Whistling Up Traditions In Tenerife

Wed, December 1st, 2010 - By Colin

It was enough to confuse even the most dedicated twitcher or bird watcher; a high pitched whistle, loud, long and shrill, tapering off with a flourish and repeated several times. Was I in the amazon jungle, the bird house at London Zoo? No, this was in the built up commercial resort centre of Los Cristianos in Tenerife.

Even with the tourist industry thrusting Tenerife into the modern age, old traditions are alive and just below the surface. The phantom early morning whistler is a knife sharpening service, originally based on a pushbike but now upgraded to a motorbike with the engine powering a grindstone. Years ago these old gents would travel round  announcing their arrival with the distinctive whistle to attract the few shops and homes to get a nice new edge put on their blades.

There may be fewer of these antique artisans now but there’s more custom than ever, cycling through the modern developments they can now serve large kitchens in apartment blocks and hotels. You can’t beat that personal touch and many Canarian kitchen workers are only too pleased to keep this tradition alive.

Thankfully the local councils around Tenerife are also keen not to lose sight of Tenerife’s rural and creative roots. Ferias (fairs) take place at regular intervals in many small Tenerife towns and villages, a great excuse to delve into the past and see basket weaving, cigar making, and all manner of home made jams, cheeses, and pastries being produced. Try a mojo sauce with a chunk of cheese, mild or strong enough to take your breath away.

Traditional sports are still encouraged, many with practical origins. Juego del Palo is an old form of stick fighting with opponents armed with sturdy staffs, good for fending off invaders and trespassers. Salto del Pastor is a nifty way of getting around over rough rural land using a wooden pole to vault between rocks and over small ravines.

Just a short trip outside of the main tourist resorts will often reward you with a glimpse of past ways of living. Tenerife has a rich tradition waiting to be re-discovered, even draped on your sun bed a stray sound might reach you to awaken your curiosity.

Posted : Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at 12:35 pm
Category : towns & resorts
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