By Norman Warwick

Thingy and I had arrived at La Mancha at about 11.15 am which gave us chance to wander through the scores of artisan stalls set up in market-styles under tent coverings. Our son, who lives in South Korea, would have really enjoyed the wide range of creations in wood, as he does a lot of that kind of work making toys and furniture etc in a small workroom he has over there. Indeed the notice (shown left) was photographed so he can follow its link

She that lives with me,..er.er. Dee, my wife Dee, fell into conversation with a lady working the stall for the Asociacion Cultural, Socia, Patrimonial y Agricola Milana. Dee learned from her chat that Lanzarote´s Cochineal Museum has recently closed for reasons that remain uncertain. We last visited the Museum just before the covid pandemic and were amazed by how brilliantly presented was the art and history along the unaccompanied path through the museum that visitors are invited to follow. I´m not sure if my editor at Lanzarote Information, Miguel, where I write a weekly column to comolement this  Sidetracks And Detours daily blog, would agree with me but I have noticed how he observes change in tourist patterns here on the island. The long queue of cars to enter the Timanfaya Volcano Park seems to grow ever longer but some of the smaller, simpler perhaps, tourist attractions seem to face a dwindling demand,

It seems there are seismic shifts going in as to what tourists now expect from their post-covid, new world holidays. We have been assured, though, that the government and the tourist board are doing all they can to anticipate and provide requirements that meet those needs.

The history of the cochineal beetle and the difference it made to the island lies in the bright dye that can be extracted from it and that made Lanzarote the centre of the fashion world for almost a century.  The cochineal is pretty much unique to Lanzarote, living on our cacti and there was a time when all human females of high society were wearing elegant gowns dyed a sizzling hot red.

Saddened by what sounded like the demise of the Cochineal Museum, we were nevertheless uplifted by the evidence of so many artisanal  skills  being worked and exhibited on the island. This was the 33rd Annual Feria de Artesania Lanzarote, more simply to we English speaking residents as Lanzarote Crafts Fair.

There scores off different stalls so, it was fascinating for instance to watch a man, without the aid of technology, create beautiful animal-hide rugs and furniture.

The cestania wicker works were on show and the big screen in the centre of the market was the gentleman who had shown Dee and I how he made his baskets and bags and hats a few year ago in his tiny work room at what had been Cesar Manrique´s House. The market stall of similar items was quite incredible, of foods made without the aid of technology but instead created sharp eyed, quick-handed workers with very sharp instruments.

There were also ladies demonstrating the ancient mystery of sewing and darning  and things they do with needle and thread. In fact what we saw was that with such tools and the right materials they can create an entire traditional costume, as was being worn by the mannequins. These clothes, though, are not merely from the history rooms. In fact they are still being worn today and many families who made the pilgrimage on foot to Mancha Blanca the previous weekend for the religious ceremony that precedes this event would have been wearing their national costume and traditional clothing. We´re sure many of our readers on the island will have seen them.

Just when we were absolutely exhausted by our walk around the market, we found a large oasis, right in the centre. There was a stage set out and microphones. The chairs were empty so we sat at the end of a row and thought a folk-lore concert was surely imminent. However, half an hour later the chairs were still only 25% filled and there was no sign of a choir or band or even an orchestra.

Suddenly, though, the auditorium filled. Lots of people were led in to the empty chairs and were settled into their places, then were given food and drink, and even my wife and I received a small plate of  tapas ood and a cup of water, There was a trio of musicians who walked around the hall in an attempt to rouse the crowds, and sang one or two obviously popular songs over and over, and lo and behold everyone clapped along and joined in. Meanwhile, a new, but smaller group of people came in through the ´front doors, and stood in empty floor space in front of  all these seated people, of whom Dee and I had now become two. The new entrants were the welcoming party, (though for whom we did not know) and we recognised our President of The Council and one or two of her councillors and press officers.

The President (left) mingled easily and cheerfully for a while until she was given a microphone so could address the entire audience. We couldn´t translate what she was saying, but she was certainly saying it cheerfully, and whatever she was saying was being well received. Speech over, The President set about mingling again, posing for photo opportunities with members of her public. It was great to see a politician so at ease with the public, so willing to give of time and so obviously willing to listen.

When the political entourage finally and even reluctantly took their leave, Dee and I settled back for the concert, but within seconds the chairs were all empty again and we were on our own. We had visitors due at home  evening, anyway, and as it was now four o´clock we decided to head home.

Only the following day, when we turned on our media devices did we receive our newscasts from La Voz, which explained everything, including why Dee and I are now, officially, elderly !!

According to La Voz

The Cabildo of Lanzarote organized Wednesday, September 14th, a visit with 151 users of the Centers for the Elderly on the island. . On Elder’s Day, they enjoyed a route through the Sanctuary of the Church of Mancha Blanca, through the Craft Fair and, finally, a lunch at Los Dolores Restaurant.

The President of the Island Council, María Dolores Corujo, accompanied by the Minister of Social Welfare, Isabel Martín, welcomed the elderly participants in  saying ´this is an  initiative to revitalize one of the groups that most need this kind of activity.´

´Projects such as these are included in the magnificent work carried out by the staff of the residences dependent on the Cabildo, to bring the elderly closer to the most important festivities on the Island and to facilitate transport and access so that they can spend a pleasant day,´ the President pointed out.

For her part, the Minister of Social Welfare, explained that the attendees made offerings to the Virgin and were able to count on a moment of prayer. Likewise, during the visit to the Fair, they enjoyed a traditional enyesque, with local products exhibited in event stands.

The users of the residences of the Hospital Insular, Tías y Haría, Domingo de Guzmán, San Roque de Tinajo, the Center for people with disabilities, the URPS and the Accompaniment Center for the Elderly in Soledad thanked the initiative and Martin pointed out that it encourages us to continue working to improve the quality of life of our elders with projects like this.´

Having reported on the day´s meeting with the elderly, and us,  La Voz also reported on the evening events, which were somewhat busier

The massive concert offered yesterday by Melendi at the Fiestas de Los Dolores in Mancha Blanca (Tinajo) brought together more than 60,000 people (right) according to estimates provided by the security forces this Thursday at 08.00 hours. We had long been back home, by then, of course.

The concert, organized by the Cabildo de Lanzarote  and chaired by President María Dolores Corujo, presented a Melendi dedicated to his audience to whom he presented his album “likes and Cicatrices” with dedication and good humour

The Asturian addressed the attendees several times to “thank the great reception from Lanzarote”, before the enthusiasm of an audience that cheered his songs.

“Lanzarote enjoyed one of the greatest  moments since the pandemic, as the party of Los Dolores reached its last days bringing together everyone in a concert that that will never be  forgotten by those who attended … thanks to Melendi for his warmth and professionalism. Lanzarote had a magical night deserved. “

For his part, the mayor of Tinajo, Jesús Machín, acknowledged to La Voz that on Wednesday night he experienced “what has never been seen. The queues of cars arrived from Tinajo to Arrecife”

The concert was protected  by a mobilized force more than police and stewards.

Melendi’s concert broke all attendance forecasts, with thousands of people in the square of the hermitage of Mancha Blanca and surroundings, in a Lanzarote that turned to the Asturian singer.

Civil Guard, National Police, Local Police, Civil Protection, Emerlan, Boluntis, AEA, GOREC, the fire department and Security and Emergency Consortium led by Marcos Bergaz, security personnel, health workers, technicians and volunteers, together with a logistical deployment, including a video surveillance camera system, made the night pass without serious incidents.

The president thanked all those involved in bring the event about.. “Without the dedicated work of the troops, citizen collaboration and proper planning, this event that exceeded expectations would not have been possible.”

Melendi and India Martínez put the culmination to the Fiestas de Los Dolores bringing together thousands of people in Mancha Blanca. The queues of cars from Arrecife to Tinajo evidenced from early afternoon what was going to be an absolute full at night.          

The event, free of charge, began around 22:00 hours. First to perform was Melendi, who presented his latest album “Likes And Scars”, released in November 2021. Also, the repertoire included several of the most recognized songs of his more than 20 years of career

The audience, totally dedicated to the event, was enthusiastic throughout the performance, singing in unison the great successes of the protagonist of the night. Melendi thanked on numerous occasions “the great reception” of the Lanzarote public and did not hesitate to celebrate the island.

For her part, the Cordoban artist India Martínez took the stage after half past twelve at night. The thousands of people who applauded Melendi did not move from their places but stayed to delight in his talent. He sang his latest album, “Palmeras”, as well as other great titles of his discography. . 

 The Andalusian, like Melendi, also showed an incredible reception, making even the spotlights vibrate,, and said many times she she was very grateful for the affection she received on Lanzarote.

As for Mrs. oh, hell who is she, Mrs.,…. oh yeh, Warwick and I,… well we´d had quite a tranquil day at what la Voz had reported as a vibrant event.

Of course we were tucked up fast asleep, dreaming of the day we met the President, long before the evening crowds arrived and the music started.

It seemed, during the day, everyone assumed we were just two of the part of elderly e invited to meet The President and that felt like proof, if any were needed, that we are no long part of the teeny bopper generation and are past the stage even of being part of the middle aged folk who so often attend most of the concerts we go to.

Its official, we are the elderly,…… and I am talking about my g…g…generation !

We still love the rock concerts (Who wouldn´t ?) but these days we are just as happy to sit and look at some paintings or listen to a nice chamber orcherstra ! As we had listened to the President, though, her eyes swept the hall for some of the elderly she might recognise and she beamed a smile at them as shesaw them whilst contining her speech. I clearly saw her scan my face, and of course, no recognition crossed her face. …I´m pretty sure, however, that she reassured herself I was definitely part of the elderly guerst party, and i´m sure she´ll look out for me next year.

Meanwhile, though, there are some other gentle arts events on the horizon.

Sidetracks And Detours are very much looking forward to a meeting with Lanzarote based poet and writer, Rita Schmidt to discuss her anthology called Poesie Poetry; Thoughts and Feelings. We have a mutual friend in UK author, Tony Brady so we loolk forward to bringing you an interesting interview.

There will also be a new visual art exhibition on Lanzarote shortly. Sidetracks And Detours have received an ófficial invitation to the opening night. of Maria Christine Carayon´s new curation.

I am going to present a new exhibition of abstract painting .of the Canarian Artist of Tenerife Amílcar I invite you to the inauguration On October 2 at 18 and it will be a pleasure to have you as a guest

Also in October we will be hearing xxx in the ageless splendour of Jameos Del Agua, and the in Octoberr comes a full ballet performance of Swan Lake at El Alinera Teatro in Arrecife.

And then it will be Christmas, It´s A Wonderful Life !

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