Popular folklore on Tenerife has it that when Saint Andrew arrived on the island to preach the gospel he arrived late, discovered the island’s new wine and, just to be polite, partook of it liberally before giving in to a deep sleep. The story goes that local children tied pots and pans to the disciple’s clothes so that he’d wake up every time he tried to turn over.
Fact or fable, that’s the reason why the eve of San Andrés (29th November) has hordes of children running riot around the cobbled streets of Puerto de la Cruz from about 7pm pulling long trains of string decorated with old tins and bits of metal making an almighty racket.
If it’s raining the whole thing is usually called off, presumably so the little darlings don’t get wet, or rusty or something.
In the run up to San Andrés, Puerto’s harbour is filled with hot braziers roasting the season’s castañas (chestnuts) and serving them up with the new wine produced from local harvests, aniseed bread and succulent, spicy pork kebabs known as pinchos. It’s an aromatic, savoury fiesta and you can start to enjoy it from now until the 30th November.
Just along the road, young lads in Icod de los Vinos celebrate a past Saint Andrew’s day tradition by giving it some Jackass credentials.
In days of yore, wine producers transported their barrels down Icod’s nose-bleed-inducing streets on wooden sleds pulled by oxen and using a long stick which acted as both rudder and brake. Today, Icod’s daredevil teenagers take to greased boards and hurtle at breakneck speed down those same pass-me-my-crampons streets without the aid of brakes at all and plough into huge piles of old tyres, often featuring several feet of airborne anarchy.
If you’d like to witness this madness, head to Icod’s Calle El Plano on the nights of the 29th and the 30th. You’ll know you’re there by the presence of one or more Cruz Roja (ambulance) vehicles, which gives you some idea of the health and safety standards you’re about to NOT witness.
Naturally, the new wines will also be on sale from stalls around the town and should help to steady the nerves”¦ of spectators.
Those of a more nervous disposition may want to stay around the nursery slopes, some of the less steep streets where the juniors learn their trade.