Puerto’s history, behind closed doors

Why is so much of this town’s heritage either being destroyed or simply ignored and left to fall into decay?

Other towns, La Laguna and La Orotava, as prime examples, are able to combine the two, old and new, quite happily, whereas successive councils in Puerto, the current one included, have not faltered in their desire to pave the town over. Add to that a love of stainless steel, and now glass, if plans for San Telmo are anything to go by.

What do I mean by heritage? Well for the purpose of this article, it refers to some of the town’s lovely old buildings. Of course the advent of the package holiday must shoulder some of the responsibility, as must the planners and architects of the day, whose imagination in the quest to supply rooms to fill the demand only stretched as far as ‘the concrete tower’. The Bel Air building, a former hotel, must rank as one of the worst eyesores in the town, certainly the biggest.

I have three buildings in mind with which I will strive to make my point; the Taoro building, the Ventoso Mansion and Casa Iriarte, although there are many more. All three are listed by the tourist offices as places of interest in the town but none are regularly open to the public.

Let’s take them in order. What is one of the town’s most prestigious and most prominent buildings, the Taoro opened its doors as a Grand hotel, the then equivalent of today’s five star, in December 1890. Not only was it the first in the Canary Islands but also the first of its kind in all of Spain and in its heyday, the years preceding the First World War, it was patronised by most of the prominent European royal families.

Three wars within 30 years and various changes of ownership saw to its effectually demise and somewhere along the line it came into the Island’s government ownership, the kiss of death in my opinion, but at least it kept the building intact, well almost.

In 1979, part of the building became home to the casino, the rest was effectively mothballed, as it has remained so to the present day. The casino moved to its current location at Lago Martiánez in 2007 when the lights went out in the Taoro building for the last time. Some office space is still used but the building is predominantly empty.

The surrounding gardens are still maintained and you could at one time walk around them. However in recent years even that access has been denied and the area has become gated. There is talk of the casino returning to the building but the move relies on private investment and for a building which is beginning to show the signs of years of neglect such investment will need to be significant. This iconic building is, I am sure, a millstone around the neck of the government but it is one that needs to be preserved.

Ventoso Mansion, in the centre of the town, you can’t miss it, the one with the watchtower, was built in the early 18th century by a wealthy merchant. The tower is not there to warn of invaders but to give early notice of ships arriving bringing with them the chance of trade.

The building has a chequered past, has been owned by a succession of merchants, has served as the town hall, a military barracks, was intended to be the home of the municipal library and has more recently been used as a school. Some work on the building and tower was carried out in 1997, thanks to EEC funding, but little has been done since. Part of it is open to the public once or twice a year, when it house exhibitions. The rest of the year it remains under lock and key. It is a beautiful building, one which sadly so few get to see, it is such a wasted opportunity.

Just across the road, smaller, less impressive, but still equally important, is Casa Iriarte. Home of a well known family of the same name and very typical of the architecture of the time, it was built in the late 1700’s. Two brothers born in the house found fame for their literature and political viewpoints, so much so that a street was named after them and the municipal library after one of them, Tomás who was renowned for writing fables.

Part of the building has been used as a material and haberdashery shop until very recently and as for the remainder, in the not too dim and distant past, but for the life of me I can’t remember how long ago it was, you could enter and view the galleried internal patio and enjoy the eclectic collection of household items and bric-a-brac that were assembled there. The building is now in desperate need of a bit of TLC, regardless of who owns it. It is very much part of the town’s heritage. It is not good enough to just put a plaque on the wall simply to acknowledge the fact.

I am not an historian, nor do have any wish to be, so I apologise if some on my dates and facts are incorrect, they are as accurate as Google can provide, besides, I use them only to reinforce my point and to qualify the importance of the town’s heritage.

This town can get it right sometimes, take the Customs House as an example, the oldest public building in the town, beautifully restored and maintained. Put to good use as well, or at least part of it. Home of the tourist information centre, which is fair enough, but personally I would dispense with the shops and in the space create a museum depicting the history of the town, something which is sadly lacking. They should take notice of the local fishing community, their exhibition, located nearby, containing photos and models, which depict the history of fishing in the town, is exactly what is needed.

The three buildings that I have mentioned are not the only ones, there are many more, I chose them because the local tourist sites list them as places of interest. So I guess my message is, to qualify as a places of interest, it would be helpful if you could actual visit them.

The above article is by Brian Eldridge and was first published in Tenerife News

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

 
Posted in News and Views | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weather 22nd September 2014 – Los Cristianos/Las Americas

A lovely bright morning but it does feel a little bit cooler than it has done at this time of the day for the past few weeks.  It is a pleasant 22°C with just the hint of a breeze.  Hopefully that will last but as there is no cloud around, and the sun is coming up quickly I doubt it.

4-DSC04542Yesterday was another hot day with temperatures in the low 30s. Not much cloud cover as you can see from the webcam pictures of Las Vistas and whilst there looked to be a bit of a wind by the coast the air was very still up here in the hills.

The following images are for Las Vistas Beach in the south of the island and Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island and are taken from the webcam yesterday at 12.00, 3.00 and 6.00. These times are approximate and are at whatever is the nearest before or after the hour. You can check this  LINK and it will give you 72 hours of what has been/is happening should you wish to see.

Las Vistas Beach – between Los Cristianos and Las Americas

Why not Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings
Blog Ping
Hostgator promo codes
Posted in Daily Weather | Leave a comment

La Laguna’s invite to historic walk

Historic walking routes are proving a great success in La Laguna and there are more to come. Organisers are delighted at the response to the new “Sendereando ” programme and the latest “Camino de las Peñuelas” attracted a great turnout.

It was led by Miguel Díaz, president of El Monte de San Diego residents’ association which has been involved in the restoration of old routes. This particular walk followed one of the oldest trails in La Laguna/Tegueste and took between three to four hours to complete. Like all of the others, it was free of charge.

The route is a meandering path of great beauty with abundant flora and fauna, with important ethnographic and historical elements. This was the third event in the “Sendereando ” programme, a project led by the local council’s environment department to allow visitors and local people the chance to enjoy long-forgotten areas.

The routes are led by expert guides and are limited to 40 people and range from the dense forests of Anaga to the delights of Candelaria.

To make things even easier for those who wish to take part, the council has struck a deal with the bus company Titsa to put on a free shuttle bus to some of the starting points.

The fourth route is on October 4th through Anaga and is called “Camino al Jurásico”. The deadline to register is ten days before the walk. Those interested should ring the environment department on 922608784 or email rgonmar@aytolalaguna.es

Source Tenerife News

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

 
Posted in News and Views | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weather 21st September 2014 – Los Cristianos/Las Americas

Are those rain clouds I am looking at? …. No, just a bit of wishful thinking. The sun is  still bright and temperatures on this Sunday morning are already 25°C.

21st sepPeople find it fascinating that social network website threads can run on and on about the possibility of rain.  Well when you haven’t had any for months, it becomes a major talking point. We all get excited and try to track the path in case it falls on us.

Yesterday was one such example. We were told (and saw the pictures) of rain in Los Cristianos, then word got out … Raining in Aldea Blanca , spitting for all of 5 seconds in San Blas, Buzanada and Las Americas. Followed by cloudy but no rain in Palm Mar, Torviscas or Chayofa. Maybe we should all stand on our terraces and do a rain dance because I would give anything for a darn good downpour and seeing other peoples comments I don´t think I am alone.  Well perhaps I should clarify they are all people in the south of the island.  The North has had quite a few showers over last few days even if these are mostly at night.

The following images are for Las Vistas Beach in the south of the island and Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island and are taken from the webcam yesterday at 12.00, 3.00 and 6.00. These times are approximate and are at whatever is the nearest before or after the hour. You can check this  LINK and it will give you 72 hours of what has been/is happening should you wish to see.

Las Vistas Beach – between Los Cristianos and Las Americas

Why not Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings
Blog Ping
Hostgator promo codes
Posted in Daily Weather | Leave a comment

Tenerife’s Best Beaches?

We all have our favourites, we all like to tell the world about and this article from ETenerife Holidays Blog is no different.  Enjoy

The title of best beaches on Tenerife is very subjective of course and it all very much depends on what we like as individuals. You may prefer busy beaches with plenty of water activities and easy access to bar and restaurants. Or you may prefer the quiet beaches where you are left to your own devices. Tenerife also has natural black sand beaches, but some people don’t like these much and prefer sand of the more yellow variety.

Maybe you have visited some of these beaches, but more likely you haven’t been to many of them. Here is a selection of some of Tenerife’s best beaches, this list is not comprehensive and you may well want to add your own favourites the list.

Playa Teresitas
Playa de las Teresitas is one of Tenerife’s best kept secrets. This beach is Tenerife’s largest and as it is on the north eastern coast to the north east of the island capital of Santa Cruz, it is not often visited by the tourists who mainly inhabit the south western corner of Tenerife. The beach is over 1.5km long and is manmade from imported sand from the Sahara desert.

Playa las Teresitas Tenerife

Playa las Teresitas Tenerife

Playa las Vistas
Playa las Vistas is the main beach of the resort of Playa de las Americas and stretches along to Los Cristianos. The beach has a promenade lined with cafes and restaurants, and is made from goldenish sand. Like all the golden beaches on Tenerife it is man-made from imported sand.

Playa Camison
Playa Camison also in Las Americas is a yellow sand beach backed on to by a couple of 5 star hotels with a beach bar.

Playa Camison Tenerife

Playa Camison Tenerife

Playa Fanabe
Playa Fanabe is the main beach of Costa Adeje and is a large sand beach lined by a promenade with bars and restaurants. It also has a beach club serving drinks and playing club music on the beach.

Playa del Duque
Playa del Duque is small beach in the exclusive part of Costa Adeje with a meandering promenade with exclusive restaurants and cafes. This is the expensive part of Costa Adeje, no one euro beer offers here.

El Medano
The beaches at El Medano are home to Tenerife’s best natural beaches. They are the only natural sand beaches on the island that are not of the black sand variety.

El Medano Beach Tenerife

El Medano Beach Tenerife

Playa Jardin
Playa Jardin is the main beach for the north Tenerife resort of Puerto de la Cruz and consists of natural black sand. The beach is bordered with lush gardens and has cafes on the promenade.

Playa Socorro
Playa Socorro is north Tenerife’s cool beach where the local surf dudes come to play. Just one beach bar and made of black sand located near the town of Los Realejos.

Let us know your favourite beach on Tenerife and maybe you know of some hidden gems you would add to this list. You possible don’t agree at all with the beaches listed here.

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

 
Posted in News and Views | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weather 20th September 2014 – Los Cristianos/Las Americas

It started off as a rather cloudy morning, but they are moving on quickly, and temperatures are also rising rapidly 2 degrees in the last 20 minutes so it is now 23°C

2-DSC04658 4-DSC04660

Yesterday was pleasantly cooler than of late temperatures only got to 28°C in the shade! Lots of cloud in the north and I was told it was raining heavily for over an hour – wish I had been there to see it.

Last night the sun set behind La Gomera and the few thin strips of clouds on the horizon turned shimmering gold before the reaper’s moon of autumn appear. 1-DSC04657

The following images are for Las Vistas Beach in the south of the island and Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island and are taken from the webcam yesterday at 12.00, 3.00 and 6.00. These times are approximate and are at whatever is the nearest before or after the hour. You can check this  LINK and it will give you 72 hours of what has been/is happening should you wish to see.

Las Vistas Beach – between Los Cristianos and Las Americas

Why not Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings
Blog Ping
Hostgator promo codes
Posted in Daily Weather | Leave a comment

Tenerife History – The family pig – Memories of a Canarian Lady

Before proper roads and motorways, distances between villages seemed so much further, a trip to Guimar was a real hike and to go to Santa Cruz was an expedition.

Very few people had cars or trucks in the 1940s so for most of us, our life was mainly confined to places we could walk to and the people we knew confined to those in our area that we could speak to. Walking paced our life and lifestyle and kept it at a slow steady speed.

All services and stores had to be at walking distance so the village was constantly alive with the hustle and bustle of people going about their business, the social network was also red hot back then as villagers always found time to exchange news and juicy gossip as they passed each other on the roads and paths. What a contrast to the islanders’ lifestyles today who regularly commute vast distances or fly off to far flung places without giving it much thought or even viewing it with much excitement. Nowadays as the motorways stream and roar with two currents of fast flowing traffic our villages seem to stand almost silent, and with few people in the streets it sometimes seems as though their life blood has been drained.

For today’s young generation the idea of living in such a tightly-knitted village community could well appear claustrophobic with everyone knowing everybody else’s business and no escaping a reputation you were labelled with. It also meant that when villages developed independently, they developed their own identities, their own regional accents and even their own words although they were only a few kilometres apart. We were proud of the fact that our village, El Escobonal, became famous for its elaborate fiestas and for its beautiful girls!

The year was marked by traditional events such as summer festivals and religious processions and what made these celebrations so special wasn’t just the day itself but the collective anticipation which could be felt around us and which made the sense of occasion that much stronger. Even smaller events were made special such as the chestnut and bacon dinner on All Saints Day or the big moment when the family pig was slaughtered followed by a rare feast.

Around autumn time the “cochineros” (pig-men) would start arriving at the village. They were a tough body of men who came up walking right from the other side of the island from Icod Alto over the summit of Las Cañadas and then down the winding mountain paths to Agache. They came to the villages selling live piglets which they kept in tall cane baskets strapped to their mules or donkeys. The first villager to catch sight of these men coming over the horizon would quickly alert others and gradually people came out into the streets to greet the traders. Almost all the households had a pig pen outside where they reared the one piglet into a porker. As this took about one year when the pig-men arrived, villagers needed to buy a replacement and like many salesmen these traders were eager to exaggerate their goods. They would hold out the squealing piglet infront of them, stretching their fore and back legs to their full length to make the poor creature look as long as possible. Then with a very discerning eye the buyer would assess the health and size of the piglet, they had to be so careful because if the animal turned out to be sickly and died this was a real tragedy for the family as it could represent their year’s pork supply. Instead of money the pig-men often accepted payment in seed potatoes, or other crops they needed in the north of the island. As these men were on the move for days at a time it was customary to offer them a place to sleep which was usually a cave or shed full of hay where they slept together with their animals!

So for us our pig was extremely important and we kept a very close eye on its progress feeding it on all the scraps we couldn’t eat ourselves such as pumpkin skin and prickly pear flowers which were cut up and boiled to feed the pigs. As for the prickly pears themselves after brushing them in the soil to get rid of the prickles these too were fed to the pigs. No food went to waste and to drink they got the washing up water!

One day our young pig started losing its appetite and my mum, alarmed, cut some of its hairs, gave them to me and told me to run quickly to Jesusa the witch-doctor who lived a few doors down so that she could rid it of “the evil eye”. Jesusa immediately took the pig hairs and placed them infront of her and then closed her eyes and started praying. After a while she started to yawn, then she yawned again and again and then just as I thought she would never stop, with her eyes streaming she told me that the pig was healed. I thanked her, ran back home and true to her word and through the grace of God, the pig was healed and eating heartily – a miracle?! Another word for Jesusa could be faith-healer and again with my own eyes I saw her cure my two-year-old daughter who was very sick and had a very high temperature. Jesusa took her hand and after praying some time suddenly started to yawn and then vomit badly and almost immediately as though by magic my daughter sat up, the red flush rapidly fading from her face and started to babble away, she was as right as rain. To this day some people in the village still visit these faith healers, often with remarkable results.

As the yearly event of the pig slaughter meant a real feast, we really looked forward to that day and I have to admit that we didn’t feel that sorry for the poor creature, its fate had been decided a long time ago and the pork was an essential part of our diet. The day of the slaughter was a real ceremony and close friends and family were notified well in advance. People started to arrive from very early in the morning and from that moment all hell was let loose as everyone started on the preparations. The floors were swept and the home dusted and out came the best crockery and the special linen for the big event. Outside part of the path was swept and then sprayed with water to give a sense of cleanliness and freshness for the arriving guests. At around 11.00am along came the slaughterers each equipped with a back-pack with their old clothes and their razor sharp Canarian knives. Once all the men were gathered together and ready, the pig would be killed with one sharp blow of the knife and the blood collected in an enamel bath ready for making the black pudding. Next the skin was covered with pine needles and then set alight to burn off the hair, then scraped with a spade to get rid of all the dirt. After that the pig was washed thoroughly until it reached a rosy pink colour, it was then split open and the first chunks of pork to be cut out were immediately sliced into pieces by the women and fried up giving off a deliciously appetising aroma. Then came the offal, the liver, the lungs, heart and guts etc and everyone set about their tasks. The hardest and the most specialised job was that of cleaning the intestines to prepare them for black pudding and sausages but once they were clean they were left to marinate a few hours with slices of oranges, lemons and garden herbs.

As a little girl my work began in the evening when it was the children’s turn to do their bit. Our parents gave us little “pork parcels” (pieces of pork wrapped in cement-bag paper) to distribute to the friends that we hadn’t been able to invite. I remember mum putting all the little parcels in a basket, each one with a person’s name on it and when I shared them out I was told to pass on a message like:

“Please forgive us for only giving you a small portion but the pig wasn’t very big this year.”

I was so innocent that once when giving out the parcels I gave a neighbour the wrong one by mistake, when I realised I quickly snatched it back saying “No, no, no that’s not for you, mum told me that the smallest one was for you!” She must have been a kind neighbour because she still gave me a little caramel sweet.

Whilst we were out running our errands the rest of the pig was cut up and the pieces laid out on a clean cloth and placed in the coolest part of a cave for the night. The next day after coating the meat with coarse salt, out would come the wooden barrels to stack the pork so that it could last us several months. (Recently we attempted to do the same with some pork we bought fresh but it soon went rancid, so either the salt or the meat has changed in the last 65 years.) Another way of storing the meat was to cook the pork and then seal it in lard inside an earthenware pot and then bury it underground to keep it cool. Another custom which seems rather odd now was to attach a chunk of bacon called a “templero” to a piece of string and leave it to cook a little to give a meaty taste to a bean or vegetable stew. After a couple of minutes it would be taken out and passed round to neighbours so that they could do the same until it finally ran out of flavour, I suppose you could call it a communal “stock cube”!

The above article by Loraine Guy was first published in Tenerife Weekly

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

 
Posted in News and Views | Tagged , | Leave a comment