Winter Solstice

Tue 25 Dec 2012 13:46
I've loads to tell you - but it's Christmas and things like mince pies need to be made (home made mince meat carefully hidden in the back of the fridge for 7 months!). So will content myself with telling you about Solstice and catching up with our other explorations as soon as I can.

First of all, although it was the shortest day, it was a pretty poor effort, it was light about 7am and not dark 'till 6:30. So all the pretty lights to drive back the darkness of mid winter weren't really needed. However, we installed a string of white lights outside around the coach roof and set up some solar powered ones inside so we are good and twinkly. Christmas trees don't seem to exist in the canaries, though they do put lights on the palm trees, so we had to concoct something to decorate with the few bits and pieces that we'd brought with us. All in all, the place is looking pretty festive, helped by the Advent Calendar Joy gave us :-)

Having got the boat decorated we headed off for the important bit of the day: the Solstice Feast, which, considering the circumstances, we decided should be a picnic feast on a beach, including champagne of course (well, fizzy wine!).

The first beach was breathtaking, 

and, even more impressively, had a BMW G650 X parked in the car park, so clearly was frequented by people of taste and sophistication. 

However, it wasn't quite the picnic spot we'd envisioned, so after a swim and some sunning we moved on and found the perfect spot.

The beach stretched out southwards in a bar, with a reef inland of it, so we could walk along the spit of sand, up to our ankles a 100 yards out to sea, with the ocean between us and Africa to one side and a reef filled with waders on the left: curlew, stints, egrets, sandpipers and yellow legs...

We drove back over the mountains with the setting sun low in the sky picking out the shapes and colours

and got back to Lochmarin in time for a glorious sunset.

As we sat on deck enjoying a glass of wine and watching the colours play we could hear a van driving around making announcements with a loudspeaker, there was to be a nativity play in the park that evening, so, along with two other couples from boats, we headed off to see.  The Canarians don't go overboard with Christmas decorations. There are life size nativity scenes on the roundabouts leading in to towns, and they put lights on the palm trees and lamp posts, but otherwise there's not much -they don't seem to have discovered tinsel yet :-) But what we have seen all over is the shops put up tables or use a window to make a Nativity scene. Forget snow and christmas trees, these are dioramas of village life, with the essentials there: the stable, with the Holy Family, shepherds, Magi.... but also they show the village life going on: there's always a stream with a little bridge and women doing washing, blacksmiths, farm animals in yards, fishing men mending nets and so on... even a little model of someone dropping his trousers behind a bush! 

The town had created a life size version in the park, a line of 'houses', a stream, a well, the stable of course, and they peopled it with about 40 folk from the town, from trembling old folk to 5 year olds being lambs, all dressed up in costume and becoming a living version of the dioramas. There was even a chap squatting behind a palm tree...They had recorded a sound track, with background music and each member of the cast having pre-recorded their 'speech' and waiting anxiously to mime to it when the time came. With this as a background they told the Christmas story, complete with outraged villagers rushing to gossip when Mary came back from her cousin with a cushion under her dress. The highlight of the tale were the sheep, all crawling on hands and knees from one side of the scene to the other, being herded enthusiastically by the shepherds. Mary had some small trouble with the burro, as he refused to go forwards when she sat on him, he would only go backwards. She had to get off, walk, and prod him with a stick to help him get over his stage fright. Another highlight was the star for the magi (who each had three attendants in costumes that co-ordinated with their King's outfit), it pulled along on a wire, but appeared to get stuck. The whole effect was utterly delightful. 

We loved it all: having goose pimples when the little girl angel (I thought angels were boys?!) made her announcements, living Joseph's anguish with him when he discovered his fiancée was pregnant, being wowed by the splendour of the Magi and delighting in the miracle of new life after the quick, and evidently fairly painless birth of Jesus. All this and refreshments were available for a Euro: hot chocolate and cinnamon pancake, or a glass of red wine and a lamb kebab.

A pretty good Solstice celebration I'd say.