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Shake, Rattle and Roll in Tenerife
(Tuesday, 13 November 2007) Written by IslandDrives
Odd goings-on aren’t exactly uncommon in Puerto de la Cruz. I’ve witnessed Polish body builders posing for a calendar shoot in the surf at Playa Jardín, Spanish soap operas being filmed in various parts of the town and para-gliders missing the roof of my car by inches as they land at Parque Marítimo. Only last month the harbour had an identity crisis as it was transformed into early 20th century San Francisco by a Russian film crew. So to learn that November is due to bring antique car rallies and tea dances populated by people dressed as though they’ve just ‘Charleston-ed’ their way out of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ comes as no great surprise.

In honour of the famous writer’s visit to Tenerife in 1927, the town’s holding its first International Agatha Christie Festival between the 23rd November and 1st December. Would-be sleuths will be able to track down what’s going on and where at the CIT office on Calle Puerto Viejo.

Chestnuts roasting on open coal braziersOf course having only one festival in a month just wouldn’t be Canarian. A more traditional festival, the Fiesta de San Andrés takes place on the eve of the Feast of Saint Andrew on the 29th November (celebrations this year will last from 27th November through to 30th November). It’s quite a low key affair, but not a quiet one as hordes of kids take to the streets pulling tin cans, pots and any old thing that can make a satisfyingly loud racket as it’s dragged over the harbour’s cobblestones.

One story lays the blame for this at the feet of Scotland’s Patron Saint, Andrew who is said to have arrived on the island just as the season’s new wines were ready for tasting. With the wine flowing, St Andrew got bladdered and passed out; the mischievous local kids tied pots and pans to his robes to wake him up. I don’t know about this; a Scot comes to Tenerife, gets caught up in the party atmosphere and drinks himself into a stupor…it just doesn’t seem feasible (and before anyone accuses me of racial stereotyping, I also hail from the land of William Wallace and the best James Bond).

Simple, but delicious fayreFor me, the nicest aspect and the heart of the fiesta is found amidst the makeshift stalls that spring up at the head of the harbour. Metal braziers topped with pans of chestnuts and sardines sizzling on iron grills send aromatic wafts of smoke into the air that’ll seek you out, grab you by the nostrils and drag you back to their source. A bag of delicious roasted chestnuts and a plastic beaker filled with robust young red wine might not be considered fine dining, but combined with the sight of the moon’s silvery trail across the harbour’s black water, and the sound of traditional music in the background, it’s more than a match for the finest restaurants. Trouble is the ambience is so seductive that the temptation for another and another might prove too much and before you know it you’ll discover exactly how St Andrew ended up the way he did all those years ago.

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