Cut-price ‘Carnaval’ in Tenerife!

Not ordinarily up there on my list of ‘must see’ places, a bargain opportunity to Tenerife presented itself and two weeks later, my knackered old rucksack was stuffed with crumpled t-shirts, a guidebook and emergency Pringles. Staying in Puerto de la Cruz, I quickly heard from other hostellers about the local February ‘Carnaval’ taking place, whilst staff fed us tips on where to stand to get the best view of the parades. That evening, a handful of us set out (English, Italian, Russian and Irish), anticipating free titillation, fun and merriment out in the (chilly) fresh air…

Cut-price ‘Carnaval’ in Tenerife!

What a night! Scantily clad men and women shimmied their way through the streets, creating a moving explosion of neon pinks, greens and purples complete with masks ranging from the traditional to the terrifying. The point at which Cat Woman sashayed past, we decided we’d have a break from the sequinned and the glitterati, hunting instead for some cheap grub to keep us going. ‘Carnaval’ season provides the perfect chance to sample an array of local food from street vendors – hardly fine Tenerife dining, but much more fun! Between four nationalities, we agreed the most pleasant discovery came from morcilla (ooh that sounds nice!) or blood sausage in English (hmmm, on second thoughts). A bizarre mix of pig’s blood, herbs, spices and nuts, morcilla united four nations in sceptical surprise. Ireland was first to gobble the offerings whilst Russia eyed the grinning vendor suspiciously. England and Italy staged an initial protest before collapsing under pressure, all four of us soon licking our fingers before settling on our next culinary delight – what can only be described as crinkly potatoes.

Our next stall enticed us to it with loud exclamations of ‘cheapest street food’ written all over it – here we were joined by two gender-bending men dressed in basques and stockings. Regaling us with tales of their early morning climb up the local volcano, Mount Teide, (which they abandoned after two hours) our newly formed group swapped tips for penniless explorers. An excellent ‘menu del día’ exists in many Tenerife restaurants for little more than 7 Euros (bread, starter, main and wine), whilst local buses around the island are cheap and allow the traveller to gaze upon many a pretty valley minus the expense of an organized tourist trip. Clubs and bars are a huge expense, hence the attraction of Tenerife’s regular street fiestas.

Tenerife2

As night crept into early morning and outfits became more eccentric, a 6 foot Jesus stumbled past us, offering roasted chestnuts. Our little group disbanded, with talk of recovering in a park the next day or moving onto the south of the island. Squinting into the early morning sun on the Saturday, remnants of surrealism were being swept up and disposed of, the subdued air hinting at the colorful hours before the street cleaners arrived…

Author Bio: Scarlett Redman is a postgraduate social researcher with a heavily stamped passport, an empty bank account and a desire to eternally dodge the ratrace…

All pics and text are provided by the author.

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