Archive for June, 2007

Just be Cool

Posted: June 26, 2007 in Poetry, Shocking Poetry, Writing

There is no fun, where the PC police run,
But where the bigots and racists curse,
It’s a hell of a lot worse.

Ouch! I’ve Been Fiesta’d

Posted: June 24, 2007 in Travel

Sometime during the night someone stuck a hose in my ear, pumped dense fog into my brain, bundled me into a sack and threw me in front of a tram. Either that or my body can’t take being fiesta’d anymore.
Midsummer’s eve, or the night of San Juan, is one of the best fiestas on the island, especially in Puerto de la Cruz, where the ancient superstitions and magic that goes hand in hand with midsummer provides the perfect excuse for a chilled out and most enjoyable beach party.

Sunset at the fiestaKitted out with San Juan essentials (beer, food, flowers, candles, wine, sarongs and beachwear) we laid out our sarongs in a strategic spot on the black sand (this requires serious tactical planning-good views of bonfire and bands are important, but so is protection against the meandering ‘late to the party’ hordes who, unable to find a space big enough for their family and friends (numbering around the population of a small country), wander like lost souls along dead-end tracks through the crowds spraying sand and destroying lovingly decorated holes in their wake. The holes are an integral part of the night; the more elaborately decorated with hibiscus and bougainvillea flowers and candles, the more your chances of good luck. We formed a multinational pact with some South Americans and a group of Canarians to create a ‘safe zone’ with all paths blocked by sarongs and candles (pointless as our defences were completely ignored and trampled within seconds). The sun went down accompanied by a breeze which threatened to turn our sarongs into sails. There’re usually a few decent sized stones around which can help batten down the hatches, but there were none; the reason for which soon became clear. A few yards away an encampment of tree huggers in tie-dyed tops and Bedouin pants had created a fortress of stones, much bigger than the space they were occupying. I mumbled under my breath, ‘hey dudes, where’s the hippy concept in building barriers?”
If I’d the bottle I would have grabbed a handful of their stones and fended of the almost certain cries of outrage with a smug ‘all property is theft, amigos.”
Instead I toddled back to spot in the sand humming ‘Ain’t going to Goa,’ as way of consolation.

A trad Canarian band and copious amounts of food and alcohol pumped up the party atmosphere. Despite tens of thousands filling every inch of the beach, the scene was completely chilled; the people next to us, in a gesture typical of the friendliness and generosity of Canarians, offered us some of their papas arrugadas, literally ‘wrinkled potatoes’ (a speciality of the island) with home-made picante rojo sauce and a couple of chistorrias (spicy local sausages). Despite being already stuffed we didn’t know Spanish for stuffed, so it was easier to take the proffered plate, which was delicioso. A Latino band took to the stage and turned up the heat, turning the beach into a vast salsa dance floor of bikini and, rather disturbingly, Speedo clad dancers gyrating sensually until the midnight firework display announced the raison d’être of the whole affair; time to head to the shoreline and be blessed by the magical midsummer waters. It’s believed that bathing in the water at the dawning of midsummer’s day will protect you from disease, help you find your true love and also increase fertility; a claim borne out by the inflated birth rate nine months later (I’m willing to bet that a formula of chicos and chicas wearing next to nothing, their bronzed bodies glistening in the candlelight, lots of alcohol and a sultry night is probably going to play some part in this).

There’s no point in tempting fate so, fuelled by a couple of bottles of wine, we stripped down to our beach togs and joined the midnight bathers. The presence of a group of brass monkeys deliberating at the water’s edge should have been a warning. As the first wave crashed on the beach and the water crept up my thighs, I discovered that I was able to do what Sumo wrestlers spend years learning, whilst an unseen demon thrust an ice dagger into my lungs. Okay this is probably a bit of an exag, but it wasn’t like submerging in a warm bath. We quickly splashed water over our bodies, learning where ancient chants come from in the process as every dousing was met with a: “AYA-WAA-HI-I-I-WA-HOO”.

Suitably protected for another year, we headed back to our candlelit spot to dry out, opened another bottle of wine and simply chilled out listening to the tribal rhythmic beating of bongo drums and a group of twenty some-things next to us bizarrely singing ‘Hey-Ho, Hey-Ho, it’s of to work we go’ in Spanish.
Locals claim that if you stay on the beach to see in the dawn, you’ll be rewarded by the songs of Sirens and the sight of the mystical island of San Borondón rising from the sea. Unfortunately by 2.30 am, the wine and our bodies gave up the ghost and we retired from the fiesta, aching of limb, but with an overwhelming feeling of well being. Maybe bathing in the midsummer seas actually did work, on the other hand it might just have been the wine.

Click here for more information on the real Tenerife

Churned Love

Posted: June 18, 2007 in Poetry, Shocking Poetry, Writing

T’was on such a day,
In an unseasonably hot May,
That my favourite butter ran away.

Now I’m with Marge.

I’m not a twitcher, but I like a side serving of the dawn chorus with breakfast, well not so much dawn, luckily the birds here don’t fully find their voices till after 8am.
We’re lucky enough to have a diverse little gathering of African tits (who delight in vandalising the hibiscus), chiffchaffs, Canaries (which are actually brownish green in the wild), a shy Hoopoe (who hoops away for hours, but rarely shows him, or herself), the occasional parrots (who just squawk and fight as parrots are wont to do), and the Pavarotti of the lot, the little black cap (not his real monicker, which is something like tinto negro), who can out sing the lot.
Today a new fellow entered the fray, soaring gracefully in wide circles in the blue yonder- a fish eagle. Unfortunately, if he was looking for new territory, his quest didn’t go too well. First he had to suffer the ignominy of a dopey flock of local homing pigeons mistaking his markings for one of their own and joining him in his royal meanderings (don’t eagles eat other birds?) which obviously didn’t help with any stealthy hunting he had planned. Then he was attacked by a pair of hawks, who despite the zillion or so lizards that live hereabouts, obviously didn’t feel this particular bit of sky was big enough for the both of them and promptly saw him off. I’m sure he could have taken them and I half hoped he would puff up his chest and flash his talons in a ‘don’t mess with me, I’m the lord of the skies’ manner, but, despite having superior firepower, he didn’t rise to the bait. It seems to me that he was far too good natured to be an eagle. I hope he comes back.

Bad Bovines

Posted: June 14, 2007 in Poetry, Shocking Poetry, Writing
Tags: , ,

Haiku or low coo,
During a Scottish winter,
They’re both Friesian.

It’s funny the impact that apparently irrelevant choices can have on how your day is going to pan out. This morning I threw on a T-shirt for the simple reason that it was clean and didn’t need ironing. How was I to know that I’d end up face to face with a group of visiting exiled Miami Cubans who would take exception to the three images of Che Guevara on my chest?
I simply wanted to change my bank details with the local water company, but previous experience told me that this little job would take all morning, so I decided to mix pleasure with business and use the visit to photograph the La Orotava flower carpets which were being laid out for the Corpus Christi celebrations on Thursday.
The carpets attract visitors from all over the world and by the time I reached the town hall there was a multi-national crowd craning to get a good view of the designs. The town hall’s balconies are perfect for getting a good shot of the carpets and it was from one of these that I inadvertently caused a ‘Bourne Identity’ moment. As I swapped places with an elderly gent on the balcony, he looked in my direction, scowled, and mumbled something in Spanish. Before I could say ‘serious mistaken identity here’ I was surrounded by a group of men and women pointing at me and shouting “Asesino, asesino!”
Apparently one of them had lost their father during the Cuban revolution and another claimed that he had shared a girlfriend with Che and that he’d had to leave the love of his life and flee Cuba for America to avoid death. The sight of me wearing his image even as a fashion, as opposed to a political, statement sent them wild.
I apologised for accidentally offending anyone, but added that Che Guevara was actually a hero to some people which started them ranting again, and so I diplomatically retreated back to the mind-numbingly boring, but safer confines of the queue outside the ‘Consorcio de Tributos’ office and like everybody else filed another couple of hours of life in the ‘unnecessary use of my time folder’ as we quietly waited our turn.