As everyone in other lands (outside of the orthodox Christian communities of course) settled back into their daily routines Monday or Tuesday, España was girding its loins for the final round of seasonal festivities.
Thursday night the Three Kings arrived in Tenerife, and also in the rest of the Canary Islands, Andalucia, Cataluña and all points on the map of Spain. Los Reyes Magos are sprinkled with the same star-dust as Santa, and arrive laden with toys for the good kids and coal for the baddies. Known to the English as “The Three Kings,” they are based on the wise men, or kings, who supposedly visited the infant Jesus bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. Although these days it seems that they are in a neck and neck race with Santa for kiddies’ affections, they seem to be ahead of the game, and most lucky Spanish kids get presents from both, a little something from Santa and the real booty from the Kings. My kids used to get it the other way around as we accustomed ourselves to different ways of doing things years back.
Guess this guy was left over from Chinese New Year!
Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar make an appearance in most towns, sometimes on camel, sometimes on horseback and sometimes by vintage car (the kings of El Médano I spied by the roadside as I left the town late yesterday afternoon atop the back seats of coupés). In Los Cristianos they arrive on the ferry …. it’s a bit non-specific where they come from, there is, apparently no equivalent of the North Pole in “Kingsland.” In both Santa Cruz and Adeje they have been known to zoom down by helicopter, so the variations are endless.
See the huge bag of confetti?
I hadn’t been to see a parade since my kids stopped believing, but in the wake of a difficult Christmas and a disrupted New Year I felt the urge to see them arrive in somewhere traditional, and I asked Austin if he wanted to go to La Laguna with me. The suggestion appealed because he’d found a new tapas bar, and was eager to eat there again.
Parking outside of the center, and strolling in, we sussed out the route, had a drink and found a decent spot to take photos, where no folk as yet had gathered, and we hung around and chatted. First hint that this was possibly not going to be the fun night I hoped for was when a podgy granny pushed past us and plonked herself stoutly in the front line. Happily for me, being fairly tall, she just about came up to my boobs, so zooming over her head was no problem. An “Excuse me,” would’ve been nice though.
The parade eventually (as all things here are) arrived. It was mostly colourful, there was some jolly marching-type music from various music groups, and onlookers were pelted with confetti and candies – that UFO in the picture below is an incoming caramel, which landed on my nose, much to the chagrin of podgy granny, who was grabbing all she could and stuffing in her mouth.
What seemed to be missing was fun and jollity. The folk on the floats who weren’t wearing giant heads looked cold and bored, barely a smile between them. The little kids around looked bewildered, and the older ones interested only in screeching for the caramelos. It was all in contrast to the good-nature and bonhomie of the Romeria back in summer.
Before it ended, I lost interest, and we went in search of tapas, a fruitless endeavour because as we tried to worm our way through the crowds the procession seemed to wind its way back and forth and block our progress. On the night of the 5th all the shops stay open, so folk were there not just for the parade, but for last-minute shopping too. We plunged into dark, narrow streets, hoping to get ahead, only to hear the ominous thumping of the drums alerting us that the procession had turned our way. In the end we gave up trying to reach the bar and returned to Güimar for Chinese food – there is one thing you can rely on here, as in many other parts of the world (outside of China, that is) there will always be a Chinese restaurant open! Happily for us the one near toAustin’s house is most excellent, so no disappointment there!
Even the giant heads looked kind of sad or grumpy!
Maybe to really enjoy this, particular, parade you need to be with kid of just the right age – you know, old enough to have a willing suspension of disbelief, but young enough not be fuelled by greed. At any rate, for me, it didn’t resonate. I’ll just parcel it up with the tail-end of memories of 2011 and file it away. The thing I think I like about the English and US celebrations is that it’s a year-end blow out, and then the New Year dawns all bright and shiny. I don’t think I believe in the Kings any more.
My favorite picture from the evening. This young lady looked as happy as you can playing the flute, and looked as if she was taking pride in her music.
And this was me, as I emerged from the fray – I’d already shaken off most of the confetti by the time Austin raised the camera!