Posts Tagged ‘belén’

As this is the week before Christmas, I thought I’d share some of the little things on Tenerife that bring on a warm and fuzzy feeling during the festive season.

First on the list are the magical Christmas lights that bring a seasonal sparkle to the island’s historic towns. Santa Cruz looks splendid, Puerto de la Cruz glitters gloriously and La Laguna’s cobbled and perfectly preserved old streets could easily have been lifted straight from one of those cards featuring Victorian Christmas scenes, but my favourite setting is Tenerife’s most elegant town, La Orotava.

The life size belén outside the town hall is impressive and the colourful xmas lights add a touch of razzamatazz to the streets around the Iglesia de la Concepción. However, the most magical spot is Plaza de la Constitución. Last year there were icicles ‘dripping’ from the leafy canopy overhead, huge bow wrapped presents adding a touch of frivolity to the gardens and the display in the bandstand turned children’s eyes saucer sized. If there’s a more Christmassy place on Tenerife to have a coffee I’ve yet to find it.

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A ‘discussion’ has been raging on the Tenerife Forum on the subject of “Do you think that Tenerife is nothing without the sun?”
It seems that the recent cold (circa 20-22°C) and cloudy weather we’ve been experiencing across the island has forced Tenerife’s ‘fair weather friends’ to show their true colours. Faced with the prospect of a day where they can’t just lie around the pool in their hotel complex, people are actually angry about the lack of sun and threatening to holiday elsewhere in future.

A perfect sabina tree

A perfect 'sabina' tree

Meanwhile, away from the pleasure dome of the south resorts, I went to a Bonsai exhibition in Puerto de la Cruz yesterday. This was two ‘firsts’ for me; I’ve never seen a Bonsai exhibition before and, despite having lived here for over 5 years, have never been to the ex-Convento de Santo Domingo where it was being held.
Circling a beautiful traditional Canarian courtyard with its wooden, carved closed balcony, were placed about 50 Bonsai exhibits in exquisite containers.
There were formal and informal uprights, slantings and cascades. The perfect symmetry of the branches or the sensuous curves of the trunks were indeed things of beauty. I’ve never really looked at Bonsai trees before and therefore have never really appreciated the skill and patience that must go into their creation. I was amazed at the feeling of wellbeing I got from looking at some of them, as if they were giving off a gentle karma and I found myself grinning like a fool as I worked my way around the courtyard.

I left the ex-Convento de Santo Domingo and headed to Casa Ventoso to see the exhibition of belénes (nativity scenes) currently on display there. I was disappointed, if not amused, at the exhibits in the outer courtyard which seemed to consist of a great number of artificial hens and eggs, mannequins draped in plastic robes and toy ducks floating on a pond. But then my eye was caught by several rooms off the courtyard and further exploration revealed a whole series of intricately designed belénes featuring scale models of life in Bethlehem at the birth of Christ.

Juggler, clown, uni-cyclist and all round nice guy at the Festival de Los Cuentos in Los Silos

Juggler, clown, uni-cyclist and all round nice guy at the Festival de Los Cuentos in Los Silos

They all had the ubiquitous Wise Men, the angel appearing to shepherds and of course Mary and Joseph and the holy infant in a barn with cattle and a donkey, but they each had their own characteristics of what surrounded the main characters. A desert landscape in which the tiny village of Bethlehem is set and the rhythms of the daily lives of those who live there are carried out in multiple moving parts. But there was something here that I’ve never seen in belénes before. On several of the models, day turned to night and fires and lanterns burned beneath a star studded sky. After a minute or so, daybreak began, accompanied by the sound of a cockerel crowing before once again, the sun rose and life began to stir in the little village.
By now, my grin was fixed.

Earlier in the day we’d taken a trip to Los Silos to see their lovely Festival de Los Cuentos, the festival of stories, where we’d watched storytellers and clowns hold groups of youngsters enthralled. There was singing and uni-cycle riding, story telling and juggling, book fairs, jewellery stalls and an assortment of delicious food stalls all set in the beautiful little plaza of this charming village.

The hard to ignore, giant, green Big Wheel at Puertos annual fair

The hard to ignore, giant, green Big Wheel at Puerto's annual fair

As we walked back through the busy funfair at Puerto where the giant green Ferris wheel was catching the last of the sun’s rays, I found myself hoping that all those who claimed there was nothing to do on Tenerife when the sun didn’t shine would find their Little Britain abroad where the sun shone in a cloudless blue sky for 365 days a year, where the bars had TV sports coverage, where everyone spoke English and lager was €1 a pint and I hoped once they’d found it they would stay there, and leave the real Tenerife to the rest of us.

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