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Archive for April, 2008

Echo and the Bunnymen play La Laguna in TenerifeYou know it’s calima when… the temperature cranks up into the red zone, the sun turns white and Mount Teide disappears from the horizon to be replaced by a white veil behind which shapes ghost in and out.

You know it’s calima when… you’re woken at 6 am by the sound of the wind howling and a sizeable proportion of the garden and the banana plantation next door is swirling in mini tornadoes around the house while your windows and doors are rattling like a thief looking for a way in.
When you finally give up on sleep, haul yourself to your feet and in your heat-induced torpor open the doors to the terrace wide and hot air rushes in to replace the, what you now realise was only tepid, air.

You know it’s calima when… your chimney’s where it should be when you go out to watch the match and when you come back it’s on your front terrace in a pile of crispy leaves.

You know it’s calima when… you go up to La Laguna to watch Echo and the Bunnymen in concert; it’s an outside venue, you’re wearing a T shirt and jeans and you’re breaking a sweat before a note has even been played.
A hot night in La Lagunathat’s when you know it’s calima.

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It’s been a fleeting week for me. I don’t just mean in the way that time spent on Tenerife has a habit of running away like water down a drain, I mean because I’ve been involved in things that fleet.
Can you tell what it is yet? Firstly, we’ve been working on a feature about the flower carpets of La Orotava. On the feast of Corpus Christi, which falls in May this year, the residents of the beautiful Renaissance town of La Orotava decorate their streets in the most incredible detailed carpets fashioned entirely in flower petals and seeds.

At the crack of sunlight on Corpus Christi, materials are gathered, outlines are drawn, frames are placed and the intensive work can begin. None of the petals are cut until the day to ensure maximum freshness and so the first job is for the women to painstakingly snip thousands of petals from flowering branches into buckets which slowly fill with crimson, cornflower blue, primrose, white, lavender and pink.

On hands and knees, whole generations of families meticulously place the petals row upon row until the image begins to form. With every passing hour the ranks of bystanders swell and everyone files slowly down the streets watching each illustration take more form with every circuit of the route.

By late afternoon the carpets are complete. Cameras flash and TV crews film to capture the beauty of the artistry. In a few short hours it will all be gone and only digital images will remain as the Corpus Christi procession walks over the carpets, scattering petals to the breeze and the street cleaners.

A Monarch butterfly emerges from its cocoonThen today , I went to the butterfly farm of Mariposario del Drago in Icod de los Vinos where, in the beautiful setting of a tropical garden I witnessed eggs turn to caterpillars, then to chrysalids and finally to butterflies as they split their cocoons and unfurled their beautiful wings.
After such a complex metamorphosis, the butterflies have only a short time to live, their entire life cycle lasting on average between 1 and 3 weeks.

Resting quietly on the bark of a tree was a giant night butterfly (as moths are apparently known), Attacus Atlas, the largest butterfly in the world. It remains in its cocoon for between 7 months and a year and then emerges, to live only for 5 or 6 days.

Beauty and transience, I found myself musing on this subject on my way home and just as I was sure I was about to reach a profound conclusion on the fleeting nature of life, I was pulled over by the Guardia Civil and slapped with a speeding ticket and a fine… bloody perfect.

If you’re planning to rent a car on Tenerife, it’s best to know the dos and don’ts of driving…

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It’s a hot day. At the pharmacy the neon green sign is alternating between 11.20am and 28 °. Down at the harbour a small stage is in full sun. Stacks of speakers are vibrating to the rhythms of R & B and hip-hop that resonate around the little plaza, setting the heat haze to sound.
At the front of the stage a teenage lad in gravity-defying trousers and a crash helmet starts to spin on his head, his legs acting as balance, steering and acceleration all in one. He forward flips to his feet, sweat glistening on his neck as his body jerks to the rhythm.

Aerial eroticism at Mueca 2008 in Puerto de la CruzHigh above the harbour a man is sitting on the arm of a crane playing the flute. His oversized trousers and waistcoat give him away as a clown and his Pied Piper flute is calling the Sunday strollers to follow its melody to the exotic dance that is about to take place above their heads.
From the high wire two broad black cloths unfurl to the ground. She starts to climb one of the cloths gracefully and effortlessly, her left foot wraps and unwraps to form a stepped stirrup as she pulls herself higher. Once in position, she coils a cloth around each leg, hangs upside down, her legs wide to keep the cloths apart on the ground, and waits for her lover.
He furls the cloth around his waist and she begins to reel him in, slowly, provocatively, her arms weaving him ever closer until his body draws level with hers and the lovemaking can begin.
In an erotic, aerial ballet, the lovers twist and turn; his hands always on her body, her hair on fire in the sun. Below them we are transfixed; like voyeurs, our eyes cannot leave them.

On Calle Quintana a metal pirate stands with his back to the wall. His eyes are green bulbs, his cutlass is glinting in the sunlight, his chest heaves in and out with metronomic regularity. Beyond the robot, a man sits on a cardboard horse frozen in time, his white face and broad smile set, his black eyes fixed. A small boy drops fifty cents in the basket on the ground in front of him and suddenly the jockey resumes his race, his whip hand raising and falling on the horse’s flank, the reins looping and tightening as he urges his steed forward on the spot.

Fairy antics at Mueca 2008 in Puerto de la CruzIn Plaza del Charco two fairies sit side by side on a settee playing a silent game of Simon Says. The small one is plying her hair idly into plaits. The tall one mimics her but only twists the strands, unable to follow where Simon has led. Contemptuously, the small one opts for an easier mimic and placing her closed hands beneath the side of her head she lies down and closes her eyes. The tall one mirrors her but keeps one eye open. The wide eyed little girls watching the show giggle at the antics of the inept fairy.
Under the laurel tree, a wood elf is dancing and beneath the canopy, children’s faces are being transformed into tigers, daisies and butterflies.

This is Puerto de la Cruz and this is Mueca.

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