Admittedly there’s a bit of poetic licence in the title. The way to escape the big horny bovines in Tegueste is to simply step out of their way as they lumber through the streets pulling imaginatively decorated carts.
Yesterday was our second visit to the Romería de San Marcos in Tegueste and it’s rapidly becoming my favourite romería on Tenerife. As romerías go, Tegueste’s offers something a little bit different. Although every member of the family, from tottering abuelas to tiny tots and the pet dog, is kitted out in traditional cossie, the overwhelming atmosphere at Tegueste’s fiesta is a young and vibrant one. It’s almost part trad fiesta and part carnaval.
Another difference with this fiesta is the design of the processional carts. In most romerías these are beautifully decorated, but in Tegueste they also reflect traditional life in these parts.
We’re experienced enough Tenerife fiesta goers to know that although we illegally parked when we arrived, half on half off the pavement, within 20 yards of a couple of Guardia Civil officers, we wouldn’t return to the car to find a parking ticket – we hoped. Normal rules go out of the window on fiesta days.
We’re also experienced enough to know that there’s no point finding the perfect spot for an uninterrupted view of the procession, because as soon as it starts, Canarios in their droves swamp your position. I used to devise strategies to try to outmanoeuvre them, but in the end have had to admit defeat and now we stand back and let my 150 mm camera lens get me closer to the action.
Even that’s not foolproof. In a crowd of people who make me look as though I could be a basketball player, the tallest Canario in the world will always stand in front of me. And so it was yesterday. This guy was also inexplicably linked to my lens so that no matter what direction I pointed (left, right, down, up etc), he moved to block my shot even though he wasn’t aware of my existence.
I wasn’t bothered. After the first circuit of the procession and the bulk of the boiled eggs, papas, popcorn, chunks of bread spread with chorizo paste and pork steaks were distributed to the excited crowd, I knew it came around again. By the second time most people have headed to the main plaza so I could click away at will whilst Andy had her pick of the last of the food goodies being handed out by the carts’ occupants.
After the procession, the party moved to Tegueste’s pretty church and square where the rear of the plaza is lined with kiosks selling beer, rum and pinchos – three essential fiesta ingredients. There’s a real juxtaposition here. At the church in the front of the plaza, a statue of San Marcos is carried thorough the crowd to the sound of church bells. At the back, thousands of young fiesta goers, most wearing their particular traditional costumes (representing different islands) with style and pride, bump and grind to thumping dance music.
We opted to hang with the younger homechicos at the back of the church. We made our way through the dancing masses, squeezed in at the bar at one of the kiosks and ordered a beer and a couple of pork pinchos. For once the music was dance we recognised and chicos and chicas gyrated energetically in the hot sunshine (Tegueste is often hot and humid, despite being a hop, skip and a jump from La Laguna and its ‘cooler’ weather).
Almost at the same time Andy and I turned to each other and said:
“Fantastic – actual dance music for a change,” and by doing so clearly jinxed the DJ’s choice of music.
Within another couple of tracks, dance was replaced by the usual electro salsa, sending the crowd into a bigger frenzy
However, despite me moaning about the music at fiestas on Tenerife always being salsa, salsa and more salsa, the atmosphere in Tegueste was so infectious that it was impossible not to be completely seduced by it.
By the time we left at 5pm, the party was in full swing and it was tempting to stay, but we had the car…and I was desperate to see if we really had escaped the wrath of the Guardia Civil.