Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tejeda, Las Fiestas del Almendro en Flor - Almond Blossom Celebration

This Sunday me and the kids went to the Celebration of almond bloom in Tejeda.  In the morning I was very much in two minds about going – the day started really gloomy in Las Palmas, with short but intense showers of rain. We procrastinated for a goodish while, but then figured that we could go to San Mateo, and re-think again there.

When we arrived to San Mateo the drizzle was constant and it was “freezing” by Canarian standards – one of the chemist shops was showing +11 on their clock, plus the roads to San Mateo were very busy because of the Sunday market so it took a long time to get there. Everything was looking grey and flat, with only outlines visible.  I was all for going right back, but the kids, to my surprise, wanted to carry on – and I am very glad we did.

Global, true to their promise, put on some extra free buses and one was standing at the bus station in San Mateo when we arrived. It took us quite a bit longer to get to Tejeda than usual, partially because of the traffic, partially the weather and partially because the police made some diversions in the roads to avoid two-way jams. Those roads are really not suitable for heavy traffic, and if there are buses involved, it becomes a slow and ponderous ballet of hippos from Fantasia every time they meet on a bend.

Anyway. The first good sign came as we were nearing the pass at Cruz de Tejeda – suddenly the sun was there. That is not to say that it was a blue sky, bright sunshine situation, no – but while the bus was still moving through the drizzle or fog or clouds or what have you, we could see where the sun was and things  changed from silhouettes into 3d.

My original plan was to repeat the walk down to Tejeda village from Cruz de Tejeda, but as it was still drizzling there I decided we would carry on to the village. And as the bus went down couple of curves, almost all at once we left the clouds behind us and it got sunny and bright. A little rainbow appeared by the side of the bus for a few seconds when we were passing the boundary.

It was full sun the whole time we were in Tejeda, and from there you could see the clouds falling visibly into the Caldera over its edges, never reaching the bottom. Strangely, you could still feel a drizzle on your skin from time to time, so maybe the clouds did reach the bottom, just not visibly so. I am still not sure if we were exceptionally lucky with the weather or if the Caldera has its own micro-climate. The only thing I know is that every time I get to the area, the weather is perfect.

It was almost too pretty. The almond trees are not just growing in and around the village – there are white and pink blossoms on the slopes everywhere, going up to the feet of Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga. I am not sure how those trees got there – could it be they are wild? Or maybe the idea is to plant as many almonds as possible wherever possible – the idea being you can't have too many almond trees.

As to the fiesta itself – well, I am not big for them. We obviously didn't see all the things that went on, and it wasn't our aim in any case. Big crowds, long queues for  foodstuffs, some traditional costumes and music... don't recall much else, but one thing is for sure - the backdrop for it is magnificent, so as fiestas go it is one of the better ones. The dates of the fiestas also serve as a useful clue as to when the almonds are likely to be in full bloom. (Now, I heard two version, one “last weekend of January”, another “first weekend of February”, which, as it happens, coincided this year).

I think it is the Canarian equivalent of the blossom-appreciation during the Golden Week in Japan, with almonds instead of sakura. Given an opportunity, you must go see it for yourself. Here is an indication – my two sons, both in their teens, said that they were glad we saw almond blossoms in the Caldera. Something that impresses teenage boys, who practically never admit they are impressed by anything, is bound to impress anyone, I say.

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