Tenerife, Canary Islands—It is May 2 and we’ve arrived in Santa Cruz, the night before the Festival of the Cross. Tonight, people from throughout the area will dress in traditional Canarian clothing and gather on the Calle de la Noria, a historical street, for the May Festival, also called Baile de Magos. It is to be a lively evening of singing, dancing, and music. People from the area will bring local foods and wine to share with passersby, and we will be a part of it.
Since no one is admitted to the festival area without being in costume, our group of nine was provided with appropriate dress of the Magos (peasants). Literally translated “magician,” in Tenerife it has a different meaning, that of a campesino, a country person or peasant.
Until we gathered in the lobby of the Hotel Taburiente before walking to our dinner destination, we had no idea how the others would be dressed. The reaction was smiles and laughter all around as we snapped photos and made last-minute adjustments to our attire. It was a delightful way to feel a part of the festivities and capture the spirit of the evening.
Along the way, we passed small shops, open-air bars and restaurants, and the Museum of Fine Arts, as city locals, known as chicharreros, walked toward the old quarter with us, some dressed in costume for the celebratory evening to come. Upon our arrival at Bodeguita Canaria, we were seated in an upstairs room at a long table to accommodate our bloggers group (representing the U.S., England, Germany, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia) and our tourism hosts.
Tapas (small plates) began to arrive, six of them in all, served with a choice of red or white wine from local vineyards, as we have enjoyed throughout the week. The white wine, my choice, was Viña Zanata, from grapes grown on the slopes of the Teide volcano.
Our menu included:
Español/English: Almagrote con Pan Tostado (toasted bread with cured almogrote cheese with red pepper and oil), Ensalada de Aguacate (avocado salad), Tortilla (Spanish omelette), Chocos salteados con papitas negras (cuttlefish with local little boiled black potatoes), Carne Fiesta (pork party meat with potatoes), Surtido de postres (desserts).
The sound of stringed instruments, guitars and timples, smaller stringed instruments similar to a ukelele, filled our ears as we left the restaurant and walked out onto the street, ready to take in the sights, sounds, flavors and tastes of the Baile de Magos festival, along with the chicharreros (locals). Tonight, we too will be chicharreros.
Women, men, and children of all ages in brightly colored native garb filled the street. We continued down the Calle de la Noria, stopping to take photos of the musicians, the children, and the tables laden with local Tenerifian delights. Since we had just feasted on multiple tapas plates, I could barely think of eating again, but politely accepted a few morsels here and there as I made my way through the crowd, which seemed to be expanding by the minute.
As I reached the end of the street, I watched musicians on stage entertaining those who’d gathered to dance and raise a glass to their neighbors and newly made friends. Our group had somehow become separated, as each of us was caught up in the revelry and wandered his or her own way, taking photos, communicating with the locals in bits of English mixed with Spanish and accepting their hospitality in the form of shared food and drink.
Finally, I spied one of our group, Ivan, whose height helped him stand out above the crowd. When we couldn’t find our companions, we took a cab back to the hotel and called it a night. After the non-stop day we’d experienced, it wasn’t just my camera battery that needed recharging. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Tenerife, beginning with a winery tour and cooking class.