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Posts Tagged ‘July Fiestas’

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!

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“Let’s go and see the giant paella on Sunday.”

Horror movies are really not my thing so I wasn’t all that enthusiastic until Jack explained that the Lions Club were making an actual giant paella as part of the Puerto July Fiestas and that perhaps we should pop along and witness the creation.

We left at midday in the firm expectation that we’d be parked and down at the harbour by 12.15 (ish). But having queued for 20 minutes to find that the town’s main car park was closed (of course no signs until you actually get there when 4 Policia Local are manning a 2 foot wide barrier), queuing to get back out again, kerb crawling our way through town and finally driving all the way back up to La Paz district before we could find a parking space, it was after 1pm before we got into town.

It was a glorious day and the small beach at San Telmo was packed beyond capacity for swimming and kayaking competitions (not simultaneous you understand). Although this is low season for Brits and Germans in Tenerife, in the north, it’s high season for Spanish mainlanders and the town was teeming with visitors. Puerto is in the midst of its July Fiestas and there’s a festival atmosphere throughout the month, particularly on Sundays.

I was keeping myself amused by  admiring the hordes of young, muscle bound, suntanned men (I think there were women there too) who were milling around the temporary bar, presumably having finished their competition swim and now chilling to the Indie rock sounds that were blasting forth, when my attention was caught by a silver flash in the sky.

I can only speculate on the size of the adrenalin rush experienced by the pilots of these things

I can only speculate on the size of the adrenalin rush experienced by the pilots of these things

I looked up to see a fighter jet at what seemed merely feet above the San Temo rock pools, heading towards me at supersonic speed. It was eerily silent, any engine noise drowned out by the music. Just as it came parallel with the shoreline, it‘s nose went up, it began to climb, the condensation clouds spilling across its wings and the air shattered into an ear splitting roar that silenced Coldplay.

I watched it bank and come back across the horizon, spinning twice and flying upside down before righting itself and once again screaming into the heavens. It was so low I could almost see the pilot.
I felt a surge of adrenalin that sent my heart beat into overdrive. I have never been in such close proximity to such power and danger and I cannot imagine what sort of person would fly a fighter jet, they must be in the top one percentile of the population.
“Tom Cruise” said Jack, bringing me back down to earth.

There was no shortage of volunteers to see off the giant paella

There was no shortage of volunteers to see off the 'giant paella'

By the time we reached the harbour, the prospect of a giant paella had paled into insignificance in the excitement of the air show and having long since missed its creation it was now half way to being completely consumed and not all that giant anymore. Still, it rallied a few points with its delicious aroma and bargain basement price; a plate of paella, a banana, a bread roll and a small beaker of wine for €5. Understandably, there wasn’t a spare seat to be had at the makeshift restaurant beside the fishwife.

In the Parque Marítimo car park we discovered why it was closed; four helicopters and several divisions of armed forces were displaying their equipment (sooo tempted to say something very Julian Clary there). Amongst the helicopters was one belonging to M.A.R., the type used in fire fighting. I was surprised at how small the bucket that holds the water was, especially given the double blades power of the helicopter. It brought back the horror of last year’s forest fires and the difficulty of getting adequate water to the island’s interior to deal with such an ecological disaster.

Small children were being placed inside the cockpit of the helicopters while their parents photographed them. I could see the machine guns mounted in the nose, rows of bullets ready to thread their way to destruction should the need arise. Given that the soldiers were Canarios and not in fact Tom Cruise, I gave the nose a very wide berth lest someone had forgotten to engage the safety lock.

Boys and their toys

Boys and their toys

I’d gotten just about as close up and personal with military hardware as my nerves could stand for one day.

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Those blessed with powers of observation will have noticed that there’s been blog silence here for a couple of weeks.

That’s because we’ve had our 19 year old nephew staying with us and he’s 24/7 maintenance. From the moment he drags himself from his pit at the crack of 10 am to his self-imposed curfew at 1 am, the most common phrase to fall from his lips is “What are we doing now?”
In the few short hours that don’t consist of organizing excursions, driving and playing board games there’s the shopping, cooking, cleaning up, washing, and exhausted sleep.

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

Having spent as much time with us as he has with his parents since he was old enough to toddle next door to our house and ring the doorbell, we were no strangers to the demands of his company and were prepared(ish) with a list of things to do and places to go.

What we were not prepared for was fate giving us the finger by, just a few days into his sojourn, the car’s power steering packing up and leaving us with an astronomical bill and three days without wheels.

Now for someone who loves walking on Tenerife, this shouldn’t be an issue, but for some reason, hiking repeatedly up the hill, along the banana road, along the pavement til it runs out and down past the Botanical Gardens into La Paz and back again in the hot sun very quickly lost its appeal.

Even the little everyday things like running out of drinking water, which is usually cause for no more than a “D’oh” and a short drive to the supermarket, turned into a two hour outing with the nephew moaning about carrying a five litre bottle back.

It’s at times like this that I question the wisdom of living on a golf course in the middle of banana plantations at the foot of the valley.

Having cleaned out every bank account and borrowed to get the car back, the ‘plans’ resumed and Teide National Park was the first place we headed to for a spot of walking in the volcanic crater.

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

The nephew started out with bounce in his step and an eagerness to examine every rock underfoot but the decision to climb a small volcanic cone and then run down into its crater…and back again, allowed the altitude to do what it does best and by lunchtime there were moans of “I can’t do any more uphill”.

That night was the town’s annual Sardinada and several hours on foot walking around town, queuing for sardines and watching the Latino band. The following day was ‘Embarkation Tuesday’; an all day on the feet affair without the car as the consumption of beer is a mandatory (oh alright, preferable) component of the day’s events.

Another hike through Las Cañades, a coastal walk to a former pirate fort and several T shirt shopping trips later and the nephew has been safely dispatched back to Blighty leaving Jack and I exhausted, skint and seriously behind with work deadlines.

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puertos July Fiestas

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puerto's July Fiestas on Embarkation Tuesday

Then yesterday, worried that he was late for an appointment (in the Canaries that constitutes an oxymoronic statement) Jack sprinted back to the house for some forgotten paperwork and strained a muscle in his calf. The shock and pain of the incident was however alleviated when, on looking up how best to treat it, he discovered that it’s an injury normally associated with athletes …there’s always a silver lining.

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