A Yorkie riding a pony; an iguana squaring up to two bulldogs, a donkey wearing a straw bonnet and a mongrel in full traditional Canarian costume…you really don’t need to take mind altering narcotics when you live in Tenerife.
The weekend had been bizarre enough when we returned home from watching Man Utd beat Spurs in the FA Cup to find a rock concert taking place in the neighbour’s garden. The band wasn’t half bad either. After an initial set of enthusiastic Spanish rock they switched to rock and did a pretty good job of Pink Floyd, Clapton and Hendrix. So sitting listening to a rock concert from the comfort of our house was a pretty surreal start to the weekend.
Sunday we dragged ourselves out of bed (the concert didn’t finish until 2am) to head to Buenavista del Norte for the Fiesta de San Antonio Abad. Last year we had enjoyed the equivalent fiesta in La Matanza, so we were interested to see how Buenavista’s would compare.
It was a pleasant day, the sun making intermittent appearances which immediately scored better then La Matanza’s which, lying quite a way up the hillside, is more prone to cloud at this time of year.
I’d been expecting a bigger event than the fiesta in La Matanza, so was surprised to find that it was quite a bit smaller and there didn’t seem to be nearly as many animals. Today’s El Dia reported that there were over 1000 head of cattle. Personally, I reckon that whoever was doing the counting must have been partaking of generous quantities of the beer and wine from the jam-packed stalls and bars all around the town and was seeing three of everything.
However, numbers aside, it was a completely enchanting fiesta with a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. The Teno Massif provided a dramatic backdrop to the fields where the livestock were gathered and the town of Buenavista was looking at its best; bright streamers lined the roads and antique wooden balconies were decorated with wicker baskets adorned with fruit and vegetables.
Small groups of musicians strummed their timples outside nearly every bar, whilst dancers in white costumes with twirling skirts, reminiscent of the Turkish national dress, whirled to the haunting pito herreño (flute) and drum riffs from the island of El Hierro.
Whilst the ‘show’ animals (horses, cattle, goats, dogs) looked magnificent, it was the fringe events which I found the most interesting. There were nearly as many animal ‘spectators’ as there were human ones and when a small crowd gathered in one spot it was a clue that something different was going on. The most bizarre of these being the iguana squaring up to two bulldogs who barked and strained at their leashes…until the iguana responded by lumbering slowly toward them which shut them up big time.
As always, everybody was only too happy to pose for photos; the event is a photographer’s dream with any number of potential impossibly cute ‘greeting card’ type shots. I particularly liked the Yorkie riding the pony which seems to be an annual favourite. But cats in scarves, bunnies in bows, kid goats with ribbons around their throats, donkeys in straw boaters and a girl doing an impression of Salma Hayak in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ with a python around her neck all added an ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ element to the whole affair.
Despite many animals wearing more clothes than some of their owners, the only uncomfortable looking creature I noticed all day was a cat in a scarf, but then cats don’t really do social events do they?