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Archive for May, 2008

El Medano; where the breeze is constant and the views hold some surprisesYesterday I was in the kite-boarders’ and wind-surfers’ paradise resort of El Médano and I’ve never seen so many naked men in one place.

That’s not to say they were wandering around the streets, nor even stretched out on the town’s main beach. No. I had to walk quite some distance to find them.

‘Walking’ and ‘hiking’ would probably not be at the top of most people’s list if you were to ask them what Tenerife means to them. But the island is in fact a kaleidoscopic matrix of trails that take you from tropical coastline, through arid badlands and heavenly scented pinewoods, to a 17 kilometre wide volcanic crater and climbing the World’s third largest volcano – Mount Teide.
There’s enough variety of terrain and spectacular scenery to keep even the most hardened of hikers whistling “Happy Feet”.

I’m currently making a concerted effort to hike as many of Tenerife’s trails as I can, and yesterday I opted for the bohemian, laid back resort of El Médano for a spot of coastal walking.
Leaving the town and heading out towards the red mountain which landmarks El Médano and is imaginatively named “La Montaña Roja”, it wasn’t long before my first naked buttocks came into view, beside the lagoon at the end of the dunes.

Continuing along the beach and following the path up Bocinegro, I diverted onto a lesser trodden path that took me to some amazing wind-sculptured sand and salt rock formations amongst which, I slowly became aware of a large number and variety of more flesh toned scenery. Naked men were wandering along the white pumice giant’s causeway; sunbathing and swimming in the small coves below the rocks, and generally standing around with their hands on their hips and their willies looking out to sea.

I’d clearly breached a favoured naturist, and presumably gay, location. Either that or it was the local ‘tackle-out fiesta’ and I hadn’t spotted it on the calendar.

Feeling oddly out of place and keeping my eyes more or less straight ahead, I continued on my way, skirting the base of Montaña Roja and then scaling its 173 metres just for a change of scenery.

It’s amazing how much variety you can see in one short hike on Tenerife!

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Dressed cross in Los Realejos Alto on 3rd May 2008The opening shot across the bow comes with an ear-splitting explosion out of which a magnificent glistening gold crucifix forms and hangs in the firmament above the church square. The crowd draws its breath in a gasp and the fading crucifix is replaced by a fiery row of red and silver fountains above which barrages of colour explode across the night sky in rapid fire. Vivid sunbursts spread like blossoming stains; tiny whorls race around the firmament like tadpoles released into a stream; shooting stars run amok in psychedelic rain and scatter gun air bombs rip through our ears and vibrate the windows of the houses.

Last weekend was Fiesta of the Cross; a traditional fiesta dating back to the conquest in 1496, during which every cross on the island, from the humblest wooden crucifix placed in the open window of a small cottage to ornate gilded processional crosses carried on the shoulders of devotees, is decorated with flowers, candles and incense.

In Los Realejos Alto in Northern Tenerife, the day is traditionally rounded off by Europe’s largest firework display. Originating from the rivalry between two firework factories in the municipality, one aligned to Calle del Sol, the other to Calle del Medio, the 3rd of May displays take the form of pyrotechnic aerial skirmishes between the two streets and the still, black, night sky provides the battleground on which the factory armies of Los Realejos wage war with their gunpowder cannons.

Europe's biggest firework display in Los Realejos on 3rd May 2008When the first display finally subsides the rival street retaliates. But the still night air contrives to hold the smoke pall hostage and much of the display is lost within its murky mass; it’s a dastardly ploy, perfectly executed. Though the sky blazes red and pulsates with the beat of the strobe-lit explosions, all that can be seen from the little church square are fiery comets which thunder from behind the veil and hurtle towards the earth; tantalising glimpses of clouds of gentle fairy dust twinkling behind the haze and slender ribbons of jewelled lights suspended above the valley for what seems like an eternity.

Silence falls and the smoke cloud drifts painfully slowly across the plaza where we’re standing and where crowds are now converging to watch the finale. With all eyes trained on the football stadium, we wait, and wait…and wait. After an hour of silent skies, the cold night air of Los Realejos Alto in early May starts to diminish enthusiasm for the contest and people begin to drift away, unsure of what has happened to the final battle. I head back to the car and join the queue for the motorway, the air conditioning turned to warm for only the second time in the car’s four year life.

All the way home I’m accompanied by the air raid soundtrack of the delayed final denouement and in the rear view mirror I can see the night’s bloodstained front line.
In Tenerife it seems, even a war succumbs to the ‘mañana culture’.

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