Carnival in Tenerife is a big deal. It’s a week-long party. All towns have their own versions but the most raucous is in Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s capital. In size it’s second only to Rio de Janeiro. There are different events every night culminating in The Burial of the Sardine on the last official night. As we wanted a bit of winter sunshine we had rented a house in La Orotava, found some cheap flights, got a deal on car hire and went. Because we can.
We parked on an impossibly steep bank right outside the little house we had rented. We would never again get a parking space anywhere near the place. The reason? Every single person in the entire neighbourhood has a car and no one has a garage. They need their cars, everywhere is too hilly to walk. It’s steeper than the coffee prices at Starbucks. In the whole town there is about 10 metres of flatness which the mayor is very proud of. This flat bit is a major tourist attraction and, to the locals, is the eighth wonder of the world.
The super-polite young owner of the house was there to meet us. As usual all the earnest instructions about the window openings, the cooker controls and the boiler went in one ear and out the other. The Little Nurse has basic Spanish only, and me, well, I just don’t listen, especially when the bars are open. Unpacked, showered and out. We were among it all by 9.00pm.
We were very lucky to find a parking space in the foothills not too far from the flat bit. Another day in Spain, another parade. They love ’em. Everyone was in fancy dress. I told The Little Nurse that I wished I’d come in fancy dress. She gave me the once over.
‘You’re fine,’ she said, ‘you fit right in.’ I can’t imagine what she meant. I was so upset I called the police.
The queen from Snow White gave me an apple. I didn’t really want it but I accepted because I was wary of her close protection bodyguards, a massive dwarf and a tiny witch.
Because of the car one of us couldn’t drink. Me. Couldn’t drink at a party. I would have to remain an introvert. We watched the band for a bit. Difficult to pin them down. I would go for Euro-Cheese-Rap.They were about as cool as geography teachers. They tried though, bless ’em.
Because of the flight and the drive we were pretty tired by midnight so we drove back up the bank to the house. The street was chokka with parked cars. I dropped The Little Nurse off and went looking for a space. The streets are so narrow up here that they are all one-way so in about 5 minutes I was passing the house door again. I took a different route and five minutes later I was back in our street having not even had a sniff of a parking space. I went around again. And again. When I passed my house for the fourth time The Little Nurse was on the steps, like a lookout at a fort. From the open car window I paraphrased Captain Titus Oates at the South Pole;
‘I’m going to town, I may be some time.’
‘Bring wine,’ she replied.
It took me half an hour to walk back up the mountain. The house was pretty cold now and the boiler controls were a mystery. We drank the wine.
to be continued…
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