Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘El Tanque’

I wasn’t really too surprised to hear that yet another yellow alert for high temperatures in Tenerife had been issued by the Spanish Met Office last week. After all, Día de la Trilla was fast approaching.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, some events on Tenerife are linked inextricably with certain weather conditions. For example, Carnaval season pretty much guarantees rain; Puerto’s Fiesta Del Carmen simply couldn’t happen on anything but the most glorious of days and Día de la Trilla seems to need blisteringly hot days before a single straw of wheat can be threshed.

Last year we set off into the hills of Tenerife and found temperatures in excess of 40°C waiting for us in El Tanque. This year, with the tail end of a calima still in evidence, the mercury was  only somewhere around the 39°C mark as we arrived at the site of what is soon to be an agricultural eco-museum.

A fancy new concrete car park greeted us where previously only fields provided space for the mainly 4x4s and horse boxes that gather in El Tanque for the annual traditional wheat gathering and threshing.
Unfortunately, the work being undertaken to create a centre where traditional farming methods are showcased meant that the venue for the day’s fun was largely a building site and certainly wasn’t going to win any beauty prizes. But neither the surroundings nor the excessive temperatures could detract from the festive air as we made our way past stalls selling home made produce, hand made ornaments, Bonsai trees and naturally, lots of home made bread, to a soundtrack of folk music blaring from speakers across the ground.

Horses, oxen and people all mingled under a heat-leaden sky, blinded by the glare off the gold mountain of wheat that filled the small era, or threshing circle in which most of the day’s action would take place.


Barely had we got video and camera lens in place when the first of the teams of horses arrived and the threshing began. Teased from the centre of the era, the two horses cantered in circles, knee deep in wheat, or in the case of the smaller of the two, belly deep. As the level of the sea of wheat visibly fell, pitchforks worked to replenish the bales.
A second team of horses took over to bring renewed energy to the proceedings and slowly, the wheat levelled out and broke down enough for the big guns to take over.

Enter two teams of oxen. Beautiful, placid creatures with big cow eyes and haunches the size of  bulldozers, the oxen stood patiently while they were tethered to heavy wooden threshing boards before setting off effortlessly, the boards, a driver and several squealing local children in tow for what in El Tanque, passes for a fairground ride.
Round and round the oxen were driven, stopping to take on board fresh young passengers, until the wheat was fine enough for winnowing to begin and the fine chaff to be whisked away on the breeze leaving the wheat to be gathered.

But we didn’t stay long enough to see the process through to its conclusion. With my nose already twitching from the hay dust, we made our way to the busy beer tent where bodies vied for space under the limited shade of its awning. After downing possibly the most refreshing beer I’ve ever drunk, we made our way past the guachinche with its burgeoning dinner line and headed to the car, a picnic and the sanctuary shade of the local pine forest.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday a helicopter lost control and plummeted into the tarmac of Puerto’s harbour side car park scattering pieces of shattered blades during the air display which marks the end of the July Fiestas.

Thankfully, it was only a model copter and the only injury was to the pride of the pilot who had been doing a grand job until the disastrous moment which raised what I thought was an insensitive cheer from the crowd.

That would be at least a €100 fine for anyone else!

That would be at least a €100 fine for anyone else!

Half an hour later the Guardia Civil sent bits of the lighthouse the same way as they attempted to set the runner of their very real helicopter on its top and very nearly sent the satellite dish flying. I’m sure I can’t have been the only one to consider the irony of such a blunder by the island’s traffic cops. To be fair, it was a freak gust of wind that sent the runner awry and they’d already wowed the crowds with their prowess beneath the blades in a series of awesome manoevres. Still, I trust a ticket was forthcoming.

Hordes of residents and visitors braved the excessive temperatures yesterday to enjoy the free air show, filling the stands and swarming the hillock beside the car park like ants on a termite mound. They were rewarded with demonstrations by the archipelago’s air rescue and firefighting services and a display of freefall parachutists, one of whom resembled a flying squirrel in his special suit as he glided to within what felt like death distance before pulling the chord on his chute.

The Canarian rescue services are often unsung heroes

The Canarian rescue services are often unsung heroes

Jack and I positioned ourselves on a small mound right behind the VIP grandstand with its top brass audience. With the mercury pushing 35 degrees Celsius we watched a staged land to air rescue and gallons of water dropped from the basket of a twin bladed copter which just the day before we’d watched doing it for real in the hills above El Tanque where a forest fire had clearly broken out in the tinderbox conditions.

Then half a dozen uniformed officers left the stand and disappeared, at which point the demonstrations ground to a seemingly inexplicable halt for the best part of half an hour while audiences broiled. That’s when the tragic accident befell the model helicopter whose pilot had stepped into the breach to keep the crowds amused.
Eventually the VIP guests returned and the show was able to resume. I do hope their view wasn’t too spoiled by the ambulance removing the heat exhaustion victim right in front of them.

The day before we;d seen this in action for real

The day before we'd seen this in action for real

But imminent sunstroke or not, we weren’t leaving until we’d seen the finale. A Hornet jet fighter appeared over the sea on the horizon, shimmering in the heat haze, and screamed towards the crowd in a supersonic series of manoevres that sent pulses and testosterone levels rising; an effect earlier achieved by the appearance of two rather sassy looking female army officers in extremely tight skirts and rather fetching berets.
“It’s not in the slightest bit like the British army’s female uniform,” remarked Jack, his camera lens following their hips like a guided missile to its target.

All in all, a rather splendid day and a fitting end to a month long fest of fun. Well done, Puerto!

Read Full Post »