Posts Tagged ‘Los Silos’

It’s a weird thing about Los Silos. Venture there during the day and you’ll find a sleepy, picturesque village with an Art Nouveau bandstand, a church that looks like it’s constructed out of icing sugar and egg whites; and beautifully restored traditional architecture. But go there for one of its fiestas and you’ll find yourself knee deep in dreadlocks, harem pants, patchouli oil and peace and love.

Hippies and batucada in Los Silos

Hippies and batucada in Los Silos

And that’s exactly how it was last weekend when Los Silos staged the Boreal Festival of the Whale; out came the Neo-hippies in their droves.
As I wandered up towards the whale skeleton that stands as a sculpture on the headland I had to snake my way through jugglers, a girl practising her Zuni Poi Swings who nearly had my eye out, trainee stilt walkers and a dreadlocked, bare-chested, uni-cycle rider.
The air was thick with the smell of musk, patchouli and the Tree of Moses and the peace and love was positively palpable.

Beneath fluttering, silk pastel flags stalls lined the promenade. In between the juggling paraphernalia, homemade jewellery and henna tattoo stalls, there were information points extolling the adoption of earth-friendly practices in businesses and homes.
At some point some baby turtles were released into the sea but it must have been a very low key launch because I managed to entirely miss it.

A large stage was filled with equipment, chord practising guitarists and roadies muttering “uno, dos” into the mikes. At one point several people including myself thought that the band had started and one woman began to dance but then the song just fizzled and the “uno, dos” began again. I concluded that the sound engineers were rubbish and that the waiting bands were refusing to perform with such an incompetent mixing desk.

Satisfied with my made up explanation and feeling slightly giddy from the atmosphere, I headed off to Garachico in search of rock and chips.

Reaching the tiny harbour the smell of leather and burgers assailed my

Leather and chrome at Garachico

Leather and chrome at Garachico

nostrils and the iconic chords of Kings of Leon soothed my ears.
The car park was lined with the chrome, leather and glass of motorcycles and milling around them were black leather-clad bikers and their chicks.

I grabbed a burger and wandered the rows of bikes feigning any kind of knowledge whatsoever of what a great bike looks like.

I felt like I’d wandered into the anti-Christ of the Eco festival. Goth T shirts and black studded belts and wrist bands replaced pastel hemp. Tattooed fire-breathing dragons and bloodied knives replaced butterflies and wispy spirals and boots the size of astronaut’s moon walkers replaced flipflops.

With just a handful of spectators out front, the bands took to the stage. No sound checks were necessary here as the mixing desk was in the über-efficient hands of a professional sound production team and the opening chords rang out across the harbour, bouncing back off the frozen lava streams on the hillside.

Saturday night in the Isla Baja region proves that the culture on Tenerife can be every bit as diverse as its geography.

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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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She stands beneath the web, seemingly oblivious to its occupant whose legs could reach around her small waist twice should it choose to move closer. In front of her, a man in a white coat with a stethoscope draped around his neck is playing with a syringe the diameter of a toilet roll. The girl stands perfectly still, unafraid and unflinching.

My latter day Alice in Wonderland is standing in La Plaza de La Luz in Los Silos and this is the last day of the Festival Internacional del Cuento – the festival of storytelling.International Festival of Stories 2007

All around the small plaza are figures from fairytales; goblins and princesses lurking beneath the trees; giant spiders hanging from webs strung between branches; strange creatures picking their noses.

Children fill every space; waiting in line to see the comedy doctor; sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of a small group with acoustic guitars who are leading them in a medley of hand-clapping, chorus-singing favourites.

There are trestle tables laden with story books and colouring books for sale. In the flower beds, children’s paintings are drying in the last of the afternoon’s sunshine. Outside a Wendy Hose, a storyteller is calling children inside to sit on tiny stools and listen to a tale from a far away land.

Since 1996 the little town of Los Silos has hosted the magical festival of storytelling to promote reading and stories. Begun by Professor of Literature and Drama, Doctor Ernesto Abad, storytellers from around the world travel to this small town on the north coast of Tenerife to tell their stories: African Voices, Nordic Tales, Through the Eyes of Women and Nights of Terror are all regular contributors.

Over a week or so in early December, stories come to life beneath the trees in La Plaza de La Luz and the magic of words reaches into young minds and teaches them to travel to distant and fantastic lands where anything is possible.

Con voz de mujer o de hombre, el narrador, se siente bajo los árboles

y parece que las cortezes se abren y empieza el milagro.

Las historias viajan desde lejos por la sabía.

Los árboles encierran sabiduría Antigua.

Solo necessitan la voz de los narradores para transmitirla.”

D. Ernesto Abad

(“With the voice of a woman or a man, the narrator sits beneath the trees

And it seems like the bark itself opens and the miracle begins.

The stories have travelled a long way to be heard.

The trees contain ancient wisdom.

They need only the voices of the narrators for it to be heard.”)

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