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The second of my favourite Christmas scenes on Tenerife is the vibrant and striking poinsettia. At this time of year rows of these stunning flowers, with colours as striking as a Hollywood starlet’s lips, line roadsides in the north of Tenerife. They are a festive sight for sore eyes, tropical Tenerife style.

Towns, hotels, restaurants and homes all across the island use the plant as a seasonal decoration, but I also like to see these flores de Noche Buena (Christmas Eve flowers) roaming wild, clambering over walls and framing the entrances to haciendas; their shocking red beauty adding a touch of glamour to normally rustic country scenes.

This line of neat poinsettias was taken on one of the pretty cobbled lanes in Garachico.

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(see ‘The War of the Peaches‘)

It’s all over bar the shouting.

The peaches were ripe enough to pick by Wednesday and over the course of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we picked basket after basket of plump, sweet, juicy peaches.
We spent the whole of Friday afternoon and Saturday cooking, the food cupboard is full and the fruit bowl is still groaning under the weight of peaches.
There’s more fruit on the tree which is yet to ripen and we think we may be able to get another batch of jam out of it.
But with most of the main branches stripped, here’s the nearly-final tally on the war:

  • 30 lbs/13.6 kilos of peaches picked to date
  • 10 lbs/4.5 kilos of peach jam produced
  • 10 lbs/4.5 kilos of peach chutney produced
  • 2 full branches heavily laden with peaches deliberately left for the tree rats to enjoy.

When nature’s abundant, everyone’s a winner!

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The cloud had descended to just above our heads; so close that it felt if you stretched out an arm it would disappear into grey cotton wool. The man in front of us swayed to the music as he played an imaginary timple; tears rolled down his creased cheeks in response to the emotional ballad booming out over the loudspeakers; his watery eyes already glazed and slightly unfocussed; a consequence of the previous day’s fiesta. A toothless woman in gaily coloured traditional costume cackled (she was, what in bygone days would have been called, an old crone) and flashed a gaping grin at our friend Bryan as she invited him to join her at the fiesta.
Bryan reacted to this a bit like Patsy in the episode of Absolutely Fabulous set in France and scowled at us with an expression which said; ‘Why don’t I have friends who do normal things like go to the beach on a Sunday instead of dragging me to the land that time forgot where the chances are I’ll end up as the meat in the puchero.’

Boy Racer - Benijos Style

Boy Racer - Benijos Style

We’re used to processions at fiestas on Tenerife running a bit late, but the romería at the tiny hamlet of Benijos in the hills above La Orotava was taking unpunctuality to new levels. Due to start at 3pm, by 5pm townsfolk in traditional costume were still making their way to the romería’s starting point a couple of kilometres along the road. I suspected that the previous days festivities, which our imaginary guitar playing friend slurringly informed us had gone on till 7am, had taken their toll on attempts to stick to any sort of organised timetable. It didn’t matter to the people of Benijos, they were the parade; this was their party and the longer it was drawn out the better. And it didn’t really matter to Andy and me; there were wonderful images all around. Two teenage fiesta queens in tiaras were made up like seventies beauty queens, except instead of gowns they were wearing denims and T-shirts; chavette queens perhaps. A seriously drunken caballero swaying precariously on his thankfully sober steed, Tenerife’s Cat Ballou, sparked a discussion as to whether you could be charged with drunk driving on a horse.

The procession finally got underway around 6pm, but it moved at such an interminably slow pace, the palm

Isnt that Robbie Williams on the right?

Isn't that Robbie Williams on the right?

frond bedecked floats stopping at every house along the road, that we calculated that it would be 9pm before it reached us. We decided to speed things up by leaving our vantage point and meeting it halfway, dragging a grumbling Bryan “once you’ve seen one harvest float, you’ve seen them all” for whom the slow pace of life in Benijos was rapidly losing its charm.

When we reached the procession Bryan’s mood changed. Whilst I wandered around taking photographs, being stopped by every other person in the procession who shouted “Saque un foto, saque un foto,” (“take a photograph”) buxom matrons bombarded Andy and Bryan with eggs, pork fillets, gofio, chorizo paste montaditos, plastic glasses of country wine and, bizarrely, popcorn. By the time I rejoined them Bryan was beaming.
“This is great,” he mumbled through a mouthful of pork tenderloin; the previous four hours apparently compensated for by the mountain of free food and wine in his arms.

As a fiesta it was a disorganised shambling rough and ready affair, but as always the incredibly friendly and generous Canarios were full of the joie de vivre at doing what they do best – havin’ a party and their enthusiasm was infectious.

Twenty four hours later I might as well have been on the other side of the world as the other side of the island when I went to the biggest event on Tenerife this year; the opening of the island’s spectacular newest tourist attraction, Siam Park in the hills behind Costa Adeje, or is that Playa de Las Américas?

Guest Blogger: Jack M

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