again, saved from the tyranny of British rule (at least for a couple of hundred years until the "invasion of the beaches") and they all lived happily everafter. It's all 'armless fun, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day of Traditions in Chirche

View over Chirche

The village of Chirche (map) is 3 kilometres from the town of Guia de Isora, in the western part of the island of Tenerife and preserves the typical traditional architecture of the south - nowadays turned into rural tourist accommodation and serves as a living museum.

This weekend, the quiet village is to celebrate its 8th annual Day of Traditions, where locals carry out jobs, do household chores and play children's games typical of the village from the first half of the twentieth century. On Saturday, 26th July, from 7 p.m., there's various workshops of folklore and dance, as well as traditional sports and games, which continue until 9.30, when there will be a showing of a documentary film. And from 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, 27th July, visitors can see how the rural inhabitants thresh wheat, made rustic tejas (roof tiles) in the old tile ovens, toasted the grain, or ground almonds, as well as other domestic tasks, such as sewing, doing laundry in the public washtubs, or bringing water from the community tap.

Image: Wouter Hagens [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Santa Cruz set to repel the English, again

Castillo de San Juan Bautista (Castillo Negro)

Friday, 25th July 2008 is the 211th Anniversary of Santa Cruz' historic defeat of Horacio Nelson and Tenerife's capital is to commemorate or celebrate (the latter, I think, is more apt) the date with a reenactment (now annual) of the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1797) ... and have a budget of 240,000 euros (over £190,000) available to do it.

The fun starts, in the area of the Castle of St John the Baptist a.k.a. Castillo Negro (Black Castle) (alongside the rather more modern day Auditorio de Tenerife), at 12.00 mid-day and, unlike real battles, will last for just one hour. Some 130 people are taking part in the reenactment, with the city being defended, once again, by the battalion of Canarian infantry, under the orders of General Gutiérrez.

British retreat and victory for Santa Cruz

The following day, Saturday, 26th July, at 11.30 a.m., sees a military parade from the Plaza Weyler to the Plaza de España, then from 8.30 p.m. there's to be a further recreation - this time in the streets of the old town - remembering how Santa Cruz' population succeeded in causing the English troops to retreat. That will be taking place in the area around the bridge over the Barranco de Santos, the Iglesia de La Concepción (church) and the Calle La Noria in the old part of the city.

Both reenactments are to be directed by Teodoro Ríos, who will ensure careful attention is paid to historical detail. Costumes are under the watchful eye of José Carlos Iribarren, who worked on the film Alatriste and, the special effects (as well as the fireworks during the Verbena de La Victoria (Victory Celebration Dance)) will be provided by Los Realejos firework firm, Hermanos Toste.

In addition, 75 reenacters have been invited from various points of the Spanish mainland, from England and from Holland.

an entire festive week ...

On July 21st, in the Museo Militar de Almeida (the museum's highlight is was the famous 'Tigre' canon which, according to tradition, injured Admiral Horacio Nelson during his failed attempt to occupy Tenerife on July 25th 1797, resulting in the amputation of his right arm) was the presentation of a new book and a conference on the events of 1797.

On July 22nd, again in the Military Museum, is another conference, centering on the personalities involved on July 25th, along with a presentation of a new book by local historian Daniel García Pulido, as well as a showing of the rather ominously titled film, La isla de las cabezas cortadas (Cutthroat Island.)

On July 23rd, it's the turn of historian, Ronald Brighouse to give a talk centred on Nelson and the Royal Navy. Another film follows.

On July 24th, from 10 a.m. will be a public reading of books related to the events. In the evening, the British flag captured that night in 1797 will be (re)presented, having been restored.

On July 25th after the reenactment of the sea battle and the English landings at midday, at 7.30 p.m., mass will be celebrated in the La Concepción church, with a procession around the local streets in honour of Santiago Apóstol (Saint James) and a floral offering made to the tomb of General Gutiérrez.

Also on July 25th there's an exhibition of reproductions of paintings that recreate these events, as well as some military paraphernalia that is part of the municipal heritage. They're also studying the possibility of installing 14 commemorative milestones along the capital's coast. These monoliths, with their corresponding plaques would be placed at strategic points where the defence of the city was cemented (and they're outside the 240k budget.)

The town hall is to award silver medals to all babies born on Friday, 25 July.

July 26th 11.30 a.m. military parade "of the epoch" (another recreation of the 18th Century) from the Plaza Weyler to the Plaza de España. At 7 p.m. various military bands will parade through the city's streets. From 8.30 p.m. will be the recreation of the street battles in the old part of town and, from 10 p.m., the party starts proper, with a Verbena de La Victoria (Victory Celebration Knees Up), at which attendees will wear 18th Century costumes.

And, finally, on July 27th, the festive week (their words) closes with a concert by the Unidad de Música de la Subinspección del Mando de Canarias (a military band), in the Plaza del Príncipe (where you can get a good Barraquito.)

Via: this post at the Flickers Tenerife group.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where does los gigantes get its name?

Los Gigantes Cliffs

To answer this reader's question, the town gets its name, Los Gigantes, which means The Giants, from these, the Acantilados de los Gigantes - the giant cliffs - which plunge into the sea from the Teno Mountains. These basaltic rock formations, characterized by their sheer vertical walls, oscillate between 300 and over 600 meters in height. The Teno area is an ancient volcanic mass, one of the oldest parts of the island, geologically, which the processes of erosion have modelled to its current landscape, forming these giant cliffs on the coast. In the time of the guanches, the cliffs were known as the Wall of Hell and, you can imagine why, when their dark volcanic lava makes it practically impossible to penetrate into the interior of the island, with only some gorges opening to the sea. Also, curiously, these cliffs don't continue below sea level. The depth of the sea here is bearly 30 meters, which makes it difficult  to access.

Here are the same cliffs, seen from Punta Teno (Teno Point) to the north:

Daniel Gaínza (Tenerife) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Anniversary of the Derrame del vino

Statue depicting the Derrame del Vino in Garachico

The Derrame del Vino is an event that took place on the night of July 3rd, 1666. It's when local wine producers poured gallons of Malmsey wine down the drain in Garachico in protest over ruinous prices driven by the British monopoly of the sector. There's even a statue to celebrate putting those dastardly Brits in their place along the sea front road in the town. Portugal's independence from Castile; Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza, which favoured trade with Madeira at the Canary Islands' cost; as well as the creation, in 1665, in London of The Canary Island Company, establishing a British monopoly over the Canarian wine trade in England, are all events that conspired to to provoke this reaction in Tenerife.

On that night, around 300 to 400 masked men broke down the doors of the bodegas and destroyed the barrels, spilling the wine - rather than sell it for low prices - and causing "one of the strangest floods in world history", wrote historian, José de Viera y Clavijo.