LANZAROTE FOLK SET FINE EXAMPLE
by Norman Warwick
On Friday, July 15, the uncivil behaviour of a group of foreign tourists in the inland saltwater lake of Los Jameos del Agua, in the north of Lanzarote, blasted across social networks, after being reported by Lancelot Digitas, This is a protected area in which the so-called jameíto, an albino crab in danger of extinction, lives. The place is next to the beach of Los Caletones, just three kilometers from Punta Mujeres.
Los Jameos del Agua is a tourist centre managed by the Cabildo de Lanzarote and created by the local painter César Manrique in the nineteen sixties. In that lake the mentioned crab is bred, totally white and endemic to the island. Its scientific name is Munidopsis Polimorpha and, measuring just three centimeters, it can be found nowhere else in the world.
In a video that captured the vandalistic action of the tourists four of the miscreants could be seen bathing the same morning of Friday, and defying the indications of the workers of the centre, although thr fifth member desisted from entering the water after receiving the warning. The Jameos del Agua and the so-called Cueva de los Verdes, where the incident occurred, are part of the tunnel of the Volcán de la Corona, belong to the municipality of Haría and the access of the whole to the sea is called the Tunnel of Atlantis.
The incident has outraged the inhabitants of the island, who cannot explain how such an invasion of a space in which the prohibition of bathing is very clear and translated into several languages could occur, so that confusion cannot be alleged as proof of the infraction. Manrique turned in his day the collapse of the roof of a volcanic tube through which the lava ran into a unique space in the world; he managed to model the basalt and shape the installation. to create a place where Lanzarote people have learned to Let the Mystery Be ! In the center there is a pre-established tour of visit that begins in the so-called Jameo Chico, continues through the lake of the jameítos and continues through the Jameo Grande, always in small groups. Then an aperitif is made with tasting of local products. The one known as Jameo de La Cazuela is only visitable in private events, with two interior waterfalls.
I share the outrage of any indigenous islands, and I think it might have been quite instructive to place the offenders in a small room for the night and then to escioretd the following day by the police, giving the group a tour of an island at its best and most respectful whilst celebrating one of the most significant days on the island calendar.
July 16th has become one of the most important dates in Lanzarote and again the island is celebrated the festivities of the Vergen del Carmen and had recovered all its former splendour, so rudely interrupted by the pandemic The municipality of Teguise, the former capital of the island, delivered a platform of events for this 2022 festivity
Tinajo also celebrated in style with tThe vast majority of activities being concentrated in the gorgeous fishing village of La Santa. in the preceding week Lanzaroteans enjoyed workshops, football championships, sports and even bingo but the big day was celebrated on on Saturday 16th July wirh with the land procession from 20:30 hours and an hour later a multitudinous celebration was enjoyed with a serie of concerts across the region throughout the evening.
In Arrecife, too, the tradition was revived, post-pandemic, and Saturday was also the highlight of this festivity. At 7 pm will be there was the usual land procession in Valterra. Such ´land processions´sees happy crowds of people, often accompanied by musicians, who walk beside the staue Of Carmen as it is carried out of the church by volunteers, and taken on a roiute around the town before beiung returned to her spititual home, This was followed by the performance at 9 of Pepe Benavente (right) and at 11 o’clock at night verbena
On Sunday 17 there was another procession as a colourfully decorated boat paraded the Virgen del Carmen along the coast of the capital in the morning, before the popular noon barbeque. There was also a fantastic firework display to enjoy later in the evening.
We stayed a little bit closer to home this year, and saw most of our own festival in Playa Blanca. We had watrched the grand stage being built all week in Plaza Del Carmen, the beautiful square in front of the church, opposite the restaurnats and adjacent to the newly refurbished children´s soft-play area, just twenty yeards from the sea.
Yes, you are absolutely correct,…. people on Lanzarote certainly know how to create and utilise community space. And they set a fine example , too, of courtesy and good behaviour.
By the time we arrived in the square at about six thiry in the evening, most of the approximately four hunbdred seats set out for the free audience were taken, and anyway we wouldn´t really dream of depriving a local person of a seat, so instead put up our folding chairs and sat and listened for two or three hours. There was a local band (I presumed) of two male musicians a lady guitarist and a young girl singer delivering some driving powerful music with great vocals.
It was interesting to see, yet again, how Lanzarote people mix religion, celebration and joy into a pastel coloured picture of harmony, tolerance and serenity. I was put in mind, not for the frst time here on lanzarote of a line by my favourite songwritert, John Stewart, who in one his songs told of looking our from the stage and seeing ´his loyal friends and front row dancers´. They were out in force today for this local band and there were mothers and daughters dancing folk-lore moves and a few grandparents who still knew how to jive (right). It was wonderful,
The atmosphere became, for a while, a celebration of a slightly more solemn nature, led by the parish priest, Jonathan Almeida This saw the local priest delivering a mass and a holy communion that was conducted in a fully respectful atmosphere by the local priest, xxxx and even the sounds of the bustling town centre seemed to fall into silence.
The religious ceremony was supported by occasional musical accompaniment from Coro de Yaiza (left) most of whom are Yoga-group friends of my wife. The ensemble looked very smart in their beige jackets and, as always delivered some complicated hymns and songs with lovely harmonies and a minimum of fuss.
Then it was time to carry the statue out of the church and round the town. We have often seen such pilgrimages in similar events in Peurto Del Carmen, Las Brenas, Femes and Las Nieves
Carmen was accompanied by the priest and by local dignitaries (left), as well as scores of members of the public. We didn´t follow it this year because we had fallen into conversation with Marco and Carmen, two other members of the yoga group Dee attends twice a week. The four of us just chatted and watched the world go round for a little while.
As darknbess feel we all went our various ways and Dee and I bought a couple of beers among the temporary food and drinks outlets, unfolded our charis again and sat in a secluded littel corner from where we could look out on these ellycien fields. Dee suddenly got up again and said she was just going ´over there´ to see what might be going on. She headed off inb the direction of the sound of rock and roll being boomed out by the live band on stage.
She returned looking amazed.
¨There must be 500 people all rocking and rolling in the square´, she told me, ´and some of them are older than us´!
¨Let´s go the fair, up the road,¨ I said, before she might get visions in her head of us dancing,
The fair in question was a travelling fair; think Silcock´s if you have UK memories.
Whilst Silcock´s always seemed to be a fair aimed at young paramours, of the John Travolta and Olivia Newton John archetype, this fair, on a piece of land that is the size of a couple of football pitches, across the road from The Princess Yaiza Hotel, seemed to have rides for all ages.
There were young rodeo riders on the electric bulls and we perhaps took a sadistic delight in watching these brainless beasts throwing their gloating riders to the floor. There was one girl who managed to stay on the bison´s back throughout the ride. I guess it wasn´t her first rodeo !
The pods on the latest NASA space module (fairground style, right) seemed to house those of a Buzz Lightyear persuasion, happy to gently glide across the universe simply ´doing the spacewalk´ until the pods parked side by side, each on the edge of a vertical tunnel back down to earth with a bang. It’s a wonderful spectacular, gaudy sight from terra firma but it perhaps didn´t seem so exciting from the inside. Suddenly, the pods release to ´drop` faster than the speed of light towards earth. This happens maybe a dozen times in a ten minute ride.
This is Major Tom to Ground Control I´m not getting on that !
The following day was definitely a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but there was another little ceremony that defined Lanzarote´s home-pride. There was an inaugural unveiling of a sculpture by one of our favourite creators that has made something of a magic roundabout out of what until now has been a kind of ´round and round the roundabout´ play area for drivers who don´t know where they are going, taxi drivers who do know where they are going and are going so in a hurry, lottery ticket purchasers who test their luck by parking on the roundabout to leave their vehicle to go and buy them, young male tourists losing at least one flip flop half way across the crossing to ensure seeking to ensure he doesn´t drop any of three twelve-packs he has just bought at one of the three supermarkets around the circumference of the roundabout whilst his young female companion stands still on the crossing to take a photo of her phone of several cans of lager rolling out of a bag into the gutter !.
The town of Playa Blanca has premiered a new sculpture dedicated to the seafaring tradition, with a figure modeled by the artist Cintia Machín and an old wafer restored by the carpenter Luis Quintana.(shown left)
Last Sunday the opening ceremony took place in the small roundabout in the center of town, a few meters from the beach of Playa Blanca, an area closely linked to the sea, where the effort of southern sailors has allowed the development of the area.
The author of the work, Cintia Machín, made an emotional review of her personal life experience and her talks with the fishermen, who helped her sculpt the tribute. “It is a work that humanizes the public space and gives a sense of place, that refreshes the memory and that connects more with the feeling of our people,” she explained
In fact, this new installation stands only around thirty metres .away from another of her works, that of two young contestants competing in the traditional island sport of wrestling. Up in Las Brenas there is her lovely sculpture of a dignified Victor Gopa, a late poet already celebrated by having his name indelibly attached to the El SalineropTheatre in Arrecife.
I think Cintia (right next to her sculpture) is right to speak of her work connecting with the´feeling of our people:¨ I would go further, though, and suggest that her works offer any tourist who can find the ´time to stand and stare´ might come to understand a little more of Lanzarote and Canary Island tradition and what life was like for previous gnerations here, before the planes brought the visitors here. Cintia´s installations speak of the dignity of the men who caught food out on an often volatile ocean, and she captures the quietude of the working men who wrote poetry too. and the competetiveness of the children who had to make their own sport and games on Lanzarote.
With this latest unveiling she has show us a compare and contrast. There are a number of sea-boat related statues on the island including the most recent previous installation of the catching of the marlin, an episode in The Old Man And The Sea by Hemingway (a book that has an unbreakable link with the island) that tells of a to the death struggle between one man and his pursuit of his catch. Cintia´s new sculpture, on the other hand, captures a boatman seemingly content with his lot and in his work, and in showing us that she captures what seems to me a perfect representation of Lanzarote people.
The event was also attended by the mayor of the City of Yaiza, Óscar Noda, the parish priest of the town, Jonathan Almeida, who blessed the work, as well as neighbors and several veteran southern fishermen, such as Blas Francisco Martín and Benigno Caraballo, who participated in the moment of the revelation of the sculptural set.
“The tribute to our seafaring tradition through art has the virtue of personalizing. We have a sculpture nearby, art as a vehicle that reconciles us with public space, that brings us closer to our community and the richness of our intangible heritage,” said the mayor
“For his part, the president of the Fishermen’s Guild of Playa Blanca, Cristo Caraballo, expressed his emotion and happiness saying that “it is a tribute that Playa Blanca deserves and all the sailors and their families who today see their work recognized.”
Óscar Noda recalled that “fishing in Playa Blanca is artisanal and respectful of the natural environment, a fact that I want to value when the world cries out for sustainability”. And it is that from the City Council they have also wanted to highlight that the fishing activity is the direct survival for about thirty families of Playa Blanca and an added value for the catering and tourism secto
Finally, the mayor thanked Cinta Machín for his valuable artistic work and Councilman Rubén Arca “for his commitment so that the town could see this initiative completed.”